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Tosa As Hunters

tosa inu

tosa inu

Since he is young, he is raised in the spirit of the hunting, at only 4 months he is helped by it`s mother to hunt a, in this case, gopher, as you can see in the right picture, wich his mother injured, and left it half dead, so the pup can finish it, to teach him and evolve his hunter instincts.

At the beginning, he seams shy, but at each encounter with a wild animal, he gains experience and unequaled courage, reaching a higher level, at wich point he would give his life in order to reach his goal.

Smaller animals, such as foxes, badgers, pheasants, deers are only victims when it comes to Tosa, the real adversary beeing the wild boar, wich can reach up to 350 kg (771 pounds).

When it comes to larger animals, Tosa must work in teams, each knowing it`s role in the hunt, his master haveing the crucial role of beeing the one who will end the life of the hunt, useing a knife or any weapon, after the Tosa brought the hunt down, because their teeth are much too small to kill it.


Many times, the Tosa will suffer grave injuries, cuts, broken bones and ribbs, broken canines and teeth, dislocated jaw and so on, but the more experience he gains in time the less the injuries he will suffer.

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tosa inu



tosa hunt
tosa hunt





tosa inu
As a companion,Tosa`s are ineffably affectionate, protective,and despite
their great size,they are gentle and deferential to their owners.

The Tosa Inu (dog) or Tosa Token (fighting style dog) is the most feared and

revered of all Japan`s canine species.Fighting dogs in Japan were first seen about 200 years ago in hands of noble Samurai warriors.This particular dog and its style of fighting are deeply rooted in the traditions and culture of the ancient Samurai warriors.


When these returned home from battle,different from the other townsfolk,who were merchants,artisans and service


providers,the soldiers had to wait for another war to be declared to be gainfully employed.Many times in their waiting,they turned to fighting amongst themselves.Looking with disdain upon this practice,a very powerful Samurai Warlord encouraged his men to engage in dog fighting instead.This made the Tosa very popular and that same Samurai chief known by the name of Chozogabe,went on to establish the rules for dog fighting.But,when Toku Oawa,the famous `Edo Ela` defeated Chozogabe,he wanted to eliminate Chozogabe`s people.Matters became worse when a change to the Samurai code was in place,making for a very difficult transition.These factors lead to the encouragement of dogfighting to appease the frustrated soldiers and,to the development of the Tosa as a superior fighter.



tosa inuThe tradition of dog fighting was especcially popular in the Tosa district of Shikoku.The product of thoughtfull eugenic manipulation by the Japanese,the Tosa dogs active in fighting,were not the present day incarnation.


Between 1866 and 1869 many foreigners with big sized dogs entered the country.Japanese were impressed by the size,strength and endurance of these Western dogs.To create the Tosa,they crossbreed the Shikoku ken with Bulldogs(1872),Mastiffs (1874),German Pointers (1876), Great Danes (1924), Bull Terrier and St.Bernards all of which were used to improve the bread by sequential mating.

When the Old English Mastiff experts went to Kochi,in Japan,they saw the excellent bone structure of the Tosa and they were very impressed ,and this good result was due to excellent balance of calcium in the bone.An important factor to understand here is that the calcium levels of water in Japan are deficient compared to Europe`s.Taking this into the consideration ,the Tosa was originally produced through the Shikoku Inu and the English Bulldog.All origins of Tosa today are Shikoku Inu,English Bulldog,Mastiff,Great Dane Dogo,Saint Bernard,Bullterrier and Poenter.


That is why we had to administer to our dogs extra amounts of vitamins,calcium and minerals to their diet,and .thus,provide good bone development.On the other hand ,it is possible that someTosas may have problems with their legs because of their large body.This is why we have to be very careful especially between the ages of two and nine months,a period in which the dog grows rapidly.As you may know,the hind quarters sometimes grow faster than the front until the animal develops completely and in this process your dog may a begin to look like a Fila.


