A Sumo Dog, the Japanese Tosa Breed

Updated on October 24, 2016
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He also trains dogs, mostly large breeds, and ones that suffer from aggression problems.


The Japanese Tosa is among the breeds of dog suffering from BSL (breed specific legislation) and is banned in places like England, Ireland, Australia, and many other countries.

Did it make the Dangerous Dog list by killing and attacking other dogs? No. The dog just has a history.

What is this history?

The Japanese in the Tosa region had a medium sized dog that they wanted to develop into a sumo-type wrestler. About 150 years ago they started crossing their local breed with Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Great Danes, and Bull Terriers.

Before World War II there were thousands of Tosa breeders in Japan.

The dog fighters in Japan did not want a normal type of fighting dog. They wanted a dog that would fight in a sumo style, wrestling, and they developed this breed for that purpose.

The dogs are large, thick, and strong.

Just like what every sumo wrestler wants be.

The Tosa was developed for sumo type wrestling.
The Tosa was developed for sumo type wrestling. | Source

What are Tosa like?

Tosa are big, but in Japan they weigh from 35 to less than about 60 kilograms, and outside of Japan breeders have selected them so that they weigh up to about 100 kilograms. They have short coats, usually red, blocky heads, and a thick muscular neck. Although they do not drool as much as some big dogs, they do drool.

The Tosa is a sensitive and quiet dog. They are usually quiet, but when they do bark it is impressive, and they make good guard dogs because of their size and appearance.

They live about 10 years.

Are they expensive?

Any time you consider getting a large dog, of course, the expenses will be that much more. The Tosa eats more, will require a strong outdoor kennel or good fencing around your yard, and if he does have any health problems (like hip dysplasia or bloat) the expenses will be high.

Tosa are still a rare breed and the purchase price will also be high.


If you are interested in finding and owning one of these dogs,Tosa breeders usually recommend they only be purchased by a person with experience handling dogs.

There are a lot of other things you need to think about. The first thing to find out is if the Tosa is banned where you live. If you rent you need to find out if the Tosa will cause you to lose your home.

You also need to socialize your dog when still a puppy. Reinforce the bite inhibition lessons he learned from his mother. Start obedience training early when your dog is still young and continue lessons to reinforce your position with your Tosa.

The Japanese Tosa should be exercised daily but they are not a dog that should be taken to a dog park. If your Tosa is attacked by another dog they are difficult to control, and since they have such a high pain tolerance they usually have no trouble fighting other dogs.

Warning: This is a graphic display of what can happen when you allow two Tosa to wrestle outside of the ring.

A markerKochi Province, Japan -
Kochi Prefecture, Japan
get directions

This is the area in which the Tosa breed was developed.

Does the dog possess Buddha spirit? Mu.
Does the dog possess Buddha spirit? Mu. | Source

Do some people still use these dogs for fighting? Yes. Does that mean all dogs are bad and should be kept out of so many countries? No. If you want a Japanese Tosa no one should stop you.

Should the Tosa be banned?

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    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      The "one bad apple" syndrome. If one Tosa has a bad owner, they will all be blamed.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Nice, Dr Mark. I've seen these magnificent creatures. It does make me sad that certain breeds do get banned simply because some owners are not responsible... or downright mean. Thanks for sharing.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Not much of a fight! It was like two Newfies, just having fun and pushing each other around.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes I did watch the video. Reminded me of two dogs having a good time together. My Newfs play like this with just a little less mouthing.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks Suhail! As I mentioned to Nettlemere, I am not really looking for one, but I am really disappointed that this great dog is on the Dangerous Dog list for so many countries.

      Thank you for stopping by.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Tosa Inus, Fila Brasilieros, Boerbols, Cane Corsos, Pressa Canarios, Bully Kuttas, Kangals, dogo Argentinos - some very impressive and massive dog breeds that their humans should really be proud of keeping.

      Since I am a fan of livestock guardian dogs (LGDs), I do have a tendency to read a lot about large dog breeds.

      I am of the staunch belief that Tosa Inus and other breeds should not be subjected to BSL.

      Nice hub. Voted up!

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks for the vote, torrilyn. I appreciate you taking the time to come by and comment.

      Nettlemere, I would not want either since I have too many people come into my yard. They do look imposing, don't they?

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Those are really powerful dogs! I wouldn't want to be in charge of one I have to admit, but they are handsome.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      Dr. Mark,

      Okay, I know dogs fight like that, but were those dogs fighting or roughhouse playing - like my daughter's boxers? Anyway, interesting video and that is a spectacular looking dog.

      Yes, I am done with the 10/10 challenge. Glad you stop by to read my hubs, even if you don't comment all the time. What you do have to say is always interesting, though.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      DrMark1961, i never knew that these dogs were bred to wrestle. i find that strange and yet very interesting. i've never even heard of the japanese tosa dog until i came across your hub. they look strong and very powerful. thanks for writing this article. thanks and voted up.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Yes, I put that video on there just to show what a wrestling breed is like. A lot of dogs fight like that.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting wetnosedogs. Did you finish your 10/10 challenge? I tried to stop by and read all of your hubs but I am not as good about leaving comments (as you are!).

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      No, the Tosa shouldn't be banned.

      The video was interesting and I was expecting more cause of your comment on the bottom of it. But it just reminded me of when my daughter's boxers play - rough housing and no one getting hurt.

      awesome dog.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks. Did you see the video? They do look powerful.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I enjoy reading about breeds of dogs I've never heard of. Thanks for writing this. The Japanese Tosa looks like very powerful dog. They are very nice looking.

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