The Shiba Inu and the Akita Inu

Two fascinating but strong-willed breeds from the land of the rising sun

Richard Gere and his four-legged co-star moved cinemagoers to tears with the story of “Hachiko”, about the loyalty of a dog to his owner long after his death. Hachiko, an Akita Inu, accompanied his master to the train station for years, meeting him there at the end of the day until one day, he didn’t return. But Hachiko continued to wait. This enchanting film about a wonderful friendship has made the Akita Inu more popular than ever. Many cinema-goers suddenly took great interest in this beautiful dog from the land of the rising sun. The smaller Shiba Inu also enjoyed greater popularity as a result of the film. Both are fascinating breeds, but are not suitable for beginners. If you are interesting in keeping an Akita or Shibu, it is important to find out as much as you can about the breed first.

The amiable Akita

The Akita Inu can look back on a verbal and written history of around 5,000 years. The spitz-type dog is named after the Akita Prefecture in the north of Japan, where it is thought to have originated. It can be traced back to the companion dog of the samurais and is today considered lucky in its native country. The coarse-haired dog grows up to 67 centimetres (males) or 61 centimetres (females) and was bred and used as a working and hunting dog for large game. To this day, the fearless Akita has keen protective and hunting instincts and likes to make its own decisions, which can make it difficult to let them off the leash. In addition, they often don’t get along with other dogs of the same sex and can be aggressive. But they also have plenty of positive characteristics – kept in the species-appropriate, close family environment they need and kept busy, they are considered calm, intelligent, resilient, good-tempered and dignified. Most love children. The Akita Inu responds well to training but has to be won over first. They rebel against violence. This breed needs firm but loving leadership paired with mutual respect. With the consistency, patience and authority of a clearly defined pack leader they are a wonderful companion and their loyalty is proverbial. However, a good understanding of dogs is absolutely necessary – this breed is only suited to experienced dog owners. The Akita also has a strong territorial instinct. Despite or because of this, they are a fascinating dog, whether brindled, sesame, white or red.

The slightly smaller Shiba

The Shiba Inu could be the smaller cousin of the Akita Inu. With a shoulder height of around 39 centimetres, they look like a miniature version of the Akita and are similar in terms of temperament. They are also very self-willed, but with the right training they are a very obedient and devoted companion. They have a good basic obedience that should be encouraged but are also very adventurous and like their bigger cousin, like to make their own decisions. The Shiba Inu needs plenty of exercise but letting them off the leash can prove problematic as they love to chase things. The spirited, coarse-haired, prick-eared dog was used for hunting wild pigs and birds thousands of years ago. This intelligent, lively and attentive canine takes its name from the Japanese for “little brushwood dog”. Experience with dogs is also an absolute must for the Shiba due to its independent streak – don’t be fooled by their beautiful appearance and manageable size. But if you know how to handle them and create a place for them in your heart and family, you will have a true friend for life.

Call into your local Maxi Zoo store today to discuss your family’s personal needs with our Pet Experts.