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The Tosa Inu breed is the result of crossbreeding which took place between 1868 and 1912 by crossing Kochies, Bull Terriers, Bulldogs, Great Danes, and Saint Bernards. The name comes from the land where this breed was raised, and its proud, combative, and lively temperament comes from the crossbreeding that led to this final result. In the Japanese province of Kochi, a breed of dog was raised exclusively for fighting, but during the Meiji period, between 1868 and 1912, they began crossing the local breed with various European ones such as “Bulldogs”, “Bull Terriers”, “Mastiffs”, “Saint Bernards” and “Great Danes”; thus a new breed was created with greater fighting skills, that was tougher and more resistant, a more or less unbeatable fighting dog.
This new breed is known today by the names of Tosa-Inu (Tosa Dog), Tosa-Ken or Tosa-Token. Its land of origin is the Island of Shikoku in the Kochi prefecture, where the city of Tosa is situated, which the breed is named after. It was officially recognized by the F.C.I. in 1982 and is not very common outside Japan. Japan has a long tradition of fighting dogs that dates back to the XIV century. Based on these premises, the Tosa breed was created by crossing Shikoku-Ken dogs with western breeds. Bearing the name of the region where it was raised, the Tosa Inu is sometimes called “Japanese dog” or “Japanese fighting dog”.
The western dogs that were employed in the creation of this breed were the following: Bulldogs (1872), Mastiffs (1874), Bull Terriers, German Pointers (1876), and Deutsche Dogges or Great Danes (1924). All these dogs were employed to improve the breed through consecutive crossbreeding. It is thought that Saint Bernards and Bull Terriers were used, too, but we do not know when this took place exactly. The balanced temperament, the resistance and fighting instinct that are typical of Tosa dogs can be ascribed to the fusion of the above breeds. A process that blended the sizes and strength of the western dogs with the courage, loyalty, and skill of the Japanese fighting dogs.
The Tosa Inu is a burly, athletic dog that is also surprisingly agile, despite its hefty build. It is advisable to only keep one Tosa in the house as it does not enjoy the company of other dogs. This breed can be kept indoors (even in a flat) but it needs to be taken to open spaces to expend its energy. It is quite inactive indoors and a short run will do it good. If it is fenced in it will certainly be unhappy because above all else it wishes to be close to its family members. This breed does not easily get used to living with other dogs, so it not advisable to buy one if you already have a dog. Owners must learn to manage their Tosa dog as it is too big to be “set free”. It is well behaved with other dogs and pets only if it has grown up with them. These dogs tend to be quite aggressive so you should keep them away from other aggressive dogs that want to fight, as the Tosa is sure to win. It is not advisable to keep a Tosa in a home with dogs of the same sex and temperament as they will surely end up fighting and the Tosa will certainly get the better of its “concubine”. Tosas have a very high pain threshold, thanks to their ancient origins as fighting dogs.
International legislative information: Tosas cannot enter the following countries even temporarily on a tourist visa: Australia, Cyprus, Croatia, the Arab Emirates, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Iceland, Malta, Norway, New Zealand, Holland, and Spain.