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Tosa Ken Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Are you looking for a dog that could very easily weigh more than you? Then look no further, because the Tosa Ken is here!


Keep in mind, living with a dog the size of a human isn’t for everyone. He makes his presence felt, even if he doesn’t want to, and has more needs than other dogs. And plus, think about the fact that the bigger the dog, the more of everything: food, slobber, and… poo in the yard. Sorry, it’s the truth.

That said…

This is a loveable dog and if you can handle it, you may just love this relationship. But, read up before you make the commitment. And this is the place you’ll want to start.

Tosa Ken Fast Facts

Country of Origin: Japan

Original Purpose: Fight Dog
Height: 20 to 28 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 100 to 200 pounds

Dog Breed Classification: Currently not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC)

Lifespan: 10 to 13 years

Origin of the Tosa Ken Dog Breed

This dog seems to have been in existence for nearly 1000 years. Yes, older than the thirteen original colonies, and even older than the Vikings.

And while…

Some people will say that this dog originated in the Nordic region (where modern-day Sweden, Finland and Norway are), the strongest evidence seems to place the origin of his dog breed squarely on the island of Shikoku in Japan’s Kochi prefecture.

It is here…

That it appears that the original “native” dogs were crossbred with a dog similar to a bulldog or possibly a Japanese mastiff. So where does it really originate from? That’s probably going to depend on who you ask.

What is known is…

That this dog was officially recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1998 as the Tosa-Ken. Other famous organizations like the American Kennel Club (AKC) do not recognize the dog as a breed. That said, the Tosa Ken can compete in some of their competitions.

Physical Traits of the Tosa Ken

As we’ve already pointed out, this is a huge dog – and that’s definitely the most noticeable thing about him. Thankfully, he’s got short hair so you don’t have to fuss too much over the coat, but…remember, he’s super big so even “not much” fussing means a lot when you multiply it times his size!

Characteristics of the Tosa Ken

Just because he was made for dog fighting doesn’t mean this is an aggressive dog. Sure, he can lash out in circumstances when provoked, but most of the time, he’s not just a wild child.

In fact…

Tosa Kens can be easy going around their families. You need to train your Tosa from the time he’s a puppy, preferably with a bit of controlled firmness in order to get him to know you’re the leader.

But we should point out that…

Tosa Kens aren’t that great with other dogs, so if you are considering one, take that into consideration. Most people who get a dog dream of taking them on walks around the neighborhood, but this really isn’t going to be ideal for a Tosa Ken. He won’t greet other dogs or people in the manner you want, and he could possibly get worked up if something seems amiss to him. And, considering his size, it’ll be hard to reign this boy in once he’s upset.

Tosa Kens & Children

As you probably already guessed, this isn’t a great dog to have with kids. Children are usually way smaller than this guy, so from the get go, there’s a power imbalance.


Considering his background and potential to maybe get angry or even vicious, would you want to take that risk for the child or the dog? We didn’t think so.

That said however…

If your heart is set on owing a big dog, there are a few other large dog breeds you may want to consider in your search including:

Tosa Ken Health Problems

Any dog, especially dog breeds, can have genetic health problems. The best way to minimize this risk is to get your dog from a reputable breeder. That said, no matter how great of a breeder, there is a chance that a dog can be born with a genetic problem. Breeders can only try their best to eliminate these things…but they cannot assure it.

Some of the things a Tosa Ken is might be predisposed to include:

  • Hip Dysplasia – a common hip problem of larger dog breeds.
  • Obesity – this can be genetic, but you do have some control over it by controlling your dog’s diet.


While these are a few of the genetic issues that could arise, remember that your Tosa Ken could actually contract any number of sicknesses or could meet with an accident that left him with a permanent disability.

Cost of Treatment

The cost of treating a Tosa Ken will depend entirely on what’s wrong. It’s reasonable to think that over the course of a dog’s life, you may wind up spending anywhere between $1000-15000 on healthcare.

This includes…

Checkups and treatments which may arise. Sure, it could be a lot less (like, if you never take him to the vet at all), but let’s be pragmatic: how are you going to budget for this?

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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