siberian husky vs shiba inu
/ / Siberian Husky vs Shiba Inu: Things to Know BEFORE Making a Choice

Siberian Husky vs Shiba Inu: Things to Know BEFORE Making a Choice

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One was originally a sledge dog in the Arctic, the other a hunter in the mountainous regions of Japan. That’s a whole lot of differences from the get-go already! But are there any similarities too between Siberian Husky vs Shiba Inu?

Meet two working breeds that excelled in their respective roles in what now seems like ancient times.

Although their roles have changed, both breeds are still well loved. (Even though they won’t pull the sledge in your apartment, nor will they hunt, except maybe an unsuspecting sock.)

These are Northern breeds that come with a heavy coat and INCREDIBLE work ethic.

If you are a fancier who contemplates adopting a Husky or Shiba to join your human family, this article will teach you about all the similarities and differences between these ancient breeds.

I can’t help but talk about their beauty, but you’ll also get to learn about their temperaments, natural tendencies and their historical breeding background that gives insight into what makes them tick.

Siberian HuskyShiba Inu
 siberian husky with heterochromiashiba inu
Size and WeightMedium sized dog that weighs 30-65 pounds and has a height ranging from 20 to 23.5 inchesSmall sized dog weighing from 17 to 23 pounds and standing at 13.5 to 16.5 inches
AppearanceEver seen a blue-eyed fox? The ears are triangular, erect giving the breed an alert look. The breed has penetrating almond-shaped eyes which can be either brown or blue. Has a thick double coat that sheds once a year. The coat comes with numerous gorgeous shades. The tail is sickle shaped.Has a compact build and is well-muscled. The proportional head has triangular shaped ears that are firmly erect. The ears have a subtle frontward slant. The eyes hold a confident gaze and are dark brown in color. The gait of this breed is smooth.The thick double coat is plush and the tail that curls upwards and rests on the back of the canine
TemperamentSiberian Husky conveys a keen, amiable and even mischievous expression. It does NOT make a good guard dog because it has an innate friendly disposition even to strangers. The breed is quick and nimble-footed and moves with an easy fluid gait. Does well in a pack and enjoys family life getting on well with other dogs.The breed is known for its fiery and spirited nature. Has an alert demeanor and makes a good companion. It has a bold and confident nature.
Life Expectancy11-15 years12-16 years
Health IssuesSusceptible to Corneal dystrophy, Uveodermatologic Syndrome, zinc deficiency and Follicular DysplasiaProne to chylothorax, glaucoma, allergies, patellar luxation, obesity, cataracts and hypothyroidism
GroomingThe breed fastidiously self-cleans with little to no dog odor. Grooming needs for Siberian Husky are minimal.Self-cleans at every chance. Requires moderate grooming.
TrainabilityThe breed is intelligent but also very independent. Training difficulty is medium.Shibas are not the easiest to train. They are highly intelligent but their independent nature can get in the way and may come across as stubbornness. But, the breed is trainable if you buckle up for a lot of patience and consistency.
Comparison Table: Siberian Husky vs Shiba Inu

Related Post: Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky — Would You Pick a Gentle Giant or an Expressive Ball of Fluff?

1. Appearance 

Take a long, careful look at both Shiba’s and Husky’s faces.

You’ll notice subtle similarities that may lead you to assume they have a common, foxlike ancestor!

They both belong to the Spitz family but NO evidence has been found to directly link them to foxes. Despite their similar features, these two breeds are distinctly different in terms of size, temperament, and other physical aspects.

siberian husky vs shiba inu comparison table
Siberian Husky vs Shiba Inu: Weight and Height of Males and Females

Eyes

Siberian Husky has a penetrative gaze that is hard to miss. You can’t possibly look away from the hypnotic almond shaped eyes that can be blue or brown

(Their white-walkery blue eyes are almost so bright as to glow in the dark!)

husky vs shiba inu eyes

On the other hand, Shiba inu has dark brown eyes with black rims. The eyes of this breed are moderately spaced and add a questioning look to their gaze.

Do not be surprised to come across a Siberian Husky with one brown eye and the other blue. There’s nothing wrong with their sight! That is a condition known as heterochromia caused by uneven distribution of melanin in the eyes.

Shiba does not suffer from heterochromia. Their eyes are triangular in shape with a slight upward slant and are set towards the outward base of the ear. 

Siberian Husky also has almond shaped eyes.

Coat

Both these breeds are double coated. 

