Jan 18, 2018
My wife and I both love dogs, and soon after starting our family and moving to Japan we decided to find ourselves a little puppy. I reckon many of you readers out there may find yourselves in the same boat. If you decide to purchase from a pet shop here in Japan, it can actually be a pretty drawn out process, so allow me to offer a few tips to help add a little furry pal to your family.
Note: We opted to purchase our little pup from a pet shop but there are many wonderful rescue agencies throughout Japan. If you're looking for a rescue animal, I recommend starting with ARK.
Things to consider before purchasing
Living arrangements: I'm not referring to the need to ensure that your apartment is big enough to give an Akita or other big dog a good life (though you should think about that); rather, I mean you need to check to ensure that your landlord will allow you to have a pet in the first place, what fees may be associated, and how big the pet is allowed to be. In our apartment, the trunk of the pet was not allowed to stand taller than 30 cm off the ground, and we had pay an addition 5,000 yen per month pet fee.
Vet Care: If you do not have Japanese language capability, you may want to verify that there are English-capable vets in your local area before purchasing a pet. It is not common, so it is helpful either to find an appropriate vet or line up a reliable friend who will be ready to interpret for you through appointments and (god forbid) emergencies.
Puppies in Japan are not cheap. A pure breed can run you anywhere between 150,000 and 1,000,000 yen (insane, right?). The price goes down based on three factors: mixed breeding, age of the puppy, and special deals. Our poor dog had lived in that small pet shop for four months and there happened to be a special deal at the shop we visited, so he cost us 40,000 yen list price.
But buying a puppy in Japan is kind of like buying a car--there are a lot of hidden fees that come beyond the sticker price. Here are some of the other associated costs:
- Food/Puppy formula: Some pet shops (like ours) make it mandatory to buy at least a few week's worth of puppy food and formula that they had been feeding the pups. This will cost you a few thousand yen.
- Pet pads: This is not a mandatory purchase, but the pet shop will offer to sell you pet pads to assist in housebreaking the animal.
- Insurance: This is the big one. Pet insurance in Japan is expensive, so you'll have to decide whether or not this is something you need. However, a quick cost/benefit analysis told us that getting a year of pet insurance that would cover vaccinations, neutering, and other routine requirements was cheaper than simply paying out of pocket for a vet. Still, insurance will run you anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 yen depending on the breed.
When Buying the Pup...
Allot enough time: The whole process for buying the puppy takes about 2 hours with all of the paperwork required. Why 2 hours? Well, there is the official transfer of ownership, the printing of breeding certifications, and filling out of paper upon paper for pet insurance if you go that route. Just be prepared for a long process. I will say that at least we were able to hold our new pup the entire time!
Bring Cash: One other thing of which to be aware is that most pet shops in Japan do not accept credit cards for payment. That meant I had to visit the nearest ATM in the middle of the purchasing process, contact my American bank to change my withdrawal limit for the day, and take out a hefty amount of cash--just an extra consideration.
Do you have any other questions about buying a puppy in Japan? Have some extra advice for others? Feel free to use comments section below!
Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.
Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).