Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Tosa Inus: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Tosa Inu temperament, personality, and behavior.

tosa inu topics

Tosa Inu dog breed

Tosa Inu Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

By Michele Welton.
Copyright © 2000-2013


The FCI Standard lists the key characteristics of the Tosa Inu as "patience, composure, boldness, and courage."

This stately, massive breed is quiet, calm, and relaxed -- until aroused, which may mean a bad guy rushing at his family or a low-flying bird to be snatched out of the air.

In other words, the Tosa Inu is a laid-back sofa connoisseur, until switched on.

His athleticism and agility, combined with his immense power, mean that he must be well socialized, well trained, and under control at all times.

Weight pulling is an enjoyable activity, with some Tosas pulling more than 3000 pounds.

Tosa Inu puppies should be friendly and trusting, and become more discriminating as they mature, but this should always be a people-friendly breed. Protection training and Schutzhund are not recommended.

Animal-aggression (dogs, cats, livestock) is a real problem and requires committed socialization and training to keep under control.

The stubborn Tosa is inclined to do things his own way, but he will defer to confident leadership that includes consistent rules and cheerful praise. This breed cannot be outmuscled but he can be convinced to respect you if you are an experienced dog owner who thoroughly understands how to elevate yourself above your dog in the family pecking order.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is massive and powerful
  • Has a short easy-care coat
  • Makes an imposing watchdog
  • Is serious and self-assured with strangers, yet generally mild-mannered unless aroused
  • Compared to other mastiffs, is more athletic, more agile, and more responsive to training

A Tosa Inu may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • A huge dog who takes up a lot of space in your house and car
  • A heavy dog who wants to sit on your feet and lean his weight against your leg
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping when young
  • Destructiveness when bored or left alone too much
  • Aggression or suspiciousness toward strangers when not socialized properly
  • Aggression toward other animals
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
  • Loud snoring
  • Slobbering
  • Gassiness (flatulence)
  • Extremely high prices
  • Legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits)

A Tosa Inu may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy


More traits and characteristics of the Tosa Inu

If I was considering a Tosa Inu, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing the proper balance of exercise. Young Tosa Inus need enough exercise to keep them lean and healthy, but not so much that their soft growing bones, joints, and ligaments become over-stressed and damaged. Adult Tosa Inus need more exercise to keep them in shape, but not in hot or humid weather for fear of overheating. The proper amount of exercise can be difficult to regulate in giant breeds.

    Since you have to minimize their exercise, young Tosas can be very rambunctious. They will romp with uncoordinated gawkiness all over your house. You need to substitute extra quantities of companionship and supervision. Otherwise, left alone, young Tosas become bored and destructive -- and their powerful jaws can literally destroy your living room.

  2. Providing enough socialization. Most Tosa Inus have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to dangerous aggression. Some Tosas go in the opposite direction -- without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which can lead to defensive aggression.

  3. Animal aggression. Many Tosa Inus will not tolerate another dog of the same sex, and some won't tolerate the opposite sex either. Some Tosa Inus have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.

  4. The strong temperament. Tosa Inus are not Golden Retrievers. Though they are very responsive in the right hands, they have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Some Tosas are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    To teach your Tosa to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Tosa Inu Training Page discusses the program you need.

  5. Tosa Inu sounds. Some Tosa Inus snort, grunt, and snore loudly.

  6. Slobbering. Though Tosas drool much less than most other mastiffs, they slobber their water, and those with loose jowls do tend to drool before or after eating.

  7. High prices. Though the Tosa Inu has become common enough in the United States, breeders are still charging $1000 and up.

  8. Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Fortunately, Tosa Inus who are fed a natural diet of real meat and other fresh foods have much less trouble with gassiness. See my Tosa Inu Health Page for more information.

  9. Serious health problems. From joint and bone diseases to skin and autoimmune conditions...all giant breeds are risky in the health department.

    To keep this breed healthy, I strongly recommend following all of the advice on my Tosa Inu Health Page.

  10. Legal liabilities. Tosa Inus are already banned in some countries and may be targeted for banning in certain areas in the United States. Homeowner insurance policies may be refused if you own a Tosa. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog and fighting dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.



book cover To learn more about training Tosa Inus to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Tosa Inu the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.

Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.



book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Tosa Inu. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.


If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Tosa Inu might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.


book cover Once you have your Tosa Inu home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.

My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.

Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.



Please consider adopting an ADULT Tosa Inu...

When you're acquiring a Tosa Inu PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.

But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Tosa Inus who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.

Adopting a Dog From a Dog Breed Rescue Group

Adopting a Dog From the Animal Shelter

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