Shiba Inu Vs Akita: What’s The Difference?

By helloBARK!
Updated on 20 September 2022
Fact Checked

Akita and Shiba Inu are two famous Japanese breeds of dog.

Both the Akita and Shiba Inu are Spitz-type dogs that hail from the Asian country, which means they share some physical traits.

Unsurprisingly, these two are easily confused given they often come in an orange or red and white coat color.

The Akita, for example, is a large dog that is a member of the American Kennel Club’s Working Group.

Alternatively, the Shiba Inu is a medium-sized dog that is in the AKC’S Non-Sporting Group.

In this article, we’re going to look at Akita Vs Shiba Inu, including the similarities and differences between the two breeds.

With the introduction over, let’s delve a little deeper into Akita Vs Shiba Inu.

Is a Shiba Inu the same as an Akita?

An Akita and a Shiba Inu are different types of dog.

Although they are both native Japanese dogs, they’re different breeds.

Shiba Inu are similar in appearance to Akita but much smaller in size compared to Japan’s “natural guardians”.

What is an Akita?

Japanese Akita Inu (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Japanese Akita Inu (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Akita is a large dog that is a member of the AKC’s working group.

These Spitz dogs come in two different varieties: the Japanese Akita or Akita Inu and the American Akita or Akita.

For the purposes of this article, Akitas will refer to the two different varieties to keep things simple as we compare the breed to Shiba Inu.

Akitas are thought to be distant relative of ancient Japanese dogs.

They were developed in the 17th century – an unnamed exiled nobleman credited with creating these hunting dogs.

Akitas were bred to hunt big game such as wild boar, deer and the Yezo bear.

However, they went on to become popular amongst the Japanese nobility.

Akita have a symbolic meaning within Japan. Often an Akita figurine will be presented upon the birth of a child to represent a happy and healthy life.

In 1937, the first Akita dogs arrived in the United States thanks to Helen Keller. Two years later, the American Kennel Club set out a breed standard for these Japanese dogs.

As of 2019, Akitas are the 47th most popular dog in the USA.

What is a Shiba Inu?

Shiba Inu looks at tulips (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Shiba Inu looks at tulips (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Shiba Inu are another Spitz-type dog that hail from Japan.

Some believe their origins can be traced back to 300 BC in Asia.

Like the Akita, they were used as hunting dogs thanks to their compact frames and muscular features. However, Shiba Inu pursued small game such as birds and rabbits rather than boar and bears.

The word Shiba means “brushwood” which is representative of the brush in the mountains or the dog’s reddish color.

The arrival of western breeds meant that few pure Shiba Inu were left by 1928. It led to a renewed effort to preserve the pure bloodline.

However, Shiba Inu were almost extinct after World War II but the breed managed to survive wartime Japan.

Establishing themselves as much-loved companion dogs in Japan, the first Shiba Inu arrived in the United States with an armed service family in 1954.

The American Kennel Club recognised the breed in 1992.

The Shiba Inu is the 44th most popular dog in the United States.

What is the difference between Akita and Shiba Inu?

There are differences and similarities between the Akita and Shiba Inu.

In fact, they’re thought to be closely related, which isn’t a surprise given they both hail from the same country.

Perhaps the most obvious one is the size of these two Japanese breeds.

Akita size Vs Shiba Inu size

Akita is large dog that can reach a height range between 24 and 28 inches. These dignified dogs can weigh anywhere between 70 and 130 pounds.

Shiba Inu are much smaller than their compatriots. These companion dogs can grow to between 13.5 and 16.5 inches in height. So that’s just over half the size of an Akita. Their compact bodies can weigh between 17 and 23 pounds.

Akita colors Vs Shiba Inu colors

Shiba Inu originated in Japan (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Shiba Inu originated in Japan (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Perhaps one of the chief reasons for confusion between Akita and Shiba Inu is the similarity in color.

The American Akita can come in any color, but the Japanese Akita can only be red, white or brindle. The most common shade of all Akitas is orange or red and white.

Shiba Inu are found in a variety of different colors but the most common shade is red and white. Other coat colors include red, black and tan, cream, sesame and white.

Akita appearance Vs Shiba Inu appearance

As both breeds are Spitz dogs, they do share some similarities.

For example, they’ve got triangular ears that stand erect and they’ve got pointed muzzles.

Akita and Shiba Inu usually have a curled tail that flops over onto their backs.

Furthermore, both Japanese breeds have double coats to protect them from the elements.

Akita temperament Vs Shiba Inu temperament

The Akita is a natural-born protector. They’re viewed as family protectors, with their size alone enough to put off any would-be intruders.

They’ve got a deep sense of loyalty to their family unit. The AKC emphasises that “courage and loyalty” should be traits of the breed.

Given their size, Shiba Inu won’t make great guard dogs. However, they’re known as great companion dogs in Japan.

Shiba Inu don’t lack self confidence – they can be both bold and strong-willed.

Akita and Shiba Inu are often described as fastidious breeds with feline qualities. They both like to self groom, which means regular baths won’t be necessary.

