Other namesJapanese Tosa
Tosa Tōken (土佐闘犬)
Japanese Fighting Dog
Tosa Fighting Dog
Kennel club standards
Japan Kennel Club standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Tosa Inu (土佐犬, also called the Tosa-Ken and Japanese Mastiff) is a breed of dog of Japanese origin that is considered rare. It was originally bred in Tosa, Shikoku (present-day Kōchi), as a fighting dog and is the only breed still used (legally) in Japanese dog fighting.[1] Ownership is restricted in some countries as a dangerous breed.

In South Korea, it is one of the main dog meat breeds, along with Nureongi dogs.[2]


The Tosa vary 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 36 and 61 kilograms (80 and 135 lb), while non-Japanese breeders have focused on dogs that weigh from 60 to 90 kg (130 to 200 lb) and stand 62 to 82 cm (24 to 32 in) at the withers.[1] The coat is characterized by its short and smooth appearance and is often red, brindle, or fawn, but occasionally it can be a dull black. Maintenance of the coat is usually minimal. Dogs can occasionally tip the scale at 91 kilograms (200 lb). In Japan, they are considered the equivalent of Sumo wrestlers and are even depicted in wrestling accoutrements.[citation needed]


The head of a Tosa
Tosa Inu
The head of a Tosa

This breed originated in the second half of the 19th century. The breed started with the native Shikoku-Inu (an indigenous dog weighing about 25 kilograms (45 pounds) and standing about 55 centimetres high). These dogs were crossed with European dog breeds, such as the Old English Bulldog in 1872, the English Mastiff in 1874, the Saint Bernard and German Pointer in 1876, the Great Dane in 1924, and the Bull Terrier.[2] The aim was to breed a larger, more powerful dog specifically for dog fighting competitions in Japan. 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.[3][4]

Legal matters

See also: Breed-specific legislation

Tosa Inu puppies 4 months

Ownership of Tosas is legally restricted in certain jurisdictions. In the United Kingdom, ownership is regulated under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, and in Trinidad and Tobago under the Dog Control Act 2014.[5] A specific exemption from a British court is required to own and import Tosas legally in the UK.[6]

The breed is banned or legally restricted at a national level in:

See also


  1. ^ Wofford, Taylor (1 September 2016). "Dogfights in Japan Are a Family Outing". Newsweek. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  2. ^ "6 things you should know about Korea's dog meat farms".
  3. ^ Coleman, Joseph (8 October 1998). "Japan's powerful Tosa fighting dogs go for the throat in canine sumo". Deseret News. Associated Press. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Silence Reigns when Japan's Tosas Fight". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  5. ^ "The Dog Control Act". The Trinidad Guardian.
  6. ^ "Dangerous Dogs Act 1991". London: HMSO/National Archives. 1991. Chapter 65. Retrieved 8 February 2010. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Importing Animals". Archived from the original on 8 September 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Vejledning om hundelovens forbudsordning" (in Danish). Justitsministeriet. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  9. ^ "Fiji Pet Passport Regulations". Pet Travel, Inc. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Les chiens de catégorie 1 et 2 dits " chiens dangereux "". Retrieved 12 September 2023.
  11. ^ "Hong Kong e-Legislation". Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  12. ^ "Landbúnaðarráðuneyti".
  13. ^ "Hvaða hundar eða hundakyn eru bönnuð á Íslandi?".
  14. ^ Kelly, Olivia. "Dublin City Council bans 'dangerous dog breeds'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  15. ^ "ORDONANȚĂ DE URGENȚĂ nr. 55 din 30 aprilie 2002". Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  16. ^ "Kod Amalan Kebajikan Haiwan: Aktiviti Pembiakan Haiwan Kesayangan" [Animal Welfare Code of Practice: Pet Breeding Activities] (PDF). Malaysian Department of Veterinary Services (pdf) (in Malay). 2019. p. 29. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  17. ^ "Importation of Pets in Malta". MFGC. 2 March 2010. Archived from the original on 5 November 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  18. ^ "The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs rules on dog control".
  19. ^ "Forskrift om hunder". Lovdata. 25 August 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
  20. ^ "Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore List of Scheduled Dogs" (PDF). ava. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  21. ^ "Prohibitions et restrictions". Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  22. ^ "Banned items : Customs Clearance - The Official Portal of the UAE Government".[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "Controlling your dog in public: Banned dogs - GOV.UK".
  24. ^ "חוק להסדרת הפיקוח על כלבים". Nevo (in Hebrew). Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  25. ^ "HAYVANLARI KORUMA KANUNU". Retrieved 22 April 2021.


Further reading