Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: How Are They Related And Different?

Akita Inu and Shiba Inu are dog breeds that are originated in Japan. Inu means dog in Japanese. These two breeds are among the most popular dogs worldwide. Both the Shiba Inu and Akita have a fox-like appearance, furry curled tail and have small, erect ears.

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu

So what are the main differences of these two dogs? Let us get to know more about the characteristics and differences of Akita Inu and Shiba Inu below.

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu

Akita Inus

Akita Inus


Also known as Japanese Akita.

Akita Inus originated in Odate, Akita Prefecture of Japan. They come from a line of hunting dogs. Bred to hunt animals, such as wild boar, elk, and Ussuri brown bears. In 1600s, Akita dog fighting was popular in Japan. In 1500s to 1800s, this Japanese Akita dog breed served as companion dog for samurai.

Akita Inus have a larger body compared to Shiba Inus. There are actually two varieties of Akita. Akita Inu, a Japanese strain and American Akita, an American Akita.

Akita Inu is typically unapproachable to strangers. That is why they are considered as one of the best guard dog breeds in the world.

Akita Inu is also considered as one of the most loyal dogs. They are very affectionate with family members. Akita breeds are well known worldwide because of the story of Hachiko, the faithful Akita dog who waited at the Shibuya train station for his master, Professor Hidesaburō Ueno of Tokyo. His master died suddenly at work. Even after his master’s death, Hachiko continued to wait for him everyday until his own death.

Today, Hachiko has a bronze statue at the Shibuya train station. The statue stands in the place where he used to wait. You may want to put this on your itinerary if you plan to visit Japan.

Akita Appearance

Akita Appearance

  • Male Akita Inu: 26–28 in (66–71 cm)
  • Female Akita Inu: 24–26 in (61–66 cm)
  • Male Akita Inu:100–130 lb (45–59 kg)
  • Female Akita Inu:85–100 lb (39–45 kg)

Akita has a large, bear-like head with erect, triangular ears. It has a dark, small, deeply set eyes and triangular in shape, and a pointed muzzle. Furthermore, this Akita dog breed has thick double coats, and a cat-like feet. The tails are curled up over the back.

Japanese akita coat colors are limited to fawn, sesame, brindle, pure white, red. All have Urajiro markings whitish coat on the sides of the cheeks, on the the muzzle, on the underside of jaw, neck, chest, body and tail and on the inside of the legs.

Akita Grooming Needs

Grooming akitas are very easy because they are low maintenance. They can groom themselves. Akita inus tend to shed twice a year. A good way to minimize this problem is to brush them daily to prevent mats. This dog breed needs to bath more often or at least every month. Their ears should be cleaned often, and nails should be trimmed every month.

Akita Temperament

Akita Temperament

Akitas are active, intelligent dogs. These dog breeds require more exercise. These Japanese dogs are territorial about its belongings, and vigilant around strangers. However, they are loyal and loving to their family. According to the AKC breed standard, this dog breed is known to be intolerant to other dogs. Caution must be used in circumstances when they meet other dogs.

If you are a first time dog pet owner, this Japanese Akita dog might not be the best for you, since this dog breed is a powerful, dominant, and large dog. However, not all Akita inus have the same temperament. This type of dog breed needs a confident and consistent owner.

Akita Health

Akita Health

Since Akita Inu is a large dog, this dog breed is more prone to health issues. The health issues are listed below.

  • Uveo-Dermatologic Syndrome. This is an auto-immune condition which affects the eyes and the skin.
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia. A blood disorder wherein the immune system produce antibodies to attack the red blood cells, which causes a low red blood cell count resulting to anemia.
  • Addison’s disease. The body doesn’t produce enough hormones. It affects the adrenal glands.
  • Diabetes mellitus. Affects the pancreas. The cells of the pancreas stop producing insulin.
  • Gastric Dilation or bloat. The stomach of the dog twists on itself due to excessive gas content.
  • Primary glaucoma. This is due to increased pressure in the eye.
  • Hip dysplasia. A condition affecting the skeletons. Leads to osteoarthritis and pain.
  • Von Willebrands disease. A genetic clotting disorder.
  • Elbow dysplasia. Another skeletal condition in which the components of elbow joint are not aligned properly leading to osteoarthritis and pain.

Training Akita Inu

Training Akita Inu

Training Akita can be a challenge because of its personality traits. Akita inu is known for being dependent, powerful and dominant breed. Generally speaking, if left untrained, it can result to dangerous behaviors.

If you want to own an Akita Inu puppy, it is best to train this pup while he is still young. Consistency and positive reinforcement should always be used to Akita puppy when it comes to obedience training.

Early socialization and obedience training are vital to success with this dog breed. Make sure to train it yourself to create a bond between you and the pup. You will also be able to earn dog’s respect. Never entrust the training to someone else.

This dog breed can get bored easily, resulting in a destructive behavior. To avoid this kind of situation, make sure your Akita gets daily walks. Outdoor exercise is also good for Akitas, but make sure that there are no children or other animals in the area. They tend to get agitated to strangers or unfamiliar faces.

Feeding an Akita

Ideally, you should provide a good quality meal for your dog. Serve between 3 to 5 bowls of food everyday for a healthy adult Akita.

Provide a meal that is high in nutrients and low in calories. For your pup, food should be breed-formulated to acquire the growth requirements of the breed. Do not give the Akita pup human food.

Provide an eating schedule. Be consistent in giving meals with your Akita so that he will get used to it.

Life Expectancy of Akita Inu

The life expectancy of this giant sized dog ranges from 10 to 12 years.

Shiba Inus

Shiba Inus


Also known as Japanese Shiba Inu, Japanese Brushwood Dog, Shiba Ken, Shobe, Shibe, Shober. Both the Shiba Inu and Akita Inu originated from the spitz family.

