22 Questions То Consider Before Getting A Tosa Inu
Tosa Inu dogs are special in a lot of different ways. Also called Tosa Ken or just a Japanese Mastiff, these dogs are held in very high esteem in the land of the rising sun. Their name literally means “dog from Tosa”, Tosa being a city and a former province on the southern coast of the Japanese island of Shikoku.
The Tosa Inu breed was created in Tosa by Japanese breeders who crossbred native Japanese dogs such as the Shikoku breed with European breeds such as Great Danes, German Pointers, Bulldogs, and – most notably – various Mastiff breeds. The goal of the Japanese breeders was to create a dog that’s as large and powerful as possible and they certainly succeeded. Unfortunately, they also used Tosas for dog fighting for centuries as these dogs’ strength made them fierce combatants.
Today, dog fighting is banned in Japan as well as in most other First World countries around the world. So, nowadays Tosa Inu dogs are bred as guard dogs, watchdogs, and family companions.
Are Tosa Inu actually good family companions, however? Many breeds formerly used for dog fighting have a negative reputation nowadays, with pitbulls being a popular example. So, to help you figure out if this is the right dog for you, let’s go over the 22 questions to consider before getting a Tosa Inu.
1. Are Tosa Inu good family dogs?
Every dog can be a good family dog but Tosa Inu certainly present a few challenges in that regard. With the right obedience training and care, these dogs can indeed make great family companions. They have an unmatched loyalty toward their family members, and they are very gentle with those they love and accept. In that sense, Tosas are fantastic family pets. You’ll just need to make sure they behave around strangers and friends too.
2. Are Tosa Inu intelligent?
Tosa Inu fall in the medium range as far as intelligence goes. They are not dim in any way and they can easily understand and follow commands. Tosas will also love to play with various interactive toys and play games with you in the dog park or around the house. They are just not quite on the level of some shepherd or retriever breeds who’ve been bred for complex problem-solving skills for centuries.
3. How easy to train are Tosa Inu dogs?
Training a Tosa dog is a bit challenging but it’s also absolutely crucial. These dogs are very strong-willed and determined so obedience training is an absolute must with them. From there, you should continue with excellent and persistent socialization as well as intricate command training. Essentially, as with any large and powerful breed, you need to be certain that your dog will always do what you tell it to do.
4. Are Tsa Inu social and good with people?
Not really, not unless you’re a part of their family or “pack”. They can become “decent” with strangers if you socialize them well enough. However, without proper socialization, their guard dog instincts will keep in and make them distrustful toward anyone and anything that isn’t part of their familiar surroundings.
5. Is a Tosa Inu dog good with kids?
Fortunately, Tosas have little trouble perceiving kids and babies are just another family member that needs to be cared for and protected. In that sense, Tosas are good with kids.
However, their sheer size means that they can accidentally knock or push a small child so supervision is still strongly recommended. Additionally, you should be careful when arranging playdates for your kids around a Tosa as it can easily perceive your kids’ friends as strangers and a threat to your kids.
6. Do Tosa Inu get along with other dogs and pets?
Tosa Inus are recommended for one-pet households only. With enough socialization, a proper introduction to the other dog or cat, and if they’ve been raised together with them, a Tosa can get along with other animals. But that’s generally too much work for most pet owners. If you want more than one dog or pet in your home, it’s best if neither of them is a Tosa.
7. Is Tosa Inu aggressive?
That is one of the defining traits of the Tosa Inu, yes. For centuries this breed has been bred for its aggressiveness toward other dogs and strangers. This doesn’t mean that your Tosa has to be aggressive – you can teach and train your dog not to be aggressive. But you will have to do this if you don’t want accidents.
8. Where are Tosa Inu banned?
Unfortunately, if you want a Tosa Inu, there’s a significant chance that you may not be able to get this breed in your country. Tosas are either completely banned or severely restricted in the following countries as of the writing of this article:
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- Republic of Ireland
- Trinidad & Tobago
- Hong Kong
- Cayman Islands
Usually, a court-issued exemption can allow you to own a Tosa in these countries but it depends on the specific jurisdiction.