You should look at your dog every week to check that the head is growing proportionally ,if not,than a change in diet might be required.In reference to diets,there is ot much difference in the manner of caring for similar dogs like Fila,Mastiff and other large and long breeds.About import from Japan Tosa is a dog from Japan,their National treasure, has a long history involving Imperial Dynasties and great hystorical figures all interwoven into Japanese heritage..We find that this dog is not very well known even in Japan ,and adding to it`s mystic are,the secretive practices of the breeders who organize themselves in groups of 30-40.


.tosa inu

The groups are guided by a designated leader,who menages and conditions the animals and is responsible for all decisions concerning the dogs. Japanese Tosa aficionados are not selling Tosa dogs because of economical hardship,it is because you have the desire to acquire a puppy of that breed and have contacted the Japanese Tosa men for the arrangement of such a transaction.  The Japanese Tosa breeder may assist in choosing a healthy dog for you,but there is no guarantee against genetic problems or anything else,you take the risk when you decide to make the purchase.When requering a guarantee in the purchase a Tosa breeder feel that he is compromising his good faith.This can cause them to refuse to help you get a Tosa because in all reality they usually breed for themselves and not for the general public. They are the Sumo Wrestler counterpart in the dog world.The peak of dog fighting history was between the end of the Meiji period and the beginning of the Showa period.During this time a large number of great fighting dogs were produced.Fighting tournaments were held often and Tosa fighting dogs are very well known throughout Japan. A good Tosa for the Japanese is one that has a good head,a powerfull neck,excellent wrestling ability and the potential to become an intelligent fighter. With that purpose on mind,a career is forged to guide the dog to Yokozuna (Champion) status or Grand Yokozuna (Grand Champion) ranking,the maximum position attainable in Tosa tournaments. 



Appearance and Temperament

The overall appearance of the Tosa should be that of a massive but dynamic and flexible athlete, with a large, broad head, a boxy muzzle and clearly observable dewlap. Contrary to the Japan Kennel Club (JKC) and the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) which require red as the preferred color, the traditional Tosa breeding in Kochi City accepts a variety of colors, solid or brindle, black with markings, or pied.


It is very difficult to find good quality Tosa's outside Japan with the typical Tosa character as sought after by the Japanese breeders: a dog that is calm and quiet, but vigilant and conscious of its own strength and with an innate sense of prudence, that will only react in case of emergency, then demonstrating great courage and unequalled strength.


The Link between Sumo Wrestling and The Tosa-Inu in Japanese Culture

Sumo Wrestling Dogs

The true interest in maintaining the history of the TOSA - Inu like a kind of Sumo Dog is because the breed is considered to be the equivalent of the sumo wrestlers of Japan. It is a breed linked to a very cruel sport. Because it is a breed linked to sport it is not its destiny to be commercialized nor registered in clubs as in other parts of the world. In general, it is well known that Tosa fighters do not register their Tosa's in Japan or any other canine club.

In the category of fight dog the Tosa - Inu receives the title of Yokozuna. This title is part of the discipline that characterizes the Japanese culture and the Sumo wrestlers, honor, respect and reverence. This is a standard that only a Tosa - Inu can achieve, making it a symbol of admiration and a historic icon for the Japanese.

If a person wants to be a sumo wrestler they must pass a rigorous discipline and regime in order to reach the size and vigor of a great wrestler. What the Japanese have done is develop a race thru crossbreeding to be equivalent to the sumo wrestler, strong, impressive in size, brave and invincible. The final product was the Tosa-Inu.


The crossbreeding influences in the development of the Tosa Inu are:tosa inu

In the year 1872 the Bulldog was introduced in the Tosa Inu breed, sought for its punitive bite, powerful front-end and truncated stop.

In the year 1874 the Mastiff was introduced because of their exceptional musculature, and the enormity of their cranial structure.

In the year 1876 German Pointer was introduced, because of their concordant temperament, and highly developed olfactory sense; which is fundamental for predators. Some Tosa Inu have been used for rescuing people or hunting wild boar.

