The Tosa in Japan Today

Happy New Year! 2017 just kind of snuck up and started. That's how I feel anyway. Very excited to get on with another year though, and itching to move forward with a lot of cabin and dog related projects.

I started writing this post the other day because I receive inquiries from people looking for Tosa Inu rather frequently, and as always it's very time consuming to answer each one individually. So, here (finally) is a post about the breed's current state in Japan.

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)が投稿した写真 -

As I'm sure everyone knows, the Tosa Inu is a fighting breed. It's origins are in the local dogs of Shikoku island (the modern day Shikoku Ken), and many foreign breeds were added to the mix.

What most people are not aware of is the fact that dog fighting is still legal in Japan, and the Tosa is still fought. For the most part, the breed is bred to fight, and while today there are a few people who are starting to breed Tosa that are not involved in the fighting world, they are a tiny minority.

Another fact that most are unaware of is that generally Tosa in Japan do not have pedigrees. The Japan Kennel Club recognizes the breed, and as with all breeds recognizes one breed club. The club that is recognized by the JKC is affiliated with the (now defunct) Tosa Center in Shikoku, and they are the only club that can issue pedigrees. Generally the only dogs that have been issued pedigrees were for dogs that were sold overseas. The Kennel Club of Japan recently recognized the breed, and has an open studbook at the moment. However the KCJ is not FCI recognized.

Lastly, while the Tosa is considered an extremely large breed overseas, in Japan it is fought in an MMA style, with different weight classes. So Tosa in Japan generally range from 30kg upward to the 80kg plus size (that everyone overseas wants). It is a fighting breed, bred to fight, without a standard, and without a breed registry. With no registry, and no oversight, other fighting breeds are added to the 'Tosa' (whether breeders will admit to it or not is another matter).

There are many other things I could add to this, but for now I think this will suffice. The JKC club for Tosa has been inactive for some time, but I heard toward the end of last year that they are back in action. Hopefully this will lead to some direction for the breed that doesn't involved fighting. I am not interested in, and do not condone dog fighting. I currently own a 2 year old Tosa female, and a 1 year old Tosa/Pit/Corso/Mastiff.


  1. Is that true that they used Kai in the breeding at some point to get brindle colour in the breed?

    1. No idea, unless there's someone who says they actually did it or know of someone who did. There's a huge amount of unknowns with the breed, a lot of it due to the nature of the dog fighting world.

  2. I don't think that tosa breeders would cross their dogs with a smaller breed for color, it's more likely that they got the brindle from Great Danes, bull terriers or one of the other Westen breeds. Though I guess Akita could be possible.

  3. Hey Shigeru,

    Slightly related. While doing some late night researching on different sptiz breeds I came across and interesting vid about the Jindo being bred with the Kishu for fighting purposes. Also, for the much sought after white coat. Seems most of the Jindo now have a Kishu ancestor. If anything it was an interesting watch.

    Was the Kishu ever fought in Japan at some point?


    1. here's the link if you're interested in watching.

    2. I haven't heard of the Kishu being fought much, but they can be pretty feisty. But yes, I have heard of them being imported to Korea and bred with their native Jindo, though I heard it was for 'type' not fighting.


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