The Fila Brasileiro also known as the Brazilian Mastiff is a large working breed of dog developed in Brazil. It is known for its superb tracking ability, aggressiveness and an unforgiving impetuous temperament. When a Brazilian Mastiff finds its quarry, it does not attack it, but rather holds it at bay until the hunter arrives. Owing to these qualities, the Brazilian Mastiff is used as a guard dog, as a shepherd dog for herding livestock and as a hunting dog for tracking and controlling large prey. When slavery was legal in Brazil, the Brazilian Mastiff was used to return fugitives unharmed to their slave masters. This breed has been banned in many countries because of its temperament and potential for aggression.
The Fila is not an appropriate choice for an inexperienced dog owner. While the breed standard for the Fila says that he should be docile and obedient with his family, extremely tolerant with children, and calm and self-assured in new situations, he doesn’t come that way. This dog is large, powerful, intelligent, active, and headstrong. He also has outstanding courage, determination, and bravery. A Fila needs a leader who can develop and manage all of those characteristics by guiding the dog with firmness and consistency but without using force or cruelty.
Early, frequent socialization is essential. Purchase a Fila puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people. Continue socializing your Fila throughout his life by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, on visits with friends and neighbors, and on outings to local shops and businesses. It is the only way he can learn to be discriminating, recognizing what is normal and what is truly a threat. That said, no amount of socialization will make him friendly toward everyone.
Begin training as soon as you bring your Fila Brasileiro puppy home, while he is still at a manageable size. Try a nothing-in-life-is-free program, requiring him to perform a command before receiving meals, toys, treats, or play. It’s always a good idea to take a Fila to puppy kindergarten followed by basic obedience class, especially if you are working with a trainer who understands the Fila Brasileiro mindset.
Like other dogs, Fila Brasileiro puppies are inveterate chewers and, because of their size, can do a whole lot of damage. Don’t give them run of the house until they’ve reached maturity. Keep your Fila Brasileiro puppy busy with training, play, and socialization experiences. A bored Fila Brasileiro is a destructive Fila Brasileiro, taking up digging, chewing, and other undesirable behaviors.
Other Quick Facts:
- The Fila Brasileiro should spend plenty of time with his family. Chaining a Fila out in the yard and giving him little or no attention is not only cruel but can also lead to aggression and destructive behavior.
- The Fila has a smooth coat that sheds. Brush him at least once a week to remove dead hair and keep his skin and coat healthy.
Breed Group: Working
Height: 23.5 to 29.5 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 90 to 100 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 12 years
CKC : Miscellaneous List. The CKC Miscellaneous List is for breeds working towards full CKC recognition.
UKC : Guardian Dogs
Color: brindle, fawn, black
The Fila Brasileiro is believed to be a descendant of the 15th-century English Mastiff, bloodhound
, bulldog and Rafeiro do Alentejo. The Fila Brasileiro breed was bred and raised primarily on large plantations and cattle farms where they originated.
They were taught to chase down jaguars, cattle, and other animals, as well as runaway slaves. The dogs would grab the slave or animals by the neck and hold them until the farmer arrived. This instinct can be observed among puppies when they are playing.
The first written standard of the breed was edited in 1946. The Paulistas were responsible for organizing a planned breeding program and opening a stud book to register dogs. Dr. Paulo Santos Cruz began to systematically breed the Fila Brasileiro and also contributed largely in setting the CAFIB standard, and who now therefore, has the right to be called the “Father” of the Fila Brasileiro. About the registries, Brazilian Confederation Kennel Club follows the Federation Cynologique Internationale policy and accepts for registration only dogs with FCI pedigrees, orienting the breeders to make a hip dysplasia control and besides other health problems. The Fila Brasileiro is described as a Brazilian Mastiff or a Brazilian Molosser. In the U.S., the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals does a statistical registry of all Filas that were X-rayed to diagnose hip dysplasia.
The Brazilian army compared this breed to Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds in a five-year study using these dogs in the jungle under extremely hostile conditions. The following traits were observed: intelligence, aggressiveness, sensibility, temperament, energy, resistance, rusticity and strength. German Shepherds were found to have the highest intelligence and Doberman Pinschers the highest level of aggression. The Fila Brasileiro was found to be superior in every other category.
