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

Tosa Inu

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Considered a rare breed, the Tosa Inu originated in Tosa, Shikoku, present-day Kochi Prefecture. They are known for their fighting capability and are commonly associated with Japanese dog fighting tournaments. They are the only dog breed that can be used in dogfighting rings legally. The Tosa Inu is a large, stately dog, usually weighing between 100 to 200 pounds. This breed has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Here are some important things to know before adding a member of this breed to your life.

1. Tosa Inu is a Great Japanese Warrior

You might be surprised to know that the Tosa Inu‘s ancestors were actually Nordic dogs that were brought to Japan for use in dogfighting rings. These Nordic dogs were then cross-bred with other large breeds such as Bulldogs and Mastiffs to make them even more powerful and robust. The goal was to create a dog breed that could be a formidable contender in the dogfighting arena.

Their remarkable fighting capabilities caught the attention of samurais, who began using them in dog fights alongside their own battles. This association with the samurais contributed to the Tosa Inu‘s reputation for ferocity and courage.

During World War II, this breed also served alongside Japanese troops. They displayed bravery and loyalty in the war, but unfortunately, the harsh conditions took a toll on their population. By the end of the war, their numbers had dwindled to just 12 individuals. Efforts were then made to revive the breed and ensure its survival.

After World War II, extensive measures were taken to increase the Tosa Inu population. Breeding programs and strict regulations were put in place to preserve the breed’s characteristics and maintain its fighting abilities. The Tosa Inu gradually regained popularity and recognition, both in Japan and internationally.

2. Tosa Inu are Massive Dogs

On average, male Tosa Inu stand at an impressive height of 23.5 inches, while females of the breed typically measure around 21.5 inches in height. Their weight is equally remarkable. Male Tosa Inu can weigh up to 200 pounds, while females generally range between 100 to 130 pounds. It’s interesting to note that in Japan, the breed’s country of origin, the weight standard for Tosa Inus is considerably lower, with a maximum weight of only 88 pounds.

The size and weight of the Tosa Inu contribute to their imposing presence, which can be quite intimidating to those unfamiliar with the breed. Their physical strength and stature make them suitable for various roles, including guarding and protection work. It’s important to note that responsible ownership and proper training are crucial when dealing with a powerful breed like the Tosa Inu to ensure their well-being and the safety of others.

Despite their impressive size, these dogs can also exhibit a calm and gentle nature, particularly when properly socialized and trained from a young age. They can form strong bonds with their families and display loyalty and affection towards their loved ones. It’s essential for potential owners to understand the breed’s characteristics, exercise requirements, and need for socialization to provide a nurturing and stimulating environment for these magnificent dogs.

3. Tosa Inu is a Silent Dog

This silent demeanor is deeply rooted in the breed’s history and purpose. The Tosa Inu was originally bred in Japan for dogfighting, a sport that required a controlled and focused temperament. These dogs were trained to remain calm and composed in the face of intense situations, making silence a desirable trait in the breed.

The Tosa Inu‘s silence is not to be mistaken for timidity or shyness. On the contrary, Tosa Inu are known for their strength, courage, and loyalty. They possess a powerful and imposing physique, which, coupled with their silent presence, can be quite intimidating to strangers. This silent strength makes them excellent guard dogs and protective family companions.

While the Tosa Inu is generally a quiet breed, this does not mean that they are completely devoid of vocalizations. Like any other dog, they may bark when they feel the need to alert their owners or when they are excited. However, compared to many other breeds, their barking tendencies are relatively minimal.

The Tosa Inu‘s silent nature also extends to their interactions with other animals. With proper socialization and training, this breed can coexist peacefully with other pets. Their calm and quiet demeanor helps maintain a harmonious environment, making them an ideal choice for households with multiple animals.

4. They Make Perfect Guard Dogs

The Tosa Inu is a breed renowned for its protective and loyal nature, making them exceptional guard dogs. Their dedication and courage make them ever-ready to come to their owner’s aid and deter individuals with ill intentions. They excel at being alert dogs, always vigilant and watchful of their surroundings.

However, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of proper training when it comes to the Tosa Inu. Without appropriate training and socialization, a Tosa Inu may mistakenly perceive a friend or acquaintance as a threat. Their instinctual protective nature can lead them to register unfamiliar individuals as potential dangers, potentially resulting in unwarranted aggression. For instance, a Tosa Inu may view a child running towards them as a threat and react accordingly. To prevent any unfortunate incidents, it is vital for owners to be present and closely supervise their dog’s interactions, particularly when it comes to their interactions with children.

