The Tosa can be called the Japanese Mastiff. Many countries have a clear mastiff breed: the Rottweiler of Germany; the Mastiff of Great Britain; the Dogue de Bordeaux of France; the Napolitan Mastiff of Italy and the St. Bernard of Switzerland etc.
Many Japanese varieties are named after the province in which they originated. The Tosa is the native dog of Tosa-Wan (Tosa Bay), located in the prefecture of Kochi on the southern Japanese island of Shikoku. Although the Tosa we know today has a predominantly mastiff-like appearance, The original Tosa from Tosa-Wan is a spits-descent with a rough coat, upright ears and a tail that curls over the back, similar to the modern Akita and Shiba inu.
Until the nineteenth century, Japanese varieties were almost unknown outside the country. In 1854 the government started to trade with western foreigners, but it took until the 1970s for the Tosa to find its way to Europe and in the early 1980s the Tosa was imported into the United States. The first Tosa registered in Europe was probably a bitch, Fujimusumu, in 1976. A male, Tomitake, was registered in 1977. The first European litter Tosa's was born in the late 70's or early 80's. Dutch history began in the early 1980s with a Tosa imported from Germany. With great effort 2 additional Tosa's were imported from Japan and the Dutch breeding program was started.
The Tosa is a strong, muscular dog with a loyal and protective temperament. They are excellent guard dogs and are agile athletes given their size and weight.
The temperament of the Tosa is characterized by patience, tranquility and courage. A typical Tosa has a strong character. A Tosa does not quickly show aggression unless challenged. In general, they are extremely tolerant, patient and adapt to changes in the family. They are gentle and playful with children, but supervision with such a large dog in combination with children is necessary.
The breed is characterized by a very high pain tolerance, which has advantages in a rough play, but can be inconvenient. In case of illness or accident they do not easily show pain. Every signal of pain or weakness that is seen gives reason to take this seriously and have it checked by a veterinarian.
A Tosa will not easily challenge another dog, but will not fall back if he / she is challenged. The males have a stronger character than females. It is extremely important to socialize and train Tosa's from the moment they are puppies. It is not a breed that requires excessive sternness, but which is very sensitive to tone of voice. Applying this properly is important for mutual respect.
Training with positive reward in the form of a treat works well with Tosa's. They are extremely intelligent and can be trained well. Praising as a positive reward is also a good motivator for them to train. Consistent and clear communication are of utmost importance and are the fundamentals for a good relationship between boss and his / her Tosa.
Obedience training is an excellent way to socialize. Although they can be very stubborn at times and refuse to cooperate in the training, This is not behavior that is characteristic of the breed. In that case, you as an owner should have patience and show the dog what the right way is.
It is a quiet breed that only barks when it is needed. If well socialized, they can easily live together with other animals such as horses, cats, birds and other dogs.
Tosa is classified in FCI group 2 - Pinschers and Schnauzers, Molossoids and Swiss Mountain Dogs
A Tosa should not have a light physical construction. The broad head has clear wrinkles, which become even more visible when the dog is alert. In bitches the head is not as wide as in males and it should look more feminine. The Tosa has a strong jaw and the teeth form a scissor bite. The black around the eyes absorbs sunlight and prevents reflection of sunlight in the eyes. The muzzle can be the same color as the coat or black, with a black nose. The ears have a V-shape and are considered drop ears, which means that they are not erect. The hair on the ears is super soft.
A Tosa also has a characteristic dewlap. In males this is stronger visible than in bitches.
The high withers, straight back, slightly curved croup, broad chest and raised belly give the Tosa the appearance of a strong muscular athlete.
The coat is short, hard and dense. Color ranges from fawn, red, black and brindle. Light white marking on the chest and feet are common.