Dogs, cats and goldfish most popular pets in Japan


Would you want to keep a pet in the future? graph of japanese statisticsThis recent survey from DIMSDRIVE Research into pets had interesting information regarding insurance, but sadly the number of pets per person were not reported, a figure that would have helped in understanding some of the numbers.


Between the 11th and 26th of March 2009 10,501 members of the DIMSDRIVE monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. The sample was 50:50 male and female (one more female than male, but she was lost in rounding), 1.1% were in their teens, 13.1% in their twenties, 33.8% in their thirties, 30.6% in their forties, 14.7% in their fifties, and 6.7% aged sixty or older. Additional demographic information included 51.4% lived in a house, 33.5% in a flat, 12.7% in an apartment, and 2.4% in other accommodation.

I really don’t like pet shops in Japan at all; the cages on display are far too small, and they take the animals away from their mothers too early – about six weeks is the standard figure, while they are still cute enough to sell. I remember last year seeing one male kitten that was so desparate for mother’s milk that it had taken to sucking his own nipple, pulling out a lot of his own hair and leaving a big ugly raw-red mark on his chest.

Research results

Q1: Do you have a pet? (Sample size=10,501)

Used to have but not now (to Q8)43.3%
Never (to Q8)21.6%

The bigger the family, the more chance of having a pet; only 17.5% of people living alone had one, yet 47.6% of families of five or more people had one. Similarly, those living in houses were more likely to have pets than those in shared accommodation.

Q2: What kinds of pet do you have? (Sample size=3,688, those currently with pets, multiple answer)

Goldfish, koi carp14.6%
Tropical fish9.5%
Tortoise, turtle7.0%
Other fish5.1%
Hamster, marmott4.9%
Amphibian, reptile1.5%
Other small animal0.6%

Q3: Why do you have a pet? (Sample size=3,688, those currently with pets, multiple answer)

Things are more fun39.2%
Inter-family talk increased39.0%
Home has become brighter33.2%
Not lonely23.5%
Useful for children’s upbringing19.3%
Friends have increased thanks to the pet13.9%
Useful for crime prevention10.4%
Fixed problem of a lack of exercise9.2%
Lifestyle has become more regular8.0%
Nothing in particular6.5%

Q4: About how much do you spend per month on your pet? (Sample size=3,688, those currently with pets)

Up to 1,000 yen22.5%
Up to 3,000 yen26.4%
Up to 5,000 yen19.7%
Up to 8,000 yen6.6%
Up to 10,000 yen10.2%
Up to 20,000 yen4.1%
20,000 yen or more2.5%
Don’t know8.0%

The question does not make it clear if the cost was per pet or the sum of all pets per respondent.

Cats were cheaper than dogs, with 40.6% of people owned by cats spending less than 3,000 yen, whereas only 31.8% of dog owners spent that little.

Q5: Where do you usually buy pet food, pet goods, etc? (Sample size=3,688, those currently with pets, multiple answer)

Home centre, discount store70.5%
Pet shop26.7%
Drug store16.4%
Pet goods shop12.7%
Vet clinic7.5%
Convenience store2.0%
Department store1.5%
Pet grooming salon1.3%
Other delivery0.9%
Don’t buy pet food, pet goods1.5%

Q6: Which of the following services do you often use? (Sample size=3,688, those currently with pets, multiple answer)

Pet grooming17.4%
Pet hotel6.1%
Pet sitter0.9%
Pet massage service0.8%
Pet search service0.7%
Pet walker service0.5%
Pet counselling service0.3%
None of the above78.3%

Q7: Do you or your family have pet insurance? (Sample size=3,688, those currently with pets)

Yes (to SQ1, SQ2)5.9%
Used to, but not now3.2%
Never had any(to SQ3)90.9%

Dogs were about three times as likely to be insured as cats.

Q7SQ1: Why do you have pet insurance? (Sample size=219, those currently with pet insurance, multiple answer)

Just in case something happened67.6%
Vet bills are lower56.6%
Pet got injured, ill42.0%
Pet shop recommended it19.6%
Often go to the vet13.7%
Pet got older8.2%
Vet recommended it8.2%
Saw it on TV, newspaper, magazine, internet, etc5.0%
Friends recommended it3.2%
No particular reason1.8%

Q7SQ2: What factors are important when buying pet insurance? (Sample size=219, those currently with pet insurance, multiple answer)

Details of benefits51.6%
Monthly fees51.1%
Entry requirements (pet health, etc)31.5%
Number of vets in the scheme31.5%
Age of pets that can be insured25.6%
Kind of pets that can be insured24.2%
Quality of plan23.3%
Simplicity of application procedures18.3%
Trustworthiness of insurance company16.9%
Good riders in policy15.1%
Insurance company’s customer service12.3%
Had discount system (discount for microchipped pets, etc)11.9%
Nothing in particular10.0%

Q7SQ3: Why have you never had pet insurance? (Sample size=3,352, those who never had pet insurance, multiple answer)

High fees32.5%
Almost never take pet to the vet18.0%
Didn’t know there was pet insurance11.6%
No insurance available for my kind of pet7.2%
Pet was too old to join4.3%
Details of benefits were poor3.2%
Pet already had an injury, disease so couldn’t enter2.1%
No particular reason36.1%

This ends the questions for current pet owners; the last question is for non-owners.

Q8: Would you want to keep a pet in the future? (Sample size=6,813, those with no pet currently)

Want to have one40.4%
Don’t want to have one35.2%
Don’t know24.4%

Younger people were keener on pets, and women more than men.

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  1. Patty said,
    July 4, 2009 @ 11:02

    I heard a disturbing story from someone who used to teach in Japan that a vehicle comes around (daily, weekly, monthly?) and announces on a loud speaker that they will
    take your pet if you no longer want them and euthanise them. Being an animal lover I was horrified! Come around asking to put away your animal like they’re picking up garbage? I always thought the Japanese were more civil than that. It’s too sad, really.

    • Ken Y-N said,
      July 5, 2009 @ 00:45

      Patty, I think someone was having you on! I’ve never heard of such a thing.

    • Valery Johnson said,
      October 18, 2010 @ 17:04

      I’ve lived in Japan for 12 years, I am half Japanese, and I speak Japanese, and I have never seen/heard anything even remotely close to what you heard from this “somebody”. Please do not judge an entire nation of people because of something that you simply heard from somebody, that isn’t even true.

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