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The Tosa-Inu (dog) or Tosa Token (fighting style dog) is the most feared and revered of all Japan's canine species. They have been spoken of and occasionally, mentioned in written Japanese lore for nearly 1000 years. The indengionous dog from Tosa Wan (Bay) in Kochi prefecture, located on the island of Shikoku in the Southern Japans, is known for it's extreme courage and tenacious athletic abilities in the fighting arenas of Japan. In this arena the Tosa has no equal.

In it's purebred state the Kochi or Shikoku Inu is of Spitz linage. With upturned ears and a shaggy tail curled over its hindquarters, they resemble a small reddish brown Akita. In this state they were unequaled in Japan at the dogfight. However, when European and Western traders forced open trade with the Japanese, they also introduced many of their mastiff type fighting dogs in order to compete with the Japanese dog fighters. This particular dog and its style of fighting are deeply rooted in the traditions and culture of the ancient samurai warrior clans. They are the Sumo Wrestler counterpart in the dog world. And so with immigration of these mastiff fighters, the Japanese dogs were considerably smaller in size and strength and were unable to compete on equal terms.

Then in the first year of Kaei (1848) a resident from Tosa purchased a western dog (bulldog) from Kyushu and bred it with a pedigreed Tosa dog. It is said that their puppies were the forefathers of the present Tosa dogs. After repeated breed improvements, stronger, bigger and more capable fighting dogs were brought up as a result.

The peak of dog fighting history was between the end of the Meiji period and the beginning of the Showa period. During this time. a large number of great fighting dogs were produced. Fighting tournaments were held often and Tosa fighting dogs became very well known throughout Japan.

As Japan entered the theater of World War II, dog fighting, as well as raising and feeding of 150 lbs. canines became illegal and this already extremely rare dog was reduced to very near extinction. At this point a few of the most dedicated Tosa breeders smuggled what is said to have been the last remaining handful of Tosa-Inu into Norhtern Japan to the island of Hokkaido where they hid them until the end of the war. After World War II, the Tosa was brought back to the Tosa Wan area and their breeding and the organization of legal dogfight tournaments were resumed.

Today in Japan the Tosa-Inu holds tightly to its place in Japanese culture and history.

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