Meet Hunter, Edmonton's professional painting dog

·3 min read
Edmonton painting dog Hunter poses beside one of his masterpieces.
Edmonton painting dog Hunter poses beside one of his masterpieces.

(Submitted by Shiba Art Online - image credit)

When he's not taking walks through Terwillegar Park, eating treats or chasing his tail, an Edmonton Shiba Inu is harnessing an odd skill for a dog.

With a paintbrush in his mouth, Hunter, an eight-year-old painting dog, makes masterpieces that are sold around the world.

"We've gotten orders from all over the place," said Denise Lo, Hunter's owner. "To know that his art is all over the world is pretty cool for us."

Hunter started painting in 2017 when his owners ran out of new tricks to teach him, Lo said.

"He has always had a lot of energy since he was a puppy," she said. "So we've always taken him out to parks, walks, and we kind of figured that wasn't really enough for him, in terms of stimulation."

Hunter's owners stumbled upon painting as a new trick to teach him, when they showed Hunter how to hold a brush and touch it to a canvas. Lo said they were surprised how positively people responded to Hunter's artwork when they posted it on Reddit.

"We didn't expect the feedback to come back like, 'Hey, can we buy one? Can we buy one? Can we buy one?" Lo said. "We were like, 'he's just a dog!'"

Since then, Hunter's owners have sold more than 250 of his paintings from his Etsy shop, Shiba Art Online, to fans as far as Sweden, Denmark, and parts of Asia. He's been featured on the news in the United Kingdom and even on a Korean game show.

The process is quick. Hunter paints a couple strokes on his canvas, then his owner gives him a treat. He takes the brush in his mouth again, touches it to the canvas, and is rewarded with more treats.

Once the painting is complete, he poses for a photo beside his canvas, turning his head slightly with the alert dignity the Japanese dog breed is known for, paint brush in mouth.

Submitted by Shiba Art Online
Submitted by Shiba Art Online

Where an artist's signature would be, his owner stamps a mould of Hunter's paw on each of his completed works.

Most of the proceeds go back to Hunter, Lo said, and they've also donated to fundraisers for STARS and a Korean dog rescue.

'Well-rounded dog'

While Instagram is full of pets who have garnered online fame, Lo says Hunter has stayed grounded, despite his 18,000 Instagram followers.

"To us, he's more than just a painting dog," Lo said. "Many people come to his Instagram or his Facebook kind of wanting to see him paint all the time. But I feel like that's just part of his life.

"It's not like he's painting 24 hours a day. He does dog things like he goes on walks, he plays with his friends ... we try to show that he's a well-rounded dog."

Hunter's art has resonated most with Shiba owners, Lo said.

"We've heard a lot of stories about how owners used to have Shibas that are no longer with them. And just having a piece of Hunter's art really brings them joy."