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Tosa Inu Dog Breed Information And Temperament

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Looking out for a massive, fighting dog breed that has a capacity of a Sumo wrestler? Then, Tosa Inu is a definite choice.

Tosa? Named after the famous south Indian food item “Dosa”? Is it an Indian dog breed?

Ha ha ha! No! Tosa or Tosa Inu is a Japanese dog breed with full of confidence and strength. Although it looks large, it does not appear scary. This dog is a calm and quiet one.

But, do you know that this quiet Japanese breed is a wonderful watchdog? It is also called as the Tosa Ken and Tosa Token.

Is it so? How are these wrestlers able to become watchdogs? Won’t they be dangerous to strangers and other pets? We can hear your mind voice.

Yes, Tosa is a watchdog and also a lovable pet to your family. Also, you can easily train this fearless breed. Really? What are the other traits of this different breed? You may have quite a lot of questions in your head.

Let’s go!

Tosa Breed Characteristics Sheet

  • Origin: Kochi Prefecture, Japan
  • Size: Large
  • Dog Breed Group: Working
  • Purebred: No
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
  • Height: 21.5 to 23.5 inches
  • Weight: 100 to 200 pounds
  • Coat Appearance: Short and dense
  • Coat Colors: Red, black, Fawn, Brindle,
  • Temperament: Bold, Courageous, Confident, Patient, Loyal, Alert
  • Good With Children: Yes with supervision
  • Intelligence Level: High
  • Good With Pets: No
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Grooming: Moderate
  • Shedding: Less
  • Barking: Average
  • Suitable For Apartments: No
  • Need For Exercise: High
  • Easy To Train: Moderate
  • Good For First Time Owners: No
  • Health Issues: Hip dysplasia, Elbow dysplasia, Eye problems, Hyperkalaemia, Skin allergies
  • Litter Size: 6 to 12 puppies
  • Average Price: $600 to $800
  • Other names: Tosa Ken, Tosa Inu, Tosa Dog, Tosa Token, Japanese Mastiff

Tosa History And Origin

As dog fighting has been popular in Japan from the 14th century, the Shikoku breed was used as a fighting dog for more years. But, it is believed that dog fighters wanted to develop a large, powerful dog breed after the arrival of Westerners to Japan in 1854.

As a result, this breed was developed in the 19th century by crossbreeding the Shikoku dog with western dogs such as old English Bulldog (1872), mastiff (1874), German pointer (1876), Great Dane (1924), and Bull terriers.

This dog was bred in the Tosa province in the Kochi Prefecture of Shikoku and that’s why it got its name.

This dog has been notable for its determination, courage and athletic abilities.

Tosa Inu Infographic

Tosa Inu Infographic

Tosa Breed Information

Tosa is the largest among the Japanese dog breeds. This dog appears majestic and has a strong body. This breed is recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1998 as a guardian dog breed. But, the American Kennel Club has not recognized this breed.

Tosa Appearance

This dog impresses you with its size. It has a large, broad head with a wrinkled face and small, dark brown eyes. Its muzzle is in moderate length and the nose is large and black in color usually.

This dog has small, thin ears that are set high and hang close to the cheeks.

It has a muscular neck with a dewlap and strong teeth that meet in a scissor bite. This dog also has strong jaws and well-padded feet having dark nails as well. Its tail is thick at the root and will reach the hocks when the dog relaxes.

Tosa Coat

This breed has a short, but dense and hard coat. Its coat comes in various colors such as red, black, fawn, apricot, brindle, yellow black, black and tan, and black and brindle. This dog also has white markings on its chest and feet.

Tosa Size And Lifespan

Tosa is a massive dog when compared with other Japanese dogs. This dog stands tall between 21.5 and 23.5 inches. It weighs around 100 to 200 pounds.

This breed is healthy generally. It has a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years.

Tosa Temperament

This giant breed was developed for dog fighting in the early days. But, dog fights are silent wars in Japan. So, though a fighting dog, it is protective, but calm in nature.

Also, its temperament is stable. Bold and courageous, this breed is able to do multiple roles as well.

A Watchdog – Having a majestic look and sound barking traits, this dog impresses you with these watchdog abilities. Confident, quiet, vigilant and reserved with strangers, this dog is a good watchdog.

A Great Guard Dog – Its protective instinct by nature makes him a guard dog. Also, loyalty, alertness, and deterrent toward the wrongdoers make him a great guard dog for your family.

A Working Dog – This dog is serious at work because of its strength. It is also obedient as this dog pays keen attention to it’s master’s commands. You can employ this intelligent and fearless breed for personal protection as well.

A Family Pet – It is too affectionate with its master. Patient and devoted, this dog protects its lovable family. It welcomes familiar people in a friendly and happy way. Also, it maintains a good relationship with strangers if given proper training.

Child-Friendly – This breed loves children and won’t bite them if they are in pain or scared. But, it is not a good choice for small children as it loves to lie on the children’s lap and sit on their feet. Besides, it will have a deep cry if children pinch it, that too in rare cases because it is pain tolerant.

Small children are unable to bear their heavyweight. So, supervision is advisable when you allow this dog to play with those children.

Although this breed does various roles, it does not suit for apartments because it needs more space to play.

