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

An adult Japanese Tosa sleeping.

An adult Japanese Tosa sleeping.

cc-by flickr.com diesel 3255544221

Why Is the Japanese Tosa 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 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.

Even a Tosa puppy has the build to handle himself in a Sumo

Even a Tosa puppy has the build to handle himself in a Sumo match.

cc-by www.flickr.com diesel 3393683525

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.

The Tosa was developed for sumo type wrestling.

The Tosa was developed for sumo type wrestling.

cc-by www.flickr.com granick 191589517

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 (likehip 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


cc-by www.flickr.com diesel 3525797562

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.

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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.

Does the dog possess Buddha spirit? Mu.

Does the dog possess Buddha spirit? Mu.

cc-by www.flickr.com aforero 339031109

Final Thoughts on the Sumo Dog

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

  • The UK government site.
  • The New Zealand dog regulations.
  • An article on the Irish dog 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.

© 2013 Dr Mark

Should the Tosa be banned?

Maynard G Krebs on June 18, 2020:

I saw a Tosa fight in South Korea in the 70’s, back then the only fought TO
THE DEATH. My friend owned the Tosa, I’m 6ft 5in tall and this dog absolutely
LOVED ME!, he had to be 160 lbs!, he could easily put both paws on my
shoulders and hug me. I watched him fight ONCE, and that scared me, i never
went near him again. He absolutely tore the other dog to shreds in about 4
minutes. They had to use high-pressure hoses and fire to stop him, even after
the other dog was dead. I never want to see that again ……..EVER.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 25,

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

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on February 25, 2013:

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.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 24,

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

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on February 24, 2013:

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.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 23,

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 Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on February 23, 2013:

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!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 23,

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

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

Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on February 23, 2013:

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

wetnosedogs from Alabama on February 23, 2013:

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 on February 23, 2013:

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.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 23,

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 from Alabama on February 23, 2013:

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.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 23,

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

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on February 23, 2013:

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