What is the average life span of a Tosa?

Actual statistics of average life span in the breed is not available, but it is said that the average life expectancy of a Tosa lies around 10 to 12 years of age. They mature slowly and generally remain strong, youthful and playful well into their old age. 


Can a Tosa get along well with children?

In general, a Tosa is a giant child-loving life-size teddy bear. They love to cuddle and snuggle, they are sensitive to their humans mood, and they are patient and understanding, which makes for a great temperament to have around children of any age.

More than anything they love to wrestle, too. This means that they can easily forget how strong and big they are. They mean no harm, but can get onto a collision course when enthusiastic. Ferociously wagging tails are generally not accepted well in a toddler's face... So in order for it to work with smaller children, you'll need to provide the dog with proper guidance and you'll want a kid that has been taught to behave appropriately around (big) dogs.

For older kids, however - let's say 8 years and up - the Tosa's love for physical play is an absolute joy and they'll quickly become best friends forever. They will accept your children's friends into the house as well, as they generally are not over-protective, especially once they notice 'a green light' from their owners.

Can a Tosa get along well with other animals?

We are not going to sugarcoat it: Most Tosa's are not 'friendly by default' towards other dogs, livestock, poultry and small game. Which doesn't meant that they can't live together with them peacefully. We'll explain...

The Tosa used to be bred for dog wrestling tournaments in Japan (a different style of fighting, but still). This generally complicates mutual contact with other dogs. They will not provoke other dogs, but might easily feel provoked by medium and large-sized dogs, in which case he will almost certainly (over)react. In other words: A Tosa is not looking to start a fight, but he will definitely not flinch when challenged.

The ancestors of the Tosa originally were boar hunters, and some other lines of hunting blood (along with other types of dogs) were mixed into it as well to create the breed as we know it today. So to a certain extent, there definitely is a varying degree of hunting instinct present in the Tosa. They are however very sight-oriented - Most Tosa's forget that they actually have an outstanding nose - so movement ultimately triggers them to chase. When birds, cats, rabbits, mice, deer, foxes or small dogs go into 'flight response mode', the Tosa will want to catch them. Although they'll usually give up the chase pretty quickly, you'll want to make sure that they don't create a dangerous situation for themselves or others (like crossing a traffic-heavy road or twisting their knee) in the meantime. They will be deaf for your recall at that moment and come back only when they realize that their prey is way out of reach.

So what about animals at home? Tosa's love their family dearly, and that family may include any creature. There are Tosa's who are best friends with birds, cats, rabbits, chicken, goats, and horses, but they do need to be taught to be gentle with them. To promote a peaceful home situation in the case of multiple dogs, it is advised to make a male-and-female combination, as they generally go along very well. In the case of more dogs or same-sex combinations, it's best not to put together dogs of the same size, age and level of temperament, because they can be very unforgiving.

It is therefore of absolute vital importance to provide proper and on-going socialisation with other dogs and animals form day one. This will give the best chance of a Tosa that will show manageable and controlled behaviour as an adult.


Is a Tosa suitable for dog sports?


The Tosa is well-suited for obedience, dog shows and for recreational scent tracking. They are an intelligent breed of dog and greatly appreciate spending quality time with their owner by working together as a team. In case of obedience, they can reach competitive levels, but be aware that the hard work will always have to be done by the owner, and even then, they will never be as quick to respond as a shepherd! They have a mind of their own and they will weigh all of your commands before executing them. They will have an opinion, and they will show it to a certain extent. So the owner needs to learn to work his way around the dog's (well meant) attitude and find a way to cooperate that works not only for you, but for the dog as well. Once you figure that out, though, you've created an unbreakable bond and it will all be worth it.



Once fully grown, Canicross, dog stepping and bike-jöring could be wonderful sports as well, provided that the dog can ignore hyper dogs that you as  a team will have to pass by safely. Recreational hiking and biking is perfect for them - again, once fully grown - because they are athletic enough to endure longer distances with ease. It goes without saying that you'll have to gradually increase the work load and provide the dog with proper days of rest after straineous exercise.



The Tosa is absolutely inapt to practice agility or any other swift sports like flyball, dog frisbee and their derivatives. We guess it is common sense that you do not choose a heavy mastiff to perform these sports, but we'll mention them anyway: High velocity sports like racing and lure coursing are out of the question. They are simply not built for these types of movement - much as you would not buy a Dodge RAM for Formula 1 racing. You are setting yourself up for vet bills and heartbreak if you do. 



It is also not wise to train a Tosa to become a protection dog, as it conflicts greatly with how their personality is naturally wired. They should never be agressive to people, so you should not want to make them act as such. Respect the original purpose of a dog - if you are thinking of doing personal protection or police training, get a breed that has the right attitude ingrained in the core of it's very being. There are several mastiff-type breeds suitable for this (Rottweiler, Cane Corso, Fila Brasileiro, Boerboel), and the Tosa is not it.


Do I need a big house and a large garden to keep a Tosa?

Despite them not being lazy dogs at all, a Tosa will usually be very calm inside the house. Once a well-behaved adult, they will have surprisingly good body awareness and be gentle with their surroundings. They respect the home. This will not necessarily be true for the garden. The sheer force of a running Tosa, will cause even the strongest grass to fly behind them if they run around. They might love to dirty themselves up in dry sand or mud. The garden does not need to be a large terrain, however. Tosas like to be close to their owner or pick a place when they can have a good overview of the premises, or scavenge the shrubs for a bit.


Does the Tosa make a good guard dog?

Tosa has a keen sense of righteousness and which people can or cannot be trusted. They will however not bark easily and not continuously either, but they will definitely alarm the owner of any unwanted visitors or suspicious movement around the house with a deep and impressive voice. Bare in mind that they are absolutely unfit to be used as personal protection dog.


Does a Tosa require a lot of grooming?

No. The less you shampoo your Tosa, the better. Dirt easily falls out of their coat, once it has dried. A healthy Tosa should not be smelly, as their skin and coat are not overly oily. A damp cloth should usually do the trick if anything needs to be washed out. Brushing the coat every once in a while with a classic rubber grooming glove helps them with seasonal shedding before the loose undercoat gets a change to build up. During shedding season, it's recommended to use a sweatscraper for horses. Avoid a Furminator or other cutting brushes at all cost, as they cause the new undercoat to double each year (you will recognize the dog's coat becoming 'whiter' and unable to shed without us plucking the hairs out - this shouldn't be the case).