It means you’re in for a veritable storm of hairs whooshing through your house during the shedding season!

Siberian Husky’s coat has a medium length which portrays a well furred appearance. 

The outer coat never gets too long to the extent that it obscures the clean-cut outline of the dog. 

It’s interesting to note that the undercoat may be ABSENT during the shedding season in Siberian Husky, whereas this doesn’t happen with Shiba Inu.

Siberian Husky’s coat colors may include black to pure white.  These solid colors can also come in a variety of markings and striking patterns that are not common in any other breed.

Shiba has a water resistant double coat that does a great job of regulating the canine’s temperature. 

The coat comes in a variety of stylish colors that range from orange-red, sesame (black-tipped hairs on a rich red background), with an urajiro splotch (cream tapering into white ventral color). 

White markings on the forelegs, hind legs and tip of the tail of Shiba’s coat are not uncommon and add to the novelty of the breed. These markings are typical of the breed but are not found on Siberian Husky.

Ears

The ears of a Husky are yet another contribution to the fox-like appearance of the face. That’s because they are set high on the head and fit closely together. They are thick and triangular in shape with a subtle rounded tip, erect, slightly arched to the back and covered with a decent amount of fur. 

Shiba’s ears are also triangular, set high on the head and well apart. But, in contrast, they are noticeably smaller and have a slightly forward tilt. Being a hunter originally, the ears of Shiba are keen and alert.

Teeth

Shiba and the Husky both have a strong bite with properly aligned well-spaced teeth. Their teeth close in a scissor bite. The good news is that both dogs are NOT excessive droolers so their mouths and teeth are generally hygienic.

No worries about drool stains all over your clothes like you would expect from a Pit Bull!

Musculature

Being a medium sized dog, Siberian Husky is moderately compact and well-muscled. The males is noticeably more muscular than the female. 

However, while the bitches may be feminine, they show no weakness in structure. 

On the flip side, Shiba Inu is small and compact. The well-muscled body allows them great agility and impressive speed. 

Just like the Husky, Shiba Inu bitches are not as muscular as the males and present a smaller frame.

2. Grooming a Siberian Husky vs Shiba Inu

Brushing a Siberian Husky's coat

Grooming might be stressful, but the dog needs it just as much as you, and they need it regularly!

That’s why you should always consider the grooming needs of a dog’s breed BEFORE getting a pup.

How to Brush Them Coats

They were bred for tougher weather, so both breeds have a double coat laden with LOADS of hair that enables the breed to withstand very low temperatures. 

And while they can also be just fine in moderate heat, they do NOT do well in very hot climates.

Husky sheds little all year round except when the coat gets “blown.” And Shiba Inu also does the same. But you can expect the fur shedding to be more exponential in Siberian Huskies than in Shiba Inus.

This happens once a year and will result in a lot of fur all over your yard and home. 

For most of the year brushing your Husky’s coat once or twice a week should be sufficient to keep them fluffy and plush.

The same process of brushing applies to Shiba Inus.

But during shedding season, you can expect tufts of fur everywhere in your home and yard. Most Husky and Shiba owners either use a quality deshedding tool or a furminator to help deal with the shedding. A quality vacuum cleaner and bag also comes in handy when cleaning your home and dealing with the fur.

Furminators have become quite popular for heavy shedders such as Husky and Shiba Inu. 

Brushing a Siberian Husky will eat up more time compared with Shiba Inu. That’s just the way it works with bigger pooches!

Ear Hygiene for Shiba Inu vs Siberian Husky

As we saw earlier, Husky’s ears are thick and triangular covered with a decent amount of fur. Brushing them gently should suffice. Check the ears for infection and bad odor regularly! Those sneaky microbes are very quick to nest in!

Any sign of redness indicates an infection and you should seek the help of your vet promptly. If the ears are healthy, you can clean the accumulated debris using a dog ear cleaner solution recommended by your vet. Gently wipe it off with cotton balls, or a clean towel.

How to Trim Their Nails?

Husky is a very active dog with loads of energy, but Shiba isn’t slacky either! Keeping the nails trimmed ensures there are no ouchie moments while walking. 

With either breed, do it once a month using a dog nail clipper or grinder.

However, if they play outdoors a lot, they can naturally keep their nails short.

But that stubborn dewclaw (toenail) just lays too high to grind itself naturally. So that’s where you’ll have to intervene, even with a very active doggo!

Do You Need to Trim Their Tails? (Yes, You Do!)

