The Pets of Japan

Fascinating Facts

Japanese women with dog
Japanese folks who can't have pets can rent them by the hour at places like Puppy the World. Photo courtesy of Junko Kimura/Getty Images

A Booming Pet Industry

Here are some fascinating facts about the pet industry in Japan.

There are more than 19 million pets in Japan, a little over 13 million dogs and 8 million cats. The Japanese pet industry generates about $18 billion per year as of 2009 estimates (compared to $48 billion in America for the year 2010). Like the American pet market, the Japanese pet market is proving to be recession-resistant.

That’s because, like Americans, the Japanese increasingly regard pets as beloved family members, and will spare no expense on their care, comfort and spoiling them rotten.

The Four Most Popular Pets in Japan in Order of Popularity

Like America, spa services for pets (especially dogs) such as massages and facials are very popular in Japan. Self-serve dog washes are also very popular in Japan. Elaborate pet funerals that may cost several thousand dollars are very much in vogue as well. Plus, there is a huge market for specialty products for senior pets, including wheelchairs! 

Meanwhile, the Japanese will spend huge amounts of money on doggie couture, including designer duds and accessories by the likes of Prada and Gucci. Not surprisingly, the high-tech loving Japanese are big fans of pet locating and tracking devices, such as identification chips inserted under the pet’s skin containing identification information that can be read by hand-held apparatuses.


In addition, there's a growing niche architecture trend whereby entire homes are being built to pet specifications! 

Dogs as Chick Magnets for Japanese Men 

Single Japanese guys know what their American counterparts have known for a long time: Owning a dog is a great way to meet women! However, the ever-creative Japanese have taken this a step or two further by launching a rent-a-dog industry, whereby men who can’t own pooches can employ the services of matchmaker mutts for a daily fee averaging about $60.

People who love pets but can’t own them due to housing restrictions can “rent” the companionship of pets on an hourly basis. (This is similar in principle to the country's wildly popular cat cafes, where visitors can enjoy some beverages, light snacks and temporary kitty companionship for a fee.)

In Saying 'Sayonara' to Our Pet-Loving Japanese Friends 

The Japanese word for cat is “neko;” the word for dog is “inu.” The Japanese term for love, at least at it pertains to pets, is “ai.” 

If you’ll pardon my fractured Japanese, the folks in that country sure do “ai” their nekos and inus…a love that is increasingly universal.