Once upon a time, only one meme coin featuring a Japanese hunting dog attracted cryptocurrency fans. Dogecoin (DOGE 4.46%) vaulted into the limelight and stayed there.

But then another token came along that some called the "Dogecoin killer." Shiba Inu (SHIB 3.61%) amassed an army of supporters. Eventually, it moved past Dogecoin in the rankings of cryptocurrencies based on market cap. 

That victory didn't last long. Dogecoin now stands as the No. 11 biggest cryptocurrency, while Shiba Inu has dropped to No. 13. Can Shiba Inu regain its place as top dog over Dogecoin?

Two Shiba Inu puppies in a basket.

Image source: Getty Images.

Biting back

There are some reasons to believe that Shiba Inu could once again dominate Dogecoin. The cryptocurrency could have several potential catalysts on the way. Two of these catalysts might send Shiba Inu's price soaring. However, they would really only put it on a level playing field with Dogecoin.

AMC Entertainment plans to accept Shiba Inu coins as a payment option in the near future. But the movie theater chain already allows customers to buy gift cards using Dogecoin.

Robinhood could also decide to add Shiba Inu to its trading platform. To be sure, it's uncertain if and when this might happen. Robinhood executives have publicly stated that they're not in a hurry to make more altcoins available to investors. Even if Shiba Inu is added to the trading platform, though, it would only be catching up to its main rival. Robinhood customers can already buy and sell Dogecoin.

However, there are other potential catalysts for Shiba Inu that could make it more attractive than Dogecoin. For example, the anticipated launch of Shibarium -- a layer-2 blockchain project -- will significantly reduce the transaction fees for SHIB. 

All about the buzz

There are several factors that drive the valuations of cryptocurrencies. Some restrict supply. That isn't the case with Dogecoin or Shiba Inu. Dogecoin's circulating supply currently stands near 132.5 billion tokens. Shiba Inu's circulating supply tops 549 trillion coins.

With meme coins like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, price is mainly a factor of demand. And that demand is a direct result of the buzz surrounding the cryptocurrency.

One of the best gauges of buzz is Google Trends. Search volumes for "Dogecoin" and "Shiba Inu coin" are neck-and-neck right now. Over the past 30 days, though, Shiba Inu holds an edge over Dogecoin.  

These catalysts could fuel even more online buzz for Shiba Inu. On the other hand, Dogecoin has Elon Musk on its side. Musk's SpaceX is set to launch its DOGE-1 satellite in early 2022. The project was funded in Dogecoin. With the satellite planned to enter lunar orbit, Dogecoin could almost literally go to the moon.

Barking up the wrong tree?

Can Shiba Inu move past Dogecoin again on the cryptocurrency rankings? Sure. However, there's no way to know with any degree of certainty whether it will happen.

But crypto investors seeking the biggest gains might be better off looking elsewhere. Other digital tokens are arguably more likely to enjoy breakout performances in 2022 than either Dogecoin or Shiba Inu. And there definitely are others that offer greater real-world utility.