How did the Shiba Inu take over the internet?
The internet is a popular place with its own language.
Sure, there are emojis and shorthand abbreviations, but there are also versions of it that exist entirely through photos: memes. The popularity of this image-based language has exploded over the last several years and it has evolved into a sophisticated communication method that is now generations-deep (using internet timing, that is).
One of the most popular ones to date is that of the Shiba Inu, otherwise known as the “doge”. This adorable meme has captured the hearts of millions of dog lovers and meme enthusiasts everywhere…but do you know what’s actually behind this popular meme and its well-recognized dog form?
The origin of the Shiba Inu as a dog itself is pretty standard. This is a beloved dog breed in Japan and many Eastern countries. It’s been bred throughout generations as a hunting dog and it’s thought that the name for the dog breed means “brushwood dog”. This is because the dog itself easily blends into the brushwood territory where it hunts and is helpful in capturing small animals for their owners and handlers.
As time progressed, the dog breed grew in popularity in Japan, mainly due to their overwhelming loyalty. Have you heard of Hachiko? Being depicted as one of the most loyal companion a man can have, it's the story of about dog who continues to wait for his owner to come home from work every single day.
There is even a bronze statue in Shibuya station, depicting the story of a dog who continued to wait for his owner to come home from work after the owner had passed away suddenly during the work day. Every single day, the dog would come and wait for his owner in a true sense of loyalty that makes this a lovable dog breed. These dogs are spirited, loving and intelligent.
The popularity of the dog meme sprung up in 2008 when a litter of Shiba puppies was broadcasted online with growing popularity. At this point, something in the adorably squinting smile and gentle temperament of the dog breed caught a spark of interest and the doge meme was born. Descriptions such as “such wow” and “much fun” and “what cute” were used to describe the dog and these were then meme-ified and sent out online. From there, the trend went totally viral!
It is still used in its grammatically incorrect form even now and is still popular with meme users. Though, many don’t realize where it really came from throughout time.
It really grew in popularity in 2013 with the use of just the dog’s head — and hilarious expression — applied to the all too common blurry background and the large, neon text with the doge-related details. People liked, shared and made their own memes focused on this adorable, unique and culturally popular dog breed.
The doge meme became popular because it focused on two of the quality features of a successful meme (and took them seriously):
- Adorable photo: Even those who may not be super huge fans of dogs would take one glance to understand just how cute it was. There was just something about its unique fur coloring, its sharp facial features and the unique expressions that would draw anyone in. The original meme (and the ones to follow) really focused on picking cute and human-like expressions that got us all to see how cute this Japanese dog breed really was.
- Relatability: The other detail to get right in a successful meme is how relatable it is. With the use of overly-stated emotions and the grammatical incorrectness, it quickly became popular. Why? Because you didn’t need to be an English expert in order to make the meme work for you and your needs. It was about the attempt at expressing yourself in doge form. From Japanese culture, it quickly jumped up in popularity overseas and the doge meme was born and, while it is considered a few generations old now, it is still well loved and enjoyed by many meme sharers online.
As with anything popular, the growth of the doge meme has had some really unique positives on the popularity of the dog breed itself. This popularity is in the Western part of the world, too, which is great. Some of the impacts are:
- Popularity as pets: With the birth and spread of the doge meme, the dog breed itself now has more popularity in the Western world. Due to this particular breed being a popular family favorite for looks as well as temperament, more and more pups are getting adopted. These are also great show dogs, and they are popping up more and more to become the most popular dog breed. While they can be destructive as puppies due to their genetics being close to that of a wolf, they are great dogs for competitions.
- Support for rescue groups: There are quite a few rescue groups dedicated to Shibas. Since the dog can be so hyper and destructive in its younger years, a lot of them are surrendered to shelters. Since they require so much care and attention, the popularity of the breed has brought support and donations to rescue groups dedicated to this breed.
- Cross-cultural respect and communication: As with any good meme, the doge popularity allowed for people from different cultures to communicate effectively and stress-free through the intended disconnected language of “much wow, such good”. For those that really like the power of language, this meme is a sure key element of the modern way in which all cultures can get in on the communication methods.
Memes are incredible and have the power to change the way that we communicate with one another. There is no better example of this than the doge meme. Whether you’re a lover of this meme yourself, or you simply enjoy the attempts language use in the earlier versions — or you just love the dog’s distinctive features — this meme seems to be here to stay. And it’s bringing a lot of positive impacts with it!