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How to get a pet dog in Japan?


Growing up I was never allowed a dog, or a cat, for that matter. The only pets for clean freak families are goldfish, or at a push, hamsters. So, that's what I had.

But after getting married to my wife, who had always had dogs, and whose parents owned two docile, alien-like italian greyhounds, my chances of owning a dog were back on the table.

We moved into an apartment by the sea in Fukuoka (located on the island of Kyushu, Japan) that actually allows tenants to keep one small-sized dog with no additional fee (quite a rarity), and that was that. It was time to get a pup!


Where to get a dog in Japan?

The options for getting a dog in Japan are basically

  • go to the pet shop  (over-priced and sometimes unhealthy dogs)
  • go to a breeder  (may be limited availability depending on desired breed)
  • rescue a dog  (can be difficult to train, and again, difficult to get a specific breed)

We were 100% after an italian greyhound, and ended up going for the breeder option. However, we were only able to locate one in Fukuoka, and it was substantially more expensive than the breeders in prefectures around Tokyo.

Buying a dog over the internet

After vast amounts of internet research, we made contact with a breeder in Yamanashi prefecture (approx. 650 miles from where we live). They sent us videos of the available puppies, answered our many various questions, and when we were fairly sure it wasn't a scam (because... it's Japan?), we made a bank transfer to some person we'd never met or even spoken to on the phone.

Putting a puppy on a plane

For an additional 10,000 yen (about 70 pounds, or 90 dollars currently) they said they would escort our new pup to Tokyo Haneda Airport, and put her on a domestic flight bound for Fukuoka. A hell of an experience for a 2-month old puppy - potentially traumatic, but it beat doing a 40 hour round trip by car!

I watched videos of the puppy we had chosen in the days leading up to her "shipment". I showed one of my colleagues who supposedly knew a lot about dogs -

Colleague: "Are you sure her legs are okay? I wouldn't buy a dog over the internet!"

Me: "Dude, she's a not-even-2-month-old puppy. All puppies walk funny!"

But obviously, those dastardly seeds of doubt had already been planted and set off a worry train in my head.

I felt like we had made a bit of a gamble.

Collecting a dog from the airport (air transport)

Our new puppy had somehow missed her first ever flight, and the agreed airport pick-up time moved two hours later.

I was for some reason imagining our new canine friend sat waiting for us at the usual arrivals spot in the terminal, luggage in tow. However, we actually had to go to the cargo terminal at Fukuoka airport (a place you never go, but was surprisingly easy to find).

We went to the JAL service counter, showed our ID, filled out a form and were then made to wait in the carpark outside the depot office.

I was just hoping *something* would turn up - if the little guy had weird legs and could only walk in circles, we would have still been content enough.


An hour passed, and finally one of the staff waved us in to collect our "luggage".

And there she was, an actual italian greyhound pup, tiny and frozen with fear, staring at up at her new owners!

Welcome to Fukuoka, Penelope!

We did it! We got our dog!


Follow our puppy on Instagram

If you would like to see more pictures of our dog, why don't you check her out on instagram?


She definitely has no health issues and is actually a bit too good at running (italian greyhounds are FAST)!


If you are looking into getting a dog in Japan, and would like to ask any questions, please feel free to leave a comment. 🙂


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