Monday, April 03, 2006
The Japanese Tosa. Don't pronounce it 'tosser', because if you do this deceptively sweet-looking pooch will probably bite your head off.
I'm down in Cornwall at the moment, doing some glamorous research into branch railways. Ah, journalism.
Actually, it's quite fun. Spring is here, the daffodils are out, and Visit Britain have put me up in the most expensive hotels in the county - so, likesay, things could be worse.
Except for the dogs, that is. No, not the women of Cornwall. The aggressive hounds. Every beach I go to, and every woodland glade, seems full of leapy great mastiffs, drooling and barking.
Actually, that's a lie. I have encountered just one dog this week. A nice spaniel in Trellisick Gardens. But as I am desperate to find a means of introducing my blogpost, I thought this might do.
Anyway here's a list, of the toughest dogs in the world. I've chosen four famously brutish breeds, and tried to work out which is the nastiest, bitiest, eatiest, rabidest cur of all. And people say blogging is pointless!
Which is the Hardest Dog of All?
Britain: Old English Mastiff
USA: American Pit Bull Terrier
South Africa: Boerboel
Where do they come from?
(Britain) The Old English Mastiff is a direct descendant of one of the world's oldest killer dogs, the 'pugnace', or Broad Mouthed Dog of Britain, whose matchless ferocity was lovingly described by Julius Caesar in 55 BC.
(USA) The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is a descendant of the original English bull-baiting bulldog, crossed with a Staffordshire terrier, with a dash of some particularly nasty gene all its own.
(Japan) The 'Sumo wrestler' of the dog world is a hybrid dating from the 1800s which comprises a mix of bulldog, mastiff, Great Dane and native Japanese hunting hound.
(SA) The bloodline of the Boer's favourite mutt can allegedly be traced back to the Assyrian attack dogs favoured by Alexander the Great, which were employed in the arena to fight lions and elephants.
Big bastards, are they?
(Britain) They don't come any bigger. According to the Guinness Book of Records the world's mightiest pooch was an English mastiff named Zorba de la Susa, which weighed in at 325 lbs. The average is 200-225lbs.
(America) Not really. A big APBT weighs about 30lbs. But size isn't everything..
(Japan) Big enough. Male Tosas average 140 to 180lbs.
(SA) A sizeable 'bullenbijter' (Afrikaans for 'bull-muncher') is almost as big as a mastiff.
(Britain) This generally light brown, black masked dog is also known as the alaunt, and was famously used at the Battle of Agincourt.
(USA) Short haired, often piebald or white, APBTs commonly sport a black eye patch - like the one on Oliver Reed's dog in the film Oliver!
(Japan) The Tosa's preferred colour is red, and they are claimed by the Japs to be 'the most intelligent of dogs'.
(SA) Only recently recognised as a true breed, the Boerboel's African ancestors were so brave - or savage - Aristotle named them Leontix: sons of lions.
What do they do now?
(Britain) Nowadays mastiffs are essentially a show breed. i.e. they slobber, fart, snore and crap, and eat you out of house and home.
(USA) The US Marines' wartime mascot is also a favourite in the illegal dog-fighting rings of the Deep South.
(Japan) Another show breed, Tosas also make 'excellent estate guard dogs'.
(SA) Very much a working mutt, Boerboels are bred specifically to guard and protect South African farmers and their families out on the veldt.
(Britain) Probably not, inasmuch as any aggression has been progressively bred out of the OEM since bull-baiting was banned in the UK in 1835.
(USA) Just a bit. In 1992 the 'little rascal' was responsible for 20% of all severe dog bites in Florida.
(Japan) Depends. In the 19th century Samurai warriors were advised to study the Tosa for its qualities of courage and boldness, but also loyalty and calmness.
(SA) Tell me about it. When Boerboels were first openly advertised in the South African press they were candidly described as 'racist watchdogs' bred 'especially for South African circumstances'.
I'm a bit insecure about my masculinity, so I think I want to buy one. How much?
(Britain) A pure bred OEM pup will set you back about £300.
(USA) Increasingly less popular - with their bad rep - APBTs are coming down sharply in price. Say £50 a puppy.
(Japan) As Tosas are regarded as a 'national treasure' in Japan, and are rarely exported, you would probably have to pay a minimum of £2000.
(SA) The Rand is weak. Approximately £100 the pup.
So that's that, then?
(Britain) Yep, just nip down your local kennel club.
(USA) 'Fraid not. American Pit Bull Terriers are one of only two breeds specifically banned by Britain's Dangerous Dogs Act.
(Japan) The other is the Tosa.
(SA) Very debatable. The Boerboel is so unpopular it's even been dissed by the Pit Bull Breeders of France who describe it as being 'excessively aggressive and virtually uncontrollable.'
So which of the world's toughest attack dogs would win in a fight?
(Britain). Jan Libourel, editor of Handguns magazine, asked this very question last year. He didn't even bother to mention the mastiff.
(USA). But he did claim the APBT was, pound-for-pound, the hardest dog in the world.
(Japan). Then again, he also admitted the Tosa would win against an American Pit Bull Terrier by sheer size.
(SA). He forgot to mention that Boerboels have been seen to attack and kill leopards.
So which is the Ben Hur of curs?
Britain's Old English Mastiff: 7/10
America's Pit Bull Terrier: 7/10
Japan's Tosa: 9/10
South Africa's Boerboel: 8/10
Posted by sean at 9:24 p.m.