Doge is dead: Kabosu, the Shiba Inu who inspired memes and a crypto coin, dies in Japan

A Shiba Inu dog sleeps in a fluffy tan dog bed on top of a red piece of upholstered furniture.
Kabosu, the Shiba Inu dog best known as the side-eye face of ubiquitous Doge memes and the cryptocurrency Dogecoin, died Friday in Japan.
(Philip Fong / Getty Images)

Kabosu, the Shiba Inu known worldwide as “Doge” and whose side-eye expression was captured in innumerable memes, died Friday in Sakura, Japan, according to a blog from her owner.

The onetime rescue pooch was in her late teens, according to her owner, daycare worker Atsuko Sato. The picture of the dog giving side-eye and raised eyebrows was taken in February 2010; the slang “doge” originated in 2005. The two elements came together in meme legend in the decades since.

Kabosu, whose nickname was Kabocha — Japanese for “pumpkin” — died Friday morning after she “fell into a deep sleep,” her owner wrote in Japanese in a blog post, which was computer-translated. She described the Doge, who had accompanied her to work daily at a kindergarten, as “the happiest person in the world.”


“She was abandoned by her mother with her eyes still open and her umbilical cord still attached, left on cold concrete, and was then rescued,” Kabosu’s translated blog bio reads. “Her sibling, who was rescued alongside her, died soon after, but she grew up healthily thanks to the loving and dedicated care of her foster mother. She joined our family in July 2010. Her birthday is May 13th. She is 12 years old. She is a proud tsundere queen.”

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In Japanese, “tsundere” is the process an anime character goes through when she starts out tough and cold but warms up in the face of love.

“OG Doge has ascended to heaven to be with his friend Harambe,” Elon Musk wrote on X (formerly Twitter), after posting a drawing of the late gorilla with full angel wings, holding on to the much-memed Doge.

Kabuso was identified as the Doge dog in 2013 in an article by Verge in which owner Sato said she was “taken aback” to see her dog’s face online in places other than on her blog. “It felt very strange to see her face there. It was a Kabosu that I didn’t know.” Memes typically relay Doge’s inner monologue.

Kabuso also was immortalized in the Dogecoin, a real-life cryptocurrency that started out in late 2013 as a joke by software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer, who were ripping on the crypto craze at the time. What’s known as the first meme coin was trading Friday at 17 cents, down from a 2021 high of 74 cents per coin. The rally came after Musk posted an image on then-Twitter of a faux Dogue magazine cover featuring a different real dog wearing a high-necked red sweater.

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“This reminds me of the dot-com days. We knew something big was going on; a lot of investors were chasing it hard. That led to a bubble,” Scott Knapp, then market strategist at Cuna Mutual Group, told Reuters in April 2021. “For every there were 10 that went bankrupt. Is Dogecoin the of the cryptocurrency era?”


The Dogecoin account on X acknowledged the passing of its inspiration on Friday, posting, “Today Kabosu, our community’s shared friend and inspiration, peacefully passed in the arms of her person. The impact this one dog has made across the world is immeasurable. She was a being who knew only happiness and limitless love. Please keep her spirit and her family in your heart, and most importantly carry her with you as your story continues — we are all fortunate for hers to have touched and shaped ours.”

Back IRL, in Japan, a “farewell party” will be held for Kabosu on Sunday afternoon in Narita, with the dog’s owner hoping to organize a more extensive celebration of life at a later date.