Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu: 5 Key Differences

Written by August Buck
Published: April 25, 2022
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While both of these dogs originated in Japan, there are some significant differences between the Hokkaido dog vs Shiba Inu. But what might some of these differences be, and how can you learn how to tell these dogs part upon first glance?

In this article, we will address everything you need to know about Hokkaido dogs and Shiba Inus so that you can have a true understanding of both of these unique breeds. We will address their ancestry and behavioral differences, as well as their appearances, so that you can know all there is to know about both of these dogs. Let’s get started now! 

Comparing Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu
The Hokkaido dog is taller and larger than the Shiba Inu, weighing more than double on average.

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Hokkaido DogShiba Inu
Size18-22 inches tall; 45-65 pounds13-16 inches tall; 17-23 pounds
AppearanceFluffy coat found in white, black, and red with a curled, fluffy tail. Small ears and an extremely round face; compact bodyFluffy coat in black, white, red, and tan with curled fluffy tail. Ears are erect and triangular, and their legs are narrow and well proportioned
AncestryAncient and native dog breed from Japan originally used for hunting and sled dog rescueAncient and native dog breed from Japan originally used for hunting
BehaviorVery loyal and vocal, capable of being extremely stubborn in many situations. Needs exercise, but well-suited for apartment livingReserved and prefers to not meet new people or other dogs; extremely loyal to their family members, though can exhibit stubbornness during training
Lifespan11-14 years12-15 years

Key Differences Between Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu and the Hokkaido dog were originally bred for hunting, though the Hokkaido dog is also a capable sled dog.

There are many key differences between Hokkaido dogs and Shiba Inus. The Hokkaido dog is taller and larger than the Shiba Inu, weighing more than double on average. The Shiba Inu and the Hokkaido dog were originally bred for hunting, though the Hokkaido dog is also a capable sled dog. Finally, the Shiba Inu has a slightly longer lifespan compared to the Hokkaido dog.

Let’s take a look at these differences in more detail now. 

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu: Size

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu has a slightly longer lifespan compared to the Hokkaido dog.

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One of the main differences between the Hokkaido dog and the Shiba Inu is their sizes. The Hokkaido dog is nearly double the weight of the Shiba Inu, and they are also slightly taller than Shiba Inus on average. But what do these numbers look like in more detail? Let’s take a closer look now. 

The Hokkaido dog averages anywhere from 18-22 inches tall, while the Shiba Inu averages 13-16 inches tall only. Additionally, the Hokkaido dog weighs anywhere from 45-65 pounds, while the Shiba Inu only weighs 17-25 pounds. While they may look similar otherwise, the size difference between these dogs is one easy way to tell them apart!

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu: Appearance

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu
The Hokkaido dog averages anywhere from 18-22 inches tall, while the Shiba Inu averages 13-16 inches tall only.

FunFamilyRu/Shutterstock.com

The Shiba Inu and the Hokkaido dog look very similar upon first glance. They come in similar colors, including white, black, fawn, red, and tan. However, the ears of the Shiba Inu are slightly larger than the ears of the Hokkaido dog. Additionally, the coat of the Hokkaido dog is thicker and fluffier compared to the coat of the Shiba Inu, though it is difficult to tell this just by looking at. Finally, the body of the Hokkaido dog is more compact and thick compared to the body of the Shiba Inu. 

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu: Ancestry and Breeding

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu
The Hokkaido dog may be the oldest dog originating from Japan, making them older than the Shiba Inu overall.

Happy monkey/Shutterstock.com

Both the Shiba Inu and the Hokkaido dog originated in Japan, likely centuries ago. In fact, the Hokkaido dog may be the oldest dog originating from Japan, making them older than the Shiba Inu overall. Both dog breeds originated nearly 8,000 years ago, making them extremely unique and revered in many locations throughout Japan.

The Shiba Inu and the Hokkaido dog were also bred for the same purpose, which is hunting. However, the Hokkaido dog hunted larger game than the Shiba Inu based on the dog’s larger size. Additionally, the Hokkaido dog was utilized for sled pulling and mountain rescue given the region that it originated in, while the Shiba Inu was rarely utilized for this purpose. 

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu: Behavior

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu
Both require a more advanced dog owner than average, though the Shiba Inu is more cooperative than the Hokkaido dog overall. 

OlesyaNickolaeva/Shutterstock.com

Shiba Inu and Hokkaido dogs have very similar behaviors in many ways. They both bond closely with their families and owners, exhibiting a decent amount of wariness toward strangers. However, the Hokkaido dog is more talkative than the Shiba Inu, as well as more stubborn overall. Both require a more advanced dog owner than average, though the Shiba Inu is more cooperative than the Hokkaido dog overall. 

Despite both of these dogs needing a decent amount of exercise in order to avoid separation anxiety, both the Hokkaido dog and the Shiba Inu make decent apartment dogs. They thrive on a limited amount of outdoor activity, enjoying the climate control offered by indoor environments. 

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu: Lifespan

Hokkaido Dog vs Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu lives an average of 12 to 15 years, while the Hokkaido dog lives an average of 11 to 14 years.

Happy monkey/Shutterstock.com

The final difference between the Shiba Inu and the Hokkaido dog has to do with their lifespans. Given their size differences, the Shiba Inu lives a slightly longer life compared to the Hokkaido dog. However, both of these dog breeds are relatively healthy and strong, depending on the level of care and nutrition that they receive. Let’s take a closer look at their lifespans now.

The Shiba Inu lives an average of 12 to 15 years, while the Hokkaido dog lives an average of 11 to 14 years. However, given how close the lifespans of both of these dogs are, they likely live a similar amount of time. Both require a decent amount of exercise, as well as a well-rounded diet in order to live a long and happy life!

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.