Shiba inu tail

Both breeds have bushy tails that need to be trimmed.

Similar to the rest of the body, their tails will shed too and have LOTS of hair. So be sure to give it due attention. Brush the tail thoroughly to ensure that dead fur comes off.

Bedtime Routines (a.k.a. Tooth Brushing)

The last thing ANY dog owner wants is for their dog to suffer due to dental issues they could have prevented in the first place. 

A small finger brush will work on Shiba Inu’s small mouth while a regular dog (NOT human!) toothbrush is excellent for Siberian Husky.

Both breeds will benefit from brushing their teeth 2-3 times a week. 

Luckily, toothpaste and toothbrushes are not your only resort. You can also broach the subject with your vet on which dental chewing treats and toys would be most suitable for your doggo.

If you are buying your Husky a chew toy, make sure it’s big enough to avoid choking!

3. Training Siberian Husky vs Shiba Inu

Whichever breed you choose, you’re in for some training headache if you’re not experienced!

Huskies are very trainable. But your training approach DOES matter and can determine whether it will be a disaster or a smooth process.

On the other hand, Shiba Inu is notoriously challenging to train. With adequate patience, you can have a well-socialized dog. But the question is (to put it bluntly): do you have it in you?

Before I proceed with the training steps, let me tell you one thing.

Know thyself. If you don’t think you’re up to the task, hire a professional who has lots of experience with the breed.

Both breeds are super intelligent so you can expect their uptake on the commands to be fast. However, their highly independent nature tends to take over and they quite easily ignore everything you just taught them.

While you may be able to train an adult Shiba, it is quite difficult to train a Husky when it is older. 

So, start when they are pups. As the puppies grow, they will adapt better to human and pet contact.

training a shiba inu vs husky

Shiba Inu is also more mischievous than Husky. They will try and give you the slip to go hunting for prey because they have a higher prey drive than Husky does. No need to get mad though! As natural hunters, they just have it in them.

  • The ideal age to start training your Shiba puppy is at 8 weeks old. Older Shibas are still trainable but you can expect to invest considerable effort and TONS of patience.

    Husky puppies can begin training at 6-8 weeks old. OR you can buy an already trained adult Husky to avoid dealing with behavioral problems.
  • Consider taking your dog for a walk before training sessions. More often than not, most Shibas have too much excess energy to pay any attention. A decent walk ensures he’s ready for a short class. This is not necessary with a Husky because they do not have a lot of pent up energy.

    On the same breath, avoid playing with Shiba too much before training sessions as this may over-excite him and work him up so much that he’ll hardly focus on the session.
  • With either pup, keep their training session short with plenty of breaks in between. Be consistent and exercise patience even when your Shiba or Siberian pup proves to be a headstrong student! (Which will happen all too often!)
  • Choose a quiet place like the back of your yard and start the pups out with simple commands like sit, come and stay.
  • Shibas and Huskies may be stubborn and strong-willed but their Achilles heel is that they crave attention (i.e. treats and praise) and are loyal. You should use these to your advantage by employing positive reinforcement. And remember that Shibas and Huskies don’t respond well to punishment! It may trigger aggression, and you DON’T want that.
  • As your Shiba grows older and masters the commands, it’s time to expose it to environments with varying degrees of distraction and try out the same commands with him. This step is crucial as it not only helps to socialize your Shiba but will train him to take your commands unconditionally.

    Husky requires more supervision in public areas than Shiba Inu. Their size makes them more intimidating and their aggression can get out of hand.

4. Exercise and Health

said shiba inu

Both breeds have a pretty robust health throughout their lives. They are not prone to illness often because of their active lifestyles and amount of exercise they require per day.

But how active is active enough? To have a happy and healthy dog, bring your Shiba out for exercise for at least 1 hour a day. With a Husky, make that two!

If they live their lives to the fullest, their average lifespans will be up to 16 years for Shibas and 14 years for Huskies.

Eye Issues

Corneal Dystrophy affects the eyes and is a hereditary disease. It manifests as small white dots in your husky’s cornea. It is more prevalent in Siberian Husky.

Huskies with this condition will often experience opaqueness or hazy vision. At present, there is no known treatment for correcting the condition.Reputable breeders screen their dogs genetically to detect any hereditary issues. However, according to the AKC, you should take these tests with a grain of salt.

Another eye disease that affects Huskies more often than Shibas is Uveodermatologic Syndrome. 

While this condition will also manifest on the skin as well as the nervous system, you should bear in mind that the skin reaction to this syndrome is only cosmetic.