Interesting Facts

  • In Japan, people treat this dog as a canine equivalent of a sumo wrestler. So, people treat this dog with honor and ceremony. These dogs usually wear kesho-mawashi, decorated apron (the sumo wrestlers wear usually) and a belt to enter the fighting ring.
  • Only male dogs participate in dogfighting. Female dogs serve as watchdogs by tradition.
  • This dog serves as a companion and a guard dog in the United States.
  • This dog is considered dangerous and is restricted legally in a few countries such as Denmark, Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom, Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, Fiji, Ireland, Tunisia, etc.
  • This breed got the approval to participate in AKC companion events from 1 January 2010.

Tosa Inu Vs Pitbull

SizeLarger than pitbull. It stands up to 24 inches and weighs 200 poundsShorter and weighs less than tosa. Pitbull weighs around 77 pounds.
Life spanLives for about 10 to 12 yearsIt has long life compared with tosa. Lives for about 12 to 16 years
TemperamentIt lives for about 10 to 12 years
Calm and confident
Playful and clownish
TrainingStubborn at times. Also, it can focus on one task for long timePleases the owner. It is able to do more challenging tasks
SheddingSheds lowSheds high

Tosa Inu Training

Generally, this breed responds well to training. But, it may be stubborn at times and challenge its master by taking the lead.

The sumo wrestler of the dog world, this breed is not suitable for first-time owners due to its fighting nature. So, an experienced, confident, authoritative owner having strong leadership qualities is able to handle this dog.

Besides, this fearless breed is agile, powerful and has athletic abilities. It may be aggressive and quarrel with other animals, specifically dogs of the same sex and cats. This dog is also reserved with strangers.

So, early training is essential for this dog to develop good behavior.

As an owner, you must be strong and should put your time and efforts to make this dog understand its role in the family.

Let’s see what kind of training it needs and the tips to train this dog.

  • Socialization training is essential for this dog from its puppyhood to behave well with other pets and also with strangers.
  • Use positive training methods. This dog responds well to this kind of training because of its pleasing nature.
  • Ensure that you are providing gentle, firm but consistent training to it.
  • Obedience training is also a must for this dog from an early age.

Tosa Dog Exercise

It is a calm breed having low energy levels. But, activities are essential to maintain weight.

This dog matures slowly, usually at the age of 4. So, you can provide exercise to this breed such as letting it play in the backyard or taking it for daily walks. This dog will be a great jogging companion for you.

You can make it indulge in indoor and outdoor activities such as learning new tricks, chasing a rolling ball in the floor or retrieving balls. These activities also help this dog to spend more energy and to stay healthy.

You can also provide agility training to this dog as it is also a form of exercise. A few tips for you:

  • Ensure that your dog is playing in a tall and fenced yard so that it does not involve in a fight with the dogs of your neighbor.
  • Do not let it play in a yard having an electric fence as it has a high tolerance.
  • Keep it on a leash always.

Tosa Shedding And Grooming

You can easily maintain this dog because of its short coat. It sheds low but may shed its short hairs in your clothes and furniture. But, little grooming is essential for this breed.

  • Brush its coat at least weekly once using a slicker or bristle brush to remove the loose, dead hairs and to keep the coat clean and good.
  • This dog drools when it is excited or takes a drink. So, you have to keep a drool rag close to this dog after he takes a drink.
  • Check its ears regularly for dirt and wax build up.
  • Trim its nails regularly using a nail clipper to prevent the overgrowth.
  • Bath this dog occasionally.
  • Brush its teeth weekly once for its good dental health.



Tosa Foods

Food is essential to dogs for their growth and health.

So, you must know the suitable and non-suitable foods for your dog.

Also, you have to know how much to feed as too much amount of food will lead to obesity.

Before that, here’re a few tips to ensure while feeding this breed.

  • Tosa loves both fish and meat. But, ensure that it suits your Tosa Inu puppy.
  • You should feed high-quality dog food (either homemade or commercial product, dry or moist) for this breed. The amount of food should depend on the dog’s age.
  • As this dog matures slowly, ensure that you are feeding a puppy food for a year.
  • Provide clean and fresh water to this dog most of the time.
  • Avoid giving too many treats during training as it may lead to obesity.

Diet Chart

Take a look at the chart below and get an idea about how much and how often to feed this dog.

AgeFoodsNo. of Feeding Times
1-3 months4 times a day
3-6 months3 times a day
6-12 monthsBoiled green vegetables, fruits, eggs, liver, lean meat, banana, red meat bones3/4 cups, 2-3 times a day
After 1 yearBoiled vegetables, fruits, eggs, lean meat1/2 cup, 2 times a day

Tosa Puppy Names

We have listed here a few cute names for your tosa inu puppy.

Boo booAinu

Tosa Dog Health Problems

It is a healthy breed. But, he is prone to bloating. Besides, eye problems and hip or elbow dysplasia are common in these dogs.

This dog may get other health issues as well.

Tosa Price and Breeders

What Is Tosa Inu Price?

As it is quite a rare breed, it costs high. On average, puppies of this breed range from $600 to $800. But, the price may reach up to $2000.

Tosa Breeders in the US

Pride Rock Tosa Kennel
11622 Sagehurst Ln
Houston, TX 77089

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