F.C.I. Tosa Inu Standard


Federation Cynologique Internationale (F.C.I.)

Secretariat General: 13, Place Albert 1 * B 6530

Thuin (Belgium)


FCI Standard # 260 / 09.12.1997 / GB

Name: TOSA

Origin:  Japan

Date of publication of the original valid standard: 09.12.1997

Utilization:  Formerly fighting dog, nowadays watchdog.

FCI Classification:   Group 2, Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossoid breeds, Swiss Mountain and Cattle dogs and other breeds. Section 2.1: Molossoid breeds, Mastiff type. Without working trial.

Brief historical Summary: Japan has a long history of dog fighting, beginning in the 14th century. With such a history in the background this breed was produced as a hybrid of Shikoku-ken and Western breeds. Named after the area where they were bred, these dogs are sometimes called Japanese Mastiffs. The Western dogs used for creating the breed were Bulldogs (1872), Mastiffs (1874), German Pointers (1876) and Great Danes (1924), all of which were used to improve the breed by sequential mating. According to some accounts, St. Bernards and Bull Terriers were also involved, but it is not known in what years they were used. The Tosas established features of stamina and the fighting instinct typically found in Mastiffs might be attributed to the involvement of such breeds.

General Appearance: Large-sized dog with a stately manner and robust build. The dog has hanging ears, short hair, a square muzzle and hanging tail thick at the root.

Behaviour/Temperament: The temperament is marked by patience, composure, boldness and courage.


Cranial region

Skull: Broad

Stop: Rather abrupt

Facial region

Nose: Large and black

Muzzle: Moderately long, nasal bridge straight.

Jaws: Upper and lower jaws strong.

Teeth: Strong with a scissor bite.

Eyes: Rather small, dark brown in colour with a dignified expression.

Ears: Relatively small, rather thin, set high on the skull sides, hanging close to the cheeks.

Neck: Muscular, with a dewlap.


Withers: High

Back: Level and straight

Loins: Broad, muscular

Croup: Slightly arched at the top

Chest: Broad and deep, ribs moderately sprung

Belly: Well drawn up

Tail: Thick at the root, tapering towards the tip, reaching the hocks when let down.



Shoulder: Moderately sloping

Forearm: Straight, moderately long and strong

Pastern: Slightly inclining and robust

Hindquarters: Muscles very, developed joints of stifle and hock moderately angulated, strong.

Feet: Lightly closed, pads thick and elastic, nails hard and preferably dark in colour.

Gait: Robust and powerful

Hair: Short, hard and dense

Colour: Red, fawn, apricot, black, brindle. Slight white markings on chest and feet are permitted.

Size: Minimum height at withers for dogs 60cm, for bitches 55cm.

Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered as a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

  • Thin bone
  • Snippy muzzle
  • Slightly overshot or undershot bite

 Disqualifying faults:

  • Extremely overshot or undershot bite
  • Shyness

N.B.: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.