Akita vs Shiba Inu: A Comparison of Two Japanese Breeds

Akita vs Shiba Inu: A Comparison of Two Japanese Breeds

Are you considering getting a Japanese breed of dog but not sure which one to choose? In this article, we will compare two popular Japanese dog breeds – the Akita and the Shiba Inu. Both breeds have their unique characteristics and qualities, and understanding the differences between them can help you make an informed decision. Whether you are looking for a loyal companion or a family-friendly pet, read on to discover which breed might be the perfect fit for you.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Weight

When comparing the Akita and Shiba Inu, it is important to consider their size and weight differences. The Akita is generally a larger breed, standing tall and sturdy. Adult Akitas can reach a height of 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 70 to 130 pounds. On the other hand, the Shiba Inu is a smaller breed, known for its compact and agile build. They typically stand about 13.5 to 16.5 inches tall and weigh around 17 to 23 pounds.

Coat and Colors

The coat and colors of the Akita and Shiba Inu are distinctive features of each breed. Akitas have a dense and double coat that provides excellent protection against harsh weather conditions. Their coat comes in various colors, including white, brindle, pinto, and more commonly, red or red fawn. On the other hand, the Shiba Inu has a thick double coat as well, but their coat is typically shorter and less dense than the Akita. Shiba Inus can be found in a range of colors such as red, sesame, black and tan, or cream.

Facial Features

The facial features of the Akita and Shiba Inu also differ, giving each breed a unique appearance. Akitas have a large head with a broad and powerful muzzle. They often have a black mask that accentuates their expressive and intelligent eyes. Compared to the Akita, the Shiba Inu has a more fox-like appearance, with a wedge-shaped head and a slightly rounded muzzle. Their almond-shaped eyes are bright and alert, reflecting their curious and spirited nature.

In conclusion, the physical characteristics of the Akita and Shiba Inu highlight their contrasting sizes, coat types, and facial features. While the Akita is known for its imposing stature and variety of coat colors, the Shiba Inu captivates with its compact build and fox-like appearance. Understanding these differences can help individuals choose the Japanese breed that best suits their preferences and lifestyle.

Temperament and Behavior

When it comes to comparing the Akita and Shiba Inu, understanding their temperament and behavior is essential. While both breeds originate from Japan and share some similarities, they also have distinct personality traits and require different approaches to training and socialization.

Personality Traits

The Akita and Shiba Inu possess unique personality traits that set them apart from each other. Akitas are known for their loyalty, independence, and protective nature. They are often reserved with strangers but form strong bonds with their families. On the other hand, Shiba Inus are spirited, bold, and confident. They are generally more aloof with strangers and may require early socialization to ensure they are comfortable in various situations.


When it comes to trainability, the Akita and Shiba Inu differ in their response and approach. Akitas are intelligent but can be strong-willed, making training a challenge for inexperienced owners. They require consistent and firm training methods with positive reinforcement. Shiba Inus, although intelligent, have a more independent nature which can make them stubborn at times. Early socialization and positive reinforcement training techniques are crucial for Shiba Inus to ensure they respond well to commands.


Proper socialization is vital for both the Akita and Shiba Inu to ensure they grow up to be well-rounded dogs. Akitas tend to be naturally reserved and may have a higher prey drive, making early socialization with other animals and exposure to various environments essential. Shiba Inus, although generally friendly with their families, can sometimes be aloof or even aggressive towards other dogs or strangers. Early and ongoing socialization is crucial to help them develop good behavior and prevent any potential behavioral issues.

In conclusion, understanding the temperament and behavior of both the Akita and Shiba Inu is key in determining which breed best suits your lifestyle and preferences. While Akitas are loyal and protective, Shiba Inus are spirited and confident. Training and socialization approaches should be tailored to the specific needs of each breed to ensure they grow into well-behaved and balanced dogs.

Exercise and Grooming Needs

Activity Level

Both Akita and Shiba Inu are active breeds that require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. However, there are slight differences in their activity levels.

The Akita is known for its moderate activity level. They enjoy daily walks and playtime but are generally calm and composed indoors. Akitas are not overly hyperactive and are content with a moderate amount of exercise. They are often seen as more laid-back compared to the Shiba Inu.

On the other hand, the Shiba Inu is a highly energetic breed. They have a high activity level and love to explore their surroundings. Shibas are known for their agility and endurance. They require more physical and mental stimulation compared to Akitas. Engaging them in interactive games and providing regular opportunities for exercise is essential to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Exercise Requirements

Both the Akita and Shiba Inu have specific exercise requirements that should be met to keep them healthy and happy.

Akitas need a moderate amount of exercise to keep them in good shape. Daily walks of around 30 minutes to an hour, coupled with some interactive playtime, are usually sufficient for this breed. Akitas also benefit from activities that challenge their intelligence, such as obedience training or puzzle toys.

In contrast, Shiba Inus have higher exercise needs. They thrive on daily activities that provide mental and physical stimulation. Long walks, jogs, or even hikes are ideal for this breed. Additionally, incorporating obedience training, agility courses, or fetch games can help meet their exercise requirements. It is important to note that Shibas should always be kept on a leash or in a securely fenced area, as they have a strong prey drive and a tendency to wander off.

Grooming Needs

Both the Akita and Shiba Inu have specific grooming needs, although their requirements differ in terms of coat type and maintenance.

Akitas have a thick double coat that sheds moderately throughout the year, with heavier shedding occurring during seasonal changes. Regular brushing, at least once or twice a week, helps to remove loose fur and prevent matting. Bathing should be done only when necessary to preserve the coat’s natural oils. Additionally, routine nail trimming, teeth brushing, and ear cleaning are essential parts of Akita grooming.

