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Kabosu, the Shiba Inu That Inspired the ‘Doge’ Meme and Cryptocurrency, Has Died at Age 18

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Kabosu, the Japanese shiba inu that became famous as the face of the ‘doge’ meme and inspired one of the largest cryptocurrencies, has died at 18 years old. She “passed away quietly” while being stroked by her owner, Atsuko Sato, who shared the news in a blog post on Friday. 

Kabosu went viral in 2013, becoming one of the biggest memes that year after a photo of her, taken in 2010, showed her glancing sideways with her paws crossed in front of her. The iconic expression also spawned Cryptocurrency Dogecoin, and Kabosu was named as one of TIME’s 100 most iNFLuential Animals in 2016 and voted Meme of The Decade by the website Know Your Meme in 2019. 

An example of a doge meme.CreativeCommons/ResearchGate

“Ever since Kabosu came into my home, a series of miraculous things have happened, enriching my life and gifting me with a treasure trove of priceless moments,” Sato, a 62-year-old nursery school teacher who adopted Kabosu from a shelter around 2008, told local newspaper Asahi Shimbun in February.

Kabosu previously dealt with leukemia and liver disease, which landed her in critical condition in 2022. A farewell party will be held for Kabosu on Sunday in Narita City, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Sato said on social media.

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A post shared by かぼすママ (@kabosumama)

Dogecoin, the Cryptocurrency inspired by Kabosu that launched in 2013, is widely considered to be the world’s first “meme coin.” Featuring a logo with Kabosu’s iconic expression, it is now one of the most popular cryptocurrencies and got a big boost after Elon Musk changed the Twitter logo to Doge as a joke in April 2023.

In a post on X paying tribute to Kabosu, Dogecoin said: “The impact this one dog has made across the world is immeasurable.” The company also announced that it would drop a limited NFT collection for free in honor of Kabosu. (In 2021, an NFT of Doge sold for a record-breaking $4 million.)

Cryptocurrencies Photo Illustrations
Dogecoin physical representation, photographed in Poland in 2023.Beata Zawrzel—NurPhoto/Getty Images

Since going viral, Kabosu became something of a local legend. According to Sato, visitors around the world would make their way to her home in Chiba Prefecture to catch a glimpse of the shiba inu. And last November, a bronze statue of Kabosu, funded by donations from her fans, was unveiled in their hometown.

In 2021, seven photos of Kabosu were auctioned for over 500 million yen ($3.2 million)—the proceeds of which were donated to children’s organizations in Japan and beyond. 

Kabosu’s death comes less than a year after that of Hong Kong-based Cheems Balltze, another shiba inu beloved by the internet. Kabosu and Cheems were often featured together in another popular meme, Swole Doge vs. Cheems.

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A painting of Kabosu at the home of her owner Atsuko Sato in Sakura, Chiba Prefecture, on March 19, 2024.
Philip Fong—AFP/Getty Images

“Thank you all so much for loving Kabosu all these years,” Sato wrote on Friday. “I am certain Kabosu was the happiest dog in the world. That makes me the happiest owner in the world.”

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