In the year 1924 the Great Dane was introduced to mitigate its now prodigious size and add dexterity and athleticism.

Another breed introduced is Bull Terrier, further used for their increased tenacity and ability.

The aim was to breed the most powerful dog in the world. It had the purpose of comparing it with the Japanese “Sumo Wrestling Man”. Within a short period of time they succeeded in developing a type that concentrated the characteristics of the Japanese Sumo Wrestling Dogs.

Most of the Japanese called the Tosa a Sumo Dog. Sumo fighters are Japanese wrestlers who engage in a very unusual style of wrestling that is over 1,600 years old. The objective of Sumo wrestling is stay on one’s feet despite one’s opponents attacks and not allow the opponent to knock one to the floor or drive from the ring.

Sumo Wrestling is also the basis for the traditional Japanese dog. The Tosa Inu is thus a Wrestling dog and the fights are carried out according to strict Sumo rules, and accompanied by rituals and processions. The winner is the dog that presses its opponent to the ground with its body, knocks it off its feet and holds it to the ground. The one who dominates for more than 3 to 5 minutes if the fight lasts for more than 15 minutes, is declared winner. A whining or growling dog is declared the loser. The same goes for a dog that turns its hind to the opponent or moves back three steps when attacked. The fight ends in any case 30 minutes in a draw if neither of the dogs has proved superior to the other. Tosa fights do involve biting, but their owners can separate two Tosa in the middle of a fight, to wipe his mouth with a towel, without being bitten by the dog. The dog fights among Tosa are not set up be cruel or bloody or to end with the death of one of the participants.

After the fight is over the winning Tosa and his owner are honored by the looser that comes out the ring first, then the winner.

The Tosa Inu’s who were successful in the Sumo fight received a valuable, beautifully decorated cloth apron with the crowning touch of an elaborately braided, t.hick hemp rope. Those decorations are handmade in Japan. What was demanded was not a fast and easy victory a wild fighter or mauler, but a physically strong dog, courage paired with skill, patience and stamina.

In the Japanese style of Tosa dog fighting, the Tosa was expected to fight very soundlessly, relentlessly and without cowering. Through selective breeding, the Japanese refined the Tosa into a large agile and athletic dog that is disinclined to barking, intelligent and fearless.

Like Sumo Wrestler Men, the Sumo Dogs are graded into a hierarchy according to the points they have recently earned. The greatest Tosa Inu wrestlers receive the title of Yokozuna, like the famous Sumo’s In Japan.


Yokozuna Ceremonial Dress

tosa inu tosa inu tosa inu

The original Japanese Tosa Inu is courageous, tenacious, prudent, well-tempered and docile. It displays an enormous strength and a high threshold for pain.

The Tosa Inu are probably the only dogs in the world which are still used quite legally to this day for dog fights. However, the Japanese developed a type of fighting according to their cultural mentality. As such they differ from the notorious pit bull dog fights held illegally in other parts of the world.

The Tosa Inu were also used to demonstrate the spirit of bravery and courage of a true fighter to the soldiers. In the eyes of a fighter to see a Tosa in a show ring is demoralizing. One can only imagine how surprised a sumo wrestler would be to see a Tosa in obedience or any other dog show. Have you ever seen a sumo wrestler in an Olympic or hot body competition? It’s just not what there made for.



The following ranks comprise the various fight

tosa inu

classes in Japan:

Maegashira: Amateur fighter

Komusubi: Professional fighter, 4 rounds

Sekiwake: Fighter rising in the ranks

Ozeki: Pro fighter- 10 rounds Championship contender

Yokozuna: Champion

Yushoken: Individual tournament champion

Honorary Confirmations:

Senshuken : National Japanese Grand Champion

This prestigious title may only be given during the lifetime of the dog. The combatant must be ranked higher than Yokozuna, and chosen by judges.

