15 Facts About Tosa Inu, Japan’s Most Dangerous Dog

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Tosa Inu is known as a fighting dog from Japan. But, what people usually don't know is that this giant breed spent its first days fighting along with their best friends - samurai. At one point in history, this breed almost completely disappeared from the face of the Earth. Learn how this breed survived and what makes it so special. Read on and discover.

Tosa Inu is the best of what Japan has to offer when it comes to astonishing dog breeds. Tosa Inu is one of the largest of the breeds. They are also well known as Tosa Dog, The Tosa, Tosa-Ken, Japanese Mastiff or Japanese Fighting Dog.

Also ‘Inu’ is the Japanese word for dog. This giant breed was originally developed as a massive dog-fighting machine. If you want a calm and peaceful dog, Tosa Inu just might be your perfect match. But, bear in mind that the road to getting to that phase is a long one.

So, read and see what you should know before you get this breed and what makes this breed so unique.

1. Tosa Inu Are Great Japanese Warriors

Japanese breeders are extremely proud of this breed. This giant dog has been known in Japan for almost 1,000 years. Originally, they are from Shikoku island, a place called Tosa Wan. That’s how they got their name. Originally, they were Nordic dogs, but with time they were breed with larger breeds like bulldog and mastiff-type dogs in order to make them bigger and stronger. The ‘new’ Tosas became known for their fighting ability.

These dogs were fighting next to their samurais who trained them to fight for them. That’s how they learned to be vicious. They were almost extinct around World War II. A lack of food led to drastic changes. The island nation couldn’t feed its own people, let alone almost 150-pound fighting dogs. Therefore, most of them were killed. However, islands best breeders and dog-lovers took 12 of them and hide them on the island of Hokkaido.

Tosas were kept there until the end of the war when keeping them was no longer illegal. The breed is recognized in 1998 as a guardian breed by The United Kennel Club, while it’s not recognized by the American Kennel Club. However, they may compete in AKC companion events like obedience.

2. Tosa Inu Is A Massive Dog

Tosa Inu is a giant dog. Just one look at him and you will see a dog that gives the impression of a superb and confident dog. Due to their background in dog fighting, they are well-built, with heavy and strong muscles.

In general they height goes up to 60 cm (24 inches) both for females and males. There is a slight difference between males and females when it comes to their weight. Males are usually between 54-77kg (120-170 pounds), while in females weight can vary between 40-52 kg (90-140).

Interestingly, in Japan this breed weights about 30-40 kg (66-88 pounds), which is significantly smaller than in the West. Also, this is a breed with a life expectancy from 10 to 12 years. And overall, there are stories that Tosas can pull around 3000 pounds (around 1,000 kg).

3. Tosa Inu Is A Silent Dog

This is a dog that will act before you notice it, as he won’t make too much noise around you. Rules of dogs fight in Japan demanded quiet surrounding, meaning silent fights. Therefore, every fight is a silent war. So, Tosas learned how to fight without making a sound. Basically, they have learned how to act in quiet and peaceful manners.

Even if they are afraid or pinched while playing with children, these dogs won’t even yelp. Due to their origins, they have a very high pain threshold.

4. They Make Perfect Guard Dogs

This breed is all about loyalty if treated right. Although this breed is considered to be dangerous they are very much attached to its owner. In addition, this is a very alert guard dog. He is also fond of children.

They will bite children out of fear or pain while playing with them. But, it is a good practice for an adult to be nearby when the dog and children and playing together. Also, due to their strong fighting instincts and need to chase everything that moves, it’s imperative to be around the dog when your child plays with other children. Tosa Inu may consider children running toward each other as a possible attack and not a child play.

They will be fine with strangers as well if you introduce them nicely. Moreover, they will welcome your friends in your home with respect. Furthermore, their strong appearance is a deterrent against wrongdoers.

5. Tosa Inus Are Considered As Celebrities in Japan

As mentioned above, Tosa Inu is extremely famous in Japan. They are even considered to be celebrities. Dog-fighting in Japan is not linked with betting. It’s strictly considered to be a sport. Moreover, the judge’s decision is extremely respected. His decision is never protested.

The best dogs are rewarded with a proper rank. Sumo wrestling champions are divided into three championship grades: Yokozuna, Ozeki and Sekiwake. The same ranks are used for honoring Tosas.

The most successful dogs are named ‘Yokozuna’. These dogs wear decorated cloth and braided rope, just like their human. In addition, these dogs are allowed one minute of grace before the fight.

6. Tosa Inu Has A Mind Of His Own

Tosas are rather intelligent dogs. In addition, they are affectionate, bright, and above anything else – stubborn. In most cases, they know how to behave and react in certain situations, but it doesn’t mean that they will do what they should. It takes a great deal of effort to make Tosas going around to their owner’s way of thinking.

First of all, they are massive, and they are well aware of it. Therefore, they will use that in their advantage. Secondly, for such large and dangerous breed training is mandatory together with early socialization. Always bear in mind that this giant breed was developed as a fighting dog, in the first place.

7. Early Training And Socialization Of A Tosa Inu Is Crucial

What can you do when a dog that can pull 3,000 pounds won’t stop when you call him? First of all, you don’t let this dog off the leash. Ever. Secondly, you train him from day one. This breed is massive and stubborn, so early training and socialization are imperative when it comes to having a real leader pack role around this dog.

