Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: What Are The Differences?

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: March 19, 2022
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Do you want to know the differences between the Akita Inu vs the Shiba Inu? Both Akita and Shiba Inu are Japanese hunting dog breeds with similar facial features, which is why they are often confused with one another. “Inu” is the Japanese word for dog. Shiba Inu means “Little Brushwood Dog,” while Akita Inu means “Akita dog” or “Great Japanese Dog.”

The Akita is Japan’s official dog breed. However, the Shiba is the more prevalent domestic dog. In this post, we’ll continue our comparison of these two domestic dogs in eight essential categories, including look, features, and health.

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: A Comparison 

akita inu vs shiba inu
Shiba Inu means “Little Brushwood Dog,” while Akita Inu means “Akita dog” or “Great Japanese Dog.”
Akita InuShiba Inu
Size24 – 28 inches
70 to 130 lbs.
13 – 16 inches
17 to 22 lbs.
Coat typeFluffy, Straight, WaterproofDense
ColorsRed, Fawn, White, Brown, BlackRed, Tan, Cream, Sesame, Black
TemperamentFriendly, Independent, ProtectiveAlert, Fearless, Faithful, Smart
TrainabilityHigher than AverageLower than Average
Life Expectancy10 to 12 Years12 to 15 Years
Health ProblemsBloat, Hypothyroidism, PRACancer, Hip Dysplasia, PRA

The Key Differences Between Akita Inu and Shiba Inu

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu

In terms of size, the Akita is much larger than the Shiba.

©Irina Nedikova/Shutterstock.com

The key differences between Akita Inus and Shiba Inus are appearance, characteristics, and health factors.

In terms of size, the Akita is much larger than the Shiba. As such, the Akita was bred to hunt huge game like deer and wild boar, while the Shiba Inu was bred and trained to hunt small animals like rabbits and cats. Their coats are likewise diverse, with a wide spectrum of hues between them. Let’s dive deeper into these differences!


Akita inu vs shiba inu

The Akita was used for hunting huge game like deer and wild boar, while the Shiba was bred and trained to hunt smaller animals.

©Kseniia Kolesnikova/Shutterstock.com

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: Height

Towering over the Shiba, Akitas are a large breed dog with an average height of 27 inches for males and 25 inches for females. Shiba Inu females are much shorter, averaging a height of only 14 inches. Male Shibas aren’t much taller, only reaching a maximum height of 16 inches.

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: Weight

akita inu vs shiba inu

The Akita can weigh anywhere from 70 to 130 pounds, whereas the Shiba Inu is only about 22 pounds.


The Akita can weigh anywhere from 70 to 130 pounds, whereas the Shiba Inu is only about 22 pounds. Because of their smaller size, Shibas are sometimes referred to as lap dogs. Although loving them is easy, Akitas would not make for an easy lap friend.

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: Coat Type

The Akita has a double coat, with a dense and plush undercoat and a short topcoat. Grooming the Akita isn’t difficult in general. However, the Akita sheds a lot. The Shiba Inu is also double-coated. However, the undercoat is softer and thicker than the Akita’s. The Shiba Inu’s outer coat is hard and straight. The fur is short and even on the head and legs, with long guard hairs standing off the body.

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: Colors

Shiba Inus have coat colors that come in five different shades: red, black, tan, sesame, and cream. The red coat is the most popular of the four colors. There are many different hues and color combinations available for the Akita Inu. Black, white, brown, red, or fawn are some of their color variations.


akita inu vs shiba inu

Akita Inus are considered more aggressive than Shiba Inus.


Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: Temperament

Both dogs are instinctively wary of strangers, but they are also dedicated to their owners. Akitas are fearless and tenacious canines. They are observant, savvy, and fearless. Akitas have a bad reputation for being aggressive against other dogs, especially those of their gender. Protection aggressiveness is normal in dogs since they want to protect the people or things they consider to be part of their family.

It is only when Shiba Inus feel threatened that they become aggressive. However, the Shiba Inu makes a wonderful pet for any home. If the children are properly socialized with dogs and display respect, these dogs will be loyal and dedicated to them. The Shiba Inu is known for its ability to socialize better than other breeds of dogs.

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: Trainability

Shiba Inus are independent thinkers who are quite smart yet stubborn and aren’t famous for their trainability. Akita Inus are bright dogs who are much easier to train if you show them respect and reward them.

Health Factors

akita inu vs shiba inu

The Shiba Inu lives an average of 12-15 years, while Akita Inus live 10-12 years.

©Liudmila Bohush/Shutterstock.com

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: Life Expectancy

The Shiba Inu has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, which is significantly longer than the Akita. These numbers are based on data when the dog is in the correct setting, with both dogs being healthy. The Akita Inu has a shorter life expectancy, averaging 10-12 years.

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: Health Problems

Shibas are prone to Glaucoma, Hip Dysplasia, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which can lead to blindness. Akita Inus are also susceptible to PRA, an immunological disorder called myasthenia gravis, bleeding problems, and skin-related immune system disorders. Both breeds are susceptible to hypothyroidism, a disorder in which the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones.

Wrapping Up Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu

In comparison, both breeds tend to guard the people and things they care about. In contrast, there is little in common between the temperament and training of the Shiba and Akita breeds. Training both dog breeds is possible, but one is easier than the other. Both dogs have double coats, but the fur on each one is distinctively different. Both breeds originate from Japan and look similar enough they could pass for siblings from a distance. However, it is much easier to see that these are two distinct dog breeds upon further exploration.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Kurt Pas

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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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