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Shikoku Dog vs. Shiba Inu: Differences Explained (With Pictures)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

Shikoku Dog vs Shiba Inu - Featured Image

Shikoku Dog vs. Shiba Inu: Differences Explained (With Pictures)

Welcome to the world of Japanese dog breeds, where loyalty, intelligence, and striking appearances reign supreme!

In this article, we will delve into the realms of the Shikoku dog and the Shiba Inu, two remarkable breeds that have captured the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. Both hailing from Japan, these dogs bring a touch of elegance and a unique blend of characteristics to the table. We look at the Shikoku dog that offers intelligence wrapped in a robust and striking package, and the Shiba Inu that is known for its spirited personality, foxlike appearance, and undeniable charm!

The Shikoku dog and Shiba Inu are both Japanese dog breeds known for their distinct appearances and characteristics. While they share some similarities, there are still some notable differences between them. Join us as we explore the nuances and distinct qualities that make the Shikoku dog and the Shiba Inu beloved companions in their own right!

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Visual Differences

Shikoku Dog vs Shiba Inu - Visual Differences
Image By: Left – PardoY, Shutterstock | Right – Mátyás Varga, Pexels

At a Glance

Shikoku Dog
  • Average height (adult): 17–22 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 35–55 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–12 years
  • Exercise: 2+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: With training
  • Trainability: Energetic, enthusiastic, loyal, reserved
Shiba Inu
  • Average height (adult): 14.5–16.5 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 16–23 pounds
  • Lifespan: 13–16 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: With
  • Trainability: Intelligent but with a stubborn streak, eager to please

Shikoku Dog Overview

shikoku puppy dog sitting outdoors
Image Credit: Lichtflut, Shutterstock

The Shikoku dog, also known as the Kochi-ken or Shikoku Inu, is a Japanese breed with a rich history and distinctive characteristics. As a pet, the Shikoku can be a loyal and intelligent companion for the right owner.

Originating from the mountainous regions of Shikoku Island in Japan, the breed was primarily used for hunting boar and deer. The Shikoku is believed to have descended from ancient Japanese dogs, such as the medium-sized Matagi dog, which were utilized by the indigenous Ainu people for hunting purposes. Over time, the breed’s numbers declined, and it was saved from extinction through efforts to preserve and revive the breed in the early 20th century.

Shikokus are medium-sized dogs with a sturdy and muscular build. They are gentle and reserved companions that are extremely loyal and affectionate, making them exceptional family dogs.

The Shikoku dog can make a devoted and active pet for experienced owners who can provide them with the physical and mental stimulation they require. Their loyalty, intelligence, and striking appearance make them a unique choice for those seeking a Japanese breed with a rich history and distinct characteristics!


The Shikoku dog is a stunning breed with a powerful and majestic appearance. Their muscular build and thick double coat come in various colors, such as mesmerizing sesame, deep black, and vibrant red.

With their erect triangular ears and that beautiful thick curled tail, they are truly a sight to behold. Their unique appearance reflects their heritage as hunters from the mountainous regions of Shikoku Island in Japan!

close up of a shikoku puppy dog in winter
Image Credit: Anastasiia Cherniavskaia, Shutterstock

Personality and Behavior

The Shikoku dog is a loyal and intelligent companion that will captivate you with their independent spirit. They are incredibly clever and have a strong will, which adds to their charm. While they may be reserved with strangers, their devotion to their family is unwavering.

Their aloof nature gives them a regal air, and their hunting instincts make them keen observers of their surroundings. Their independence means they may not always be the most obedient, but with consistent training and proper socialization, they can flourish into well-rounded dogs.

Grooming Needs

When it comes to grooming, the Shikoku dog is relatively easy to maintain. Their dense double coat provides excellent protection against the elements.

Regular brushing 2 to 3 times a week is recommended to keep their coat healthy and free from tangles or matting. They shed moderately throughout the year, with heavier shedding during seasonal transitions.

Occasional baths are usually sufficient to keep them clean and smelling fresh. However, keep an eye on their nails and ears, and provide regular dental care like brushing to ensure their overall well-being.

shikoku dog standing in the forest
Image Credit: Anastasiia Cherniavskaia, Shutterstock


Thanks to their robust nature, the Shikoku dog is generally a healthy breed. However, like all dog breeds, it’s essential to be aware of potential health issues. Like many medium to large-sized dogs, they may be susceptible to conditions such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and certain eye problems.

Regular veterinary check-ups, a nutritious diet, and an active lifestyle are essential to keep them in prime health and ensure they live a happy, fulfilling life by your side.

Suitable For:

The Shikoku dog is a fantastic choice for experienced dog owners who appreciate their unique blend of intelligence, loyalty, and independence. They thrive in active households that can provide them with ample exercise and mental stimulation. They work well with children and, if introduced at a young age, they can also work well in multi-pet households.

