‘Mame’ translates to bean in Japanese, so Mame Shiba Inus are basically a bean-sized version of the ancient Shiba Inu breed we know.
They have inherited their ancestor’s great history, lineage, and exciting personality, so they surely don’t fall short of their bigger counterparts.
Despite all these agreeable traits, some pet owners believe that this dog is too wild to be a house companion. This is because they are also one of the basal breeds from Japan. But are they really untameable?
To find out more about the Mameshiba, I recommend that you continue reading this exhaustive guide. I shared some important facts that you wouldn’t want to miss if you are looking into purchasing one.
What Is a Mame Shiba Inu? Do Mame Shiba Inus Really Exist?
Mame Shiba Inus exist and they only stand at about 11 inches and weigh around 10 to 14 pounds. A fully-grown Mame Shiba Inu is usually 35 to 50 percent smaller than a regular-sized Shiba Inu, so they’re easier to care for and their great attitudes make them good family pets.
At first glance, Mame Shiba Inus resemble a solid-built fox, so they are often considered one of the world’s most beautiful dogs. They are also more appealing in the puppy market because they are the tinier version of a majestic warrior breed.
This, along with their small and fluffy build, makes them the best pets for city dwellers who tend to stay in smaller spaces.
Are the Mame Shiba Inu and Miniature Shiba Inu the Same?
Typically, the term ‘Mame Shiba Inu’ is referred to small Shiba Inus bred by Japanese breeders while ‘Miniature Shiba Inu’ can refer to those bred by backyard breeders who are not native to Japan.
Aside from this, a Mame Shiba Inu is often used to address mini Shibas who are products of breeding runts in the litter, or two Shiba Inus who share a dwarfism gene.
Meanwhile, the term ‘Miniature Shiba Inu’ is normally used to describe small Shiba Inus who are purposely bred with a toy dog such as Chihuahuas, Poodles, and Pomeranians.
In any case, Mame Shiba Inus and Miniature Shiba Inus are almost the same but note that a toy Shiba Inu (or Miniature Shiba Inu for some) can inherit other personality traits from their other parent.
This is why it’s important that you still ask a breeder exactly about the origin of the Mame or Miniature Shiba Inu you’re planning to purchase.
What Does the Mame Shiba Inu Look Like?
Aside from a striking resemblance to their bigger counterparts, Mame Shiba Inus also resemble their much larger cousin, the Akita.
Their general appearance includes a compact and well-developed muscled frame, a set of eyes and ears that are triangular in shape, and a double coat with their outer coats being stiff and straight while the undercoat remains soft and thick.
Although their size does not have any bearing on the personality or type of care required by a Mameshiba, it’s still good that you know your coat color options.
Red Mame Shiba Inu
Red is the most common and popular shade of a Mameshiba. It’s also probably the original color of the breed that gives them their trademark fox-like appearance. This red shade can range from a red-brown to a lighter color.
Holding the title as the coat favored in award shows, it’s no surprise that they’re still preferred among all the Shiba colors.
Their Urajiro (Japanese term for their white markings) are slightly blurred due to the gene that controls their red shade, which always lightens these white markings towards their bellies.
Sesame Mame Shiba Inu
Sesame Mameshibas have a red-base coat with black-tipped hairs overlay. This is also one of the rarest among the four main coats of the Mame Shiba Inu variation. To be recognized by kennel clubs for award shows, their black coat shouldn’t be more than 50% of their overall coat.
They must have no black patches, masks, and their black overlay should remain even. Their Urajiro is slightly more visible on their bellies and lightly on the sides of their mouths.
Black Mame Shiba Inu
The black Mameshiba is considered to have a unique tricolor coat when you factor in its Urajiro markings. Their coat base is usually tinted black with rusted tan tips. Also called a black and tan Mameshiba, their coat will have all three colors.
Some can have a white base coat, reddish tan middle coat, and a black tinted tip. If you’re looking for attractive black color, you can choose black Mame Shiba Inu over the red-coated ones.
Cream (or White) Mame Shiba Inu
Although deemed to be the least desired coat among the Mameshibas, the cream coat is extremely rare to breed since it results from having two recessive genes. Their trademark Urajiro marking can also be very hard to distinguish because of their already white-colored coat.
For all Mameshibas, white markings called Urajiro are commonly found on parts of their bodies such as the sides of their mouths and cheeks. Also, their eyes should always be slightly triangular, dignified, and colored dark brown or black.
Their appearance can also slightly differ based on their sex. A female Mameshiba looks more elegant and gentler whereas male Mameshibas tend to appear more masculine without coarseness.