The first signs of this disease will start as redness in the eyes and may then advance to impaired vision eventually culminating in blindness.

Skin Conditions

Siberian Huskies are more susceptible to follicular dysplasia. The disease affects the Huskies’ skin which then results in abnormal hair growth, patchy fur or hair loss and infectious skin. 

The condition is known to affect puppies at the age of 3-4 months. Vets will often recommend antimicrobials, and topical applications to help manage the condition. There is currently no known cure for the disease.

Hip Dysplasia

Shibas will suffer from hip problems more often.

Which is kind of a surprise since it should be more common in bigger and heavier set dogs that grow too fast into their own bodies! Siberian Husky fits the bill, but it isn’t prone to this particular problem. Unlike the smaller Shiba Inu. 

The condition can cause lameness and difficulty in normal movement such as walking and jumping.

The good news is that because of the prevalence of this condition in many other dog breeds, numerous solutions have been developed to help your Shiba correct its gait and live a perfectly healthy life. 

Corrective surgery can be an option in extreme cases in order to restore mobility to the hip.

Allergies

Allergies can affect all dogs, and Huskies and Shibas are NO exception. 

Allergy triggers can be from air contaminants such as pollen. But certain food ingredients can also be a problem, such as lactose, egg, grains or dairy products.

Allergies in your Shiba can also be triggered by drugs as well as brushing her skin against anything that might disagree with her skin. Should you notice any allergic reactions from your pooch for whatever reason, see your vet promptly.

As a rule of thumb, Shiba Inu is more prone to allergies than Husky. But that doesn’t mean Husky owners should write them off altogether!

Patellar Luxation

This condition is encountered in Shiba but NOT Husky.

A common symptom of Patellar Luxation is a knee cap that shifts out of place in the knee.

The condition can be a birth defect or can also come about as a result of an injury. Luckily, the condition is not life threatening and in severe cases it can be resolved through corrective surgery.

5. Price Comparison: Shiba vs Husky Puppies

Shiba Inu vs Husky puppies

Huskies are incredibly popular in the States as well as most parts of the world. Should you decide that a husky is the dog for you, you can get a puppy from a reputable breeder at a price range of $200 to $400.  

But the price of a Husky puppy can go as high as $2,500 with bloodlines of champion sled dogs.

 Pet stores will typically sell husky puppies at $800 to $1,300. However, buying from a pet store is NOT a good idea because there is no standard of ethics. 

Rescue shelters are the other option from where you can adopt a Husky puppy for as little as $50 to $100, which is usually a shelter upkeep fee.

But since Shiba Inu’s popularity has grown quite a bit, that growth is reflected on the price tag of a Shiba puppy.  

They are also considered a novelty breed, which bumps up the price even more. 

You can expect anything in the ballpark of $1200 to $2000 for a puppy. In the event that the puppy is from an exceptional lineage, the price can shoot all the way to $3000.

There doesn’t seem to be a lower end option for a Shiba Inu. That is because they are not too common like Siberian Husky.

6. Wanna Know More? Shiba Inu and Siberian Husky: History & Fun Facts

Siberian Husky has a long history of inspiring tales ranging from their loyalty to their prowess in pulling snow sleds in the unforgiving sub-zero temperature and vast terrain of the Arctic.

Shiba Inu also has a long history of serving men – in hunting for game.

(You wouldn’t get very far in a sled pulled by Shibas!)

Both are Asian dogs too. 

The Husky is from the Siberian Chukchi people who live in extremely cold and almost inhabitable environment. And Shiba is from the Matagi (Japanese hunters) from the Chubu mountains of Japan.

The Chukchi reliance on Siberian Husky was a matter of life and death. The dog breed was developed about 4,000 years ago and is still a firm favorite today in that community and across the world.

Yes, some of them pull sleds even today!

These dogs would help the Chukchi move quickly on the tundra – expansive, flat, treeless Arctic region of Europe, Asia, and North America. A notable characteristic of the tundra is that the subsoil is permanently frozen.

The same applies for Shiba which helped the Katagi survive and find food in the cold Chubu mountains.

The Chukchi were highly selective about which Huskies they allowed to reproduce. They would castrate all except the best lead dogs. In this way, they increased the likelihood that the offspring would not only be strong but have an agreeable temperament.

The temperament of their dogs was of utmost importance because the women were the dogs’ caregivers. And kids were also a big part of rearing these dogs, so they needed to be super safe.

