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Husky vs. Shiba Inu: Differences Explained (With Pictures)

Written by: Grant Piper

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

Husky vs. Shiba Inu: Differences Explained (With Pictures)

Siberian Huskies and Shiba Inus appeal to people for many of the same reasons. They are both powerful dogs with striking visual appearances. Both dogs are seen as smart, energetic, and loyal. Both Huskies and Shiba Inus make a statement whenever you bring them out in public. So, what are the main differences between these two dogs? How similar are they, really?

This guide will cover all of the main differences between Shiba Inus and Huskies, including their appearance, size, personality, health, and price. By the end, you will have a firm grasp of what makes these dogs similar and what makes them so different and will be able to decide which, if either, is right for you.

Visual Differences

Husky vs Shiba Inu side by side
Image Credit: (L) Ilya Shishikhin, Unsplash | (R) Charlotte Rush, Unsplash

At a Glance

Siberian Husky
  • Average height (adult): 20–23.5 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 35–60 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–14 years
  • Exercise: 2+ hours per day
  • Grooming needs: Heavy
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes, especially dogs
  • Trainability: Highly energetic and loyal but can be difficult to manage at times
Shiba Inu
  • Average height (adult): 13–17 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 17–24 pounds
  • Lifespan: 13–16 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours per day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Mostly
  • Other pet-friendly: Sometimes
  • Trainability: Highly intelligent and loyal but severely stubborn

Siberian Husky Overview

siberian husky dog in the forest
Image Credit: Ivanova N, Shutterstock

Siberian Huskies are beautiful dogs that come from the Arctic regions of our planet. Despite their wolf-like appearance, Huskies are actually very sweet and playful. Huskies started spreading southward about a hundred years ago, and they have become entrenched as one of America’s most popular dogs due to their personality and appearance.

Origin

Siberian Huskies unsurprisingly hail from Siberia. The native Chukchi people bred them as sled dogs. The Husky did not make its way to the United States until the early 1900s when they were used in sled racing in Alaska beginning in 1909. The Husky vaulted to national and international popularity after a team of Siberian Huskies was used to save the town of Nome in 1925. This event inspired the Iditarod sled race and countless pieces of popular media which has landed the Husky as the 21st most popular dog breed out of 287 eligible breeds, according to the American Kennel Club.

Personality/Character

Siberian Huskies are known for being very affectionate, loyal, and friendly. They are also highly energetic. Since these dogs were bred to pull sleds and run in a pack, and the fact that most of them were doing this type of job not that long ago, that means that they need a lot of physical and mental stimulation. Huskies can also be very vocal. Huskies are trainable and very well behaved if they receive the proper amount of exercise and mental stimulation. If you are not able to provide your Husky with the proper amount of stimulation, they can become mischievous and obnoxious, which can translate into destructive behaviors while indoors.

siberian husky wearing collar standing at snow
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Grooming

Despite Huskies having a very long and thick coat, they actually don’t need as much grooming as you might think. Huskies have a durable double coat with an outer coat and an undercoat. Huskies are also considered to be a “natural” breed when it comes to their coat and fur, meaning that they self-regulate better than most other breeds. Huskies only need a handful of baths per year. During shedding season, it could be helpful to comb out the undercoat. Huskies do tend to shed a lot due to the amount of fur that they have, and this can be especially true in warm climates.

Size & Appearance

Huskies are quite a bit larger than Shiba Inus. A large adult Husky can stand nearly 2 feet tall and weigh 60 pounds or more. That makes them much taller and heavier than Shiba Inus. Siberian Huskies are known for their long gray and white coats and their striking blue eyes. Surprisingly, Siberian Huskies have nine individual approved colors as recognized by the AKC. Some colors include all white, all black, and red and white.

Health

Siberian Huskies are very healthy dogs. They are at risk of a couple of genetic conditions, such as juvenile cataracts, but these can easily be screened out by a responsible breeder. Outside of genetic issues, Huskies can be prone to hip and joint problems. These problems are common in many large or energetic dog breeds, and some Huskies can be both large and extremely active. Regular evaluation, regular exercise, and joint supplements can help mitigate these issues as a Husky ages.

Bikejoring with Husky dogs
Image Credit: travelarium.ph, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

Siberian Huskies are suitable for experienced dog owners looking for a highly energetic dog to have fun with. Huskies need copious amounts of exercise in order to keep them calm and sweet during the day. Huskies are extremely loving and playful, but they need a routine to keep them on track. People not familiar with dogs or someone who does not have the time necessary to properly stimulate their Husky can find the dogs to be unwieldy and obnoxious. But a well exercised and trained Husky can be a strong and loyal companion for years and years to come.

Shiba Inu Overview

two shiba inu dog resting
Image Credit: MitchyPQ, Shutterstock

Shiba Inus became popular due to their intelligence and unique appearance. They came to North America by way of Japan, and they remain a very niche dog that has a strong cult following. Shiba Inus have some very distinctive personality and appearance traits that make them stand out from almost every other dog. According to the AKC, the Shiba Inu ranks 43rd out of 287 dog breeds in terms of overall popularity, which is quite a bit lower than the Husky but much higher than some other less recognizable dogs.

Origin

Shiba Inus are interesting because they originated in Japan. Shiba Inus are ancient breeds that have been around for over 2,000 years. They are extremely popular in their homeland and were bred to help with small game hunting. Shiba Inus began spreading through the Western world after the conclusion of World War II, which saw soldiers come home with tales of famous and mysterious Japanese hounds that looked nothing like the dogs found back in Iowa.

