Dog that inspired ‘Doge’ meme and became face of Dogecoin dies | Dogs

The Japanese dog whose photo inspired a generation of oddball online jokes and the £18bn Dogecoin cryptocurrency beloved by Elon Musk has died, her owner said.

“She quietly passed away as if asleep while I caressed her,” Atsuko Sato wrote on her blog on Friday, thanking the fans of her shiba inu called Kabosu – the face of the ‘Doge’ meme.

“I think Kabo-chan was the happiest dog in the world. And I was the happiest owner,” she wrote.

As a rescue dog, Kabosu’s real birthday was unknown but Sato estimated her age at 18, past the average lifespan for a shiba inu, with her birthday celebrated in November.

In 2010, two years after adopting Kabosu from a puppy farm where she would otherwise have been put down, Sato took a picture of her pet crossing her paws on the sofa.

She posted the image, in which Kabosu gives the camera a beguiling look, on her blog, from where it spread to the online forum Reddit and became a meme that bounced from college bedrooms to office email chains.

A beige and cream-coloured dog sits on a sofa with its paws crossed, giving the camera a beguiling look
The 2010 image of Kabosu, which later became an NFT that sold for £3.1m. Photograph:

The memes typically used goofy broken English to reveal the inner thoughts of Kabosu and other shiba inu “doge” – pronounced like pizza “dough” but with a “j” at the end.

The picture also later became an NFT digital artwork that sold for $4m (£3.1m) and inspired Dogecoin, which was started as a joke by two software engineers and is now the eighth-most valuable cryptocurrency with a market capitalisation of $23bn.

Dogecoin has been backed by the hip-hop star Snoop Dogg, the Shark Tank entrepreneur Mark Cuban and the Kiss bassist Gene Simmons.

But its most keen supporter is probably the billionaire Musk, who jokes about the currency on X – sending its value soaring – and hails it as “the people’s crypto”.

Dogecoin has also inspired a plethora of other cheap and highly volatile “memecoins”, including the spin-off Shiba Inu and others based on dogs, cats and Donald Trump.

Kabosu fell ill with leukaemia and liver disease in late 2022, and Sato said in a recent interview at her home of Sakura, east of Tokyo, that the “invisible power” of prayers from fans worldwide helped her to pull through.

Sato said she had become so used to “unbelievable” events that, when Musk changed the icon for Twitter, now X, to Kabosu’s face last year, she “wasn’t even that surprised”.

“In the last few years I’ve been able to connect the online version of Kabosu, all these unexpected things seen from a distance, with our real lives,” she said.

A $100,000 statue of Kabosu and her sofa crowdfunded by Own The Doge, a crypto organisation dedicated to the meme, was unveiled in a park in Sakura in November last year.

Sato and Own The Doge have also donated large sums to international charities, including more than $1m to Save the Children. The NGO says it is “the single largest crypto contribution” it has ever received.

“The Doge is the most popular dog of the modern era,” said Tridog, a pseudonymous member of Own The Doge, describing Kabosu as “the Mona Lisa of the internet”.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.