Akita vs Shiba: Six Main Differences Explained

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: August 31, 2021


Though both Akitas and Shibas originated in Japan, and people do notice the similarity between them, there are notable differences between the two. By the way, Akita Inu means “the dog of Akita,’ with Akita being the name of a prefecture and its capital city. Shiba Inu just means “little dog” or “brushwood dog.” The Akita is of a much bigger size than the Shiba. The Shiba was bred to hunt small game such as rabbits, while the Akita was bred to hunt brown bears and elk.

The Shiba is also more popular than the Akita as a pet, though the Akita is Japan’s national dog. No longer mostly used as a hunting dog, the Shiba is kept as an affectionate pet in Japan and other places. It is also a much older breed than the Akita, which is still prized as a hunting and tracking dog as well as a companion. Read on to learn some of the main differences between these amazing dogs.

Comparing Akita vs Shiba

Here’s a table with some of the differences between an Akita and a Shiba.

Akita Shiba
Height 24 to 28 inch 13 to 17 inches
Weight 70 to 130 pounds 18 to 22 pounds
Origin The 1600s 1000 BC
Popularity Popular Very popular
Health Some health issues Hardy
Life expectancy 10 years 12 to 15 years
Modern uses Several As a pet
Price Between $600 and $2000 $2000 – $3500

The Six Key Differences Between Akita vs Shiba

1. Akita vs Shiba: Size and Weight

The Akita is a considerably larger dog than the Shiba. Females stand around 34 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 75 and 110 pounds, while males are a bit bigger. The Shiba stands only 13 to 17 inches at the shoulder and only weighs between 18 and 22 pounds, with males again being a little larger than females.

2. Akita vs Shiba: Profile

Though there’s a similarity in looks between the Shiba and the Akita, the Shiba Inu has a more foxy look about it. It has a tapering muzzle, small, erect, triangular ears, and dark triangle-shaped eyes with black rims. The Akita’s muzzle is strong and broad, though it has a soft mouth that is good for retrieving waterfowl. It also has triangular, erect ears but they are positioned over the dog’s eyes and in line with the nape of its neck. The Akita looks much like the bear it was bred to hunt.

3. Akita vs Shiba: Health Problems

The Shiba is a hardy dog though it can be prone to slipped kneecaps and hip dysplasia. The Akita is at risk for several disorders, some of which only strike the breed. The Akita tends to be sensitive to drugs and insecticides and a condition called pseudohyperkalemia. This happens when the dog’s blood is drawn, and its red blood cells leak too much potassium. However, there’s really nothing wrong with the animal, as dogs with origins in east Asia have more potassium in their red blood cell count than other types of dogs.

Akitas are also prone to autoimmune diseases, diabetes, hypothyroidism, bloat, dysplasia of the hip and elbows and Cushing’s syndrome among others.

4. Akita vs Shiba: Temperament

The Shiba’s temperament is playful and active, and it’s good with children and the larger pets of the family. However, it shouldn’t be left alone with smaller pets such as mice or rabbits. It was used to hunt these animals and might retain an ancestral memory! The temperament of an Akita is fearless and amazingly loyal. They make excellent guard dogs. They may not take immediately to strangers, especially strange children and need to be supervised when introduced to new people or pets. Akitas are also a bit territorial and have trouble tolerating dogs of the same sex. Dog fanciers claim that Akitas should not be a person’s “starter” dog.

5. Akita vs Shiba: Popularity

Akitas are popular dogs, and they seem more popular with Americans than with the Japanese, even though they are Japan’s national dog. They became very popular with returning American servicemen after World War II, and Helen Keller had not one but two Akitas.

6. Akita vs Shiba: Longevity

Like most dogs of large size, Akitas do not live as long as small dogs like Shibas. Akitas live about 10 years on average, while the Shiba lives between 12 and 15 years.

Next Up: Porcupine vs Hedgehog: 8 Main Differences Explored

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the difference between an Akita vs Shiba?

Though they look alike, the Akita is a much bigger dog. It’s less playful than the Shiba and more territorial, though it makes up for this with its faithfulness. The price you’d pay for a purebred Shiba Inu is more than the price of a purebred Akita. A Shiba can cost as much as $3500, while the most expensive Akita costs about $2000.

If the dog is going to be shown, there’s more of a range of colors allowed for the Akita than for the Shiba. The colors of an Akita’s coat can be white, sesame, red, fawn, or brindle, while the colors of a Shibu’s coat are restricted to red with some black, black, and tan, sesame with some red with a paler undercoat.

Is Akita same as Shiba?

Though their similarity is evident, Akitas are not the same dog as Shibas. Shibas have been around since antiquity, while Akitas were first bred by Japanese noblemen in the mountains of Akita prefecture in the 17th century.

Are Shibas as loyal as Akitas?

Shibas are loyal dogs, but nothing can beat the loyalty of an Akita. The most famous of these dogs, Hachikō, would wait at the train station for his master to return. When his master died suddenly, the dog, not understanding that his master would not return, continued to sit and wait for the train every day until his own death. He did this for nine years.

Do Shiba Inus and Akitas get along?

Shiba Inus and Akitas can get along if they are carefully introduced to each other and supervised until the owner is convinced they can get along. The owner should also make sure that the Shiba is not the same sex as the Akita since Akitas have a reputation for not tolerating other dogs of the sex.

Akita vs Shiba - Who is more obedient?

Given the reputation of a dog like Hachikō, it might be said that Akitas are more obedient. But there’s no reason that a well-trained and well-cared-for Shibu can’t be just as obedient.