Height: 22 - 25.5 inches.
Weight: 90 - 200 lbs.
Life Span: 10 - 12 years.
Litter Size: 6 - 12 puppies.
Country of Origin: Japan
Activity: Indoors - Low to Medium. Outdoors - High.
Guard-dog: High. This breed is a good guard against strangers as well as strange animals, being naturally aggressive toward other dogs and aloof toward strangers.
Description: The Tosa Ken, a strong, powerful and massive breed native to Japan, is a popular fighting dog. They have been bred over the years in Japan simply for that purpose, to compete in traditional dog fights. Therefore, these tough Mastiffs were honored for not offering the slightest whimper when fighting to the death. Other than those aspects, the Tosa Ken is a quiet, reserved and loyal breed. Their first priority is to their family, and they remain affectionate and kind. They welcome friends they know, but to strangers they stay aloof. Japanese Tosa are dog aggressive and should always be kept away from other pets unless they have been raised with them. They are devoted, trainable and well-behaved. Tosas are big dogs, muscular and with the typical Mastiff face. One thing they lack that most Mastiffs posses is constant drooling. They have strong forelimbs an drop, triangular ears. Their colors are prized for red, however, they also come in tan, brindle, dull black, or fawn. They often have a black mask and white on the chest and paws. This powerful breed is an excellent guard and watchdog, coupled with the ability to be affectionate and loyal to its family.
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Other Names: Tosa Ken, Tosa Inu, Tosa-Token, Japanese Fighting Dog and Japanese Mastiff.
Colors: Tan with or without markings in a different shade of tan, or tan markings on white. They can also be red, brindle, dull black, and fawn. They often have a black mask.
Coat: Short, smooth and hard. The red color is the most preferred. They often have white on the chest and feet.
Temperament: Tosa Kens are quiet and reserved inside the home. They are affectionate and friendly with family. They are more aloof with strangers, however, and can be used as an excellent guard dog. They can be dog aggressive, however. They are devoted to their family. Tosas are trainable, excellent fighters, agile and athletic. They are well behaved at home and a protective companion. They are happy to greet friends and family, but suspicious of strangers. They do not like being left alone, and should not be left in a kennel. They bark only when necessary, and are brave and intelligent. The Tosa are also a patient breed.
With Children: Yes, they get along with children, but should be supervised.
With Pets: No, the Tosa is dog-aggressive. They only do well with animals with which they were raised.
Special Skills: Fighting dog and family guard.
Care and Training: The Tosa Inu does not require a lot of exercise, only an average amount. If given a yard and a place to roam, they will get all the exercise they need. The coat is easy to care for, only needing a brush every once in a while to remove dead hairs. This breed does not drool like many other Mastiff-type breeds, making maintenance very low. The Tosa Ken is sensitive to the tone of your voice, and should be trained accordingly. They need very consistent, friendly training.
Learning Rate: High. Obedience - High. Problem Solving - High.
Special Needs: Attention, socialization, and training.
Living Environment: The Tosa Inu will do better with a dog-experienced person. This is likely a person who is firm and dominant mentally and physically. The best owner for this breed would be an owner living in a rural or suburban home.
Health Issues: Eye problems, hip and elbow dysplasia, and bloat. Bloat is a common health issue to most dogs, being the second biggest killer of dogs other than cancer. It is also referred to as twisted stomach or gastric torsion.
History: Brave and majestic, the Tosa Inu came from a land devoted to the breed's strength and ability to fight to the death without so much as a whimper. They were only developed after 1854, when Commodore Perry visited Japan. This visit connected Japan to the Western World and opened up trade, thus allowing other countries to experience the Tosa. The Tosa is thought to be a mix of the indigenous breeds such as the Shikoku and foreign breeds such as the Great Dane, German Pointer, Bulldogs and Mastiffs. This led to the sumo-wrestler of Japanese dogs, the Tosa Ken. Ceremonial dog fighting was a big part of the Japanese culture, and thus the Tosa was an ideal breed for this. They are still used for that very purpose to this day. They were trained with whips to not whine or whimper in a fight, even to the death. The dogs would be in a parade on their route to the dog fighting ring, wearing colorful traditional dress. As with many breeds, the Tosa was devastated after World War II. The best of the breed was sent to northern Japan to be bred. In time, the breed was standardized and revived again. Today they exist in places other than Japan such as the U.S. and Germany, but they serve as guards in those countries.
First Registered by the AKC: FSS (Foundation Stock Service - not yet eligible for the AKC)
AKC Group: Working Group
Registries: FCI (Group 2), UKC (Guarding Dog)