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Play now 25 mins

It's A Dog's Life

25 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 09 June 2012

Startlingly, in a country having kittens over its plummeting birth-rate, there are now twice as many pets in Japan as there are children.

While the average age of Japan's population has been steadily climbing and birth rates falling rapidly, Japan has become a pet superpower.

As the number of dogs has increased, so too has the number of childless women and couples, many of whom dote on their dogs in place of children, lavishing luxuries and all kinds of anthropomorphic privileges on them. Small pedigree breeds such as chihuahuas or tiny purse-sized poodles are preferred and highly prized.

Some of the luxuries on offer include dog kimonos, fake fur coats and $1,500 Hermes leather tote bags and collars. Dog buggies, nappies, sunglasses and hats are “must have” items for any self-respecting dog owner.

Roland Buerk seeks an explanation for this explosion in interest in all things canine, and explores the demographic time-bomb behind it. If Japanese women continue to reject marriage and children in favour of doggy love, what will be the impact on Japan's population?

(Image shows young Japanese women carrying poodles in the Tokyo International Dog Show 2010. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

  • In pictures: Japan's pampered pets

    In pictures: Japan's pampered pets

    See a photogallery from 2010, showing a range of pampered pets in Japan.

    See the photogallery


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