By providing comprehensive training, Tosa Inu owners can help shape their dog’s behavior and ensure they distinguish between genuine threats and harmless situations. Training should focus on socialization, obedience, and teaching the dog to respond appropriately to various stimuli. Consistent and positive reinforcement methods are recommended to establish trust, reinforce desired behaviors, and discourage any undesirable tendencies.

5. Tosa Inu is Considered Celebrity in Japan

This breed holds a prominent position in Japanese society, garnering both recognition and admiration. Its rich history and involvement in dogfighting tournaments have contributed to its esteemed status. In Japan, these dogfighting competitions are regulated, and they do not carry the social stigma often associated with such activities in Western cultures.

Unlike in some parts of the world where dogfighting is associated with illegal activities and cruelty, the Japanese approach to these tournaments is different. In Japan, dogfighting rings operate within legal boundaries and are considered a legitimate sport. Bets are not linked to these competitions, further distinguishing them from illicit forms of dogfighting. As a result, Tosa Inu and other dogs involved in these tournaments are respected and held in high regard.

In Japanese society, dogs that participate in dogfighting tournaments are regarded with a level of respect similar to that bestowed upon sumo wrestlers. The prestigious titles of Yokozuna, Ozeki, and Sekiwake, traditionally associated with sumo wrestling, are also applied to the winning dogs in these competitions. The victorious Tosa Inu is awarded the title of Yokozuna, an honor that grants them one minute of grace before the match, mirroring the rituals observed by sumo wrestlers.

6. They Can Have a Mind of Their Own


These dogs are not just known for their physical strength and power; they possess intelligence that contributes to their loyal and gentle nature. Their intelligence allows them to form strong bonds with their owners and exhibit a deep sense of loyalty. However, their intelligence also means that they can have independent thoughts and ideas, which may not always align with what their owners want.

The Tosa Inu‘s intelligent and sometimes stubborn nature can present challenges when it comes to training and teaching them commands and tricks. Their independent thinking may lead them to question or resist certain instructions, making it necessary for owners to approach training with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. It is important to find training methods that work well with their individual personalities and adapt to their unique needs.

Due to their intelligence, Tosas may also have a knack for problem-solving. This can manifest in various ways, from finding creative solutions to obstacles or even displaying a mischievous side when they devise plans of their own. It is important for owners to provide mental stimulation and engage them in activities that challenge their intelligence. Puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training can help channel their intelligence in positive ways and keep them mentally stimulated.

7. Early Training and Socializing are Essential for Tosa Inu

Training and socialization are crucial for Tosa Inu, starting from a young age. Their immense strength and power make it essential to establish control and teach them proper behavior. However, training a Tosa Inu can be quite challenging due to their stubborn nature, which requires a firm and consistent approach.

Given the unique characteristics of Tosa Inu, it is often recommended to seek the assistance of a professional dog trainer. These trainers have experience working with strong and independent breeds like the Tosa Inu and can provide the necessary guidance and expertise to train them effectively. They understand the breed’s specific needs and can tailor the training methods accordingly.

Consistency is key when training a Tosa Inu. They thrive in an environment where clear rules and boundaries are set and consistently enforced. Owners must be firm and assertive, establishing themselves as the pack leader and not giving in to all of their dog’s wishes. This helps prevent the Tosa Inu from assuming a dominant position and ensures that they respect their owner’s authority.

Socialization is equally important for Tosa Inu. Early and ongoing socialization exposes them to various people, animals, and environments, helping them become well-rounded and confident individuals. It is essential to introduce them to different situations gradually and positively reinforce their good behavior. This can help prevent behavioral issues and ensure that they can interact safely and appropriately with others.

8. Tosa Inu Can Live in An Apartment

Despite their large size, they can adapt well to apartment living. While it may seem surprising, these dogs are generally low-energy and can be content in smaller living spaces as long as their exercise needs are met. Taking them on a daily walk or providing regular physical activity is crucial to ensure their well-being and prevent boredom.

Although Tosa Inu is not excessively active, they still require mental stimulation and interaction with their owners. Living in an apartment should not mean neglecting their social and mental needs. Spending quality time with them, playing games, and providing puzzle toys can help keep their minds engaged and prevent behavioral issues that may arise from boredom.

Having access to a nearby park or open space is a definite advantage for Tosa Inu owners. It allows them to have more room to move around and provides opportunities for off-leash exercise and socialization. Additionally, regular outings to parks can be enriching for their senses and provide opportunities for them to explore and interact with their surroundings.

