Dog fighting in Japan – a blood sport or another form of sumo?

Narrated from: General Info

You may have heard that dog fighting is a serious problem in a lot of countries. It is a vicious, bloody sport, built upon inhumane violence towards animals (aside from the actual fighting dogs, many other animals die as “bait”).

Dog fighting is banned by law, but thrives underground – and dog fights stimulate other crime activities as well.

And then we have Japan, where dog fighting is actually legal! Well, it is banned in Tokyo and some of the larger cities, but outside those areas it is legal and practiced quite often.

At first glance, this seems horrible – one would think that the Japanese government advocates animal cruelty! But let us look into dog fighting in Japan…

The most important fact is that there are rules. The illegal dog fights in the USA are not sanctioned, so the losing dog usually dies, and the victor is left with many wounds that probably would not be treated by a veterinary. In Japan, dog fighting is truly a sport, and it follows a strict protocol – and no dogs die in the ring!

Dog fighting in Japan originated in ancient times. It was considered a way for the samurai to keep their aggressive edge during times of peace. Also, the samurai were actually encouraged to learn from dog fighting. That is why the sport is far more complex than the Western bite and tear equivalent.

You see, in Japan the fighting dogs are not supposed to bite their opponents!  The main idea is to test which dog would not surrender. If a dog barks, or yelps – it loses. Another way to achieve victory is to pin your opponent to the ground and hold him there for three minutes.

There is also an interesting rule – if you try to copulate with your opponent, you lose the game…

At dog fights there is always a doctor present – and the doctor can stop the game if he decides there is a risk for one of the dogs! In the USA the spectators would lynch anyone who dares to interrupt the fight, but in Japan there is no gambling on the stands, so the doctor gets to live.
In many ways dog fighting in Japan could be compared to Sumo. There are a lot of ceremonies and many titles for the victors, and the Japanese really love that stuff.

So, at first glance one would say “Oh my, how barbaric of them, legalizing such a cruel sport!” But if you examine the details, who has it better? The Japanese fighting dogs, most of them members of the Tosa breed which is developed specifically for fighting? Or the American Pit Bull, that sooner or later will bleed to death in some deserted place while his owner contemplates how much money he has lost?

Food for thought.

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