Loyalty is a trait that runs in both Japanese dogs but it can manifest itself as aloofness around people they don’t know.

Both Akita and Shiba Inu are independent dogs, which is a key factor where training is concerned.

They’ve also got a high prey drive that shouldn’t come as a surprise given Akita and Shiba Inu were bred to hunt game.

Therefore, you may be wise to keep an Akita or Shiba Inu on a leash. However, some Akita and Shiba Inu can be trained to have good recall.

Akita training Vs Shiba Inu training

The Akita and Shiba Inu have been stereotyped as difficult dogs to train.

However, the same could be said of any dog regardless of breed or mix.

You’ll want to bring an Akita puppy or Shiba Inu puppy to obedience and manners classes from an early age to get a handle on training.

Both Japanese breeds are considered potentially tricky dogs to train due to their independent streaks. However, their sense of loyalty to their owners means with the right training, they’ll be eager to please.

Akita exercise Vs Shiba Inu exercise

As we already mentioned, some Akita and Shiba Inu can have a high prey drive. This means they may not be suited to off leash exercise.

Akita dogs will need around 90 minutes of exercise a day, whether it be a long walk, a run or hiking in the mountains.

Shiba Inu don’t have quite as substantial exercise requirements. These companion dogs need around 60 minutes of exercise a day, so a trip to the dog park and a short-to-medium walk could suffice.

Given their intelligence levels, Akita and Shiba Inu require exercise to get sufficient mental and physical stimulation.

Akita shedding Vs Shiba Inu shedding

Akita Inu dog lying in the snow (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Akita Inu dog lying in the snow (Photo: Adobe Stock)

These Japanese dogs have double coats. You can expect an Akita and a Shiba Inu to blow out their undercoat at the changing of the seasons.

The American Kennel Club write that Shiba Inu shed a lot – with some owners quoted as saying they shed six months of the year.

Both breeds will need regular brushing during shedding season to remove dead hair or debris. This should help to limit the amount of hair around the home.

Akita lifespan Vs Shiba Inu lifespan

Akita can live to an age between 10 and 14.

Shiba Inu have a slightly longer life expectancy between 13 and 16 years.

Akita price Vs Shiba Inu price

Akita will usually cost between $750 and $2000. You can check out the Akita Club of America to find a breeder that has signed up to the oganisations code of ethics. They explain:

One requirement should be that the breeder belong to a local Akita Club, if possible, the Akita Club of America (ACA), an obedience club, or an all-breed club. Why? Through membership in one or all, the breeder is exposed to others who are also interested in Akitas, and dogs in general, and learns more about his breed, dog care, modern breeding practices, etc.

Shiba Inu puppies will usually cost between $1200 and $2,200 from a Shiba Inu breeder. The National Shiba Club of America have a directory where you can find breeders who have agreed to follow the Responsible Breeder Guidelines.

Akita dogs don’t make a good breed for first-time owners given their power alone. Both Akita and Shiba Inu can be challenging to train if you don’t have the resources and time, so you may want to think twice if you don’t have previous experience with canines.

Having said that, some first-time owners do perfectly fine with both breeds.

Can Akita and Shiba Inu live together?

If you plan to adopt both an Akita and a Shiba Inu, you’ll be wondering whether these dogs can get along together.

Some Akita and Shiba Inu have a reputation for being a little fussy around other dogs. But other members of these breeds are well socialised and do perfectly fine.

Your best course of action is to speak to both Akita and Shiba Inu breeders to get their input. Breeders can usually recommend what type of personalities go well together or won’t mix.

Akita and Shiba Inu to follow on Instagram

If you’re looking to learn more about Akita or Shiba Inu, we find that social media platforms such as Instagram can be great tools to get more information from current onwers.

Here are some Akita and Shiba Inu owners to check out:

1) Malcom the Akita (@malcolm_the_akita)

2) Akira (@akiramyakita)

3) Roger (@shiba.roger)

4) Max and Orlo (@shiba_max)

Is Hachiko a Shiba Inu or Akita?

Hachiko is the world’s most famous Akita.

This Akita accompanied his master Professor Hidesaburo Ueno to and from the train station every day for his master’s commute. When his owner didn’t arrive at the station following a fatal brain haemorrhage at work, Hachiko continued to wait for his master’s return. He went to and from the station every day for the next nine years.

It was made into numerous films, including “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” which starred Richard Gere as the Professor.

Akita Shiba Inu Mix

An Akita Shiba Inu Mix is the result of breeding between an Akita and Shiba Inu. They can also be called Shakita, Akiba or Shibakita.

Anything else to consider?

If you’re thinking about an Akita or a Shiba Inu as a pet, you’ll need to consider additional costs rather than just the initial price of the puppy.

You’ll need to budget for pet insurance, dog food as well as other costs such as a dog walker or dog sitter depending on your circumstances.

In conclusion

We’ve reached the end of our Akita Vs Shiba Inu article.

As you’ll now know, Akita and Shiba have a number of similarities and differences.

They’re both Japanese breeds of different size and colors.

You shouldn’t take adopted an Akita or Shiba Inu lightly as they require a lot of work, as with any dog!

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