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13 Dog Breeds Similar to Akitas (With Pictures)

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

akita inu puppy outdoors

The Akita is a unique dog, but it can be tricky to find one, and they can be expensive. So, if you have your heart set on the Akita but can’t get your hands on one, you’ll want to consider other, similar breeds.

These breeds are similar in appearance and have comparable traits to a certain degree. Of course, no one breed will take the place of the Akita, but you might find a breed or two that is a close second.

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About Spitz Breeds

One thing most of these dogs have in common with the Akita (also called the Akita Inu) is that they belong to the spitz family. The word “spitz” is German for “pointed,” and these dogs tend to have a foxy or wolf-like appearance, with pointed, pricked-up ears, almond-shaped eyes, dense double coats, and a curled, feathery tail carried over their backs.

two Akita Inu on the sofa
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

The Temperament of the Akita

These dogs are courageous and extraordinarily devoted to their families but are quite wary of strangers and intolerant, even aggressive, toward other animals. Akitas tend to always be on high alert, so they are protective of their people, but they can also be independent and stubborn.

These quiet, affectionate dogs form strong bonds with their loved ones. Akitas aren’t exactly high energy but do require a great deal of exercise.

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The 13 Dog Breeds Similar to Akitas

1.  Alaskan Klee Kai

Alaskan Klee Kai
Image Credit: bon9, Shutterstock
Country of Origin U.S.A.
Height 13–17 inches
Weight 16–22 pounds
Lifespan 15–20 years

This American breed hails from Alaska and looks like a tiny Husky. The name Klee Kai is an Inuit term meaning “small dog.”

So, while they don’t physically resemble the Akita (except for the classic curled tail), they are similar in personality. They are loyal and alert but reserved with strangers and need a great deal of exercise but aren’t terribly high energy.

2.  Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute dog lying on concrete
Image Credit: ertuzio, Pixabay
Country of Origin U.S.A.
Height 23–25 inches
Weight 75–85 pounds
Lifespan 10–14 years

The Alaskan Malamute is a well-known breed that tends to look more like a Husky than the Akita, but there is still a definite resemblance. They have the same curled tails and almond-shaped eyes but are smaller than the Akita.

The Malamute is loving but can be stubborn and like the Akita, needs a confident and experienced owner. They are independent and require a great deal of exercise, but they love everyone and aren’t the best pick for a protective dog.

3.  Basenji

basenji dog running in the meadow
Image Credit: alektas, Pixabay
Country of Origin Continent of Africa
Height 16–17 inches
Weight 22–24 pounds
Lifespan 13–14 years

The Basenji is quite different compared to the rest of these dogs because instead of coming from a cold environment, they originated in Africa. But while they don’t have a double coat, they have almond-shaped eyes, pointed ears, and a curled tail. These dogs are considered one of the oldest breeds and are often compared to cats. They even groom themselves!

They are alert, devoted, and gentle dogs but are independent and only want your attention on their own terms. They are energetic and need plenty of exercise.

4.  Finnish Spitz

finnish spitz out in the snow in the woods
Image Credit: Christian Ustvedt Kavli, Shutterstock
Country of Origin Finland
Height 15.5–20 inches
Weight 20–33 pounds
Lifespan 13–15 years

The Finnish Spitz is obviously from Finland, and like the Akita, they were bred to hunt big game, which included bears! They are smaller than the Akita and have the same physical traits as most spitz dogs. They are wary of strangers and are protective of their families for this reason.

The Finnish Spitz is relatively easygoing but is energetic and needs plenty of exercise. They are known to be barkers and don’t normally like other dogs.

5.  Hokkaido Inu

Hokkaido Inu
Image Credit: JumpStory
Country of Origin Japan
Height 18–20 inches
Weight 44–66 pounds
Lifespan 12–15 years

The Hokkaido Inu is a breed from Japan that looks like the Akita but is smaller. They are also stubborn and overprotective of their loved ones, mainly through their distrust of strangers.

They also can become bored easily and need a great deal of physical exercise and mental stimulation. One difference between them is that the Hokkaido can be more vocal than the Akita.

6.  Kai Ken

Kai Ken
Image Credit: JumpStory
Country of Origin Japan
Height 15.5–19.5 inches
Weight 25–40 pounds
Lifespan 12–15 years

A Japanese breed, the Kai Ken, is smaller than the Akita but otherwise looks similar. Their fur isn’t as dense, and the color is some form of brindle, but they have similar features and a curled tail.

Kai Ken aren’t quite as independent and more easygoing, so they don’t have the same issue around other dogs. But they also need plenty of exercise.