9. Can a Tosa Inu be left alone?
While a good guard dog, the Tosa doesn’t love being left alone for long periods of time. Separation anxiety can be an issue for any dog that’s social toward its family members and the Tosa falls in this category**. A lot of people falsely assume that if a breed is good as a guard dog then it’s anti-social and doesn’t get separation anxiety. That’s not the case.**
10. How much exercise do Tosa Inu dos need?
Tosa Inus are more energetic than most other mastiff breeds but they are still quite large and heavy. So, this puts their exercise needs in the medium range – between one and two hours of vigorous outdoor exercise a day should typically be enough for these dogs.
11. Can you have a Tosa Inu in an apartment?
Any dog can be raised in an apartment but some are generally ill-advised for that. Tosas fall in this category. They are just too large for most apartments. Theoretically, if your apartment is large and spacious enough, and if you give your Tosa enough outdoor exercise, there won’t be a need for a yard.
12. Do Tosa Inu bark a lot?
A Tosa will only bark if they see a stranger or a perceived threat approaching your home. They aren’t overly vocal dogs aside from that. So, with the right socialization and training, you can make sure that your Tosa won’t drive your neighbors insane with 24/7 barking.
13. How strong is the bite of a Tosa Inu?
The Tosa Inu has an incredibly strong bite force of about 556 psi (pound per square inch). This is pretty similar to the English mastiff who has a bite force of about 552 psi. Still, those don’t come close to the bite force of the Cane Corse (700 psi), the American Bandogge (730 psi) or the Kangal dog (743 psi). Nevertheless, 550 psi is still a tremendous force which is all the more reason why Tosas need obedience training.
14. What type of coat do Tosa Inu dogs have?
Tosas have a short, hard, and dense coat with an even denser layer of undercoat.
15. What colors can Tosa Inu dogs come in?
The standard colors for this breed are similar to other mastiff breeds – black, fawn, red, apricot, and brindle.
16. Do Tosa Inu dogs shed a lot?
As a double-coated breed, Tosas shed seasonally. However, as their coats are very short, this shedding isn’t really much of a problem. Regular brushing should be enough to keep your home relatively hair-free.
17. Are Tosa Inu dogs hypoallergenic?
No mastiff is hypoallergenic and the Tosa is no exception. The fact that they don’t shed too much doesn’t change the fact that they release quite a bit of dog dandruff and saliva into the air which is the actual cause of dog allergies in people.
18. Do Tosa Inu dogs need a lot of grooming?
Not really. All you need is the occasional bath, a few brushings per week, and the rest is the same as with any other dog breed – nail clipping, ear and eye cleaning, a weekly toothbrushing, and that’s it.
19. How big do Tosa Inu dogs get?
The standard height of an adult Tosa Inu at the shoulder is between 21.5 and 23.5 inches (55 to 60 cm). As for weight, these dogs can vary between 100 and 200 pounds (45 to 90 kg).
20. How long do Tosa Inu dogs live?
The average expected lifespan of Tosas is 10 to 12 years. This is not bad for such a large dog. As long as you make sure to get a healthy puppy with a health certificate from a reputable breeder, you should have no problem raising it to 12+ years of age. Of course, the second part of that equation is how well you’ll take care of the dog.
21. Are Tosa Inu dogs healthy?
The Tosa is a pretty healthy breed, for a purebred dog. Still, there are a few potential issues to watch out for, especially if you haven’t taken your dog from a reputable breeder. These include:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloating)
- Allergic Skin Disease
Unlike other mastiff breeds, the Tosa doesn’t have many Brachycephalic Syndrome problems which is pretty great.
22. Are Tosa Inu recognized by the AKC?
The Tosa is not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) but it is a part of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service, meaning that it’s on the road to becoming recognized. The breed is also recognized by the United Kennel Club and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).
Tosa Inus are definitely special. On the one hand, these giant Japanese mastiffs can be fantastic pets for the right family. On the other, you can sort of see why many governments are hesitant about unbanning them.
Is a Tosa Inu the right dog for you, however? That depends entirely on your lifestyle, family, and experience level. In the hands of the right owner, a Tosa Inu dog can be a gentle, loving, and incredibly joyful companion. In the wrong hands, however, this dog can be disobedient, aggressive, and outright dangerous. So, caution is generally advised but if you do enough research and prepare well, you can make a fantastic pet out of this breed.
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