What is Dogecoin?

Dogecoin is a type of digital currency also known as a cryptocurrency. But where did it come from and why does it use the face of a dog?

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Diagonal chain made of zeros and ones. Cryptocurrency and mining.

Image source: Getty Images

Dogecoin is one of many digital currencies (or cryptocurrencies). But why on earth is this one represented by the face of a dog and is Elon Musk really using it to send a rocket to the moon?

Here’s what Dogecoin is all about.  

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Where did Dogecoin come from?

Dogecoin (pronounced ‘dough-je-coin’ as opposed to ‘dodge-coin’) was created in 2013 by software engineers Jackson Palmer and Billy Markus.

Like other types of cryptocurrency, you can buy and sell Dogecoin like an investment or spend it like money.

But unlike many other types of cryptocurrency, the number of coins that can be mined will increase every year.

For example, one of the very first cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin has a finite supply of coins – 21 million to be exact. There will never be any more.

As more Bitcoins are mined, scarcity increases, driving up the value. At the time of writing, one Bitcoin is worth about £40,270. In contrast, there are currently 129 billion Dogecoins in circulation, and each one is worth around 36p.


Why does Dogecoin use the face of a dog?

If you’re not familiar with Dogecoin, it’s represented by the semi-smiling face of a dog that looks like it clearly knows something you don’t.

That dog is a Shiba Inu – a breed of hunting dog that originated in Japan. And the specific Shiba Inu that’s the face of Dogecoin is based on a real-life dog called Kabosu.

Kabosu’s human is an unassuming school teacher who writes one of Japan’s most popular pet blogs. One of the photos used in the blog in 2010, showed Kabosu with her paws crossed and knowing glint in her eye. That image went viral along with a caption that went along the lines of ‘look at this doge’.

The term ‘doge’ could have been a typo. But it’s also thought of as a reference to a web series called Homestar Runner (like a sort of crude muppet show) where ‘doge’ is a comedy pronunciation of ‘dog’.    

Like many a viral image, Kabosu became a meme. Random words and phrases were also added around her which were meant to depict what Kabuso was thinking. As you’d expect from dog thoughts, they were pretty random.

Phrases also played on the fact that Kabuso would clearly have a poor grasp of English grammar with phrases like ‘such wow, much amaze.’

Is Dogecoin a joke?

OK, so this is where the worlds of software engineers Palmer and Markus meet Kabuso’s meme. Dogecoin did start out as a parody of other cryptocurrencies and was simply a bit of fun.

At the time, the Kabuso meme was everywhere, spreading her much love and very happiness. Simultaneously, the new digital currency Bitcoin had a cult-like following thanks to its mysterious origins.

So, like all good parodies that mimic what they mock, Palmer and Markus created a cryptocurrency using the internet’s biggest comedy trend — Kabuso the doge.

The Dogecoin website still plays up to its comedy roots, describing itself as ‘an open-source peer-to-peer digital currency, favoured by Shiba Inus worldwide’. 


Can you spend Dogecoin in shops?

Dogecoin may have started as a parody, but it actually has real-world uses. A full list of places that accept Dogecoin is on the company’s website. It includes food and clothing shops and even a hotel group

Bear in mind that most of the world’s retailers still prefer fiat money (like pounds and pence) and paying in cryptocurrency is still relatively niche. 

Is Dogecoin funding a space mission?

Just a few days ago, Elon Musk said he would be using Dogecoin to fund a SpaceX mission to the Moon. The DOGE-1 rocket will focus on gathering information about the Moon using sensors and cameras. 

Is it true? Well, there’s been a press release and a Tweet to announce it. But only time will tell whether it’s real or a stinging satirical poke at society’s gullibility.   

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