What are the differences between the Shiba Inu and the Akita Inu?

Shiba Inu dog breed

Japanese dog breeds are very popular. The Shiba Inu and the Akita Inu are some of the most popular breeds, but there are also the Tosa Inu, the Hokkaido, the Kishu, the Japanese Spitz and the Japanese Chin. These breeds are known for their independence and intelligence. In addition, they are famous for their loyalty.

In this article, we will focus on the differences between the Shiba Inu and the Akita Inu.

Shiba Inu Japanese dog breed
The Shiba Inu’s coat is short and stiff.

Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu was originally a hunting dog from a mountainous area in central Japan. In the past, they were used to hunt birds and small game. It is an ancient breed that has been protected since 1936. The Shiba Inus almost disappeared before then because English hunting dogs like Setters and Pointers were imported in Japan and tended to replace the Shiba Inu.


The Shiba Inu is medium-sized, measuring approximately 40 cm at the withers and weighing about 10 kg (around 22 lbs). Regarding their build, they are particularly muscular. The tail is thick and curled. Their eyes are slanted, brown and small. When it comes to their ears, they are small and triangular.

The Shiba Inu’s coat is short and stiff with a soft undercoat. Their coat can be of several colors: red, black and tan, cream, sesame, black sesame, and red sesame.


Although Shiba Inus are very independent, they know how to be affectionate. They are loyal and love the company of humans even though they do not really show it. This breed is protective and a good guardian. With that bein said, they can be a bit fearful. Unfortunately, the breed barks a lot, which can be annoying for neighbors. Conversely, this breed is extremely lively, attentive and particularly intelligent. They are also known for being a great playmate for children. Nonetheless, its dominant personality often makes it not very sociable with other dogs.

The Shiba Inu needs firm training. This is because they are difficult to train. It is necessary to be rigorous and to have a lot of patience to teach them to be gentle. They should be trained from a very young age, without violence but with authority. Because of their hunting instincts, they are known to run away.

Is the Shiba Inu right for me?

This elegant dog breeds charms many because it resembles a small fox. Nevertheless, this dog breed is not for everyone. As mentioned earlier, the Shiba Inu is known to be stubborn and has a tendancy to run away. Additionally, they are very active dogs that need their daily exercise. Life in an apartment may suit them but it’s necessary to take them out regularly.

This strong and relatively healthy breed can live outside and does not mind the cold.

Akita Inu Japanese dog breed
The Akita Inu is a rather calm dog.

Akita Inu

The breed originates from the Akita Prefecture in Japan. The breed is one of the oldest in the world. In the past, they were used to hunt wild boar, deer and bears. They were later used as fighting dogs. During the Second World War, authorities took Akita Inus away from their owners to make military clothing with their skin. Since 1964, the Akita Inu has been recognized as a pet or guard dog.


The Akita Inu is a large dog breed, measuring around 58 to 70 cm at the withers. They typically weigh between 28 and 45 kg (around 61 and 100 lbs). While they are strong and muscular dogs, the breed has an elegant build because they are well-proportioned. Regarding their head, it is large and they have small and oval eyes. The ears are also small, triangular and lean forward. When it comes to their tail, it is thick and curly. The females have a longer body than the males.

The coat is short and dense with a thick, insulating undercoat. The official colors recognized by the Japan Kennel Club are white, red, brindle (black stripes) and sesame (red fur with black tips). The muzzle, chest, inside of the limbs and belly are white. There are also long-haired Akita Inus.


This breed is peaceful and quiet, only barking when necessary. They are good guardian dogs, willing to do anything to protective their families. In addition, the breed is distrustful at first. They are not very sociable with strangers and even less so with other dogs of the same gender. Because of their dominant, stubborn, and strong personality, they are not very easy to train. Their owners need to train them gently but firmly.

While the breed is independent and reserved, the Akita Inu is affectionate with those close to it. They do not like to play that much nor go for long walks, except when they are very young. Children should not expect them to play with them endlessly. The breed is more likely to linger quietly in a corner of the house.

Is the Akita Inu right for me?

This intelligent dog breed adapts easily to many different types of lifestyles. They are able to take care of themselves and do not need to be with their human all the time. Because they are calm and rarely bark, they are very well-suited to a life in an apartment. With that being said, they do like to go on walks.

Their thick fur protects them from the cold, allowing them to handle extreme temperatures. However, two hereditary diseases are known to affect the breed: a skin disease and an inflammation of the brain and the eye which require veterinary care.

During shedding periods especially, Akita Inus need to be brushed daily. When they aren’t shedding, Akita Inus are very clean and take care of their grooming.

Which of them is right for me?

Although both of them come from Japan, we have seen that there are a few noticeable differences between the two.

To begin with, their size and weight are not the same. For example, the Akita Inu is much larger and fatter. Additionally, the Akita Inu typically has a slighlty shorter lifespan than the Shiba Inu.

Secondly, the Shiba Inu has a self-cleaning coat while the Akita Inu grooms itself.

Thirdly, the Shiba Inu and the Akita Inu have different temperaments. The Akita Inu is known to be more serene, dignified and composed. Conversely, the Shiba Inu is more joyful and playful. Another major diference is that the Shiba Inu is energetic and barks a lot, whereas the Akita Inu is very quiet.

Even though the breeds are known to be independent and stubborn, with good training and socialization from a young age, they can also be very affectionate and loyal.

So, which breed should you choose? It all depends on your taste and your situation. They are both lovely Japanese dog breeds.