|Country of origin||Japan|
The Tosa (土佐, also called the Tosa Ken) is a breed of dog of Japanese origin that is considered rare. It was originally bred in Tosa(present day Kochi) as a fighting dog and still is today.
The Tosa varies considerably in size, with the Japanese-bred dogs tending to be about half the size of those bred outside the country. The Japanese breed generally weighs between 80 and 120 lb (36,3 - 54,4 kg), while the non-Japanese breeders have focused on dogs that weigh from 130 to 200 lb (60 to 100 kg) and stand 24.5 to 32 inches (62 to 82 cm) at the withers. The coat is characterized by its short and smooth appearance and is often red, brindle, or fawn. Occasionally it can be a dull black, but this is somewhat rare. Maintenance of the coat is usually minimal.
This breed originated in the second half of the nineteenth century. The breed started from the native Shikoku-Inu, an indigenous dog weighing about 25 kilograms (45 pounds) and standing about 55 centimetres high, which closely resembles the European Spitz. These dogs were crossed with European dog breeds, such as the Old English Bulldog in 1872, Mastiff in 1874, St. Bernard, German Pointer in 1876, Great Dane in 1924, and the Bull Terrier. The aim was to breed a larger, more powerful dog. The heyday of Tosa breeding was between 1924 and 1933, when it was said that there were more than 5,000 Tosa breeders in Japan.
Ownership of Tosas is legally restricted in certain jurisdictions. In the United Kingdom ownership is regulated under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. A specific exemption of a British court is required to own and import Tosas legally in the UK. Some insurance companies will not insure homes with dog breeds deemed dangerous. The Australian Customs Service prohibits the import of Tosas, along with other dog breeds considered dangerous, into Australia.
The Tosa is one of 11 breeds of dog recently banned by the Dublin City Council from their properties, including council houses, flats and estates.
The breed is illegal in Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Additionally, the breed is banned in New Zealand, where the country's government claimed that the Tosas are specifically bred for fighting; the step was made in order to combat the increasing number of dog attacks on humans, especially children. They are also illegal in Malta and Australia.