In Japan, dog fighting is growing in popularity as a pastime--it's estimated that there are 20,000 dogs bred especially for fighting.
SV & CU Champion dog Abarambo wearing medals (2 shots)
SV Other dogs on leashes (3 shots)
CU PAN Trophies
CU Silver plaque
LV Tented area
SV Champion dog led past camera
SV INT People watch as dogs are held at bay (2 shots)
SV Dogs released and start fighting
SV & LV Dogs fighting
SV Official watches
SV Fight continues (5 shots)
CU Fight commentator
CU Dogs fighting
SV Two men attempt to pull dogs apart
SV & CU Spectators look at retired champion dog wearing rope collar (3 shots)
Initials BB/2330 GM/MR/BB/2355
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Background: In Japan, dog fighting is growing in popularity as a pastime--it's estimated that there are 20,000 dogs bred especially for fighting.
Most of the dogs who enter the combat rings are of the TOSA bread--development about a century ago from cross breeding with large western types--mastiff, German shepherd and bulldog. It has given them the present characteristic large head, powerful jaws and long logs and body.
The Tosa follow closely the graduated ranking and ceremonies of another ancient Japanese sport, Sumo wrestling. No dog gets to be a Yokuzuna (grand champion) without at least 20 wins, and even then a panel of judges has the final say, based on the quality of the performance and opponents.
The fights take the form of the celebrated cock fights that are staged in most south-east Asian countries. The two dogs struggle around the ring, powerful jaws snapping, to seek an opening. They turn and roll as one tries to shake off the others. Judges will stop a fight when are dog shows signs of losing its fighting spirit, yelps in pain, tries to run away or lies down for more than a prescribed period. Blood can also stop the fight.
It used to be a fight to the death, but officials, sensitive to criticism that it was a cruel sport, now enforce strict rules. They insist the dogs do not suffer much harm. They say that out of 50 of 60 fights in a day, there might be no more than 3 to 5 injuries.
Strangely enough, the dogs' tails wag furiously throughout the fight--a sign, say officials, that they're enjoying themselves.
No prize money is given, making it an expensive amateur pastime.
SYNOPSIS: Japan's newest grand champion dog--Abarembo, aged three-and-a-half. His ring record is impressive--twenty-nine wins and one loss. And these are his would-be challengers, some of Japan's twenty-thousand fighting dogs, specially bred for a career in the ring. For the winning dogs and trainers, there are trophies, but no prize money, making it an expensive amateur pastime.
The fights follow closely the graduated ranking and ceremonies of another ancient Japanese sport, Sumo wrestling. No dog gets to be champion without at least twenty wins. And winning that often is a tough assignment, even for the best dogs....
The present fighting dogs--the Tosa bread--were developed about a century ago from cross-breading larger western breeds--mastiff, German Shepherd and bulldog. It has given them the present characteristic large head, powerful jaws and long legs and body.
It used to be a fight to the death. But sensitive to criticism of cruelty, there are now strict rules. Normally, a fight is stopped when one dog shows signs of losing its fighting spirit, or if it yelps in pain tries to run away or lies down for more than a prescribed period. Officials insist that the dogs don't suffer much harm. Out of fifty or sixty fights, there might be five injuries.
When the judges decide that the fight is over, separating the two fighting dogs is not always easy. There are three or four national championships a year, along with district and other fights in which a young dog can make a name in weight divisions. The Tosa normally have their first fight at the age of two, and retire before they're eight.