The Tosa, also called the Tosa-Inu or Tosa-Ken, is a stately, massive dog. Athletic and surprisingly agile. The head is large, with a broad skull, fairly abrupt stop, and a moderately long, squared-off muzzle. The jaws are very powerful. The skin at the neck forms a dewlap. The ears are fairly small and pendant, falling along the cheeks. The eyes are small, dark and almond-shaped, with a dignified expression. The long tail is very thick at the root then tapers to a point, reaching the hocks. The short-haired coat is dense and harsh. The preferred color is solid red, though black, yellow, black & tan, fawn, brindle and multi-colored is also permissible.
The Tosa is a brave, fearless and bold dog. Very attuned to his master’s wishes and greatly sensitive to the tone of ones voice. Protective and loyal. Exceptionally quiet, calm and patient. The Tosa has been bred to be a very quiet dog because Japanese dog fighting rules required the dogs to fight silently. They are highly intelligent and do not need repetitious training, but do require an equable, firm, consistent, friendly approach. The dog is very affectionate towards their family members and more reserved with strangers, but will accept newcomers if properly introduced. It places its family first and foremost, but known visitors are usually happily greeted. Both males and females make excellent home and family protectors and companions. The sheer size of the Tosa and his deep bark are effective deterrents. Tosas show remarkable acceptance of children and will not snap or bite from fear or pain. However, due to the Tosa’s size, he should not be left with children unsupervised. The owner must learn to control the Tosa, as the breed is too large and strong to be unmannerly. Good with other dogs and pets only when raised with them from puppyhood. They need a strong, firm, consistent, confident pack leader who can keep him in this rightful place, below all humans in the alpha order. Tosa who are allowed to take over may be dog aggressive. Keep the Tosa away from other dogs that may want to fight, because the Tosa will most certainly win. They have a very high pain tolerance due to their fighting origins. This breed requires a strong and experienced owner capable of dealing with a large, powerful animal. With proper training and control, the Tosa can be a good family companion. Self aware, a very good guard and watchdog. This is not a breed for beginners.
Height: around 24 (60 cm.)
Weight 83-200 pounds (37½-90½ kg.)
The large height and weight ranges in the Tosa breed is due to their background in dog fighting; they are grouped into light, middle and heavyweight classes. The average weight for the USA Tosas are: males 120-170 pounds (54-77 kg.), females 90-140 pounds. In Japan the Tosa weighs about 66-88 pounds (30-40 kg.) – smaller than those bred in the West.
Both parents should have the following certificates: CERF (eyes) and OFA (hips and elbows). Also prone to bloat. Ask about bloat in the lines. Bloat can be a major problem in these large dogs.
The Tosa will do okay in an apartment if it gets enough exercise. It is relatively inactive indoors and a small yard will do as long as it gets enough exercise. This breed is not suitable for kennel life. They like to be close to their owners and would be unhappy.
With a well-fenced and large enough area of land, the Tosa can take care of a lot of it’s own exercise demands, however, they still need to go on a daily walk or jog, to fulfill the canines primal instinct to walk. Dogs who do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. In theory this breed requires only an average demand for exercise but will enjoy and be healthier with more. They make good jogging companions.
About 10 – 12 years
The Tosa is easy to groom. An occasional brushing to remove dead and loose hair is all that is needed to keep the coat looking good. The Tosa may not drool as bad as other mastiffs but, they do drool, especially when they get excited, hot or when they drink. This breed is a light shedder..
The Tosa often was referred to as the “Sumo wrestler of the dog world.” It has been bred for hundreds of years in Japan. It was developed between the period of 1868 and 1912 by crosses with the Kochi (a local Japanese breed) and native Shikoku fighting dogs. The Tosa we recognize today was developed in the late 1800’s. The best of the Japanese Tosas were crossed with newly imported European breeds such as the Great Dane, Mastiff, Bulldog, Bull Terrier and St. Bernard, to increase its size. The result was a powerful, agile and athletic mastiff-type dog. In Japan, the Tosa is considered a national treasure. Although dog fighting is now illegal in Europe, North America, and Japan, secret, illegal pit fights continue in remote rural regions of Japan, where the Tosa, at 66-88 pounds (30-40 kg.) – smaller than those bred in the West – is still used for fighting. The breed exceals at Japanese-style dog fighting. Japanese dog-fighting rules in the last century demanded that dogs fight silently, without cowering, and the Tosa fought by these rules – relentlessly and silently. The Tosa is a rare breed, even in their native land and have only recently been introduced to the USA. Unfortunately, this breed is banned in some countries as a dangerous breed. It is definitely unsuitable for beginners, but with the proper socialization, handling and training, it can make a wonderful family companion. This massive dog excels at weight-pulling and makes a great watch and guard dog.