But the Matagi did not really take the temperament of the Shibu into account because they were bred to be stubborn and persistent when hunting for game.

The ultimate result of the Chukchi’s diligence and way of life in caring for Siberian Husky developed the incredible dog that we know and love today.

In the year 1909, a decent number of the Chukchi dogs were brought to Alaska for the first time to compete in the long-distance All-Alaska Sweepstakes races. Record has it that the Husky team emerged as the third runners up. 

More notably though is the accomplishment of this breed in the winter of 1925.

That’s the year when there was a diphtheria epidemic that broke out in the isolated town of Nome, Alaska.

A team of relay dogs made up of Siberian Huskies were assembled from the distant town of Seward to deliver a life-saving serum. The serum was delivered in good time and Siberian Husky helped save the day!

In commemoration of that lifesaving journey the yearly race in Alaska known as the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is held.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized Siberian Husky in 1930. Shibas, on the other hand, entered the U.S. in the 1950s but only gained recognition by the AKC in 1993. The Siberian breed is 14th in popularity in the states out of 197 breeds according to the AKC while Shiba Inu is 44th.

Frequently Asked Questions

Shiba Inu puppy

Are huskies capable of aggression?

The husky was bred to be a sled dog and not a hunting or guard animal. As such, it isn’t particularly aggressive by nature

On the contrary – they are generally gentle and an innate friendliness, a trait that was prevalent among their initial breeders, the Chukchi tribesmen. 

It was a Chukchi custom to welcome strangers. It seems this trait did rub off on the husky because they are not big on repelling people, even strangers. It also explains why they do not make good guard dogs.

That said, they are still canines and when provoked, their defensive mechanism will kick in and they could still bite.

Some states have even banned this breed due to one bite too many being reported. Ask any Husky expert and they’ll tell you that it isn’t fair. But that’s how it is!

Are Huskies and Shibas good with kids

As long as the dogs have been well socialized, both Husky and Shiba can be excellent with kids

Huskies are patient and often don’t mind the rough-housing  and lots of noise that comes with kids. Shibas on the other hand are playful and loyal so they can be a good fit for a household with kids.

However, one should always keep a close eye on children and pets as they can be a tad rough with tender parts of the dog like the ears, eyes and tail. That may elicit a defensive reaction from the pooch which in turn may scare or hurt the baby.

Also, Shibas are more suitable for households with older children.

Are Huskies friendly with other dogs?

Two Huskies playing

Huskies are friendly above average towards other dogs. The breed has very good canine social skills because their temperament is not overly protective of their owners. As such, the urge to dominate other dogs is minimal to non-existent.

This is more so if you have socialized your husky well. That said, any Husky owner should have a healthy appreciation of the fact that every dog is different and has their own “triggers” such as things, actions and situations that may cause them to be anxious and react aggressively.

Are Shiba Inus hypoallergenic?

Alas, they are not. They shed minimally all year round and quite heavily twice a year

They also produce a fair amount of dander that can be a source of allergy triggers for some people.

Are Shiba Inus good guard Dogs?

Their guarding abilities are fairly average as they lack in size when compared to the sheer bulk of the Akita Inu

But because of their keen sense of smell, sight and hearing coupled with a fiery character, Shiba packs enough vehemence to deter intruders. 

Their no-backing-down and no-surrender attitude when provoked is more than enough to effectively look after their home and property.

They will bark to let their owner know that something is amiss should an intruder, trespasser or a burglar enter your fenced property or farm.

Can Shiba Inus live in an apartment?

Shiba makes a GREAT apartment dog! This breed adjusts quite well to the apartment lifestyle and will be just fine and happy inside the house. 

However, you need to make sure that your Shiba gets enough outdoor exercise and play daily to satisfy his physical and mental needs.

Without that, the dog gets bored and destructive.

Bottom Line – Which One is Better for You?

They may share some features, but in terms of character, size and temperament, Shibas and Huskies are different as night and day. 

If you are looking for a more trainable companion, who is not generally aggressive with people including strangers, a Husky should fit right into your human pack.

For those more inclined to a breed with a fiery spirit, then Shiba fits that profile to perfection. He’s a small guy but you may even trust him to guard your home and family!

While not the easiest breed to train, some patience, consistency and dedication will win him over to become fairly obedient.

Its stubbornness, independence, loyalty and quirkiness are traits that make the breed quite special and one of a kind. Once the breed sees YOU as master, it will fit right in with their new human family.

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