Shiba Inu vs Shih Tzu: A Complete Comparison


Shiba Inu vs Shih Tzu

Both the Shiba Inu and the Shih Tzu are adorable, fluffy dogs. Both of these breeds make great family members, but choosing the right one for you can be a tough decision. While these two dogs are very different in their own right, they do share some traits as well.

Differences and Similarities 

While both the Shiba Inu and the Shih Tzu are both smaller dogs they have fairly different personalities. These differences between the two breed types are very important to take into consideration while deciding which one of these is the best for you and your family.


When it comes to physical characteristics, the Shih Tzu and the Shiba Inu are somewhat similar. Neither of these dogs are known for being large drool producers. 

When it comes to shedding, the Shiba Inu will leave more fur behind than the Shih Tzu. Ironically, even though the Shih Tzu sheds dramatically less than the Shiba Inu, they require much more grooming. This is due to the fact that instead of fur like most breeds have, Shih Tzus have hair. It is important to brush Shih Tzus daily to keep them from getting matted. They also need to be groomed roughly once a month to trim up the hair, especially around the face. The much less labor intensive Shiba Inu should be brushed as needed, especially when they blow their thick coat.

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Both the Shih Tzu and the Shiba Inu have big personalities. The Shiba Inu are known for being very cautious, apprehensive dogs. This may cause them to become fear aggressive if not properly socialized. Even with socialization they have a tendency to be a mouthy breed. They are less adaptable to new people and surroundings because of their nervous disposition. 

Shih Tzus on the other hand are a happy-go-lucky breed. They are very goofy, playful and generally love people. While some individual Shih Tzus may be ill tempered, they are much less commonly seen. These pups are extremely affectionate with both their family and with new people as well. They will oftentimes go out of their way to say hello to anyone and everyone that they come across. 

See also: Shiba Inu vs Chihuahua

While both the Shih Tzu and the Shiba Inu are fairly energetic breeds, they will get tired or become bored faster than some other breeds would. With this being said, they both require a decent amount of mental stimulation. The Shih Tzu is less likely to become destructive if left to their own devices compared to the Shiba Inu. 

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The cautious Shiba Inu makes a much better guard dog of the two breeds. Some Shih Tzu are more prone to bark than others. The louder ones will absolutely let you know when anything or anyone comes into the yard, including squirrels and suspicious looking leaves. The Shiba Inu on the other hand isn’t one to bark at anything and everything quite like the Shih Tzu, but they have their own distinct sound. The classic Shiba scream is their signature sound they make when they are anxious or in any sort of emotional distress.

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Neither the Shiba Inu nor the Shih Tzu are large breed dogs. While they are both small in stature, the Shih Tzu is the more petite of the two. These little dogs tend to top off weight wise at around 16 pounds. At the shoulder they are at most 10.5 inches tall. 

The slightly larger Shiba Inu males can weigh up to 23 pounds. The females tend to be closer in size to the Shih Tzu, weighing up to 17 pounds. The larger male Shiba Inus can stand up to 16.5 inches tall at the shoulder.


Despite the fact that both of these breeds are rather intelligent dogs, one of them tends to be more trainable than the other. Shiba Inus will give a new dog owner more of a run for their money when it comes to training. This is due to the fact that they have a stubborn streak a mile wide. These dogs would much rather do what they want, when they want, regardless of what you are telling them to do. Starting training young and keeping things interesting will help combat this stubbornness. 

Shih Tzus are much easier when it comes to training. They are very eager to please and have a high intelligence as well. It is equally important to keep them engaged since they do need a decent amount of mental stimulation. It is ideal to try to find ways to motivate them besides treats since they are known for becoming overweight rather easily.

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Since these two breeds are smaller dogs, they both have longer life spans compared to larger breed dogs. Shih Tzus have a larger longevity range, typically between 10 to 18 years. In comparison, Shiba Inus generally live around 13 to 16 years.

Both of these breeds are prone to issues such as hip dysplasia, patella luxations and eye disorders. While these issues are generally not severe or life threatening, they can still get other diseases or disorders that can affect their typical life span.

Which One is Best for You

When it comes to deciding between these two breeds, your lifestyle and experience is important. For new dog owners, the Shiba Inu can pose quite a challenge due to their stubbornness. They also are more likely to develop bad habits. Shih Tzus may be a better fit for people that are new to owning dogs. 

Shih Tzus tend to be great with children. Shiba Inus are much more skittish. If you have children or plan to, the Shiba Inu may not be the best choice until the children are older and can safely interact with the dogs in the house. 

While both of these dogs are affectionate with their owner, Shih Tzus are much more of a lap dog. Shiba Inus are more independent. If that independence and cat-like personality is what you are looking for, consider the Shib Inu.

Can Shiba Inu and Shih Tzu Get Along

Any dog breeds can potentially get along, especially if they are raised and trained together. However, there are some types that don’t complement each other well. With the Shiba Inu being a nervous dog and Shih Tzus being wanting to socialize with anyone, this can pose a problem. A Shih Tzu may push a Shiba Inu to play or interact past the Shiba’s comfort level. 

Despite the fact that these two may not be the best housemates due to their different personalities, both of them are loving breeds with their own individual pros and cons and either one would be a great family member.