The Tosa!

The Tosa is also called the Japanese Fighting Dog as it originated in Japan and was bred specifically for dog sumo wrestling. Tagged as the “sumo wrestler of the dog world”, its other names are Japanese Mastiff, Tosa Inu, and Tosa Token. As a fighting dog, it is one of the largest breeds. It is also a great watchdog, and with its intimidating size, can be deceiving for it is more agile and more athletic compared to other large breeds. The Tosa has a large head, powerful jaws, small and pendant ears, small dark and almond-shaped eyes, dewlap skin formed at its neck, and a long tail.

Some Quick Facts:

Life Expectancy:
10-12 years

Energy Level:
Slightly below average.

Living Conditions:
Large spaces; needs a yard.


Exercise Needs:
Daily 25 minute walk and yard play.

Breed Group:

Very Large

24-30 inches

100-200 pounds

Standard Hair Colors:
Red, brindle, or fawn and rarely black.

National breed club:
Tosa AKC Page

Tosa Skills

Tosa originated when Shikoku-Inu, an indigenous dog in Japan resembling the European spit, was cross-bred with European dog breeds like Bulldog, Mastiff, St. Bernard, German Pointer, Great Dane and Bull terrier specifically for dog sumo wrestling tournaments.

Tosa Personality

Its very nature as a fighting dog makes it not suitable for a novice owner. Its size makes it difficult to control when it gets into brawl with other dogs, cats, and other animals. With human strangers, when properly socialized, it can be serious and mild-mannered unless of course aroused otherwise. To its human family, the Tosa is protective, loyal, and children-friendly although it may not be wise to leave it with kids unsupervised as it enjoys sitting on feet, lying on the lap, and putting its heavy weight against human legs. A young tosa can be rowdy and bouncy. Although highly responsive to training, it can also be stubborn and strong-willed, demanding a human who can really command over it. As a large breed, it is normal for a Tosa to snort and snore loudly. It is a serious working dog with enormous strength. Its fighting dog trait makes it generally quiet, very intelligent, extremely fearless and highly tolerant to pain.

Exercise Needs

Tosas can fairly look after their exercise demands as long as they are given a yard with enough space. They are excellent companions for jogging.

Living Conditions

Although it takes up a relatively large space, the Tosa will be fine in an apartment as long as it gets regular exercise and outdoor exposures in even a small yard. When placed in a kennel, it will become unhappy, as it loves to be close to its humans.

Grooming Requirements

Coat maintenance is minimal as its dense coat is short and generally smooth. However, these short hairs shed a lot as you pet them and removal from carpet, upholstery, and clothing may not be that easy. Watch out for those drools too, for they slobber a lot, although less compared to other mastiffs.

Health Issues

Like other giant breeds, Tosas are prone to bone and joint diseases as well as skin and autoimmune conditions, gassiness or flatulence, and bloating.

If you liked this dog…

...specifically for its fighter quality, try the American Pit Bull Terrier, another Mastiff but slightly smaller, since Tosas are a rare breed to find.


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