Monday, April 21, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Tosa

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The Tosa is a Japanese breed of dog, mentioned in written Japanese lore for 1,000 years. The breed comes from Tosa Wan on the island of Shikoku, and is known for extreme courage and athletic abilities.

In the past, these dogs were of Spitz lineage and resembled a reddish brown Akita. According to the AKC they were often used for fighting, and when the Europeans began trading with Japan, they brought Mastiffs to fight the Tosa. The indigenous dogs were too small to stand a chance. Someone bred a dog with a bulldog, and the puppies became the forefathers of today's Tosa dog. Ever since the breed has been bred to be bigger and stronger.

Between 1924 and 1933 there were more than 5,000 Tosa breeders in Japan. When Japan entered World War II, dog fighting became illegal, and in an attempt to discourage illegal fights, raising 150 lbs dogs was also made illegal. This reduced the Tosa to near extinction. Some of the most passionate breeders smuggled the last few dogs to Northern Japan and hid them until the end of the war.

Today, the breed has split into two classes: Japanese bred who generally weighs between 80 and 135 lbs, and non-Japanese bred who normally weigh from 130 to 200 lbs.

The breed is known for bing suspicious against strangers, fearless, brave, and intelligent. They are loyal to their family and generally very quiet. As all dogs they need training and socialization, and it is important for them to be close to the family. They can do well in an apartment if it gets enough exercise; they make great walking and jogging companions.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

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