Mystery Over Fate of Hachiko Resolved

Life With Dogs is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

After decades of speculation, scientists say they have solved the mystery behind the death of one of the most famous dogs in recorded history.

The compelling tale of Hachiko is known by dog fans the world over. His story has been told in a number of books, and has been the subject of two motion pictures, including 2009’s blockbuster, Hachi, a remake of an earlier Japanese movie. Hachiko became famous for waiting at a train station for his owner every day for ten years after his death.

Until now, it was believed that the cause of death was an ingested chicken skewer that ruptured his stomach. At the time of his death in 1935 the legendary canine was widely regarded as a hero, and his organs were preserved in formalin. Scientists say tests run on those organs now prove how Hachiko died.

A University of Tokyo team used advanced methods to analyze the tissues, and in doing so discovered large cancers in the heart and lungs. They speculate that the cancer may have spread from the lungs to the heart. “Heart cancer is rare and was a completely unexpected find. Hachiko had both serious filariasis and cancer, and either one could have caused his death,” said professor Hiroyuki Nakayama, part of the research team.

Hachiko’s preserved organs are currently on display at a University of Tokyo research center in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.

Life With Dogs post end paw print

7 thoughts on “Mystery Over Fate of Hachiko Resolved”

  1. Wow, I can’t believe they saved his organs. Is this what everyone has focused on…what caused his death? It almost diminishes the real story behind Hachiko and his incredible devotion, love and loyalty to his owner. That is the real story here, not that he suffered such a terrible fate as cancer. But, on the flip side perhaps this will bring awareness to the thousands of beloved companions lost to cancer each year and how funding for research is desperately needed to further the search for a cure. I for one wish to remember Hachiko for the amazing dog that he was but, I also firmly believe that all dogs, given the real love and support of a good owner, have the potential for the same love and devotion as Hachiko. After all, they don’t call them “man’s best friend” for nothing!

    • Hachiko, Rest In Peace. I agree with you. We need to focus on Canine Cancer research if we have any hope of giving our Best Friends a fighting chance. Last August we lost our beautiful 5 1/2 yr Golden, Josie, to mast cell cancer. We are hosting a fundraiser called “Josie’s Walk” with proceeds to go to cancer research. For more info check out; .

  2. I wonder if his DNA is too degraded to clone? I’ll bet people everywhere would like to have one of his puppies!!!


Leave a Comment