Size & Weight of Full-Grown Mame Shiba Inus
Compared to a regular-sized Shiba Inu whose proportions are at a height range between 14 to 17 inches and a weight range between 17 to 23 pounds, Mameshibas are visibly smaller in size as seen from the photo above.
Their smaller build includes a height range of about 10 to 13 inches and they can weigh between 10 to 14 pounds. A fully-grown Mame Shiba Inu usually stands at about 11 inches, but female pups are usually slightly smaller than their male counterparts.
As per the KCJ, a Mameshiba’s height that’s less than the prescribed 10 inches can still be accepted so long as their mind and body are both healthy and they’re not a product of crossbreeding. All their other traits should also be significantly inherited from their Mameshiba parents.
Watch this video to see the size difference between a regular Shiba Inu and a Mame Shiba Inu:
Origin and History: Where Do Mame Shiba Inus Come From?
A small Shiba Inu is not considered a separate breed and they’re usually reserved to be produced only by backyard breeders. So, where do Mameshibas come from?
Well, there are two breeding techniques that you should be familiar with to understand how they’re created and these are:
Dwarfism Gene Insertion
Dwarfism gene is a random mutation that can occur in the genetic makeup of a Mame Shiba Inu. It’s noted as the evolutionary event that’s responsible for their shortened curved legs.
To create Mameshiba puppies, some breeders may opt to breed two Shiba Inus who possess dwarfism genes. This method will ensure that your Mameshiba will inherit significant traits from the regular-sized Shiba Inu; the only difference would be their stature.
Risks that come with this genetic mutation may include structural deformities since they normally develop spinal problems from having short legs, long bodies, and oversized heads.
Breeding from Runts
Runts are simply the weakest and smallest of the Shiba Inu’s litter. When breeders selectively breed these tiny Shiba Inu puppies, their intention is to usually create the smallest variation of the Japanese native breed.
The Shiba Inu’s unique traits are normally intact when breeding these tiny pups. However, common problems may still occur due to underlying congenital abnormalities that typically come with runts.
Fortunately, there are some runts that grow to be perfectly healthy, which only means that it is also possible for Mameshibas created from breeding runts to not suffer from any of the above-mentioned health defects.
Do Kennel Clubs Recognize the Mame Shiba Inu?
Unfortunately, due to the major health risks that come with breeding Mameshibas, most reputable breeders would frown upon this breeding technique and will refuse to create this small variation.
Also, it’s important that you’d be cautious of some unethical breeders who don’t take health and temperament issues into consideration when creating Mameshiba puppies.
These two are some of the few reasons why major kennel clubs and associations do not recognize Mame Siba Inu as a separate breed in itself.
Although Mameshiba is not recognized as its own separate breed for major kennel clubs, KCJ is the only group that is actually accredited to issue Mame Shiba Inu pedigrees.
Other major pedigree organizations in Japan remain adamant about not giving recognition for Shiba Inu’s small variation such as the Japan Kennel Club (JKC) and the Association for the Preservation of the Japanese Dog.
Are Mame Shiba Inus Healthy Dogs? Lifespan and Health Issues
Like any other miniaturization, breeding Mame Shiba Inus is usually undesirable because of the health risks that may come with them. Listed below are the possible health issues that your Mame Shiba Inu may suffer from:
- Complications During Whelping: For small female dogs, it can be quite a complication to have narrow pelvic openings.
- Problems on Keeping Warm: Their small size also prevents Mameshibas from keeping themselves warm, which is why it’s common that you see these adorable doggies typically dressed in cute sweaters.
- Glaucoma: According to a study in Japan, Glaucoma is a prevalent condition among small Shiba Inus due to their genetic makeup. This condition occurs when too much pressure is placed on your canine’s eyes that causes them to have inadequate fluid drainage. For toy Shiba Inus who were mixed with Poodles, their eye problems can get way worse.
- Facial and Spinal Problems: It’s common for Mameshibas to have large heads with misaligned teeth and an enlarged esophagus that can easily result in Intervertebral Disk Disease and trouble swallowing their food.
If you’re fortunate enough, it’s possible that you get to purchase a Mameshiba who’s perfectly healthy and can live as long as a normal Shiba Inu at about 12 to 15 years.
This is why it’s important that you ask for any past and existing health records of your dog before you officially decide to take care of them.
Mame Shiba Inu Temperament: Do Mame Shiba Inus Make Good Family Dogs?
