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Tosa Inu  Information


Description of the Tosa Inu

The Tosa Inu are massive, stately, athletic, agile dogs also known as Tosa-Ken and Tosa.  Their average weight ranges from ninety to over one hundred and seventy pounds and are around twenty-five inches high at the withers.  Its coat is smooth, harsh, dense and fawn, black and tan, yellow, brindle, solid red, multi-color, or black in color.  They have a long square muzzle, powerful jaws, large head and broad skull.  The Tosa Inu has small eyes that are almond shaped and dark, with a very dignified and stately expression and a long, thick tapering tail.  

Temperament of the Tosa Inu

The highly intelligent Tosa Inu are easily trained using a consistent, equable, friendly, quiet approach, as they are sensitive to tones of voice and their master’s wishes.  Because of the dog’s strength and huge size, their owner must have complete control over the Tosa Inu.  These dogs are exceptionally patient, calm, and quiet, along with being very loyal and protective.  Tosa Inu are wonderful, affectionate family dogs and companions, great protectors, reserved with strangers, but when properly introduced, accept newcomers.  They are wonderful with children, never bite or snap, but require supervision because of their size.  Tosa Inu are only good with other family pets and dogs if raised with them and aggressive towards most other dogs.  The Tosa Inu require an experienced, strong owner, so they are definitely not the breed for first time dog owners.   

Grooming & Shedding of a Tosa Inu

To keep the coat of the Tosa Inu looking great requires only occasional brushing to remove any loose or dead hair.  They drool less than many other mastiffs but do when hot, excited, or after drinking so should have their face wiped when necessary.  Tosa Inu are considered light shedders.  

History of the Tosa Inu Breed

Bred in Japan for hundreds of years, they developed this dog between 1868 and 1912 by crossing the Tosa with native Shikoku dogs and Kochi, which are a local Japanese breed.  By the late eighteen hundreds, they developed today’s Tosa Inu.  To increase their size, they crossed the best Japanese Tosas with imported European breeds such as the St. Bernard, Bull Terrier, Mastiff, and Great Dane.  In Japan today they still consider the Tosa as a national treasure.  Even in Japan, they are now a rare breed, which have just recently come to the United States. Some countries believe that they are a dangerous breed so they banned them.  Because of their huge size, they require proper socialization, training, and handling by experienced dog owners or trainers.       

Health Issues of a Tosa Inu

  • Major Concerns: gastric torsion, hip and elbow displasia
  • Minor Concerns: progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Occasionally seen: none
  • Suggested tests: hip, eye


Characteristics of the Tosa Inu


Up to  24 inches (60 cm)


83-200 pounds (37½-90½ kg)


10-12 years


Medium to low


Yes –with regular exercise



Young Children


Need exercise space

No – with regular, long walks

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