Akita Inu vs. Shiba Inu: Which Breed is Right for You?

Akita Inu vs. Shiba Inu: Which Breed is Right for You?

As intelligent as they are fluffy, Akita and Shiba Inus are both individually great breeds. When you zero in on what your lifestyle allows for, though, one breed may be better suited for you. Let's dive into what sets these two breeds apart.

Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu: Learn the differences and similarities between the breeds

The Tail Of Two Inus

Who doesn't love a good tail!? One notable similarity between these two breeds, aside from the second half of their names and the fact that they are both "official native breeds of Japan"— is their tails.

It's an eye-catching characteristic that can help you spot the breed. The Inu tail is undeniably cute in its fluffiness, curls up, and flops over onto the backs of these pups. If you love seeing a dog's happy tail wag, you'll love seeing a happy Shiba or Akita Inu!

Today we'll be exploring all the similarities and differences between these pups from tip to tail so you can determine which breed is right for you.

Akita Inu 101

If you're ready to open up your heart and home to a new dog, an Akita Inu will make an incredible companion. Loyal and loving, this large breed has much to offer, but it's important to know what to expect from an Akita Inu as it grows from puppyhood into adulthood to make sure that you're prepared and well-equipped to handle and meet its needs.

If you are not rescuing your Shiba Inu, it’s helpful to understand the price of these dogs when searching for one from a reputable breeder. According to Pets by Wide Open Media, “Purebred Akita puppies from reputable breeders will vary between approximately $600 and $2000, depending on the breeder, bloodline, American Kennel Club (AKC) papers, and verifiable family health history.”

What size is an Akita Inu?

Even as a puppy, Akita Inus are a sizable breed! By three months, an Akita Inu puppy could reach up to 40 pounds — translation: this will be a big dog, and growth happens fast.

According to the American Kennel Club, at a mature age (fully grown), a male Akita Inu can be up to 28 inches tall, while a female is just slightly shorter at 26 inches tall. Weight ranges from 100-130 pounds for males, while females weigh around 70-100 pounds.

What kind of temperament does an Akita Inu have?

Temperament is one of the most important things to consider when doing your due diligence about a potential dog you'd like to welcome into your home. Knowing what to expect allows you to plan for training and socialization, in addition to giving you a better understanding of what your dog will need from you — and from its living environment.

Things that are essential to consider:

  • Do you need a dog that's good with kids?
  • Do you need a dog that's good with other animals?
  • Do you need a dog that can be left alone for extended periods?
  • Do you need a quiet dog?
  • Do you need a dog that is active and personable?
  • Do you need a protective dog?

The Akita Inu is a fiercely loyal dog — but sometimes, that can be to a fault. This breed is generally best in an only-dog-in-the-home scenario. While that's not to say that all Akita Inus aren't great with other dogs, it's helpful to know that, in general, this breed is not recommended for homes with multiple dogs/pets as it can show signs of aggression.

This dog is loving and affectionate with family members, including children. Though, it is always worth mentioning that all dogs should be monitored around children and when meeting new people. Because of this breed's size and stature, they can be intimidating to others. With their fierce loyalty to their owners, Akita Inus may be protective and territorial of their owners and space.

Because they can be dominant (and some say stubborn), it's best to start training early to ensure your dog respects and honors your commands and can take essential cues from you at home or in public settings.

What are the activity needs/energy levels of an Akita Inu?

Akita Inus are like that friend who's always up for an adventure—they've got a playful spirit and a good amount of energy! While they're not bouncing-off-the-walls hyper, they definitely need their daily dose of exercise. Think a brisk walk, a fun game of fetch in the park, or even a hike on the weekends. Don't let their fluffy appearance fool you; these pups are surprisingly athletic and love to stretch their legs! Providing them with enough physical activity not only keeps them happy and healthy, but also helps prevent boredom and those mischievous antics that can come with it.

Akita Inu on grass displaying temperament


How often does an Akita Inu need to be groomed?

Expect shedding if you plan to bring home an Akita Inu. This breed is *very* fluffy and leans higher on the shedding spectrum. Their coat is beautiful and one of the most outwardly notable things about this beautiful breed. Regular bathing, brushing, and grooming are essential to keep their coat looking lush and healthy. A trip to the professional groomer will generally be required every 2.5-3 months. In the warmer seasons (or if you live in year-round hot-weather climates), more frequent brushing may be necessary to help your dog shed unnecessary hair to stay cool and comfortable.

Are there many different color variations of an Akita Inu?

Imagining a particular color for your dog? According to Pet Chao, the Akita Inu has varying coat colors that can be broken down into four key categories that include:

Is the Akita Inu breed susceptible to any particular health concerns/issues?