Shiba Inus have a dense double coat that sheds heavily twice a year, known as "blowing coat." During this shedding period, daily brushing is crucial to remove loose fur and prevent matting. Outside of the shedding season, weekly brushing is generally sufficient. Like Akitas, Shiba Inus should be bathed as needed and have their nails, teeth, and ears regularly attended to.

By understanding the exercise and grooming needs of both the Akita and Shiba Inu, potential owners can provide appropriate care and ensure the well-being of these beloved Japanese breeds.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

When comparing the Akita and Shiba Inu breeds, it’s important to consider the common health issues that they may face. Both breeds are generally healthy, but like any dog, they are susceptible to certain ailments.

One common health issue that both Akita and Shiba Inu may experience is hip dysplasia. This is a condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to discomfort and difficulty in movement. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing joint supplements can help alleviate the symptoms of hip dysplasia in both breeds.

Another health concern for both Akita and Shiba Inu is patellar luxation. This is a condition where the kneecap slips out of its normal position, causing pain and lameness. Regular vet check-ups and keeping your dog’s weight in check can help prevent or manage this condition.

Lifespan Expectancy

When it comes to lifespan, Akitas and Shiba Inus have similar life expectancies. On average, both breeds can live between 10 to 15 years. However, it’s important to note that individual dogs may vary in their lifespan depending on various factors such as genetics, diet, exercise, and overall healthcare.

Genetic Concerns

Akitas and Shiba Inus may also have specific genetic concerns that potential owners should be aware of. Akitas are prone to certain genetic conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which can lead to eventual blindness if left untreated. Regular eye examinations can help detect and manage PRA in Akitas.

On the other hand, Shiba Inus may have a genetic predisposition to allergies, including food allergies and skin allergies. It’s important to provide a balanced and appropriate diet to Shiba Inus to minimize the risk of developing these allergies. Regular grooming and maintaining good hygiene can also help prevent skin issues in Shiba Inus.

In conclusion, while both the Akita and Shiba Inu breeds are generally healthy and have a similar lifespan expectancy, it’s crucial to be aware of the common health issues they may face. Regular vet check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise can help ensure the well-being and longevity of these beloved Japanese breeds.

Suitability as Pets

Family Compatibility

Both the Akita and Shiba Inu breeds can make excellent family pets, but there are a few factors to consider when it comes to their compatibility with different types of families.

The Akita is known for its loyalty and protective nature, making it a great choice for families who want a dog that will always be by their side. They are generally good with children, but their large size and strong protective instincts mean that they should always be supervised around young kids. Akitas can be wary of strangers, so early socialization is important to ensure they are comfortable with new people coming into the home.

On the other hand, Shiba Inus are a bit more independent and can be aloof with strangers. They are known for their spirited and quirky personalities, which can make them a fun addition to families with older children or adults. While they can be good family pets, they may not always have the same level of patience and tolerance for rough play as other breeds. It’s important to teach children how to properly interact with a Shiba Inu to avoid any potential issues.

Living Arrangements

Both the Akita and Shiba Inu can adapt to various living arrangements, but there are some specific considerations to keep in mind.

Akitas are a larger breed, typically weighing between 70-130 pounds. They require ample space to move around comfortably, so a house with a yard is ideal. Akitas are known for their exercise needs, and daily walks or access to a secure outdoor area where they can run and play are essential. They also have a thick double coat, so they are better suited to cooler climates.

Shiba Inus, on the other hand, are smaller in size, usually weighing between 17-23 pounds. While they can also benefit from a yard, they are more adaptable to apartment living as long as they receive daily exercise and mental stimulation. Shiba Inus have a thick double coat as well, but they are more tolerant of warmer climates compared to Akitas.

Training and Care

Both the Akita and Shiba Inu breeds require consistent training and care to thrive.

Akitas are intelligent and independent, which can make training a bit challenging. They respond best to positive reinforcement techniques and early socialization. Akitas have a strong prey drive, so it’s important to keep them on a leash or in a securely fenced area during walks or playtime. They also require regular grooming to maintain their coat’s health and prevent matting.

Shiba Inus are known for their stubbornness, so training can be a bit of a challenge as well. Positive reinforcement and consistency are key when it comes to training a Shiba Inu. They are also highly intelligent and thrive when mentally stimulated, so puzzle toys and interactive games can help keep them engaged. Shiba Inus have a self-cleaning coat, which means they require less grooming compared to Akitas, but regular brushing is still necessary to keep their coat looking its best.

In conclusion, both the Akita and Shiba Inu breeds can make great pets, but their suitability depends on various factors such as family dynamics, living arrangements, and the commitment to training and care. Understanding the specific needs of each breed will help potential owners make an informed decision about which Japanese breed is the right fit for their lifestyle.

After comparing the Akita and Shiba Inu, it is clear that these two Japanese breeds have both similarities and differences. While they share a common origin and certain physical characteristics, such as their spitz-like appearance and double coats, they also have distinct temperaments and sizes. The Akita is known for its loyalty, independence, and larger size, making it a suitable choice for experienced dog owners. On the other hand, the Shiba Inu is more compact, spirited, and adaptable, making it a great option for families with active lifestyles. Ultimately, the choice between these two breeds depends on individual preferences and lifestyle factors. Whether one is seeking a devoted companion or a lively and versatile family pet, both the Akita and Shiba Inu offer unique qualities that make them cherished and beloved breeds in Japan and around the world.