Akita vs. Husky: What’s the Difference?

The Akita and Siberian Husky are both large and powerful dogs, and although they can look a little similar at first glance, they’re completely different once you start to dig into their personalities and training requirements.

Akitas are protective and independent, which when combined with their large size, means they need to live in a home with owners who have experience with large, strong-willed dogs. They’re pretty chilled out and quiet when at home but can switch into protective mode as soon as they encounter strangers or other dogs.

Siberian Huskies are pack dogs, so they love companionship and spending plenty of time with their families. They have a friendly nature with a fun streak, but they can also be challenging to train due to their independent streak. They love to run, so they need a home where they can get plenty of exercise.

If you’re still undecided between these two characteristic breeds, keep reading for our full run-down of both the Akita and Husky. Hopefully, you’ll learn which one could be the right choice for you and your family.

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Visual Differences

akita vs husky
Image credit | Left: E L, Flickr; Right: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

A Quick Overview

Akita
  • Average Height (adult): 24-28 inches
  • Average Weight (adult): 70-130 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10-13 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours/day
  • Grooming Needs: Medium-high
  • Family-friendly: If correctly trained
  • Dog-friendly: No
  • Trainability: Challenging
Siberian Husky
  • Average Height (adult): 20-23.5 inches
  • Average Weight (adult): 35-60 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Exercise: 2+ hours/day
  • Grooming Needs: Medium-high
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Usually
  • Trainability: Medium

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Akita Overview

Akita Inu
Image Credit: Biser Yanev, Wikimedia Commons

The Akita is a Japanese breed that can be traced back to the 17th century. Their name comes from the Akita region of Northern Japan. In this area, aristocrats started to breed a large dog that could act as both protector and hunting dog.

At one time in history, only the imperial family and court of Japan could own these large and powerful dogs, which capable of hunting down large game like deer, boar, and even bears.

Akitas have a special place in Japanese culture, although they’re popular all over the world now. The parents of newborn children in Japan often receive a small figurine of an Akita, said to signify a long life and happiness.

You should expect an Akita puppy from a reputable breeder to cost around $1,250. Make sure any breeder is happy for you to meet both parents, so you can check that they’re well socialized and have a calm temperament. The breeder should also be happy to provide the results of any health tests that the parents and puppies have undergone.

Personality

Despite their imposing size, Akitas are quiet dogs when they’re within the home. They can even adapt to apartment and urban life as long as they get enough exercise. Akitas are naturally wary of strangers and make imposing guardians

Within their trusted family unit, Akitas will show a softer and more affectionate side that other people will rarely get to see.

Akitas have a reputation for being intolerant and even aggressive around other dogs. While this can be overcome by socializing your Akita as a puppy, they still need an experienced owner who can watch for the warning signs that their dog is becoming overstimulated.

Training

Akitas are intelligent and capable of learning plenty of commands, but their independent streak can make this a challenge to achieve. Akitas can be stubborn, and if they don’t feel that their handler is being sufficiently motivating or interesting, then they will simply ignore you.

Early socialization with an Akita is absolutely vital, so they can get exposed to a wide range of people and other dogs. Introductions should be safely managed, and owners should look for signs that their Akita is coping with the situation that they’re placed in.

Akitas should always receive training; otherwise, you run the risk of not being able to control them if a problem arises. With male Akitas topping the scales at 130 pounds, these are seriously large and powerful dogs that should always be trained to respond to their owners.

akita
Image Credit: Anaite, Shutterstock

Exercise

Akitas aren’t an overly active breed, so around an hour or two of exercise per day will be enough to keep them happy. They do have a playful streak, so enjoy backyard games like fetch, but games that involve a sense of challenge, like tug of war, should be avoided because they can encourage the dominant side of an Akita’s personality a little too much.

Akitas should always be exercised on a leash, unless they are within their own secure backyard. While they can get along well with other dogs if they’re properly trained and socialized, extreme care should still be taken when using communal dog parks or exercising in busy areas. 

Health & Care

Akitas are healthy on the whole, but their National Breed Club recommends the following tests:

  • Thyroid evaluation
  • Hip evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist evaluation

Akitas can also suffer from bloat, which is when their stomach can twist. This is life-threatening, but the risks can be decreased by using a flow feeder to make sure your dog doesn’t eat too fast and avoiding exercise for an hour before and after mealtimes.

In terms of grooming, Akitas have a thick double coat that needs to be brushed once a week for most of the year. Twice a year, they shed their undercoat, and this can fall out in handfuls. You can spend time each day grooming them as they shed, but you should still be prepared to find clumps of hair all around your house!

Akitas usually have a good appetite, so watch that you don’t feed your dog too much and run the risk of them becoming overweight. Once your Akita is over 7, you may decide to switch them to a feed with fewer calories, as it’s thought that this could also protect against them getting kidney disease.

Suitability

Powerful and independent, the Akita needs an experienced home where plenty of time can be dedicated toward their socialization and training. Affectionate with their families, Akitas can be wary of strangers and potentially aggressive toward other dogs. With medium exercise requirements, these dogs can adapt well to living in smaller homes.

