Tosa Inu | Dog Breed Information & Facts – Pictures

Tosa Inu

Tosa Inu or Japanese Mastif is an imposing, beautiful and loyal dog, of a nature reserved for foreigners but tender with its closest relatives. It is a large dog, with physical characteristics of molossoid type which can calmly exceed 60 centimeters in height at the cross.

There are few breeds of dogs that have their origin in Japan, and it is one of them, but not as well known in the world as akita inu or shiba inu. The Tosa Inu is a large dog, very impressive in terms of appearance and one of the most appreciated breeds for those looking for a dog of large proportions and unique characteristics.

Dog sheet Tosa Inu

Tosa Inu photos

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Physical characteristics

In terms of the strength of the constitution, the “samurai dogs” are real athletes, for which very vague weight limits are established. The height of the males is 60 – 80 cm, the weight is about 45 – 90 kg. Females are slightly smaller with 55 – 70 cm and 35 -70 kg.


Distinctive features

  • Head: The skull is massive and broad. The transition from forehead to muzzle is rough. The muzzle is square, moderately long.
  • Jaws: The teeth are powerful and large. The jaws are extremely strong. Bite “scissors”.
  • Ears: The ears are hanging with a high fit, small in size, closely adjacent to the cheekbones.
  • Eyes: Medium sized eyes. The color of the iris is dark brown. The gaze is penetrating and proud.
  • Frame: The body is strong, athletic, elongated. The withers are well expressed. The neck is of an athletic build with a well-developed dewlap. The chest is wide and deep. The ribs are barrel-shaped. The back is flat and straight. The loin is muscular and strong, fairly wide with a slightly sloping croup. The belly is clearly tucked in.
  • Limbs: The legs are straight, distinctly muscled. The legs are gathered in a ball. The pads are well developed, the nails are small and black.
  • Coat: The coat is short, coarse in structure, dense. Color black, fawn, brindle, apricot and red. There may be small snow-white areas on the legs and in the sternum.

Character and behavior

The Tosa Inu is not quite ordinary in all respects, especially because these dogs combine several completely opposite qualities. For example, within his family, he is a very open and friendly creature. It is difficult to find a dog that would love its owner more, be more devoted to him and give him more love.

In the face of danger, everything is exactly the opposite here – it will be difficult to find a more fearless, ruthless and aggressive animal. Tosa Inu literally destroys his opponent.

You need to understand that for an animal there is not much difference on who to attack – a dog or a person, and therefore the owner should do everything possible to ensure that the dog understands and feels this boundary. In fact, Tosa Inu is not recommended for inexperienced owners, and he will only idolize the owner if he knows how to build the right relationship and be “in authority” with the animal.

With the children

The relationship with young children is generally excellent. The Tosa Inu has a natural protective instinct and a calm, relaxed temperament inside the home, which pairs well with little ones, and will put up with their pranks and ear prints. However, the Tosa Inu is a large dog that can hurt without wanting to run or play, which is why it is strongly recommended to always supervise the game and to properly educate children so that they understand how they should treat this noble dog.

With other animals

With other dogs, the Tosa Inu can get along as long as he is properly trained as a puppy, however, it is important to monitor his reaction to other active dogs.


Although nature has awarded the Tosa Inu with good health and strong immunity, the predisposition of the breed to certain diseases is observed:

  • Dysplasia of the elbow, hip joint – at first the dog is limping, does not allow to touch itself, as the pains are getting stronger. Then the front or hind limbs are taken away from her.
  • Allergic dermatitis – an undesirable reaction to detergents or food is possible.
  • Diseases of the cardiovascular system.
  • Ear infections – due to the peculiar structure of the ears, Tosa Inu often have infectious diseases. It is recommended to treat the auricles with a special solution.

Life expectancy

The average life span of a Tosa Inu is 9-12 years.


The Tosa Inu dog breed is classified as smooth-haired and practically does not require care – combing once a week will suffice. Ears should be cleaned 2-3 times a week, eyes should be cleaned of deposits daily. The claws are trimmed 3 times a month, the dog must be bathed at least once a month.


The Tosa Inu is a dog that will need 2 to 3 daily walks that will allow it to interact with other animals, exercise, relax and enjoy mental stimulation. A good exercise that combines stimulation and relaxation is sowing, a very simple activity to perform.

