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Finnish Spitz vs. Shiba Inu: The Key Differences (With Pictures)

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

Finnish Spitz vs Shiba Inu - Featured Image

When it comes to choosing a new pet, there are many factors to consider, including size and temperament, and each breed will have a unique set of qualities that make them better suited to some homes over others. Many people are comparing the Finnish Spitz and the Shiba Inu, as these breeds are becoming quite popular. If you are thinking about getting one of these dogs but aren’t sure which one is right for you, keep reading as we take a closer look at each one so you can make an informed decision.

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Visual Differences

Finnish Spitz vs Shiba Inu - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock | Right – Mátyás Varga, Pexels

At a Glance

Finnish Spitz
  • Average height (adult): 15–20 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 30–35 pounds
  • Lifespan: 11–15 years
  • Exercise: 1.5+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Usually
  • Trainability: Intelligent, loyal, eager to please
Shiba Inu
  • Average height (adult): 14–17 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 20–30 pounds
  • Lifespan: 11–15 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Sometimes
  • Trainability: Intelligent but stubborn

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Finnish Spitz Overview

Finnish Spitz puppy
Image Credit: Sami Takarautio, Shutterstock

Personality / Character

The Finnish Spitz is a lively, energetic, intelligent, and independent breed with a strong hunting instinct. These dogs like to run around and enjoy playing games of fetch or going for long walks, and many owners describe them as loyal and affectionate, but they can take a while to warm up to new people. A unique feature of this breed is their distinctive vocalizations, as they will emit a wide range of barks, yelps, and howls to communicate what’s on their mind with their owners.


The Finnish Spitz is a medium-sized dog that usually weighs 30–35 pounds and stands 15–20 inches tall at the shoulder. Many owners describe them as foxlike, with a pointed snout, erect ears, and curled tail. Their thick, dense coat usually has a golden, red, or honey color, though black hair will be on the back and tail. Their almond-shaped eyes are typically dark brown or black, and their face typically has an alert, intelligent expression.

finnish spitz out in the snow in the woods
Image Credit by: Christian Ustvedt Kavli, Shutterstock

Health & Care

The Finnish Spitz is a generally healthy dog, but they can suffer from various issues. One of the most serious is hip dysplasia. For dogs with this condition, their hip joint doesn’t form correctly, causing pain and difficulty with mobility. This is particularly problematic for highly active dogs like the Finnish Spitz. Other conditions that this breed might suffer from include cataracts and ear infections, which are due to their floppy ears trapping moisture and dirt, enabling bacteria to grow.

Suitable For:

The Finnish Spitz is a great choice for an active family that can devote time to ensuring that they get the exercise that they need. These dogs can also be independent and strong-willed and may be best suited for people with experience training dogs. Since they are so vocal, they may not be ideal in a small apartment with many neighbors nearby.

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Shiba Inu Overview

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

Personality / Character

The Shiba Inu is a highly intelligent and curious breed with an instinct to explore and investigate their environment. They often have a strong-willed personality, which means they can be difficult to train, but they are loyal and affectionate toward their owners. They enjoy children and other dogs but can get upset easily if there is rough play. They also have a strong prey drive, so they might chase after small animals, including cats, if you don’t socialize them when they are still a puppy. They have unique vocalizations, including the Shiba scream, which they like to perform when they are excited or upset, and it can be quite shocking the first time that you hear it.


The Shiba Inu is a small to medium-sized dog that usually weighs 20–30 pounds and stands 14–17 inches tall at the shoulder, with females being slightly smaller. This breed has a compact and muscular build with a thick double coat that is usually a red, black, tan, sesame, or cream color. Like the Finnish Spitz, they have a foxlike appearance with a pointy muzzle, pointy ears, and dark almond eyes that give them an expressive face.

red shiba inu sitting near the sea
Image Credit by: Lim_as_333, Shutterstock

Health & Care

The Shiba Inu is generally healthy and can live up to 15 years, but like any breed, they can be susceptible to certain health problems, including hip dysplasia and dental issues. Eye problems like progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts are also fairly common in this breed, as are allergies that can cause skin irritations and other issues. Frequent checkups by the veterinarian can help alert you to any potential problems early, when there might still be time to correct them.

Suitable For:

While the Shiba Inu isn’t as active as the Finnish Spitz, they still require a good deal of daily exercise, so they are best suited to a large family or a stay-at-home owner who can spend time with them. They can have a strong will, making them difficult to train if you don’t start early, and their prey drive makes them better for families that don’t have small animals like cats or rabbits.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

The Finnish Spitz and Shiba Inu are active dogs requiring plenty of daily exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. These intelligent breeds can learn complex tasks, but only if you can keep them focused; both dogs are strong-willed, making them hard to train. The Shibu Inu also has a strong prey drive that can make them unsuitable for families with small animals like rabbits or cats. However, both breeds are extremely loyal and affectionate and have interesting vocalizations that make them fun to watch. Either would make a great family pet that can live 11–15 years with proper care.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Left – BMJ, Shutterstock | Right – FRA v, Pexels

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