Akita vs Shiba: Adorable Native Japanese Cousins


A devoted pet parent, pet store manager and animal shelter volunteer. Read more about me here.

Having second thoughts about whether you should pick Akita or Shiba Inu?

Do not worry; the answer lies here.

It's known that choosing a dog for your needs can be difficult, so this should help you clear any possible doubts about Akita vs Shiba.

These Japanese dog breeds may seem alike. However, as the old saying goes: Do not let the appearance fool you; there's more than meets the eye!

Last Updated: November 29th 2023

Akita Under the Spotlight

akita vs shiba - the comparison

Here's an Akita puppy!

The ultimate challenge will be training Akitas. You have to make sure to impose yourself as the owner, or they will give you a hard time while disciplining them if they become too independent. But their intelligence will make it easier.

The good thing is that these dogs are always ready for outdoor activities. They will enjoy any sort of game or exercise. Having enough of these in their formative years can determine Akita Inus' personality when they are older.

I mean, just take a look at this happiness:

You can always count Akitas as the best jogging companions!

meet the adorable akita

Akitas originate from Japan, but there's also an American counterpart. American Akita Inu is an outstanding family dog, well known for devotion and loyalty.

Shiba’s Turn

Meet Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus is one of the smallest members of Japanese dog breeds.

Nevertheless, their size does not mean they can't show their large teeth and warn you of any potential dangers. The Shiba Inu was bred to be used for small game hunting, and that fact alone tells a lot about this breed!

Essentially, we are talking about a very cheerful pet that also likes to be relatively silent. You won't hear Shiba Inus barking often, but only when they think there's a specific need for that.

What is interesting is that they change their personality as they grow. Usually, they go through intense, moody periods when they are 1 to 2 years old. It's like they have their own puberty, especially the female Shibas Inus!

shiba vs akita - direct comparison

Therefore, it's the duty of the owner to pay attention to the day-to-day development and foresee any important life changes.

If you do a good job in its formative years, you will have a strong and protective character in front of you. Shiba Inu will make you proud of all of the effort you've put in training!

They can get quite funny sometimes:

American Shibas seems to be larger and a couple of inches taller than the Japan Shiba, and in 99% of the case, their coat is cream or beige color. 

shiba inu smiling

Just look at this smiling Shiba!

Shiba Inu vs Akita: Direct Comparison

As you're about to see, Akita and Shiba have many shared features, although there are plenty of differences, too.

When you consider everything these two breeds have in common or different, it'll be much easier to decide which one is better for your needs!

First, here's an overview of their characteristics, before we proceed to the complete analyses:



Shiba Inu


Cream, red, white, black

Cream, red, white, black




Life Expectancy

10-12 years

12-16 years


70-130 pounds

18-30 pounds


26-28 inches

15-19 inches

#1 - Shiba Inu Compared to Akita - Appearance

At first glance, both breeds are likely to remind you of a fox.

With their fluffy curled tail and triangular ears, they are widely considered as adorable breeds, especially when you see a puppy.

Both dog breeds have a double coat in different colors - cream and red being the most frequent ones - but occasionally, a white or black tan Shibas and Akitas can be seen.

Once the cute face catches your attention, it's going to become irrelevant whether they have red, black, or sesame coat - this breed will inevitably steal your heart.

#2 - Shiba Inu vs Akita - Grooming

Although their coat looks similar, one of the differences between these two breeds is the amount of shedding.

Akitas' coat needs more grooming, and your home is likely to be full of dog hair. They are also prone to overheating. To prevent such problems, the brushing has to be regular and consistent. You should also bathe them more frequently.

Despite the fact that Shiba Inus also has a double coat, it's much easier to maintain.

The good news is that both dogs are well-behaved. This means they tend to stay clean and don't consider food synonymous with dirt.

#3 - Shiba Inu and Akita - Life Expectancy

Shiba Inus have a high life expectancy, from 12 to 16 years on average, while Akitas usually live from 10 to 12 years.

In addition, both breeds are prone to similar health conditions.

The main problems they can encounter are:

Just like with many dog breeds, their diet plays a huge role in these dogs' health status. For the sake of their health, I recommend you consider making homemade food for your Shibas and Akitas.

They'll be grateful you're thinking about their health and increasing their life expectancy!

#4 - Shiba Inu vs Akita - Size

Size is arguably the most prominent difference between the two dog breeds.

Akitas are the largest and Shiba Inus the smallest dogs that come from Japan. So, you probably already have a clue.

But let's talk numbers.