This dog will try to take over the leadership role within the family and that shouldn’t be allowed. Therefore, high levels of obedience and good behavior are mandatory for this potentially dangerous breed. Be ready to invest a lot of time and energy into achieving these goals. Also, it’s always beneficial to include a professional dog trainer. For puppies, socialization is your number one step. Make sure that you have friends who know their way around dogs to visit more often, have a longer walk and use positive training for long-lasting results.

Also, this breed is not custom to petting or similar human affections (there is a belief that if fighting dogs are pet they will become soft), so avoid competitive games like tug-of-war. After all, this is a strong and big dog. Although, he might not want to hurt you accidents can happen.

8. Tosa Inu Can Live In An Apartment

This giant dog will do fine in the city and city-life accommodation. If you provide enough exercise this breed will be okay in an apartment. They are known for being relatively inactive indoors. However, if you have a small yard that will definitely be a plus. This breed likes to be close and with its owners so kennel life won’t be suitable. If you keep him away from you and your family members you can expect to have a rather unhappy dog.

In addition, they are not recommended for subdivision living. If you have a house and a large yard, it doesn’t mean that you can leave Tosa Inu without supervision, or alone with a child or children. Not even if you have an electric fence. These dogs are bred to have a very high pain tolerance.

9. Tosa Inu Doesn’t Like To Share

This is a one-owner dog, and he likes to be treated as accordingly. They are not fond of other animals living in their surrounding. Moreover, the Tosa should be the only dog within the home if possible. Most breeders suggest that there shouldn’t be another dog of the same sex, at least.

Cats should be avoided as well, as Tosas have a tendency of showing predatory behavior toward felines. They are not even big fans of small dogs either. Last but not least, this dog is far from being suitable to a farm-life. They simply don’t do well with livestock.

If you keep your Tosa in the backyard you need to make sure that you have the strongest fence ever. Otherwise, you are putting your neighbor dogs in danger.

10. Tosa Inu Is A Quite Healthy Breed

Tosa Inu is generally very healthy breed. However, it doesn’t mean that they don’t get sick. They are prone to certain health conditions that are common to dogs in general, like back leg weakness or a dog heat rush.

Although overall they are healthy, you can expect some issues with hips and elbows due to their weight, size and heavy bones. In addition, they have tendency of having eye problems. Tosas are known for being prone to bloat. Furthermore, this is a common issue with large dogs.

Otherwise, you should take care of proper nutrition. After all, large dogs eat a lot and if you implement proper nutrition, obesity can easily occur, and this condition you don’t want for your dog. Especially in big breeds.

11. Tosa Inu Is Easy To Groom

This is a type of wash-and-go dog. The biggest trouble with this dog is that it does drool. Tosas coat is short and dense and requires weekly grooming. Overall, this breed is known for being a light shedder. You can use a natural bristle brush for a shiny and glossy look. Trim the nails every few weeks before they grow too big.

Also, make sure to brush his teeth weekly, to ensure that he has healthy gums and teeth.

12. They Are Forbidden In 17 Countries

Every country has its own policy when it comes to allowing what dog breed may enter the country or not. Reasons for it may vary, from the level of aggression to the ability to be trained. Breeds that are mostly connected or have a history with dog fighting or are raised especially for blood sports are in most cases forbidden to enter numerous countries globally.

Similar rules apply to Tosa Inu. This breed is forbidden in 17 countries, so if you are a frequent traveler and you are planning to take your dog with you around the globe you should bear in mind that your canine won’t be welcome everywhere.

List of countries where Tosa Inu is not welcome:

  1. Denmark
  2. Spain
  3. United Kingdom
  4. France
  5. Italy
  6. Romania
  7. Norway
  8. Turkey
  9. USA
  10. Bermuda Islands
  11. Portugal
  12. Singapore
  13. Malta
  14. New Zealand
  15. Australia
  16. Ukraine
  17. Belarusia

However, legislation may vary from one country area to another one, so make sure that you contact representatives for these matters and check if you can welcome Tosa Inu into your home.

13. Tosa Inu Comes With Legal Liabilities

Not only that this breed is forbidden in so many countries, but once you have it, you can expect a number of legal liabilities, especially with insurance companies. In the States, insurance companies can even cancel your homeowner’s policy. In addition, people are quicker to sue if a dog of that size does anything even remotely questionable.

Nowadays, the legal liabilities of owning a massive breed looks intimidating, especially when that breed comes with a dog-fighting history.

14. They Are Expensive

This is one of the most expensive breeds available nowadays. Moreover, just adoption is expensive. You can expect to pay adoption of around $300. Those are the costs for covering expenses of caring for the dog before adoption. That’s in best case scenario.

On the other hand, buying a Tosa Inu from breeders can be extremely expensive. Depending on the breeding, you can expect to pay between $1,700-$2,500. Furthermore, there are some breeds that may cost even $2,500.

15. Finding Perfect Tosa Inu Is Not That Easy

Finding Tosa and getting one is not mission impossible, but its not as easy as getting a sheepadoodle. First thing first, you need to make sure that this breed is allowed in your country.

Than, make sure that find a respectable breeder and focus on dog’s health. Moreover, don’t be surprised if you come across a breeder who sells this breed only to experienced dog owners. It is believed that this breed can only be handled by experienced dog-owners.