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Tosa Ken
Other names Tosa Inu
Tosa Ken
Tosa Tōken
Japanese Fighting Dog
Japanese Mastiff
Tosa Fighting Dog
Japanese Tosa
Country of origin Japan

The Tosa (土佐?, also called the Tosa Ken) is a breed of dog of Japanese origin that is considered rare. It was originally bred in Tosa (present day Kochi) as a fighting dog and still is today.



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 120 lb (36,3 - 54,4 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.[1] 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.


The head of a Tosa

This breed originated in the second half of the nineteenth century. The breed started from the native Shikoku-Inu, an indigenous dog weighing about 25 kilograms (45 pounds) and standing about 55 centimetres high, which closely resembles the European Spitz. These dogs were crossed with European dog breeds, such as the Old English Bulldog in 1872, Mastiff in 1874, St. Bernard, German Pointer in 1876, Great Dane in 1924, and the Bull Terrier.[2] The aim was to breed a larger, more powerful dog. 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.

Legal matters

Ownership of Tosas is legally restricted in certain jurisdictions. In the United Kingdom ownership is regulated under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. A specific exemption of a British court is required to own and import Tosas legally in the UK (see article on the act for details). Some insurance companies will not insure homes with dog breeds deemed dangerous.

The Australian Customs Service prohibits the import of Tosas, along with other dog breeds considered dangerous, into Australia.[3]

The Tosa is one of 11 breeds of dog recently banned by the Dublin City Council from their properties, including council houses, flats and estates.[4]

The breed is illegal in Norway[1] and Denmark. Additionally, the breed is banned in New Zealand[5], where the country's government claimed that the Tosas are specifically bred for fighting; the step was made in order to combat the increasing number of dog attacks on humans, especially children. They are also illegal in Malta. [2]


  • Several Tosa Inu play pivotal roles in the Japanese manga and anime series, Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin and its sequel, Ginga Densetsu Weed. Most notable are a Tosa named Musashi, the middle weight dog-fighting champion of Japan, and a Tosa cross named Benizakura, hailed as the strongest fighting dog in the world.
  • In Gokusen, the Kuroda family keeps a Tosa Inu named Fuji. According to the special chapter titled "My name is Kuroda Fuji", each generation of the Kuroda family has a Tosa Inu named Fuji.


  1. ^ "Forskrift om hunder". Lovdata. 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  2. ^ "Importation of Pets in Malta". MFGC. As on the 2nd March 2010. Retrieved 2nd March 2010. 
  1. ^ Fogle, Bruce, DVM (2000). The New Encyclopedia of the Dog. Doring Kindersley (DK). ISBN 0-7894-6130-7.
  2. ^ Cunliffe, Juliette (2004). The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. Parragon Publishing. ISBN 0-7525-8276-3.
  3. ^  Australian customs web page on dog importation
  4. ^ report on Dublin City Council ban
  5. ^  The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs rules on dog control

See also

Further reading

External links

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