Fun facts

  • There are two types of lines linked to the dog Tosa Inu, on the one hand that bred in his country of origin, Japan, and on the other hand that of the rest of the world. Although it is the same breed, the two varieties have an important difference, it is that the Japanese variety is generally much smaller than the foreign varieties. On average, a Tosa Inu dog bred in Japan will weigh between 25 and 55 kilos, but a specimen bred outside of this country will weigh between 60 and 100 kilos.
  • Being considered a potentially dangerous dog in various countries, including several European countries, not everyone has access to a puppy of this breed. In order to acquire a copy of the Tosa Inu, it will be necessary to have beforehand an appropriate license and insurance, it is therefore preferable to go to the legislation of the country in particular to know the steps to follow.
  • During the Second World War, keeping the Japanese Mastiff was punishable by death.
  • The Tosa Inu is the only Molossian breed in Japan.
  • In the United States, Tosa Inu became famous as a participant in weight pulling. The champion who took the weight of 1585 kg. Is a representative of the specified species.
  • The Japanese Mastiff’s career as a fighting dog is similar to that of a sumo wrestler. Fighter dogs compete in different weight categories and have different ranks (maegasira, komusubi, sekivake, ozeki, yokozuna, yuseken).
  • American studies have shown that in Japan purebred Tosa are used as babysitters for children, which is extremely surprising, because these fighting dogs are on the list of the most dangerous breeds with an increased level of aggression.
  • Specially trained fighting Japanese mastiffs belonging to samurai are called “shadow of the samurai”. Such dogs literally always follow their master’s heels.
  • You already know the responsibilities and the process you will have to follow to get a Tosa Inu puppy. If you think this breed is best for you, it will certainly be worth it. You should also contact a breeder specializing in the breed as soon as possible, as that way you will have all the health guarantees regarding your new best friend and you will be able to receive first-hand information on everything related to Tosa Inu.

History of the breed

The origin of the Tosa Inu breed dates back to the second half of the nineteenth century. The homeland of this species is Japan. The Japanese consider these dogs to be a national treasure.

This dog was bred on the island of Shikoku, more precisely, in the province of Tosa, hence the name “Tosa Inu”.

Relatively small (weight about 21-23 kg.) Japanese Spitz dogs are the ancestors of modern Japanese mastiffs. They are very similar to the Akita Inu, their purpose was to hunt wild animals and participate in dog fights. These were leaders, local champions, who were appreciated by samurai, who raised the fighting spirit of the fighters.

But the time has come, Japan opened its borders to foreigners. Visiting Europeans began to import their war dogs into the country, which increasingly began to win in the ring of local champions. The Japanese were not satisfied with such defeats, on their territory the indigenous species of dogs should have been the winner.

For this reason, it was decided to create a new fighting breed that would surpass the Europeans and could defend the honor of the Motherland. Further, by dates, we will trace the formation, emergence and level of the population, the popularity of a new species of Japanese fighting dogs called “Tosa Inu”:

  • 1860 – the beginning of active selection work. The goal was to reduce pain sensitivity and increase combat capabilities. In the process, crossing of a pit bull, bull terrier, staffordshire was carried out. The genes of these breeds were considered the basis of the new species.
  • 1872 – breeding work on the improvement of the Japanese Mastiff does not stop. The blood of the Akita, Pit Bull, and old-style Bulldogs was mixed. As a result, the breeders were not satisfied with the small, in their opinion, dimensions of the resulting mestizos.
  • 1874 – the genes of the English mastiff are used, as a result, the new species acquires an impressive size and a voluminous head. But there are serious disadvantages: some clumsiness, loss of speed, as well as excessive aggressiveness towards people.
  • 1876 ​​- crossing with a German Pointer is carried out, his genes brought balance and reduced aggressive behavior towards humans.
  • 1924 – wanting to give the Tosa the appearance of an athlete and increase mobility, the breeders decide to cross with the Great Dane.

For several generations, work has been carried out to improve the Japanese mastiff. Inbreeding was carried out at full speed. The development of a breed standard was still in the planning stages.

As you know, during the years of the war against fascism, most large dog breeds were on the verge of extinction. The Tosa Inu population did not suffer such damage. Connoisseurs of the breed managed to take the best breeding specimens to Korea and Taiwan in time.

In some countries, the Tosa Inu is one of the prohibited dogs, they cannot be bred or kept. This breed is considered too aggressive and dangerous.


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