Meiken Yokozuna : Warrior Grand Champion

The competitor must have three fights as a Senshuken, with a record of no less than two wins and one draw. This prestigious honor has only been achieved by thirty two dogs from among more than four hundred fifty National Japan Grand Champions.

Gaifu Taisho: Best Fighting Technique

Adjudicated to be the most effective fighting technique employed by an individual combatant in a tournament.


Surprisingly, Despite the sovereignty of the Tosa; it is rarely seen in Japan. Although the Japanese deify the Tosa, Few have actually seen one. In USA, their numbers are estimated at approximately 500. Originally, the Tosa first began appearing in the US when wealthy Japanese Nationals brought them over as pets. The breed attained notoriety, when a nationally televised program hosted by actor Jack Pallance, featured the Tosa and their legendary status in Japan. As a companion, Tosa’s are ineffably affectionate, obedient, and protective, and despite their great size; they are gentle and deferential to their owners. Intelligent and affable, they are easily trained; and because of their agility and sagacity, they have been successful in Schutzhund and therapy training. However, Tosa’s require excellent socialization, as they are extremely dog-aggressive. It is never recommended to feed the Tosa with other dogs in the family, or to purchase two Tosa’s of the same sex.

Finally; Tosa’s require experienced owners who are both physically, and mentally strong. Tosa’s should be treated with sensitivity, and physical coercion should never be used for training or correction. It should be mentioned that the Tosa’s strength will greatly exceed that of their owners; Tosa’s have been recorded at pulling over 1585 kg. Not surprisingly; because dogfighting is proscribed in the United States, physical attributes, and not fighting prowess; are the measure of the exceptional Tosa. There are many competitive avenues for the Tosa; the most notable are the American Rare Breed Association and The Continental Kennel Club. However, the Tosa is a rare and Noble dog, whose legend is no myth.

tosa inuThe Akitas and Tosas were also cross bred, with the resulting off-spring labeled as "Shin Akita".

Tosa Inu literally means "Tosa dog", the two first ideograms (Kanji) representing the word 'Tosa' and the last one that one of 'dog'. In English the suffix 'Inu' is sometimes left out. A variant of this name is Tosa Ken. Both 'Inu' and 'Ken' mean dog in Japanese. It is not another word but basically the Sino-Japanese pronunciation (on-reading) of the same "dog-Kanji"
犬, as KEN, instead of INU (kun-reading, indigenous Japanese reading). Both are correct, but the expression Tosa-Ken is more generally used in the spoken language.


Tosa's are also known as Japanese Mastiffs or Japanese fighting dogs, after the Japanese 土佐闘犬, Tosa Touken or Tosa Tôken, which literally means 'Tosa Fighting dog'. 'Tôken' takes a long -o in Japanese and the correct transcription in English  therefore is either 'Tôken' or 'Touken'.


When the Japanese politics of isolation ended with the Meiji Restoration from 1866 to 1869, more and more foreigners with big-sized dogs entered the country. The Japanese were impressed by the size, strength and endurance of these Western dogs.  As a result, they started to crossbreed some of their native breeds with these dogs.  To create the Tosa they crossbred the Shikoku ken with Bulldogs (1872), Mastiffs (1874). German Pointers (1876) and Great Danes (1924), Bull Terrier and St. Bernards all of which were used to improve the breed by sequential mating.


Two times in the twentieth century all the japanese breeds, including the Tosa, were in imminent danger of extinction. First the food crisis during World War II and the invasion by the allied forces, then a distemper epidemic brought the Tosa to the verge of extinction.  The Association for the preservation of the Tosa decided to save 12 Tosa's which by their character and type were the most authentic representatives of the breed and took them to the Aormi prefecture at the north of Japan, an area little involved in the war.  From those 12 exemplars descend the majority of the genuine Tosa's today.