7.  Kishu Ken

Kishu ken dog on dark background
Image Credit: Molica_an, Shutterstock
Country of Origin Japan
Height 19–22 inches
Weight 30–60 pounds
Lifespan 12–15 years

The Kishu Ken comes from the Kishu region in Japan and shares a few physical traits with the Akita. But they are smaller and leaner and differ in temperament in a few ways.

The Kishu is friendlier than the Akita, but they need an experienced owner and require a great deal of exercise. They don’t always get along with other pets and are loyal and affectionate with their owners.

8. Korean Jindo

korean jindo dog outdoor
Image Credit: jamongcreator, Shutterstock
Country of Origin South Korea
Height 17–22 inches
Weight 30–50 pounds
Lifespan 14–15 pounds

The Korean Jindo comes from the Jindo Island of South Korea and has been around for thousands of years. They look quite similar to the Akita and sport a double coat.

The Jindo makes an excellent watchdog, as they are devoted and protective but independent. They don’t necessarily get along with other animals or strangers and are high energy, with demanding exercise needs.

9.  Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhound in winter
Image Credit: Vladimir Berny, Shutterstock
Country of Origin Norway
Height 18–19 inches
Weight 49–55 pounds
Lifespan 12–15 years

The Norwegian Elkhound is a robust dog but is smaller than the Akita. They have fluffy double coats, pointed ears, and a gloriously feathery curled tail.

The Elkhound is wary of strangers but is generally friendlier than the Akita. They require experienced owners who can handle an intelligent dog that can easily get bored. They are also quite active and need a great deal of exercise.

10.  Samoyed

Image Credit: Evgeniia Shikhaleeva, Shutterstock
Country of Origin Russia
Height 20–22 inches
Weight 44–66 inches
Lifespan 12–14 years

The Samoyed is originally from Siberia, Russia. Although they are a spitz breed, they aren’t exactly similar in appearance or temperament to the Akita. They have beautiful fluffy white coats and are famous for their smile, which helps prevent icicles from forming around their mouths.

They tend to be sweet and friendly and don’t mind other dogs. But they need plenty of exercise and are demanding of your attention. This breed is more likely to develop separation anxiety if you tend to leave them alone too often.

11.  Shikoku Ken

Shikoku Ken
Image Credit: PardoY, Shutterstock
Country of Origin Japan
Height 17–19 inches
Weight 35–55 pounds
Lifespan 12–15 years

The Shikoku Ken closely resembles the Akita in several ways but is smaller and tends to have darker coats. Like the Akita, though, the Shikoku needs an experienced owner to provide them with enough exercise.

They don’t do so well when left alone for too long and can become destructive. But they are friendlier to strangers and other dogs if well socialized, though they shouldn’t be around smaller pets.

12.  Siberian Husky

siberian husky lying on wooden floor
Image Credit: Piqsels
Country of Origin Russia
Height 21–23.5 inches
Weight 45–60 pounds
Lifespan 12–14 years

The Siberian Husky is probably the most well-known breed on this list! There is somewhat of a resemblance with the Akita, including that gorgeous dense double coat. But temperament-wise, the Husky is almost the opposite of the Akita. Huskies are social and friendly with nearly everyone and every dog that they meet.

They are also mischievous, vocal, stubborn, and intelligent and do best with experienced owners.

13.  Shiba Inu

sesame shiba inu dog lying with pine cones and meadow
Image Credit: creativcontent, Shutterstock
Country of Origin Japan
Height 13.5–15.5 inches
Weight 17–23 pounds
Lifespan 13–16 years

The Shiba Inu is probably the breed that resembles the Akita the most, and they also happen to come from Japan. In fact, the Shiba and Akita are sometimes mistaken for one another. But the Akita is larger.

The Shiba is intelligent and independent, as well as protective and devoted, like the Akita. But they aren’t as aggressive toward other dogs and aren’t as likely to be destructive when left alone.

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More Information on the Akita

akita vigilant
Image Credit: Pixabay
Country of Origin Japan
Height 25–28 inches
Weight 60–130 pounds
Lifespan 10–12 years

This breed comes from a northern prefecture in Japan that bears the same name as the Akita. They were bred to hunt large animals like elk, wild boars, and bears, acted as family guardians, and were even used in dog fighting.

They almost went extinct during WWII, but the combination of American soldiers bringing Akita puppies back home with them and Helen Keller being gifted an Akita while visiting Japan helped bring them back.

Akitas are the national dogs of Japan and are thought to be symbols of health, happiness, and longevity.


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Most spitz breeds have unique personalities, and it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that five breeds on this list also come from Japan, like the Akita.

The Akita can be an incredible companion to the right family. However, they need someone who knows how to handle a powerful dog that can be independent and overly wary of other animals and strangers.

Perhaps one of the dogs on this list will give you a little Akita mixed in with other unique personality traits that are just right for you and your family!

Featured Image Credit: Kseniya Resphoto, Shutterstock

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