Like the Pitbull terrier, the Japanese Tosa finds its origin in dog fighting. Also known as the Japanese Mastiff, Tosas were bred in Japan. The breed was produced as a hybrid of the Shikoku-ken and Western breed dogs.
The Western dogs used for creating the breed were Bulldogs, Mastiffs, German Pointers and Great Danes, all of which were used to improve the breed by sequential mating. There has been suspicions that St Bernard’s and Bull Terriers have also been used but this has not been 100% proven.
Japanese Tosa and the Dangerous Dogs Act
The Japanese Tosa is among four types banned in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. The act refers to these dogs by ‘types’. To qualify as a Japanese Tosa type, a dog must share characteristics with a Japanese Tosa even if it isn’t a thoroughbred.
Because of the varying size of Japanese Tosas, Tosa type dogs are classified by their proportions, weight and the colour of their short, single-layer coat (red, brindle or fawn typically).
Are Japanese Tosas Dangerous?
Loyal, quiet, courageous and fearless, the Japanese Tosa have the qualities to make a loyal companion if trained diligently. These qualities, if the Tosa is not well socialised and trained, can lead to the dog having issues.
Issues usually arise when Tosas don’t have regular physical exercise and mental engagement, and when they aren’t handled in an authoritative, calm and confident way. Japanese Tosas are not recommended for inexperienced dog owners.
Can I Own a Japanese Tosa?
If you have been issued with a certificate from DEFRA and your animal is listed on their index of Exempt Dogs, you can own a Japanese Tosa type. Qualifying for this exemption means going through court for the dog to be placed on the register. For the court to grant a contingent destruction order the owner must be a fit and proper person and the dog must be shown to not pose a danger to the public.
As of February 2018, there are currently 3 Japanese Tosas on the exemption list in the UK.
Can the Police Seize my Japanese Tosa?
If your dog is suspected of being a Japanese Tosa type dog then yes, your dog can be seized by the police, even if it has been well-behaved and is on private property. It doesn’t take a complaint for the police to have the authority to seize a dog.
What Can I Do if my Dog Has Been Seized?
If your dog has been seized, keep calm and don’t sign anything.
We advise you don’t sign anything because there have been incidents in the past where owners have signed police documentation in good faith only to find that it amounted to them relinquishing them full control of the dog over to the police.
If the police take your dog, contact us immediately. Our team consists of dog-owners who are experts in dog law. We’re committed to ensuring that your seized pet has the chance they deserve in court. We’ll do all we can to make sure your dog is released back into your care as soon as possible.