Health issues that may be found in Akita Inus include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye issues
  • Thyroid issues

What kind of diet does an Akita Inu need?

Because this is a particularly high-energy, active breed, a high-protein, high-quality diet is essential. Because bloat can be a common issue in larger breeds, it's crucial to prioritize gut health for your dog. (We've got treats for digestion support!) Including probiotics in your dog's diet may be a good idea, and ensuring their diet is free of corn and grains can be helpful, too. As always, it's best to consult your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your dog.

What is an Akita Inu's life expectancy?

The average lifespan for an Akita Inu is said to be between 10-14 years.

Shiba Inu 101

Looking for a pup that can suit a variety of lifestyles — from apartment living to a home with children? The Shiba Inu is on the smaller side, making it a better option for those who live in smaller spaces and are looking for a companion. The temperament is more balanced for Shiba Inus vs. Akita Inus, and the breed is known to get along better with other dogs — though it may still be skeptical of new people.

If you are not rescuing your Shiba Inu, it’s helpful to understand the price of these dogs when searching for one from a reputable breeder. According to My First Shiba, “In general Shiba Inu puppies with limited registration from reputable breeders cost between $1400 – $2200. Full registration puppies cost between $2000 – $3500.”

What size is a Shiba Inu?

Shiba Inus fall into the mid-sized dog category. According to the American Kennel Club, Shiba Inus can be up to 16.5 inches tall, while females have a slightly smaller stature and stand at a max height of 15.5 inches. Weight-wise, this breed is within the 15-30 pound range, with males being heavier, generally, and females falling on the lighter end of the spectrum.

What kind of temperament does a Shiba Inu have?

Wary of strangers, Shiba Inus can sometimes seem standoffish, but they're just reserving their love and affection for their humans.

This breed is said to be good with children and, unlike the Akita Inu, has a better tolerance for other animals. Still, it's always important to keep a watchful eye on your dog's interactions with any new people or animals. The breed can be a bit territorial, so keeping that in mind when inviting anyone new into their space is helpful.

Highly intelligent, Shiba Inus are trainable, but can be stubborn, independent, and strong-willed, so consider starting training at a young age!

Shiba inu looking at leaves calmly in forest

What are the activity needs/energy levels of a Shiba Inu?

With a relatively high energy level and activity needs, expect your Shiba Inu to want walks and playtime regularly. If you don't meet their needs? You could have a barker on your hands. This breed loves — and needs mental stimulation and attention. If you can't spend much time catering to these needs, Shiba Inus can be entertained with toys and puzzles with treat rewards.

How often does a Shiba Inu need to be groomed?

Shiba Inu fall on the higher end of the shedding spectrum throughout the year. It is said that this breed has two particularly heavy shedding periods each year, one occurring in fall and the other in spring. During this heavy shedding time, Shiba Inus are shedding their undercoat.

Regular grooming and maintenance are required to keep this fluffy-coated dog's hair looking good and staying healthy. Brushing your dog's coat weekly or bi-weekly can help it maintain a healthy look, and can help to control shedding. A professional groomer should be seen on a regular schedule as well, around every three months.

Are there many different color variations of a Shiba Inu?

Similar to the Akita Inu, Shiba Inus have a variety of coat colors. According to Dogs Planet, the main color variations include:

  • Red
  • Sesame
  • Black and tan
  • Cream/white

Is the Shiba Inu breed susceptible to any particular health concerns/issues?

Health issues that may be found in Akita Inus include:

  • Knee issues
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye issues
  • Allergies
  • Thyroid issues
  • Stomach issues

What kind of diet does a Shiba Inu need?

As always, a high-quality diet is vital for any dog, but when it comes to Shiba Inus specifically, dietary needs require a little extra attention. This breed is known for having a sensitive stomach. It may even have issues with certain types of protein (chicken in particular), so it's worth exploring with your vet (and potentially doing allergy testing if necessary) to ensure that your Shiba Inu is getting their protein from a stomach-friendly source.

Keeping your Shiba Inu on a high-fiber diet and supplementing with probiotics can help keep their digestive system happy and healthy. We've got you covered if you're looking for treats that can help in both departments! For digestion support, and treats with probiotics check out Shameless Pets' healthy variety of dog treats!

What is a Shiba Inu's life expectancy?

The average lifespan for a Shiba Inu is said to be between 13-16 years.

The bottom line...

The similarities between Akita and Shiba Inus don't extend all that far beyond their names and tails.

These dogs will require different environments to cater to their personality and temperament differences and different dietary needs. Size-wise, the two are on other ends of the spectrum — Akita Inus being categorized as a large breed, while Shiba Inus are small to mid-sized. Both prone to shedding, they have similar needs in grooming and coat maintenance, so owners can expect to be brushing (and vacuuming) fairly frequently!