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Japanese Fighting Dog Breed Description

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Breed Organization

United Kennel Club (UKC)

Native Country

Other Names
Tosa, Tosa-Ken, Japanese Tosa, Tosa-Inu, Japanese Mastiff, Tosa Fighting Dog

Life Expectancy
Approximately 10-12 Years

Litter Size
Approximatley 4-8 Puppies

Breed Group

General Description

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 135 pounds (36 and 61 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.

Breed Standard

Head: Is large, with a broad skull, fairly abrupt stop, and a moderately long, squared-off muzzle. The jaws are very powerful.
Ears: Are fairly small and pendant, falling along the cheeks.
Eyes: Are small, dark and almond-shaped, with a dignified expression.
Tail: Is very thick at the root then tapers to a point, reaching the hocks.
Hair: Coat is dense and harsh. The preferred color is solid red, though black, yellow, black & tan, fawn, brindle and multi-colored is also permissible.
Height: Around 24 (60 cm.)
Weight: 83-200 pounds (37 -90 kg.)


The Tosa often was referred to as the "Sumo wrestler of the dog world." It has been bred for hundreds of years in Japan. It was developed between the period of 1868 and 1912 by crosses with the Kochi (a local Japanese breed) and native Shikoku fighting dogs. The Tosa we recognize today was developed in the late 1800's. The best of the Japanese Tosas were crossed with newly imported European breeds such as the Great Dane, Mastiff, Bulldog, Bull Terrier and St. Bernard, to increase its size. The result was a powerful, agile and athletic mastiff-type dog. In Japan, the Tosa is considered a national treasure.


This hardy, obstinate dog has a strong personality, but is a very gentle, playful pet. He is wary of strangers, but lives peacefully with other domestic animals. He can be very aggressive if trained to be so.

The Tosa is easy to groom. An occasional brushing to remove dead and loose hair is all that is needed to keep the coat looking good.


Self aware, a very good guard and watchdog. This is not a breed for beginners.


Both parents should have the following certificates: CERF (eyes) and OFA (hips and elbows). Also prone to bloat.

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