What is 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. They remain popular in Japan, and have been formally established as protected species since the 1930s. 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. With a weight up to 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 require regular walks, space to run and human companionship for interactive playtime. These beautiful little dogs have a thick, soft hair coat in colors of red, sesame or black and tan that makes them look a bit like a teddy bear. 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. With a weight 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 and sometimes aggressive breed. 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. You should choose a thoughtfully bred, well-socialized puppy, and you should continue training and management throughout your Akita’s lifetime to ensure a well-behaved, social dog.


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, you may find that both breeds tend to pull when walking on a leash. Especially for the large Akita Inu, training for loose-leash walking and the use of excellent training tools such as no-pull harnesses is a must. 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. Because of their thick hair coat, erect ears and tightly curled tail, the Shiba Inu and Akita Inu’s body language may be difficult for you to read. You must watch for more subtle movements such as a slight tail wag, tightness in the mouth, and small changes in the ears and eyes. It is important to understand their body language to determine their mindset and comfort, especially in social situations with other people or animals.


The differences between Shibas and Akitas is primarily limited to their size difference. 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 tools will help you to succeed with loose-leash walking and other training needs. Please leave a comment if you have any questions about these two Japanese spitz breeds, and if you are if considering adding one of these breeds to your home, the things to remember include: • 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 Sources: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/shiba-inu/ http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/akita/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338834/ http://www.shibas.org/index.html http://akitaclub.org/breed_info/