It is important to note that despite their adaptability, these dogs still require sufficient space to move comfortably. It is not recommended to confine them to small, cramped areas for extended periods. Ensuring they have enough room to stretch and access to fresh air is essential for their overall well-being.

Owners living in apartments should also be mindful of the Tosa Inu‘s size and strength when navigating shared spaces. Keeping them on a leash and being considerate of other residents is important to maintain a harmonious living environment.

9. Tosa Inu Doesn’t Like to Share

Tosa Inu has a strong desire for undivided attention and can be possessive of their owners. They often prefer to be the sole pet in the household and may exhibit aggression towards other dogs or even cats. It is important to understand and respect their need for personal space and their potential predatory instincts.

When considering adding another pet to your household alongside a Tosa Inu, it is crucial to carefully evaluate the compatibility and dynamics between the animals. While it is generally recommended to keep Tosa Inu as the only pet, if you still wish to introduce another pet, it is advisable to choose one of the opposite sexes. This can help reduce the likelihood of territorial conflicts and aggression that may arise between same-sex animals.

Introducing a new pet to a Tosa Inu should be done gradually and under controlled circumstances. Proper socialization and training are essential to ensure the safety and well-being of all the animals involved. Seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist can be beneficial in managing the introduction process and ensuring a harmonious coexistence.

It is crucial to provide each pet with their own space and resources to avoid competition and potential conflicts. Separate feeding areas, beds, and designated areas for each pet can help maintain a sense of security and reduce tension.

10. Tosa Inu is a Quite Healthy Dog

The TTosa Inu breed benefits from its diverse genetic heritage, which includes the contributions of several dog breeds such as Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Great Danes, and German Pointers. This diverse gene pool offers several advantages, including a reduced risk of congenital diseases. By having a wider range of genetic variations, they are less susceptible to inheriting specific health issues that may be common in more homogeneous breeds.

Furthermore, the Tosa Inu‘s mixed ancestry contributes to the overall robustness of their immune system. Their genetic diversity provides them with a stronger defense against various diseases and infections. This resilience can help them maintain good health and prevent the development of certain illnesses.

While Tosa Inu generally enjoys good health, it’s still important for owners to provide them with proper care, nutrition, and regular veterinary check-ups. This includes vaccinations, preventive treatments for parasites, and monitoring their overall well-being. Maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and maintaining an appropriate weight are also crucial for their long-term health.

Despite their overall good health, it’s worth noting that individual Tosa Inu can still experience health concerns that are not specific to the breed as a whole. Like all dogs, they can be susceptible to certain conditions such as hip dysplasia, eye problems, or cardiac issues. Responsible breeders focus on breeding healthy individuals and conduct appropriate health screenings to minimize the risk of passing on genetic health problems.

11. Tosa Inu is Easy to Groom

The Tosa Inu breed is characterized by its short coat, which offers several advantages when it comes to grooming and maintenance. The short length of their fur makes it relatively easy to care for and keep clean. Unlike long-haired breeds, Tosa Inu do not require extensive brushing or regular trips to the groomer.

One of the benefits of their short coat is that they are not heavy shedders. This is good news for owners who prefer to have a cleaner home and less time spent on vacuuming up dog hair. While all dogs shed to some extent, the Tosa Inu‘s short coat minimizes the amount of loose hair they leave behind. However, regular brushing is still recommended to help remove any loose hair and keep their coat looking its best. A weekly brushing session will typically suffice to maintain their coat’s cleanliness and health.

In addition to brushing, routine nail trimming is important for Tosa Inu. Keeping their nails at an appropriate length not only promotes their overall foot health but also prevents discomfort or injury. Nails that are too long can cause issues with walking and may even lead to pain or infections. Regularly trimming their nails, using proper tools and techniques, will help ensure their feet remain in good condition.

While Tosa Inu generally has low grooming needs, they still benefit from regular baths. Like all dogs, they can accumulate dirt, debris, or odors over time. Bathing them every few months or as needed will help keep their coat clean, remove any dirt or allergens, and keep them smelling fresh.

12. They are Forbidden in 17 Countries


The Tosa Inu breed, known for its association with dogfighting and other blood sports, is subject to restrictions and bans in several countries. These countries have implemented laws and regulations regarding the importation and ownership of certain dog breeds, particularly those that are perceived to pose a higher risk or have a history in aggressive activities. It is important to note that these regulations may vary over time and can be subject to change.

