Japanese Fighting Dog
Tosa Fighting Dog
|Country of origin
|Classification and breed standards
||Group 2 Section 2 #1
||Guarding Dog Breeds
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
The Tosa is
breed of dog of
Japanese origin that is
The Tosa varies considerably in size, with the Japanese-bred dogs tend to be
about half the size of those bred outside the country. The Japanese breed
generally weighs between 66 and 88 lb (30 to 40 kg), while the non-Japanese
breeders have focused on dogs that weight from 197 to 200 lb (89.5 to 90.5 kg)
and stnd 24.5 to 25.5 (62 to 65 cm) inches at the
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.
Befitting of its origins as a
the Tosa Inu is not a dog for the novice owner. It is driven not only to scrap
with other dogs, but also with cats, as well as with other small animals. It is
also one of the largest breeds and can be extremely difficult to control except
by the strongest of both body and will.
This breed originated in the second half of the nineteenth century. The breed
started from the native
indigenous dog weighing about 25 kilograms and standing about 55 centimetres
high, which closely resembles the
European Spitz. These dogs were crossed with European dog breeds, such as
the Bulldog in 1872,
Mastiff in 1874,
German Pointer in 1876,
Great Dane in 1924,
and the Bull
The aim was to breed a larger, more powerful fighting 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.
In Japan this breed is also called
Sumo Dog. Sumo fighters are
Japanese wrestlers who engage in a very unusual style of wrestling that is
already over 1,500 years old. The objective of sumo wrestling is always to stay
on your feet despite your opponent's attacks and not to allow your opponent to
pin you to the floor or drive you from the ring.
This sumo wrestling is also the basis for the traditional Japanese dog fight.
The Tosa is thus a "wrestling dog", and the fights are carried out according to
sumo rules. 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. Biting and
growling dogs are disqualified and are banned from further competition.
Tosa who were successful in the sumo fight received a valuable, beautifully
decorated cloth apron with the crowning touch of an elaborately braided, thick
hemp rope. What was demanded was not the wild fighter, the mauler, but the
physically strong dog, courage paired with skill, patience and stamina.
For Europeans it is hard to comprehend how it is possible to transform a dog
breed into a wrestler. This entails going against the dog's natural instincts,
against every normal fighting technique of a dog. It seems a likely supposition
that dogs that were unsuitable for such fights were used in "normal" dog fights.
There have been few specimens in Europe so far and only initial attempts at
breeding. Despite its claimed history, there remains the suspicion that these
dogs as a rule also would rather bite than wrestle.
^ Fogle, Bruce, DVM (2000).
The New Encyclopedia of the Dog. Doring Kindersley (DK).
^ Cunliffe, Juliette (2004).
The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. Parragon Publishing.
- Ostuni, Steve (2003). Japanese Tosa.
Kennel Club Books.
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