In the 19th century, Shiba Inu was classified as a dog breed that predates the emergence of the modern breeds. Dogs that have the same look to Shiba Inu were represented in dogū (a Japanese traditional figurine) made during the prehistoric Jōmon period of Japanese history.

Western dog breeds were imported during the Meiji Restoration. Crossbreeds between the native Japanese dog breeds and western breeds became popular. However, almost no pure Shiba Inu remained from 1912 to 1926. Hunters and intellectuals decided to maintain and protect the remaining pure Shiba Inu, as part of Japan’s culture. In spite of the effort to conserve Shiba Inu, this Japanese dog breed almost went extinct during the World War II, because of food shortage and distemper epidemic. Japanese government however managed to save Shiba Inu dog breed, and were bred from the three remaining bloodlines.

Shiba Inu is the smallest of the spitz breeds of dog native to Japan. Originally bred for hunting rabbits, birds and other small game. Shiba Inu is a small sized dog compared to Akita Inu. This dog breed copes well with hiking trails and mountainous regions. Shiba Inu is usually mistaken for Akita Inu since they have almost the same appearance.

Shiba Inu Appearance

Shiba Inu Appearance

  • Male: 35 to 43 cm (14 to 17 in)
  • Female: 33 to 41 cm (13 to 16 in)
  • Male: 10 kg (22 lb)
  • Female: 8 kg (18 lb)

Shiba Inu is a muscular dog. The Fur is short, this dog breed has a fox-like ears, face, and legs.

The Shiba Inu is double coated. The outer coat is straight and stiff, and the undercoat is thick and soft.

Guard hairs of Shiba Inu are about 4 to 5 cm long. Guard hairs at withers are use to protect the underlying skin and repel snow or rain.

The tail hairs of Shiba Inu are longer, and the tails curl back over their body. Their tails help them from extreme winter weather. Also when they sleep, they use their tails to cover their nose and face to protect the sensitive parts from the cold.

Coat colors of Shiba Inu are cream, black and tan, red, sesame, black sesame, red sesame. The urajiro markings are required, which can be seen on the sides of the muzzle, inside the ears, on the cheeks, on the upper throat and underjaw, on the stomach area, inside of legs, around the vent and the ventral side of the tail. For red Shiba Inu, markings can be seen on the throat, chest and forechest. There is usually a triangular mark on both sides of the forechest on Black and Sesame Shiba Inu.

Shiba Inu Gooming Needs

Low maintenance grooming needs since Shiba Inu is a clean type of dog breed. Normally, Shiba Inu hate to be wet or bathe, so you need to train the pup while he is still young to get him accustomed to bathing. The coat of Shiba Inu is coarse and usually waterproof so there is minimal need for regular bathing.

The shedding is quite a challenge. This dog breed sheds the heaviest during the seasonal change or the summer season. To minimize the problem, it is recommended to brush the Shiba Inu daily. Also, pet owners are advised not to cut or shave the coat, because the coat protects Shiba Inu from hot and cold temperatures.

Shiba Inu Temperament

Shiba Inu Temperament

Shiba Inu temperament is alert, active, bold, and spirited.

Shiba Inus often lick their paws and legs, just like cats. They have this feeling that they need to maintain themselves in a clean state.

Shiba Inu is easy to train and can do well in any house. They can adapt an apartment life. Just like the Akita Inu, Shiba Inu is also very affectionate with his family, and vigilant to strangers.

One of the unique characteristics of Shiba Inu is its Shiba scream. When this dog breed is stressed or unhappy, the dog creates a loud, high-pitched scream. Although, Shiba Inu also produce the same sound when he is happy or excited to see the arrival of the owner or any family member.

Shiba has a predatory instinct because they are hunting dogs. This is one of the reasons why they are not suited to younger children. Young children might get rough in playing with Shiba, and this dog may display an aggressive behavior.

Shiba Inu Health

Shiba Inu Health

Generally, the Shiba Inu is a healthy dog breed. However, they are also prone to health conditions.

  • Allergies. This is the most commonly reported health problem on Shibas. Other dogs also get them.
  • Glaucoma. A condition in the eye which causes vision loss.
  • Cataract. A condition in the eye that leads to decrease in vision.
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Entropion. A condition in which the eyelid folds inward.
  • Luxating patella. A condition in which the kneecap moves out of it normal location

It is advised to perform eye tests yearly because eye problems can develop over time. A knee examination is also recommended throughout the dog’s life.

Shiba Inu Training

Shiba Inu Training

Since Shiba is a smart dog, he will be able to learn commands and new tricks quickly. For first time pet owners, training a Shiba pup may be a challenge because the pup has a mind of his own. Both Shibas and Akitas need positive reinforcement and consistency in training. They are important to succeed in taming these two dogs.

Female Shiba can be sometimes aggressive, but you can prevent this trait with good training and early socialization.

Feeding Shiba Inu

This Japanese dog is known to be a picky eater. However, most of the Shibas will eat anything whatever you put in front of them. Since this type of breed is full of energy, it is best to provide high quality treats and foods.

Some Shiba may get a little chubby or fat. It is important that they always get enough exercise, especially if they love to eat.

Life Expectancy of Shiba Inus

The average life span of this dog breed is from 11 to 16 years. Daily walks or exercise is advised for this dog breed to live a long and healthy life.


Dogs are a man’s bestfriend. If you are thinking about getting either Shiba or Akita, make sure you have lots of patience, and able to train them as soon as possible. With that said, both the Shiba Inu and Akita are pretty much the same. But the obvious difference is their size, Akita is a large dog and Shiba is a small dog. Thank you for reading this post.

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