Doge is a slang term for "dog" that is primarily associated with pictures of Shiba Inus (nicknamed "Shibe") and internal monologue captions on Tumblr. These photos may be photoshopped to change the dog's face or captioned with interior monologues in Comic Sans font.
The use of the misspelled word "doge" to refer to a dog dates back to June 24th, 2005, when it was mentioned in an episode of Homestar Runner's puppet show. In the episode titled "Biz Cas Fri 1", Homestar calls Strong Bad his "d-o-g-e" while trying to distract him from his work.
On February 23rd, 2010, Japanese kindergarten teacher Atsuko Sato posted several photos of her rescue-adopted Shiba Inu dog Kabosu to her personal blog. Among the photos included a peculiar shot of Kabosu sitting on a couch while glaring sideways at the camera with raised eyebrows (shown below, right).
In December 2013, shortly after the breakout of "Doge," the tech news site The Verge published an article identifying Sato's Kabosu as the original Shiba Inu depicted in the meme. In addition to Kabosu, The Verge also identified "Suki," a Shiba Inu who lives with San Francisco-based photographer Jonathan Fleming, as the scarfed dog portrayed in another popular instance of the meme.
On October 28th, 2010, a photo of Kabosu was submitted to the /r/Ads subreddit with the title "LMBO LOOK @ THIS FUKKIN DOGE," where it received 266 upvotes, 218 points overall and 48 comments prior to being archived. Sometime in April 2012, Tumblr user leonsumbitches uploaded an audio file of a computer reading a passage written like the commands of a turn-based adventure game about encountering a "doge." The passage was paired with a photo of a woman patting a dog on the head and has gained more than 33,000 notes as of July 2013.
In response, the single topic blog Your Daily Doge was created, but was quickly abandoned after reblogging leonsumbitches' post several times. On May 7th, YouTuber KwandaoRen66 uploaded a video with a person reading the text over a fake Pokemon battle. By June, doge threads in which numerous people shared photos of dogs in different outfits began appearing on 4chan boards, including /v/ (Video Games). The same month, a photoset of a dog with a cup and saucer balanced on his head went viral on Tumblr after airpi referred to it as "Polite Doge." In August, the first doge single topic blog, Fuck Yeah Doge, launched on Tumblr. The growth in summer 2012 coincided with the popularity of the single topic Tumblr Shiba Confessions, as people began to refer to these dogs as "shibes."
In December 2012, the term "doge" appeared on Reddit in a post submitted to /r/DogsIWannaHug. The same month, an interior monologue captioned photo of a Schnauzer was submitted to Cheezburger with the title "Schnauze." On January 8th, 2013, the subreddit /r/Doge was created, sharing photos and videos of the captioned Shiba Inus. In May, /r/dailydoge was created to share one dog photo a day, captioned or not. Another single topic blog, shibe-doge, launched in July 2013 dedicated to sharing Shiba Inu photos. On July 29th, 2013, a doge thread was sticky-featured to the top of the 4chan board /s4s/ (Shit 4chan Says), garnering more than 600 replies.
On November 20, 2013,Youtube implemented an Easter egg, that changes the text to be colored and in Comic Sans, much like the original internal-monologue style captions, when user searches the phrase "doge meme". On Tumblr, in addition to the captioned photos, the "doge" tag often contains images of a Shiba Inu whose facial features have been manipulated, similar to Starecat.
4chan's /r/Murica Raid
On the evening of August 26th, 2013, a group of users on 4chan raided against Reddit's tongue-in-cheek patriotic forum /r/Murica, flooding the subreddit's frontpage with dozens of photoshopped images depicting the Doge character in All-American-themed settings (shown below). According to The Daily Dot's report, the raid started late Sunday night and lasted until about 12:15 p.m. (ET) on August 27th, at which point /r/Murica's moderators began removing Doge-related posts from the subreddit index. Unlike previous clashes between the users of 4chan and Reddit, the sudden influx of Doge images was reportedly met by little opposition from Reddit's userbase, reflecting the growing popularity of the character outside of Tumblr.
On June 24th, 2014, the California-based gaming accessory company filed to trademark "Doge" with the United States patent office to sell card boxes and playing card covers with Kabosu's likeness on the front. On June 23rd, The Daily Dot published an article about the trademark filing, which included a statement from Ultra PRO General Manager Jay Kuo who claimed the trademark was filed to protect the company from being sued and that they would allow "royalty-free use for any vendor who wishes to use the mark." The article also contained a statement by Intellectual Property Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation Corynne McSherry, who noted that the filing is problematic because it attempts to trademark the entire word, not just a stylized version of it.
However, the tweet was an April Fools' Day prank. According to Kabosu's official Instagram account, @kabosumama, doge is alive and well. @Kabosumama posted a video of the dog (shown below), which received more than 4,600 likes and 22,600 views.
The post also contained the caption:
"Kabosu is OK, she is alive! I don care that somebody told the lie that Kabosu is dead for April Fools day, but one important thing for me is " Kabosu is a girl", she is a female dog."
On December 6th, BitcoinTalk forum member Dogecoin introduced an alternative cryptocurrency based on the meme as a satire of the Bitcoin boom in a thread titled "Dogecoin – very currency – many coin – wow – v1.1 Released." Similar to Bitcoin and its derivatives, Dogecoin can be mined and exchanged for goods and services among the participants, though it is programmed to level out at a higher threshold of up to 100 billion coins and prevent any use of special bitcoin-mining equipment like ASICs. In comparison, Bitcoin will cap out at 21 million coins and Litecoin will support up to 84 million coins in circulation.
Following the launch of the official website, a slew of social media channels and referential webpages soon emerged for Dogecoin, including a Twitter account and a Facebook page, racking up more than 1,000 followers and 1,800 likes within the the first week, respectively. On December 8th, an entire subreddit community dedicated to the use of satirical cryptocurrency was launched at /r/dogecoin, accruing more than 2,600 subscribers in just over a week.
Throughout the first weekend of December, Dogecoin was highlighted by a number of tech news sites and blogs, providing a further boost to the value of the satirical currency. By December 14th, an encyclopedic article describing the concept of "Dogecoin" had been submitted by Wikipedia editor CitationNeeded. At its peak, the estimated value of DogeCoin skyrocketed to as high as $400.80 per coin (shown below).
As of December 15th, one Dogecoin (DOGE) is worth about $ 0.0002 USD, with the market capitalization of $1.45 million USD and 7.2% of the 100 billion total coins having been mined.
Several Republican politicians have highlighted Doge-style image macros on their Twitter feeds. On December 23rd, 2013, Congressional Representatives Steve Stockman and Thomas Massie posted political Doge image macros (shown below).
On June 9th, 2014, the official Republican National Committee Twitter feed posted a Doge image macro mocking Bill and Hillary Clinton. The same day, the official Democratic Party Twitter feed replied to the tweet mocking the use of Doge as being "as dated as your policies" (shown below).
Editors Note: Search interest for the word "doge" is partially inconsistent as it is also a Venetian term for "leader" used as a title in some Italian "crowned republics" including Genoa and Venice.
Bitcoin Talk Forum – [ANN][DOGE] Dogecoin – very currency – many coin – wow – v1.1 Released
Geekosystem (now The MarySue) – Dogecoin, A Cryptocurrency For Doges, Is Now A Thing