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Akita vs Shiba – Is Size The Only Difference?

Shiba Inu
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Both Akita Inu and Shiba Inu are adorable dogs. They resemble a fox, and they are smart as whips. But when it comes to the Akita vs Shiba breed comparison, is size the only difference? Are there any other differences and similarities between the two dog breeds?

Let’s take a look. These two can grow to be great companions. But they do pose a bit of a challenge for first-time owners.

Generally speaking, they are closely related spitz dog breeds native to Japan.

According to Japanese history and DNA studies, these two breeds are among the most ancient domesticated dogs. The American Kennel Club recognizes both Japanese dog breeds.

Breed History


If you want to better understand the difference between these dog breeds, you have to look at their history. It will also help you understand their personality better.

The history of a dog tells you more about what you can expect from them as a family pet.

For example, the Shiba Inu is an ancient dog believed to originate from 300 BC. At the time, the Shiba Inu puppy was used for flushing birds and other game for its master. Larger dogs were used for hunting wild boar.

At the time, it was the smallest of the six original Spitz-type dogs. Shiba Inu was not seen outside of Japan until the 1950s. That is when an American military family brought one of these dogs to America. And the rest is history. For the Japanese, the Shiba Inu dog is what the Labrador Retriever is to Americans, the most popular family dog.

The Akita Inu was developed in the 17th century as the largest Spitz-type dog. The breed was established thanks to a banished aristocrat who spent his days on a northern Japanese island. He wanted to create a large and versatile hunting dog.

In the next several decades, he came up with the Akita, a powerful dog that could hunt wild boar, deer, and the fearsome Yezo bear. There are families in Japan who still use the Akita for hunting. Because of its hunting nature, the Akita is viewed as more dangerous than it is.

Back in the day, the Akita was only allowed to be kept by imperial families and their court. Once the law ended, families across the world enjoy the company of the Akita. Nowadays, there is even an American Akita, slightly different than the Japanese Akita.

The puppy is described as the most loyal dog breed, highlighted by the famous Akita named Hachiko. This dog waited for nine years for his owner to return, and the story was immortalized in a Hollywood film.

Shiba Inu Overview

Shiba Inu

The best way to describe Shiba Inu is small but mighty. This bright, active, and bold little dog has a sturdy and compact size. Its impressive athletic ability will surprise you.

Shiba weighs up to 25 pounds, but it is an agile little dog that can easily fit on your lap. Because of its size, it is practical for a smaller home or apartment.

They still maintain some of their hunting instinct, especially when they chase squirrels, cats, and small animals. Because of their independent nature, they can be challenging pets. This companion pet will always test your boundaries.

Akita Overview


If we said the Shiba dog is small but mighty, the Akita dog is magnificent and imposing. They share similar appearance and personality characteristics but in a much larger body. This makes it even more challenging, especially when the Akita tries to test your limits and boundaries.

The large dog can weigh between 70 and 130 pounds, making it quite a muscular dog. Their impressive appearance and thick coat make them look larger than they are.

Considered to be confident, protective, and aloof. Because of their urge to protect families, they might be seen as aggressive. Their urge can sometimes translate to aggression. And because of their independent and aloof temperament, they are wary of people.

Appearance Breed Comparison


When it comes to the Akita vs Shiba breed comparison, most of the differences are in size and appearance. The most significant difference is the size.

For example, the Akita is a large dog, growing past 100 pounds, while Shibas rarely reach more than 22 pounds. Akita stands 34 inches at the shoulder, while Shiba stands between 13 to 17 inches.

Both dogs have a double coat, with the Akita sporting a dense and plush undercoat and a short topcoat. As you can assume, they shed a lot. Shiba Inu has a softer and thicker undercoat. Their outer coat is hard and straight.

As for the colors, Shibas come in five different shades, including red, black, tan, sesame, and cream. Red is the most popular among them. Akita Inu has different hues and color combinations, including black, white, brown, red, or fawn.

Personality and Temperament

You can say these dogs are similar, yet different in personality. They are livewires and lots of fun. If you want a fluffy dog that will keep your family entertained, both of these will do. Silly and goofy, they will provide lots of fun, joy, and entertainment.

Another similarity is they are both suspicious of strangers. They will alert you when someone is coming to your home. The Akita is the more dominant dog and one that is very protective of its family.

Then, we have to mention they are both stubborn. They are quick to make up their own mind, another reason first-time owners should not get them. These strong-willed dogs need a master who knows how to deal with an independent dog.

Now, about the difference in their personality. This might surprise you, but the Akita is more sensitive. This large dog hates to be left alone. The Shiba is more independent, and will not instantly show signs of separation anxiety when left alone.

Once you spend some time with them, you will see that both of these breeds are snuggle bugs and very affectionate with the family.


Both of these dogs shed quite a lot. But if you look at the Akita vs Shiba comparison, you will see the Shiba Inu puppy sheds less. And there is a good reason for it, it is a smaller dog. Therefore, they have less coat to shed.

Health Concerns

If health is a big factor in your choice, then it is quite an easy one. Akita dog breed is more prone to disorders and risks. For starters, they are sensitive to drugs and insecticides. Akitas are also prone to autoimmune disease, diabetes, bloat, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and more.

Among these two Japanese dog breeds, the Shiba is the healthier one.

Life Expectancy

Shiba Inu has a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. It is significantly longer than the Akita. But you have to remember, the Akita is the largest Japanese breed. And large dogs tend to have a shorter life span. With that being said, the Akita has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.

Exercise and Training

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When you look at these two puppies, one is small-to-medium, while the other is a large dog. Surprisingly, they require the same amount of exercise. They need up to 60 minutes of exercise per day.

Akitas have a lot of energy to burn, and if you cannot meet their daily exercise needs, they will become destructive and problematic. And you definitely do not want a large dog like Akita to be destructive, right?

As for their intelligence, they are both very intelligent. That means they need quite a lot of mental stimulation. A walk around the block will not suffice their needs. Try to mix up their activities.

Because the Akita is a giant breed, we do not suggest any strenuous activities that will impact the joints. Wait until your dog fully develops. That means wait until your Akita dog is 12 months of age to start looking for a jogging partner.

Because of their high prey drive, both of these need to be kept on a leash. Akitas can be dangerous if they catch a smaller animal. Leash train your Akita puppy at an early age to ensure your puppy is manageable.

In the dog park, the Shiba Inu might do well with other dogs. That is if the dog is properly socialized. The Akita, however, might be agitated by other dogs, even if socialized.

In their training session, they will show their stubbornness. They are headstrong dogs that need masters that can handle their independence. Only an experienced dog owner should take the challenge of owning an Akita or Shiba Inu.

Which One To Get?

Both of these puppies make fantastic family pets. They are wonderful dogs that are quite similar but have a lot of differences as well. They tend to guard the people and things they care about.

If you do not have enough time to spend with your puppy, it is better to get a Shiba Inu. The Akita is more prone to separation anxiety and can be a bit sensitive.

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