Tosa Inu

Tosa Inu
  • Breed: Tosa Inu
  • Description: The Tosa Inu is a large mastiff-type dog, bred for fighting. Their coat is short and dense, and comes in several colors, including red, fawn, apricot, black and brindle. Many have black masks and some have white on their chest and feet. When you look at a Tosa Inu, you should have a sense of a powerful, stately dog, well-suited to their common current occupation of watchdog and fighting dog.
  • Temperament: Like other Japanese dog breeds, the Tosa Inu is a very loyal dog. The Tosa was originally bred for fighting, and without proper training and socialization, an aggressive personality may come out. While these dogs make great companions, due to their size and temperament, they need a “pack leader” in their owner. Without proper training and pack order, the Tosa will take over and can become dog, or even people, aggressive. Even so, the Tosa is a loyal, loving breed.
  • Height & Weight: Unlike many breeds, there is not a maximum height for the Tosa Inu. Females must not be smaller than 21.7 inches and males not smaller than 23.6 inches (at withers). Weight will depend on the animal, but you can generally expect a Tosa to be in the 80-200 lb range.
  • Living Conditions: Despite their size, most Tosas can adapt to living an an apartment, provided they are given plenty of exercise. They prefer to live in close proximity to their owners, so a kennel or permanent outside life may not be ideal.
  • Exercise: The Tosa Inu is a large dog, but not an overly active one. A Tosa needs regular exercise, such as long walks. The proper amount of exercise will also help keep the Tosa at a healthy weight, and help prevent hip problems, which tend to occur more often in larger dog breeds.
  • Life Expectancy: Like most large breed dogs, the Tosa Inu’s life expectancy is about 10-12 years.
  • Grooming: Because of its short coat, the Tosa is fairly easy to groom. Like any dog, the Tosa need regular brushing, but with less effort that a dog with a thick undercoat, like the Akita. Like most mastiff type breeds, a Tosa may have a tendency to drool, but not heavily.
  • History: Japan has a long history of dog fighting that goes back to the 14th century. In the late 19th century, Western breeds were introduced into Japan and bred with the native Japanese fighting dog, the Shikoku, and the Kochi. Bulldogs, Mastiffs, and Great Danes are among some of the Western breeds that were used to create the Tosa Inu, which is also known as Tosa Token (fighting style dog). The Tosa Inu are the Sumo wrestlers of the dog world (in fact, the greatest of the Tosa fighters are sometimes given the title of Yokozuna, like a sumo wrestler), and have strong ties to Samurai warrior clans. Like many other Japanese breeds, the Tosa Inu suffered greatly during World War II, when dog fighting and the raising of dogs over 150 lbs became illegal. Fortunately, the breed was saved from extinction in the manner of the other native Japanese dog breeds. Legend has it that a few Tosa Inus were smuggled to Hokkaido and hidden during the war to preserve the breed.
  • Group & Recognition:
    • AKC – not recognized; Foundation Stock Service only
    • F.C.I. – Group 2 (Pinscher & Schnauzer – Molossoid breeds – Swiss Mountain & Cattle Dogs); Section 2.1 (Molossoid breeds, Mastiff type)
    • JKC – 2G Working Group