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Akita vs Shiba: What are the Differences?

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These two dog breeds seem very similar, but when it comes to the Akita vs Shiba, there is a lot to think about. To some people, these two breeds could seem almost indistinguishable. They both come from Japan, have that famous fluffy coat and curly tail, and that’s just the beginning. 

In many ways, both the Akita and Shiba look a lot like foxes. They even have similar fur colors as well. But while no one can deny the many similarities, the Akita and Shiba do have plenty of differences. 

To help you learn everything you need to know about these two beautiful breeds, we’ve put together our Akita vs Shiba guide! We’ll look at a number of key categories including their background, appearance, behavior, and more.

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Breed History

It’s easy to see why the Akita vs Shiba is such a common rivalry. Both these breeds come from Japan. They were also both historically hunting dogs. And they even share some similar ancestors too. Let’s take a closer look at both breeds and see the differences and similarities. 



The Akita as we know it today actually came from a line of hunting dogs called the Matagi. It’s believed that it originated from the mountains of Northern Japan. In 1931, the Japanese government designated the Akita as a national monument. 

The Akita is still used for hunting today and is very strong. Many people underestimate the strength of the Akita; it’s a very muscular and powerful dog. It was first brought to America by Helen Keller. She was given an Akita puppy in 1937, during a tour of Japan. 


The Shiba is a very old breed in Japan. It dates back to 300 B.C and was used as a hunting dog in Japan’s mountain regions. While packs of Shiba dogs were used to hunt large game, they became the hunting dog of choice for smaller animals. 

The Shiba was also officially recognized as one of Japan’s most important cultural animals. But it almost went extinct during the Second World War. Thankfully the government was able to keep the Shiba alive with a dedicated survival program. 

Despite being the older of the two breeds, the Shiba actually came to America after the Akita. The first known documented Shiba in the United States was in 1954. 

Akita vs Shiba Temperament and Behavior

While the Akita and Shiba are both undeniably cute. Many people are surprised by their temperament and behavior. Both these breeds were used as hunting dogs after all. Let’s take a closer look at how these two dogs behave. 

Akita Temperament and Behavior

Akita Temperament and Behavior

The Akita is well-known in Japan for being a very loyal dog. An Akita can make a great family dog because of this. However, an Akita will require plenty of stimulation to ensure it burns off its excess energy. 

They are very intelligent animals but aren’t recommended to households who can’t give them the time they need. Since the Akita was historically a hunting dog, they will also often chase other smaller animals. 

They are very brave dogs but this does mean they can become aggressive quite quickly. An Akita, therefore, isn’t always the best choice for families with young children.  

Shiba Temperament and Behavior

The Shiba is similar in behavior and temperament to the Akita in many ways. However, the Shiba can be even more feisty. They are very protective animals and this can cause them to act aggressively with strangers. 

They will often chase small animals and are very vocal. If you want a quiet, laid-back, or lazy dog the Shiba isn’t the best choice. However, Shiba’s are very loyal and loving breeds that will be very affectionate. Also unlike many dogs, this breed is also quite independent. 

Physical Appearance

Another reason the Akita vs Shiba debate is so prevalent is because they look very similar. In fact, many people struggle to tell them apart. But there are plenty of differences between the two.

Akita Appearance

The first big difference between these two breeds is that the Akita is much larger. An Akita can grow to around 28-inches in height. And their maximum weight can go up to 130 pounds! They are much larger than many people think. 

Akitas are usually quite muscular and have a pointed muzzle, with triangular ears. Their coats are usually fluffy and come in many different colors. The American Akita also has colors not found in their native country of Japan as well. 

While some are rarer Akitas can have red, white, brindle, and pinto style coats. The Akita is also well-known for its famous curly tail that curves up over its back. 

Shiba Appearance

Shiba Appearance

The Shiba can be thought of as a smaller version of the Akita. Shiba dogs can only grow to around 16-inches at maximum. They also weigh much less than the Akita, with their maximum healthy weight being around 23 pounds. 

They are still very muscular animals though and have a pointed muzzle and triangular ears. A Shiba will tend to have a longer snout when compared to an Akita. They have the same curly tail and fluffy coat as well. 

