The Japanese Tosa Dog Breed and Why They Are Banned
The Japanese Tosa is among the breeds of dog unfairly 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. This great dog just has a history.
History of the Tosa Dog
The Japanese in the Tosa region (on the island of Shikoku) 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.
The dog that they produced was large and beautiful. Before World War II, there were thousands of Tosa breeders in Japan.
The dogfighters 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 to be.
What Are Tosa Like?
In Japan, Tosas only weigh between 35 and 60 kilograms, while outside of Japan, breeders have selected them so that they weigh up to about 100 kilograms. They have short coats, reddish, 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.
Like many big or giant dogs, they only live about 10 years.
Are Tosa Expensive?
Any time you consider getting a large dog, of course, the expenses will be that much more. Breeders spend a lot to produce the puppies and will charge more than they do for tiny dogs. When you do get your dog home he will eat 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 is a rare breed and will be expensive to purchase and maintain. If you are not able to cover these expenses then this is not a good dog to search for.
Finding and Training a Tosa
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. I think this is mostly due to their weight and strength. If a small dog does not behave, you can probably lift it up into your arms and avoid problems. This is not possible with a Tosa.
There are a lot of other things you need to think about before searching for a Tosa puppy. The first thing to find out is if the Tosa is banned where you live. (They are banned in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries.) Even if the Tosa is legal in your country, be sure to find out if your landlord will even let you have a dog like this. If you do not look into this thoroughly, you may end up losing your home.
If you are successful, you 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.
If your Tosa is attacked and defends himself, however, he will most likely be blamed and put on a dangerous dog list or euthanized by local animal control.
Below is a startling display of what can happen when you allow two Tosa to wrestle outside of the ring.
Do some people still use these dogs for fighting? Yes. Does that mean all these dogs are bad and should be kept out of so many countries? No. If you want a Japanese Tosa, no one should stop you.
Links About Banning
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2013 Dr Mark