Similar to Shiba Inus, Mameshibas are also quite challenging to train. This is because their high energy levels and territorial-nature make them better watchdogs for hunting than typical house dogs. However, their small size makes controlling Mameshibas become more manageable.
It’s also easy to read their temperament and overall mood through their curly-cue tails.
For example, a Mameshiba who carries their tail high and fluffed up can mean that they’re either happy, confident, or ready to take on challenges.
But when they’re down and tucked between their legs, it could signify that they’re either scared or unhappy with whatever’s happening.
Taking care of Mameshibas is slightly easier compared to their strong-willed bigger counterparts.
However, their temperament and overall attitude can still vary greatly depending on how they were brought up in your home and their inherited traits from their two parents.
How Much Does a Mame Shiba Inu Cost? Puppy Prices and Expenses
Mameshiba puppies can cost between $1,200 to $3,000 and their price can easily increase depending on their overall quality and health. Keep in mind that adoption is also a possible and free option you can try to save money.
If you’ve decided to purchase a Mameshiba instead, beware of breeders who try to scam you by selling unhealthy and severely starved regular-sized Shiba Inus. Some may also charge you for a Mameshiba but will give you a hybrid toy Shiba Inu instead.
You should also consider the expenses that come with owning a Mameshiba since their annual maintenance cost is about $1,500. This includes their food, medicine, grooming, toys, and veterinary care expenses among others.
Remember, taking care of a dog can really challenge your finances, so it’s important that your bank account is prepared before purchasing a Mameshiba.
Places to Find Mame Shiba Inu Puppies for Sale and Adoption
Since Mameshibas has been gaining popularity in recent years, there has been a rise in the number of places where you can find them. You can check these reputable breeders out to find Shiba Inu puppies around your vicinity.
Although discouraged, backyard breeders and puppy mills are common places to find Mameshibas online. These breeders tend to overlook the health conditions that a Mameshiba can have. Rather, their focus is more on the profit that they earn from selling you these pups.
Instead of purchasing your pup from backyard breeders and puppy mills, it’s better to find professional Mame Shiba Inu breeders who can provide you a guarantee on the puppies they’re selling.
Adoption is also highly encouraged if you want to save money and be some sort of a hero for a pup under the care of rescue organizations.
Here are some of the places where you can adopt a Mameshiba:
- Adopt-a-Pet – They’re a non-profit adoption website based in North America that caters to over 17,000 animal shelters and pet rescue groups. Although rare, you can check them out from time to time to see if they have a Mameshiba that’s available for adoption.
- Petfinder – This is an online database with over 11,000 adoption organizations and animal shelters across Mexico, Canada, and the US. Usually, the adoption cost for a Mameshiba from this directory would be much lower than the standard. Make sure to check first if they’re healthy enough.
- DC Shiba Inu Rescue – A non-profit rescue organization specializing in finding new homes for Shiba Inus in Washington, DC area. They typically hold monthly adoption events but you can also check out their website to reach them for other ways of adoption.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Male or Female Mame Shiba Inus Better?
For Mameshiba fanciers who plan to purchase one for the first time, it’s recommended that you get yourself their male variation since they’re much more playful and are highly sociable.
Female Mameshibas can be very moody and independent at times. Check out my article about male versus female Shiba Inus for a full comparison of the two genders.
Do Shiba Inus Like to Cuddle?
Since their temperament resembles cats more than their supposed canine personality, most Mameshibas are not cuddly.
Although they can be very affectionate, they’ll only sit on your lap or cuddle close to your place only when they feel like it. Instead of cuddling, they would prefer guarding you on the side as watchdogs.
Do Mame Shiba Inus Shed?
Although small, Mameshibas still have thick double coats which makes them shed a lot. They shed throughout the year and quite heavily during summer and winter since they are known to be seasonal shedders.
Final Thoughts: Is Mame Shiba Inu the Right Dog for You?
Mameshibas are small versions of their bigger counterparts. Fortunately, if they were bred by reputable breeders, they can grow perfectly healthy and can live as long as a regular-sized Shiba Inu.
If you’re asking yourself whether Mame Shiba Inu is the right dog for you, it’s important that you take into consideration the possible major health risks and defects that can come with Mameshiba pups.
They can also be very good house pets. However, a little bit more patience is required to train them due to their stubborn nature.
It’s vital that you understand that their size has no impact on their temperament and other personality traits or whatsoever. What’s important is that you identify which dog will fit your lifestyle. Is it a Mameshiba or a regular-sized Shiba Inu?
Mame Shiba Inus are perfect for Shiba Inu enthusiasts who may need a dog that can fit comfortably in small spaces.