Tosa Inu Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Tosa Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
The Tosa was developed as a massive dog-fighting machine. It should be no surprise, then, that animal aggression is a serious issue.
I would never keep a Tosa with another dog of the same sex. Frankly, I wouldn't keep one with another dog at all. No cats, either. Tosas can display predatory behavior toward cats. And small dogs. Any animal that runs, really. This is not a dog for a farm with livestock.
Now, a Tosa Inu is not supposed to be aggressive towards people. But when it happens, the results can be devastating.
The athleticism and agility of this breed, combined with his immense power, mean that he must be well bred, well socialized, well trained, and under control at all times.
The Tosa is often described as being "stately, quiet, calm, and relaxed, until aroused." Now, you probably picture that as meaning a bad guy rushing at your family. And it could mean that. Perhaps.
But "arousal" can also mean a low-flying bird, which the Tosa might snatch out of the air. Or a neighbor's child rushing at your child in play.
When you own a breed like a Tosa, your legal and ethical responsibilities are enormous. High solid board fences all around your property. Never leaving a Tosa in the yard, unsupervised. Never letting a Tosa off-leash in public. Lots of personal liability insurance, assuming an insurance company will even give it to you.
Honestly, there are very few people who need or should want a Tosa. Maybe if you want a dog to participate in the sport of weight pulling. Tosas excel at this, with some Tosas pulling more than 3000 pounds.
But how many people can handle a dog who can pull more than 3000 pounds? Physically, of course, the answer is, "No one." This breed cannot be outmuscled. That means he needs to be convinced – psychologically – to respect you, which in turn means you need to be an experienced and confident person who thoroughly understands how to elevate yourself above your dog in the family pecking order.
With this dominant, self-willed breed, anything less is just asking for trouble. And it won't be a question of "if" but "when."
Couple more things....
Serious health problems. The life span of an Tosa Inu is short – about 10 years. An alarming number of are crippled by bone and joint diseases and/or succumb to cancer in middle age.
Legal liabilities. The Tosa is banned or restricted in a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, and others. In the United States, insurance companies may cancel your homeowner's policy. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. And in this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning a giant breed that looks intimidating and has a dog-fighting history should be considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.
In summary, the Tosa Inu is "far too much dog" for the average household.