A Shiba’s coat can come in many colors including red, black, brown, or white. They also tend to have markings of different colors on their body. These can be in many different places including their tail, head, belly, or legs. 

Akita vs Shiba: Grooming Needs

So, far in our look at the Akita vs Shiba, you have probably noticed plenty of similarities and differences. But grooming is one of the most important areas to consider when getting a dog. 

Thankfully, both the Akita and Shiba are relatively low-maintenance dog breeds

The “relatively” is key though because these two breeds, while very clean, will still require regular grooming. They both have very fluffy coats that will require regular brushing. 

They will also often need a bath now and again to keep them looking their best. Aside from this, you have the regular grooming tasks you can expect with most breeds, like cleaning their ears and clipping their nails.

Of the two, the Shiba is going to be the easiest to groom because it is the smaller breed. If you can handle regular brushing, then you shouldn’t let their grooming needs put you off. Both the Akita and Shiba are beautiful animals that after some training, should behave well during grooming. 

The Health Differences

One of the most important things to think about when getting a dog is their health needs. Let’s see how the Akita and Shiba compare when it comes to their health. 

Akita Health Issues

Akita Health Issues

The Akita is a very strong dog, but its large size does make it susceptible to some health conditions. If you are thinking of getting an Akita, then you need to know about the following potential issues. 

  • Malformed Joints 
  • Blindness/ Cataracts 
  • Autoimmune Diseases 
  • Clotting Disorders  

Health tests can help you check for some of these conditions. When it comes to their lifespan the Akita can vary quite a bit. On average you can expect an Akita to live for between 10 to 15 years. 

Shiba Health Issues 

The Shiba, thanks to its smaller size, avoids some of the health issues that can affect larger breeds. However, there are some potential health issues you need to be aware of if you’re thinking of getting a Shiba. 

  • Allergies
  • Dislocated Kneecaps 
  • Eye Disorders 
  • Hip Dysplasia 

Health tests can help you check for some of these issues. When it comes to their lifespan a Shiba will usually live for around 12 to 16 years. 

Akita vs Shiba: Exercise Comparison 

Both the Akita and Shiba breeds are very energetic. Given that both these breeds were hunting dogs this isn’t overly surprising. You’ll need to ensure you give both these dogs plenty of exercise and time outdoors. 

They love to play and are very F. However, you need to be mindful with Akita puppies as they can damage their joints if they overdo things. Both dogs are quite equal where exercise is concerned. 

They should spend time having fun and going for walks. Just make sure that they have plenty of rest as well. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Which of The Two Breeds Bark More?

You might have already guessed from reading our Akita vs Shiba guide. But to make it clear the Shiba is definitely the more vocal of the two breeds. The Akita can be vocal but they don’t usually bark as much. Shiba’s on the other hand can be surprisingly loud and noisy dogs. 

Which Breed is Best Suited for an Apartment?

While both dogs can live in an apartment, the Shiba because of its smaller size is likely the best option for most people. An Akita can live in an apartment, as long as it still gets plenty of time outdoors. But they are better suited for homes that have a yard or garden to play in. 

Which Breed is Best With Children? 

Now, this is a tricky question to answer. Both the Akita and Shiba can be great family dogs, especially if you get them as puppies. This will give them time to get to know your children while they’re young. 

Both breeds love to be social and are very loyal. The Shiba’s smaller size may make it more attractive as a family dog. But with the right care, an Akita can make a great family dog as well. 

Akita vs Shiba: Which Dog is Right For You?

So, is it the Akita or the Shiba? Well, both dogs would make great pets and they have plenty of characteristics in common. Both breeds are very energetic and love social interaction. They enjoy time orders and will require regular brushing. 

However, both breeds can also be quite protective and in some cases aggressive to other animals and strangers. The Shiba is much smaller so generally considered better suited for apartments and families. 

While the Akita will thrive in a larger home with a garden or yard to play in. With the right care and training, both the Akita and Shiba can make great dogs though. They are both very lovable, loyal, and affectionate. Exactly what you would expect from man’s best friend!

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