Japan Data

Busy Japanese Pet Owners Turn Away from High-Maintenance Dogs


As Japanese owners seem less willing to walk their pets, cats have become a more popular choice than dogs.

Cats have become more popular than dogs for Japanese pet owners. According to the Japan Pet Food Association’s annual survey on cat and dog ownership, there were 8.92 million pet dogs in 2017, a year-on-year decrease of 436,000. In contrast, the number of pet cats rose 217,000 over the previous year to a total of 9.53 million. In recent years the number of pet cats has remained more or less constant, while the number of pet dogs has been falling. The increase in working couples and people living alone as well as the falling birth rate seem to have influenced the trend away from dogs, which need to be walked.

The survey found that over 40% of those in their seventies walked their dog at least once a day. Meanwhile less than 20% of those in their twenties and thirties did so, and 30% of this cohort went out fewer than three times a week. As for the average time spent walking a dog, 59.5% of those in their seventies reported walking their dog for at least 30 minutes. In contrast, many dog owners in their twenties did not give their dogs adequate exercise, with 65% of them taking their dog for a walk of less than 30 minutes.

Perhaps reflecting the limited time available for walking dogs, the most popular dog breeds among pet owners tend to fall under the “miniature dog” category, weighing five kilograms or less on average. Large dogs that require considerable exercise are not very popular, with Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers accounting for less than 5% of all dogs owned in Japan. In the case of cats, mixed breeds represent by far the most common category.

Most Popular Dogs and Cats Among Pet Owners

Dogs Cats
1 Mixed breed (13.2%) Mixed breed (77.7%)
2 Miniature dachshund (13.0%) American shorthair (4.0%)
3 Chihuahua (12.8%) Scottish fold (3.0%)
4 Toy poodle (11.7%) Munchkin (1.6%)
5 Shiba-inu (10.1%) Russian blue (1.5%)

Created by Nippon.com based on the Japan Pet Food Association’s National Survey of Dog and Cat Ownership.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

cat pet dog animal