Some of the countries where Tosa Inu is not welcome include Denmark, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Romania, Norway, Turkey, the USA, Bermuda Islands, Portugal, and Singapore. These countries have placed restrictions on the importation, ownership, or breeding of Tosa Inu due to concerns related to public safety and the breed’s history in dogfighting.

The specific regulations and restrictions can vary from country to country. In some cases, ownership of Tosa Inu may be completely prohibited, while in others, certain conditions or permits may be required for ownership. It is important for prospective owners or individuals interested in the breed to research and understand the specific regulations in their country or region before considering acquiring a Tosa Inu.

13. Tosa Inu Comes with Legal Liabilities


Owning a Tosa Inu can potentially bring about legal challenges and complications, even in countries where the breed is not officially banned. Due to the breed’s size, strength, and history, people may feel intimidated or fearful when encountering a Tosa Inu, which can lead to misunderstandings and legal issues.

One concern is the perception of aggression. While Tosa Inu can be gentle and loyal with proper training and socialization, their powerful appearance and background in dogfighting can cause others to view them as inherently dangerous. Even if a Tosa Inu displays no aggressive behavior, a mere display of enthusiasm or a playful dash towards someone might be misinterpreted as an attack. This can result in legal notices, complaints, or even legal actions against the owner.

Additionally, homeowners’ insurance policies may pose challenges when owning a Tosa Inu. Some insurance providers have specific breed restrictions, and Tosa Inu may fall under these restrictions due to their reputation or classification as a potentially dangerous breed. This means that obtaining or maintaining a home insurance policy that provides adequate coverage may require additional effort, specialized policies, or even outright denials.

14. They are Expensive


Acquiring a Tosa Inu can be quite challenging due to their rarity in many parts of the world. Finding a Tosa Inu puppy from a reputable breeder can be a difficult task, and even if one is located, the cost can be quite substantial. Prospective owners should be prepared to pay a significant amount to bring a Tosa Inu into their homes.

The price of a Tosa Inu puppy can vary depending on factors such as lineage, pedigree, and the reputation of the breeder. On average, the cost of a Tosa Inu puppy can range from $1700 to $2500 USD. However, it’s important to note that some exceptional Tosa Inu with exceptional bloodlines or show potential can command even higher prices, exceeding $2500 USD. These rare and prized individuals may be sought after by enthusiasts or breeders aiming to improve their breeding programs.

In addition to the expenses associated with purchasing a Tosa Inu from a breeder, there are also adoption fees to consider for those interested in adopting an adult Tosa Inu. The adoption fees can vary depending on the specific rescue organization or shelter, but they generally start at around $300 USD. The adoption fee helps cover the costs of caring for the dog, including veterinary care, spaying or neutering, vaccinations, and other necessary expenses.

It’s important to remember that the high cost associated with Tosa Inu ownership is not only a financial investment but also a commitment to responsible dog ownership. Potential owners should be prepared to provide the necessary resources, including time, effort, and financial means, to ensure the well-being and proper care of their Tosa Inu.

15. Finding the Perfect Tosa Inu is not that Easy

Finding a Tosa Inu can indeed be a challenging task, as this breed is not readily available and is often in high demand among enthusiasts. Many responsible breeders prioritize the well-being and suitability of the breed, and as a result, they may be selective about who they sell their Tosa Inu puppies to. This means that they may refuse to sell to inexperienced individuals who may not have the knowledge or skills required to handle this breed.

Tosa Inu is known for their strong personalities, size, and protective nature, which can make them a better fit for experienced dog owners who are familiar with handling large and assertive breeds. Responsible breeders prioritize placing their puppies in homes where they believe the owners have the necessary experience, commitment, and understanding of the breed’s specific needs and characteristics.

Finding a reputable Tosa Inu breeder is crucial to ensure that you get a healthy and well-socialized puppy. A good breeder will prioritize the overall health and temperament of their Tosa Inu and provide the necessary care and socialization during the early stages of the puppies’ lives. They will also be knowledgeable about the breed’s specific traits and be able to offer guidance and support to potential owners.

In conclusion, delving into the 15 facts about the Tosa Inu reveals the fascinating characteristics and history of this breed. From their origins as formidable fighting dogs to their loyal and protective nature, the Tosa Inu embodies strength, courage, and a calm demeanor. Whether as a guard dog or a loving family companion, the Tosa Inu’s unique attributes make it a captivating and remarkable breed.