Much larger Akitas' weight ranges from about 70 to 130 pounds. By standard, small Shiba Inus weigh from 18 to 30 pounds on average.

Of course, the differences in size are not that discernable while the dogs are still puppies, but as soon as they begin to grow, you'll notice that Akitas surpass Shiba Inus in terms of pounds.

As for their height, Shiba Inus are usually around 15 to 19 inches tall, whereas Akitas average at 28 inches.

Therefore, size may be the crucial factor when you're trying to determine which breed will best suit your needs - smaller Inu Shiba or large Akita.

If you have the space that Akita requires, great. Then you can read about other differences to make a decision.

Keep in mind that it might require adequate accessories if you don't already have them, such as a dog bed that can handle up to 130 pounds.

As Shiba Inu does not really require large space, it can live in an apartment, although it is used to running around.

#5 - Shiba Inu and Akita - Temperament

Both Shiba Inus and Akitas are lively and independent dogs.

They like to spend time outdoors and tend to get nervous if they are in a small space for too long. Just like people, don't you agree?

In their essence, they are intelligent and friendly dogs and will easily get used to any habits you might want them to pick up.

Their joyful temperament won't let you be sad - and that's sometimes all people need on a bad day!

#6 - Shiba Inu vs Akita - Training

Do you want to bring one of these breeds home?

You should know that you need to be ready to teach them home rules right away. They can be excellent family dogs if trained well.

The most important thing is to have them understand that you're their owner, who will teach them everything they ought to know. They should begin with training early in their life, almost as a puppy.

As I mentioned, they are quite intelligent dogs. With proper training, they'll be able to perform many tricks and master commands.

Both of these two breeds are strong, slightly stubborn, and independent by nature, which requires pack leadership. But it's best to do it in a non-evasive way with much compassion - and they'll return the favor.

Plus, you'll get exercise and jogging companions!

So far, we've established that size is one of the biggest differences between these dogs. Shiba Inu vs Akita dilemma can be solved if you determine whether you prefer small or large breeds.

But it's worth mentioning that, regardless, they are both muscular dogs that are prepared for any challenge you may throw at them.

The more exercise they get, the more confidence and strength they will exhibit.

Sure, sometimes you may feel a bit exhausted when keeping up with their pace, but the health benefits (for both of you) are enormous!

Akita vs Shiba: FAQ

akita vs shiba - questions

I made sure to dedicate a portion of my time and answer questions that people most frequently asked about these two breeds

Is Shiba Inu related to Akita?

Yes, Shiba Inu and Akita Inu are related! They are Spitz dog breeds, native to Japan.

Even though they are very close in terms of appearance, the main difference is that Shiba Inus are smaller, while Akitas are a larger dog breed.

In any case, you won't be wrong if these Spitz breeds are your first choice for a family dog!

Is Hachiko a Shiba Inu or Akita?

Do you know about a popular dog named Hachiko, who appeared in a newspaper article because it patiently waited for his owner in front of a station every morning? It even has a statue in front of the Shibuya Station.

To be fair, Hackhiko looks like Akita Shiba Inu mix, but this Spitz dog breed is Akita.

And that's precisely the kind of loyalty that you can expect from Akitas. For this reason, "Hachi" is a popular name to give to Akitas.

Are Akita dogs aggressive?

I wouldn't say that Akitas are aggressive.

Independent, with a strong temperament, the type that would do anything to protect its owner? Yes.

But aggressive? No, not really.

The only reason why they can appear like that is if they are badly trained or neglected. In that case, they can be dangerous, especially the female Akita, and mainly towards other animals (read: cats).

As Akitas are much larger than some other breeds, they may inflict more serious damage to other dogs or cats in case an accident happens. However, it isn't because of their aggressive nature - which is typical of Chihuahuas, for example - but simply because of their size.

Final Words: Akita vs Shiba

akita vs shiba - conclusion

Back to the burning question: Which is better, Akita or Shiba?

One breed or the other is not "better" by itself. However, it's not to say that there is no difference between these friendly dogs.

It means that there are certain differences, but that you need to choose which breed is better for you.

So, it's really up to you - massive Akita or smaller Shiba Inu - the more you get to know about them, the sooner you realize there isn't a wrong choice.

About the Author

A devoted pet parent to two lovely creatures – Charlie the Cat and Jimmy the Dog – a full-time assistant pet store manager, and an animal shelter volunteer. I've gathered knowledge about pets for almost a decade, and it all started in a small store called Jack's Pets.

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