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Siberian Husky Overview

Siberian Husky
Image credit: PublickDOmainPictures, Pixabay

This breed hails from Northeastern Asia, where they were kept by the Chukchi people as sled dogs and companions. Siberians became world famous when teams of these dogs completed a relay to bring a diphtheria vaccine to the remote Alaskan village of Nome in 1925. Siberian Huskies have been a popular breed ever since and are currently the 14th most popular breed in the U.S.A.

Siberian Huskies are sociable dogs, thanks to their sledding heritage of living in packs. They’re also incredibly friendly, meaning they rarely make effective watchdogs!

You should budget to spend around $1,000 for your new Siberian Husky puppy. While there are plenty of breeders offering these pups all over the U.S.A., you still need to do your research to make sure a breeder has the experience and reputation of producing quality pups. Make sure to ask if you can meet both parents, as well as see the health reports for parent dogs and their puppies, and ask for references from previous buyers.

Personality

Siberian Huskies are enthusiastic and outgoing dogs, known for their friendly and outgoing natures. They’re more likely to want to make friends with a stranger than bark at them.

Huskies can be noisy, and it doesn’t take much to set them off into a howling session. Some owners find this endearing, but others may not appreciate listening to a Husky song. Depending on the personality of a Husky, they can be prone to chasing other small pets, so they won’t always work in a family home with cats or rodents.

The sociable nature of Huskies means that they don’t enjoy being left alone for long periods. They may decide to chew or dig their way through their time alone or indulge in a spot of howling, which your neighbors might not appreciate.

Training

Siberian Huskies are smart and enjoy the challenge of regular training sessions. They’re intelligent and can learn complex commands without too much trouble, but they also have a stubborn and independent streak that means they won’t always respond to commands.

Huskies should always be kept on a leash, as their love of running can sometimes override everything else. Keeping training sessions short and sweet is the best way to keep a Husky motivated and interested in following commands.

They can enjoy agility and obedience classes, and of course, you can always teach them to pull a sled, which is a great way to combine both training and exercise, as well as being fun for both you and your dog!

Husky
Image Credit: JudiHa, Pixabay

Exercise

Huskies were bred to pull sleds for hours on end, so it’s no surprise that they have an impressive amount of energy and endurance. They enjoy active regular walks, so you need to set aside at least 2 hours per day to let your Husky run off steam. If they don’t get enough exercise, Huskies can get boisterous and noisy, so you’ll definitely know if you missed a walk!

Huskies love playing games and enjoy the challenge of agility courses. They love to play and chew with toys, so making sure your Husky has a good selection can be the difference between them peacefully playing with their toys or finding their own fun, like chewing your favorite pair of shoes.

Huskies love to dig, so some owners will set aside a dedicated area in the backyard for their dog to indulge in their love of digging. Otherwise, your pup may decide to dig up your lawn or newly planted flowerbed instead.

The thing that Huskies most love to do is run, and training your Husky to pull a sled can be fun. While this does take training and patience, it can be a great way to enjoy outdoor time with your Husky. Their love of running means they should never be allowed off-leash in an open area.

Health & Care

Overall, Siberian Huskies are a healthy breed. You should still ask any breeder with puppies that you’re interested in for the results of the following health tests:

  • Ophthalmologist evaluation
  • Hip evaluation

Huskies have thick double coats, and as a “natural” breed, their coats don’t need much maintenance other than a weekly brush for most of the year. Twice a year, they will shed, or “blow out,” their coats, and at this point, prepare yourself for daily grooming sessions and sweeping up mounds of fallen hair.

Huskies will thrive on a high-quality dog food, but if you’re working hard with your Husky during the winter, you may wish to feed them a food with a higher percentage of protein to help fuel the extra work they’re doing.

Suitability

Playful and full of energy, Huskies will thrive in a home where they get plenty of exercise and time to play games. They don’t enjoy being left home alone for long periods, but they usually get along well with kids and other pets. Huskies enjoy regular training sessions, but their independent streak means they should always be kept on-leash when you’re away from home.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

The answer to this question depends on a few different factors, so there’s no wrong or right response. While Akitas and Siberian Huskies can look similar at first, when you see the two of them side by side, it’s much easier to see and appreciate the differences.

Akitas are large, muscular dogs, bred to protect their owners and hunt down quarry. Siberian Huskies are more athletic looking, having been bred to pull sleds across miles of snow.

Their personalities are also different. Akitas can be standoffish with strangers, and only their close family will get to see their playful and affectionate side. Their independent nature and large size means they need an experienced home where they’ll get plenty of training and socialization. Siberian Huskies are more outgoing and playful and love to spend time with people while being the center of attention. They can also be challenging to train but are much friendlier with strangers. Huskies have a great deal of energy and need plenty of opportunities to run off steam.

Akitas are slightly more expensive than Huskies, due to the fact that there are fewer breeders. Both breeds can suffer from a few different health problems but are generally healthy dogs.

The final choice as to which breed is right for you and your family is a personal one, but both these breeds share one thing in common: They both need an experienced home, one capable of giving them the training, socialization, and exercise that they need to thrive. In this case, either breed will blossom into a loving and well-mannered pup that the whole family can enjoy.