The Tosa varies considerably in size, with the Japanese-bred dogs tending to be about half the size of those bred outside the country. The Japanese breed generally weighs between 80 and 120 pounds (36 and 54 kg), while the non-Japanese breeders have focused on dogs that weigh from 130 to 200 lb (60 to 100 kg) and stand 24.5 to 32 inches (62 to 82 cm) at the withers. The coat is characterized by its short and smooth appearance and is often red, brindle, or fawn. Occasionally it can be a dull black, but this is somewhat rare. Maintenance of the coat is usually minimal.


This breed originated in the second half of the nineteenth century. The breed started from the native Shikoku-Inu, an indigenous dog weighing about 25 kilograms (45 pounds) and standing about 55 centimetres high, which closely resembles the European Spitz. These dogs were crossed with European dog breeds, such as the Old English Bulldog in 1872, Mastiff in 1874, St. Bernard, German Pointer in 1876, Great Dane in 1924, and the Bull Terrier. The aim was to breed a larger, more powerful dog. The heyday of Tosa breeding was between 1924 and 1933, when it was said that there were more than 5,000 Tosa breeders in Japan.

Legal matterstosa inu

Ownership of Tosas is legally restricted in certain jurisdictions. In the United Kingdom ownership is regulated under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. A specific exemption of a British court is required to own and import Tosas legally in the UK. Some insurance companies will not insure homes with dog breeds deemed dangerous. The Australian Customs Service prohibits the import of Tosas, along with other dog breeds considered dangerous, into Australia.

The Tosa is one of eleven breeds of dog banned in 2007 by the Dublin City Council from their properties, including council houses, flats and estates.


The breed is illegal in Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Additionally, the breed is banned in New Zealand and Malaysia, where the country's government claimed that the Tosas are specifically bred for fighting; the step was made in order to combat the increasing number of dog attacks on humans, especially children. They are also illegal in Malta and Australia.


The Tosa has a large, broad skull with a medium length muzzle. The neck is exceptionally strong, and generally has a dewlap, however; unlike other heavily jowled mastiffs, the Tosa is not prone to drooling. The chest is particularly broad with exceptional spring to the ribs. The thighs are well muscled with only a slight bend at the hock. The coat is short, and dense; with color ranging from red, fawn, or dull black. While the embodiment of the ideal human or canine form is rarely seen; there are stringent physical and aesthetic qualities which are narrowly defined for the Tosa. Among equal specimens, red is the preferred color. White markings are only permissible on the chest, never on the face or muzzle; and the bite must be scissor. The skeletal structure of the Tosa must be large, small bones are indicative of an inferior genetic specimen; as are any signs of timidity or reticence in temperament. The life expectancy of the Tosa is 10-12 years. The most common health problems are those associated with giant breeds; such as: joint inflammation, hip dysplasia and intestinal bloat resulting from over-exercise.


The average litter size is six to twelve pups, but because of the immense size of the bitch; owners must be vigilant to ensure that puppies are not inadvertently crushed by their mother. There are no exceptional problems associated with whelping, except; due to the contentious nature of the breed, the puppies can inflict substantial injury to littermates during play, which can often appear alarmingly atavistic.


In Japan today, dogfighting is still practiced; and the Japanese revere the Tosa as the embodiment of a warrior. Historically, the Samurai were instructed to study the Tosa during combat to learn fearlessness, tenacity, and courage. Surprisingly, the rules governing Japanese dogfights are stringent and complex, and the Japanese have ennobled Tosa dogfights with all the pageantry and ceremony of Sumo Wrestling. In Japan; the Tosa is referred to as the "Sumo" dog because of its’ great size and strength. Recondite and metaphorical, Tosa dogfights are not fought to the death. In Japan; unbridled aggression or expedient victories are discouraged in dogfighting. Anthropomorphized to be warriors, in the fight arena; the Tosa is judged: by the duration of the fight, the quality of the opponent, courage, and endurance. A combatant is more highly respected If he fights courageously and for longer durations. Those competitors with many "quick wins" will be ranked lower than the competitor who routinely lasts the duration of the 30 minutes

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tosa inu
tosa inu


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