Japanese Poodle Scam Revealed as Hoax

The Japanese poodle scam - wherein thousands of gullible buyers were sold lambs instead of the dogs they were expecting - was first reported in UK Sun newspaper. The story went that rich women were buying cut-price poodles from a company named Poodles For Pets, and were astonished to find later that they were sheep.

The story itself was immediately dubious (aside from being in The Sun, which tends to be somewhat lax in the fact-checking department), when you consider snippets like:

The scam was uncovered when Japanese moviestar Maiko Kawamaki went on a talk-show and wondered why her new pet would not bark or eat dog food.
She was crestfallen when told it was a sheep.

Then hundreds of other women got in touch with police to say they feared their new "poodle" was also a sheep.
One couple said they became suspicious when they took their "dog" to have its claws trimmed and were told it had hooves.

The story unravelled when police in Sapporo, where the company was claimed to be based, said they had never heard of the scam. The talk-show story was not as it seemed, either. It appears that Kawakami had told a story about a lamb being sold instead of a poodle. However, she'd said that it had happened to a friend of hers.

It seems that nobody had heard of the scam - it hadn't been reported in any Japanese newspapers.

The final nail in the coffin? The original article claims that the scam "capitalised on the fact that sheep are rare in Japan, so many do not know what they look like."
In fact, Sapporo has had a sheep farm since 1848.

Forum thread here.

Animals Business/Finance Celebrities Folklore/Tall Tales

Posted on Wed May 02, 2007


Oh, come on. It's true that most Japanese people live in cities, but even we city folk are up on the differences between sheep and dogs.
Telling sheep from goats, on the other hand, sometimes stumps us. I once heard a co-worker say, in all seriousness, that a sheep is the same thing as a goat.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Freedonia, Texas  on  Sun May 06, 2007  at  12:37 PM
It just occurred to me that (I think) Sapporo is where Haruki Murakami's 'Wild Sheep Chase' is (partly) set. Could this hoax originally have been some kind of off-the-wall tribute? Probably not, I guess.
Posted by outeast  on  Mon May 07, 2007  at  01:15 AM
Here in NZ we have 60 million sheep.

We recieve about 20 000 Japanese visitors a year, about 10% for weddings.

I am now wondering what the hell these people think we have all those poodles in the fields for . . .
Posted by DFStuckey  in  Auckland, New Zealand  on  Mon Jun 04, 2007  at  10:41 PM
Hehghphsplutter. Blast, coffee on my keyboard again, damn you DFStuckey.
Posted by outeast  in  Prague, Czech Rep  on  Tue Jun 05, 2007  at  01:11 AM
Amazing. To think that that many people actually believed in a story such as this. I have 2 poodles myself and I have seen both poodle pups and young sheep and there is no way that anybody could mix the two. It's just impossible.
Posted by Emily Burton  in  London  on  Tue Jun 09, 2009  at  06:15 AM
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