What’s the difference between a Shiba Inu and an Akita?


The Shiba Inu and Akita Inu are closely related spitz dog breeds that are native to Japan.

With DNA studies indicating that these two breeds are among the most ancient domesticated dogs, their Japanese history is fascinating.

Archaeologists have discovered 9,500-year-old skeletal dog remains in Japan, and evidence of their companionship and hunting activities with humans dates back as long as 12,000 years.


Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Shiba and Akita were imported throughout the world.

The Shiba Inu is the national dog of Japan and remains popular in the Island nation. 

The Akita Inu on the other hand is less common due to the Akita’s imposing size and space needs – something many Japanese residents lack.

Do you know about the differences between these two fascinating breeds?

We know it is important to understand their needs and differences before choosing to add one these unique dogs to your family.


Shiba Inu: Small but Mighty


The Shiba is a bright, active, bold little dog with a sturdy, compact size and impressive athletic ability.

Weighing up to about 25 pounds, these agile little dogs can easily fit on your lap and are a practical size for a smaller home or apartment.

However, they still require regular walks, space to run and human companionship / interactive playtime. 

Shibas have plush coats that are either red, black-and-tan, sesame, and cream.

Their historic prowess as hunters is clearly illustrated when chasing squirrels, cats or other small critters. Shibas can be a challenging companion pet as their inquisitive, independent nature may test the boundaries of your patience.


puppy crate

Akita Inu: Magnificent and Imposing

The Akita Inu shares many of the same appearance and personality characteristics with the Shiba Inu; however, they posess a much larger body.

Weighing in  between 70 and 130 pounds, these large, muscular dogs have an impressive appearance, and their thick hair coat in colors such as brindle, white and black makes them look even larger than they are.

Akitas are generally considered to be a confident, protective and aloof.

This urge to protect their families can sometimes translate to aggression. Akita Inus are not dogs for everyone as they need an experienced handler.

Their independent, aloof temperaments can mean they are wary of people, and their fearsome size can make growling and barking a frightening thing to witness.


The Akita and Shiba Inu are often described as “catlike.” They tend to think independently, separate themselves from social groups and groom themselves like a feline.

However, they both may not be the best companions for cats as their predatory instinct to hunt and chase small animals is very strong.

As family companions, both Shibas and Akitas are loyal and devoted family members.

However due to their aloof nature, they may not be the best at “showing” this devotion.

Both breeds are generally unreliable off leash, as their independent nature and interest in small prey makes them likely to wander off and ignore obedience cues.


Not surprisingly, the biggest difference between these two dogs is their size difference.

A Shiba Inu is like a S/M while an Akita is an XXL.

As a huge dog, an Akita won’t fit on your lap, cannot be picked up during a walk and is more capable of causing injuries to people, other dogs or small animals.

Both breeds can be a challenge to own, but the Akita owner must be much more vigilant and committed to molding his or her dog into a wonderful canine citizen.

Enjoyable but Challenging Companions
If you are up for a challenge and have an interest in training along with a good sense of humor, the Shiba Inu or Akita Inu may be the dog breed for you.

Choosing excellent training resources / tools will help you to succeed with loose-leash walking and other training needs.

In addition:

• Choose a responsible breeder and a well-socialized puppy
• Invest in training, socialization and high-quality training tools to help your dog be an ambassador for the breed
• Ensure the safety of cats and other small pets
• Enjoy the challenge of owning a magnificent, independent Japanese spitz dog