Since 2015, when the country’s population of dogs and cats reached 9.4 million and 9.3 million respectively, Japan's pet market value has been stable at around JPY 1.4 trillion (€10.8 billion / $12.6 billion). The total market value is expected to remain stable in 2018.
Dogs in decline
While the overall dog population has continued its downward trend, the cat population exceeded the dog population in 2017. The popularity of cats over dogs in Japan reflects demographic changes, such as the increasing ageing population and single-person households where cats are preferred due to requiring less care and expense compared to dogs.
Main drivers in the Japanese market
- Popularity of smaller dogs
Small dogs have been gaining popularity in Japan. Dogs weighing 10kg or less accounted for 67.8% of Japan’s total domestic dog population in 2015. Of those, ultra-small dogs weighing 3kg or less totalled 13.4% and small dogs at between 3kg and 5kg numbered 25.1%. Although the number of dogs is decreasing, the turnover in dog accessories is slightly increasing, currently standing at around JPY 9 billion (€6 million / $7 million). This implies that small dogs are more likely to be pampered; they tend to be owned by ‘pet parents’ who are willing to do anything for their beloved dogs and who like to buy high-quality products.
- Advanced ageing among pets
Dogs over seven years old accounted for 56.8% of Japan’s total domestic dog population in 2015, while cats over seven years old equalled 44.4% The average lifespan for dogs in Japan is 14.2 years while the average lifespan for cats is 15 years. Due to the wide availability of well-balanced pet foods as well as advanced pet medical care, pets are living longer. In that respect Japanese pets are mirroring the development of the country’s human population. Due to its ageing population, Japan is regarded as the world’s oldest society and the country is said to have the highest proportion of elderly citizens, both in rural areas and urban ones.
Another trend is the increase in indoor pets. A survey by the Japan Pet Food Association showed that over 78.9% of dogs and over 82% of cats are kept indoors. Pets kept indoors are less likely to become ill and therefore live longer. Hence, this trend is also a factor driving advanced aging among pets in Japan.