Personality/Character

Shiba Inus form strong bonds with one or two close people, usually their immediate owners. This translates to a high level of loyalty and fondness for the Shiba Inu’s owners. However, most Shiba Inus can be wary of strangers and other dogs. They are also very vocal. They will bark and even scream when they want something or see something out of the ordinary. Shiba Inus are known for being highly intelligent and very stubborn. This can be entertaining and gratifying in some situations and frustrating and maddening in others. Shiba Inus do amazing with the owners they have bonded with but can be a handful for others or in public.

black and tan shiba inu standing
Image Credit: TOM KAROLA, Shutterstock

Grooming

Shiba Inus are fuzzy dogs that need some moderate grooming to keep them looking their best. Shiba Inus are very naturally clean, so they rarely have tangled or matted coats. The biggest grooming concern is shedding. Shibas shed twice per year, but some Shibas can shed for weeks or months at a time, leaving you with 4 to 6 months where your dog is going to be dropping a lot of hair. To counteract this, Shiba Inus need to be brushed or blown out on a regular basis to knock out the loose hair before it can drop all over your house.

Size & Appearance

Shiba Inus are very small and compact dogs.  They are stocky and muscular while only standing 15 inches tall on average. These dogs are also very light, only weighing around 20 pounds which is far less than the Siberian Husky. Shiba Inus are known for their upturned tails and angular fox-like faces. Shiba Inus come in four official colors, including black and tan, cream, red, and sesame.

Health

Shiba Inus are very healthy dogs, especially when they are bred properly. The AKC lists the most common health problem for Shibas as allergies. Considering that other breeds come with flags for things like hip dysplasia and retinopathy that can cause blindness, allergies are rather benign and simple to treat. The robust health of the Shiba Inu translates directly to a robust lifespan which sees Shibas easily living to the age of 13 and occasionally even to 16 or 17.

shiba inu dog running
Image Credit: Trybex, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

Shiba Inus are suitable for small households of experienced dog owners. Shiba Inus need mental stimulation and grooming in order to be their best. Shiba Inus are extremely loyal to their owners, but they can be stubborn in public or when faced with a situation they don’t want to be in. A good Shiba Inu owner fosters the strongest bond possible with their dog and uses a firm hand to keep them grounded when in public or around strangers. It takes some work and some finesse, but the outcomes can be fantastic for the determined Shiba owner.

Are Siberian Huskies or Shiba Inus More Expensive?

Shiba Inus are far more expensive to buy than Siberian Huskies. The average cost of a Shiba Inu is around $2,000 if you are using a breeder. However, costs can soar from $3,500 to $5,000 for the best breeding stock or when using fully registered breeders. In comparison, the Husky is fairly inexpensive. The average cost of a Husky puppy is around $700. At the low end, Huskies can be found for as little as $400, and even at the highest end of the spectrum, Huskies rarely crack $2,000 for the best puppies. If you are interested in getting a purebred puppy from an AKC breeder but are on a budget, the Husky is going to be a better option.

Can a Husky Live in a Warm Environment?

Yes. Huskies can live in warm environments, but they might not always enjoy it. Huskies can get hot when the temperatures rise, which will limit the amount of exercise they can safely do outside. This can potentially be a problem since Huskies are so playful and energetic. If you can’t walk your Husky properly because it is 95 degrees out in the shade, your Husky will likely try to get their energy out inside the house, which can be a hassle. Huskies will also shed a ton and will need regular baths in warm environments. Huskies are already known for being prolific shedders, and this only increases in warmer climates.

Are Huskies or Shiba Inus Better for First Time Dog Owners?

Neither Huskies nor Shiba Inus are recommended for first time dog owners. Both of these dogs have traits that can make them hard to handle, especially for the inexperienced owner. Siberian Huskies are extremely energetic, and that can manifest in mischievous behaviors. A Husky that is not stimulated properly can easily wreak havoc on an unsuspecting family. They aren’t often aggressive, but they will sneak off and eat your shoes if you are not careful.

Shiba Inus are different. They are not as energetic or as mischievous, but they are stubborn, smart, and can be gruff with strangers or other dogs. Shiba Inus are notorious for flat out refusing to do anything that they don’t want to do, which can make things like trips to the vet or a visit from the pizza delivery guy stressful endeavors.

If you had to choose one, the Siberian Husky is probably a little easier to manage as a first-time dog owner due to the fact that they are very loving and sweet. They just need a lot of exercise and a lot of grooming to manage them properly.

Little asian girl lying with siberian husky puppy on bed Important information
Image Credit: R ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Both Huskies and Shiba Inus have the potential to make for great family dogs. If you are looking for a sweet and playful dog that a big family can love and give plenty of time and attention to, you might want to consider the Husky. Huskies are much larger than Shiba Inus and more affectionate overall.

If you are looking for a personal companion that would do well with one or two people, you might want to consider the Shiba Inu. Shibas are considerably smaller than Huskies, less affectionate, and more stubborn. They can be amazing companions for 15 years or more if paired with the right person who is willing to work out their quirks and form a strong bond between man and dog.

Both of these breeds are moderately popular, visually appealing, and come with some quirks that can make them hard to handle but they have a lot going for them if put in the right situation.

See Also:


Featured Image Credit: (L) KT, Unsplash | (R) OlesyaNickolaeva, Shutterstock

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