Tosa

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90-140 lbs
24-25"
Japan
Japanese Tosa, Tosa-Inu, Tosa-Ken, Japanese Mastiff

The Tosa is a giant breed that was developed as a fighting dog. He is an impressive looking dog with a stubborn streak. First time dog owners should never purchase a Tosa for their family. He requires a firm hand and a dominant leader to understand that he is not the boss of the family. Because of his colorful past, the Tosa is not recommended for families with small children or other dogs. He does not do well with other dogs, especially of the same gender and does require a strong, tall fence when he is outside alone. The Tosa needs to have continual training to keep him from trying to take over the leadership role within the family. 

Purpose
Dog Fighting
Date of Origin
1800s
Ancestry
Kocki, Shikoku, Mastiff, German Pointer, St. Bernard

Tosa Health

Average Size
Male Tosa size stats
Height: 24-26 inches Weight: 120-170 lbs
Female Tosa size stats
Height: 24-25 inches Weight: 90-140 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) or Bloat
Minor Concerns
  • Eye Problems
Occasional Diagnoses
  • None Known
Occasional Tests
  • OFA
  • CERF
  • X-Rays
  • Full Physical Examination

Tosa Breed History

While most people have never heard of the Tosa, he has been around for hundreds of years, mostly in his native Japan. With Japan’s long history of dog fighting as a sport, the need for a powerful dog that would be very aggressive towards other dogs and be willing to fight was the driving force to develop the Tosa. Kochi dogs were bred with other native Japanese dogs known for fighting. Then the offspring from these breedings were bred with Western breeds such as the Bulldog, St. Bernard, Great Dane, Mastiff and Bull Terrier. Most participants in the dog fighting world would refer to the Tosa as a Sumo wrestler in dog form because of his size, temper and fighting prowess. The Japanese consider the Tosa to be a national treasure and while it is illegal to run dog fighting rings, there are still enough illegal rings in Japan and North America for the Tosa’s popularity to keep gaining. The Tosa excelled at Japanese-style dog fighting of the last century, which means he was expected to fight silently and relentlessly. This is making him more popular in illegal dog fighting rings around the world. Because of his colorful heritage, the Tosa has been banned in several countries. He is known as a dangerous breed and it is illegal to own one in the United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, Cyprus, Tunisia, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark and Malaysia. There are several states within the United States that have also banned ownership of the Tosa due to his dog fighting history. He is not a dog for the first time dog owner, but would do well with an owner who understands the breed and his training requirements. The United Kennel Club recognized the Tosa and gave him the classification of guardian breed in 1998. The previous year, the Tosa was allowed into the American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service. In 2010, he was accepted into the Working group and allowed to compete in AKC companion events.

Tosa Breed Appearance

The Tosa is a giant dog with a large, broad head and a squared off muzzle. He gives the impression of a confident, impressive dog. His nose is black and large, but proportional to his muzzle. The Tosa has powerful jaws and rather large teeth that are a scissors bite. His eyes are somewhat small compared to this head and dark brown. His neck is very muscular and has a dewlap. The dewlap is a long flap of skin found hanging beneath his lower jaw. His ears are set high on his head, but hang down close to the cheek. He has a long, thick tail that will taper toward the end. He has large bones and extremely large feet. His coat is dense, hard and short. He has a black mask on his face and may have a small white spot on his chest or feet. The Tosa comes in four colors: brindle, black, fawn and red.

Eye Color Possibilities
brown Tosa eyes
Brown
Nose Color Possibilities
black Tosa nose
Black
Coat Color Possibilities
fawn Tosa coat
Fawn
red Tosa coat
Red
brindle Tosa coat
Brindle
black Tosa coat
Black
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Tosa straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Tosa Breed Maintenance

The Tosa is not a hypoallergenic breed. He has a dense coat that does require weekly grooming to remove any loose or dead hairs and keep his skin healthy. Because of his massive jowls, the Tosa does drool so keep a drool rag close by, especially after he has taken a drink or when he is excited or hot. He is a light shedder but will still shed short hairs on your furniture and clothes if not groomed regularly. When brushing him, use a slicker brush or a natural bristle brush. A leave-in coat conditioner can be used if he is being exhibited in conformation shows to help his coat look glossy and shine. However, do not over-condition where his coat feels soft instead of harsh. His nails will need to be trimmed every few weeks or so to ensure they do not grow too long. Clean his ears every week to keep them free of dirt and moisture. Be sure to brush his teeth weekly to ensure he has healthy teeth and gums. 

Brushes for Tosa
Slicker Brush
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Tosa requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Tosa Temperament

Because the Tosa was bred for the intent of being a fighting dog, he does have a strong propensity to be aggressive towards other dogs, especially dogs of the same gender. His temperament is not suitable for a family with young children or for first time dog owners. In some cases, he is not even a good choice for experienced owners. He has to have a strong leader who is willing to put the time and effort into his training to ensure he understands his role within the family. The biggest problem with the Tosa is that if he feels he can get by with it, he will challenge his owner for the leadership role. The Tosa should be an only dog within the home and needs a tall, secure fence when he is in the backyard so he does not try to go after other dogs in the neighborhood. The Tosa has a very high pain tolerance; therefore an electric fence will not keep him contained. He is not a good choice for subdivision or apartment living.

Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
10 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes

Tosa Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
4 cups
Daily Cost
$2.8 - $3
Monthly Cost
$80 - $90

Tosa Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Tosa size stats at six months
Height: 21 inches Weight: 70 lbs
Female Tosa size stats at six months
Height: 20 inches Weight: 61 lbs
12 Months
Male Tosa size stats at 12 months
Height: 23 inches Weight: 102 lbs
Female Tosa size stats at 12 months
Height: 22 inches Weight: 97 lbs
18 Months
Male Tosa size stats at 18 months
Height: 25 inches Weight: 145 lbs
Female Tosa size stats at 18 months
Height: 24 inches Weight: 115 lbs

Tosa Owner Experiences

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