The Dog Behind the Doge Meme and Dogecoin Has Died

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Kabosu, the Japanese dog whose image prompted the “doge” meme and the Dogecoin cryptocurrency, has died at the estimated age of 18.

The Shiba Inu’s owner, Atsuko Sato, said she “went very peacefully.” Kabosu was a rescue dog, so her exact age wasn’t known. She dealt with leukaemia and liver disease late in 2022.

Kabosu came to unexpected fame in 2010 when Sato posted a photo of the dog on her blog. Reddit users loved the dog’s curious look, and started a flood of doge memes (mainly between 2012 and 2013) imagining her thoughts as a dog: “much wow,” for example.

The buzz around the meme grew to the point where engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer launched their Dogecoin cryptocurrency in December 2013 featuring the doge dog as its mascot.

The meme coin was meant to be a joke, but quickly took on a life of its own. The iconic picture helped with Dogecoin-related fundraising for good causes (such as Charity:Water and the 2014 Jamaican Olympic bobsled team), and has found its way on to more than one NASCAR vehicle through sponsorships. It briefly had a market capitalization of $85 billion in May 2021.

Dogecoin also found an unexpected champion in Elon Musk, whose promotion helped spike the price. He even briefly had Twitter (now X) use the doge dog in place of its usual logo in early April 2023. Other meme coins, such as Shiba Inu, can also be traced back to Kabosu.

However, Kabosu’s greatest practical impact might have been felt in her home country. Sato told Know Your Meme in 2020 that many Japanese people became interested in rescue dogs thanks to Kabosu. In that sense, Sato’s blog and the doge meme might have saved many canine lives.