What an average dog owner spends each month:

  • Dog food, drinks and treats: ¥5,000 (€45)
  • Medical care and insurance: ¥4,000 (€36)
  • Beds, mats and toiletries: ¥2,000 (€18)
  • Grooming and trimming: ¥1,500-¥2,000 (€18)
  • Leads, collars and clothes: ¥1,000 (€9)

Top five dogs registered in 2011 with the Japan Kennel Club:

  • Toy poodle: 91,683
  • Chihuahua: 71,163
  • Miniature dachshund: 39,153
  • Pomeranian: 15,904
  • Yorkshire terrier: 14,929

Salons

The standard salon trim of old has been replaced by a complex range of beauty treatments. The menu at Tsunayoshi no Yu, a hot spring spa for dogs in Tokyo, includes aroma care, moisture gel-packs, massage and colouring. At Green Dog, the shampoo and cut menu varies with breed – ¥7,000 (€60) for a chihuahua, ¥14,000 (€130) for a golden retriever.

As dogs age and owners devote more expenditure to their health and well-being, the range of services on offer is expanding. Tsunayoshi offers rehab treatments from a therapeutic dip in the onsen hot spring to a turn on the water treadmill under the watchful eye of Dr Yoko Watanabe, licensed by the Swedish Kennel Club.

Hairdressing is a key part of the Japanese dog industry with nearly 9,000 pet salons, almost all of them for dogs. Ryo Kikuchi has broken through from human styling to dog grooming. “The trimming world is 30 years behind hairdressing,” says Kikuchi. “I wanted to be the one to take it into the future.”

Q&A

In world of toy poodles, Toshinori Omura is already becoming a legend. His Smash toy poodles, bred in Shizuoka, have won awards all over the world. They’ve been the number one breed in Japan for 22 years, top breed for six consecutive years at the Poodle Club of America (the world’s biggest poodle show), has been Best of Breed at Crufts and Best in Show at the World Show.

Monocle: What’s your background?
Toshinori Omura: I have been participating in dog shows since I was 13 and became a professional breeder 24 years ago.

M: Have you always bred small dogs?
TO: I started out breeding shiba and bigger dogs such as standard poodles but my toy poodles have been recognised around the world so I put all my energy into them.

M: What do people in Japan look for in a dog? Small and cute?
TO: The Japanese didn’t used to be good at keeping bigger dogs, but recently, the number of people who want more varied kinds of dogs is increasing. Having said that, the number of those who really love small dogs and take care of them almost too much is also increasing.

M: Have you noticed changes in taste since you started breeding dogs?
TO: Thirty years ago people were happy just to have a pure breed but now they want to know more. Screening for inherited diseases is widespread.

M: Who is buying dogs?
TO: Different breeds have different demographics. The people who come to us want high quality pets or want to put their dogs in shows. People sometimes have the wrong idea about show dogs. The period when they appear in shows is quite short and most lead long lives as pets afterwards. It is the same with athletes and models.

M: Do you have customers outside Japan?
TO: My dogs appear in shows around the world and I have many friends and colleagues in the business – through those connections people from all over the world have bought my dogs.

*M: How much does a dog cost?**
TO: It depends on the quality of dogs but generally ¥150,000 to ¥500,000 (€4,550) for a three month-old. We’re not like a pet shop – I don’t breed puppies to hand them over, I breed them for myself and some go to my customers.

Monocle 24

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