Their hunting instincts make proper socialization and leash training very important, but this also makes them a great fit for those interested in canine sports like agility or hiking companions. While they can adapt to various living environments, they flourish in homes where they receive proper socialization, and consistent training!

  • Loving and loyal companions
  • Intelligent and quick to learn
  • Naturally protective
  • Generally healthy breed
  • May not be suitable for first-time owners
  • Moderate shedding throughout the year
  • High prey drive
  • Reserved and aloof with strangers

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Shiba Inu Overview

shiba inu puppy lying on the floor
Image Credit: Molica_an, Shutterstock

The Shiba Inu is a beloved Japanese dog breed that has captured the hearts of many as both a companion and a symbol of Japan. With a rich history and distinct characteristics, the Shiba Inu makes for a fascinating pet.

Another breed originating from Japan, the Shiba Inu is one of the oldest native Japanese dog breeds. They were originally bred for hunting small game, such as birds and rabbits, in mountainous regions. The breed’s name “Shiba Inu” literally translates into “small dog” in Japanese, which is reflective of their compact size.

This Japanese dog possesses a unique combination of boldness, independence, and confidence. They are known for their spirited personality and may display a certain level of stubbornness at times. While they can be reserved and cautious with strangers, they can form strong bonds with their family members. Despite their small size, they have a self-assured and fearless nature.

With their distinct “foxlike” appearance, erect ears, and a curled tail that is carried high over the body, the Shiba Inu is a charismatic and lively breed that brings joy and companionship to their owners. Rich in history and a striking appearance, the Shiba Inu is a cherished pet for those who appreciate their unique traits and quirks!


The Shiba Inu is a unique and eye-catching breed with an adorable and distinctive appearance. With their compact and well-proportioned body, erect ears, and that iconic curled tail, they are a true visual delight.

Their thick double coat comes in various enchanting colors, including fiery red, striking sesame, classic black and tan, and elegant cream. The Shiba’s expressive face and bright eyes are sure to melt your heart. They may be small in size, but they exude a confident and self-assured presence that is simply captivating.

Shiba Inu lying on the floor
Image Credit: Akbudak Rimma, Shutterstock

Personality and Behavior

The Shiba Inu is a spirited and charismatic companion that will keep you entertained with their unique personality. They are known for their boldness, independence, and strong-willed nature.

Shiba Inus are fiercely loyal to their families and can form deep bonds. Although they can be reserved with strangers and have stubborn tendencies, their confidence and intelligence shines through in their playful and mischievous nature. They possess a sense of adventure and curiosity that adds excitement to every day.

Grooming Needs

Shiba Inus’ double coat provides excellent protection and requires regular brushing to keep it healthy and free from matting. Like the Shikoku, they shed moderately throughout the year, with seasonal shedding being more noticeable.

Occasional baths are usually sufficient to keep them clean, and their fastidious nature means they often groom themselves like cats. Be sure not to overlook their nails, ears, and teeth as well for overall hygiene.


The Shiba Inu is also a generally healthy breed. Similar to the Shikoku, they are also prone to potential health issues such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and even eye problems. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is essential that they remain active with exercise, keep a healthy and balanced diet, and have regular veterinary check-ups!

shiba inu dot at the vet clinic
Image Credit: PintoArt, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

The Shiba Inu is an ideal choice for individuals or families who appreciate an independent, intelligent, and lively companion. They thrive in homes where their unique personality traits are understood and embraced. Their moderate size makes them adaptable to various living situations, including apartments, as long as they receive regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Shiba Inus love to explore and are great companions for outdoor adventures. They are suitable for experienced dog owners who can provide consistent training, socialization, and a loving, stimulating environment for these spirited canines!

  • Intelligent and quick to learn
  • Adaptable in various living situations
  • Strikingly adorable appearance
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Moderate year-round shedders
  • Can have a stubborn streak
  • Reserved with strangers and other pets

Which Breed Is Right for You?

Whether it’s the independent Shikoku dog or the charismatic Shiba Inu, your decision ultimately depends on your individual preferences, lifestyle, and experience as a dog owner.

If you seek a loyal and intelligent companion with a strong prey drive and an active lifestyle, the Shikoku dog might be the perfect fit. Their striking appearance and independent nature make them a unique choice for those who appreciate their regal and adventurous spirit.

On the other hand, if you are taken by the spirited personality and foxlike appearance and are prepared to handle a confident and independent dog, the Shiba Inu could be your ideal match. With their adaptability to various living situations and their clean and fastidious nature, they can thrive in different environments.

Both Japanese breeds offer distinct qualities that can bring joy and companionship to your life, but it is essential to consider their specific traits and needs to ensure a harmonious and fulfilling relationship. Whichever breed you choose, with love, dedication, and proper care, you can create a bond that will last a lifetime!

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Top – Anastasiia Cherniavskaia, Shutterstock | Bottom – Rin Seiko, Shutterstock

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