Fila Brasileiros have a unique temperament. They are 100% devoted to their family – affectionate, playful, incredibly loving with kids; but they are also fiercely protective of those who they consider to be their family. Fila owners agree that their dogs love everything that is “theirs” and hate everything that is not. More than any other breed, Fila Brasileiros are intolerant of strangers. They make excellent guard dogs, but they should only be adopted into families who are experienced dog owners, who have the time to devote to proper training and socialization, and who have properly researched the breed and understand the potential liabilities. For those who have the time and means to work with a Fila, they are also the most loyal breed of dog, in fact there is an old Brazilian saying about loyal friends – “faithful as a Fila.”
Although these dogs can easily live more than 9 years, bloat can be problematic for members of this breed. Therefore, owners should feed their pets several small meals per day to help prevent this condition. Fila Brasileiros are also prone to hip dysplasia, gastric torsion, elbow dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy. Annual vet visits are generally recommended to help owners spot health problems before they become life threatening.
Daily: Members of this breed should get plenty of exercise on a daily basis. When they are spending time outdoors, Fila Brasileiros should be kept in a secure enclosures that measures about 6 feet high so that the dogs do not escape or chase other animals that might cross their path. Electronic fences are not recommended for this breed.
Weekly: All pets need their teeth cleaned on a regular basis in order to promote good oral health.
Monthly: To keep fleas, ticks, and other pest at bay, owners should give preventative medicines to their pet at least once a month.
The Fila has a smooth, short coat that sheds but is easy to groom. Brush with a natural bristle brush or mitt once a week and use coat conditioner/polish to brighten the sheen. Give him a bath every three months (or when he’s dirty) using a mild dog shampoo.
The rest is basic care: Check his ears every week and clean them if needed. Trim his his toenails regularly, usually once a month. And keep his teeth and gums healthy by brushing regularly using a soft toothbrush and vet-approved doggie toothpaste. Be sure to introduce the Fila to grooming when he is very young so he learns to accept the handling and fuss peacefully.
This breed is not suited to city life, as its vigorous body must work off energy in the freedom of the country. It needs a fenced-in yard with room to run. The Fila can sleep outdoors with proper shelter.
Filas Need plenty of exercise to maintain health and happiness, but it can be tricky to get the proper balance of exercise. As puppies, over-exercise can lead to joint problems, but exercise helps them burn off their extra energy, which keeps them from becoming destructive chewers. As adults, Filas mellow out considerably and are much happier lounging around the house than going outside for a long walk or run. It can be easy to fall into a pattern of low exercise, but Filas should be walked several times a day, and also be allowed to run and stretch their legs.
Fila Brasileiros are not apartment dogs. They are far too large and far too wary of strangers and strange noises to be comfortable or safe in a busy building. They are much more suited for people who live on farms or large, stately homes where they have fenced areas to roam.
Training and socialization needs to begin early on in the life of a Fila. They can exhibit extreme dominance, so it is critical to establish leadership as early as possible. Do not ever treat a Fila harshly. While they are completely devoted to the ones they love, they won’t hesitate to bite if they feel they are being threatened. Calm-assertiveness and lots of patience are important. Filas respond well to lavish praise and treats.
The Fila needs plenty of chance to exercise. While some can appear to be very lazy, big couch potatoes, like all dogs, they should be taken on daily walks.
Compatibility With Other Pets:
- Known To Be Dog Aggressive
- May Be Okay With Other Pets If Raised Together
- May Injure or Kill Other Animals
- Not Recommended For Homes With Existing Dogs
- Not Recommended For Homes With Small Animals
Is the Fila Brasileiro Right For You?
As far as their owners’ families are concerned, Fila Brasileiros are incredibly friendly dogs with a placid disposition. Most members of this breed have no problems getting along with animals that they know well. However, dog aggressive behaviors have been noted in a number of modern bloodlines so prospective owners should keep that fact in mind if they already have other pets in their household.
Most Fila Brasileiros do not get along well with strangers of any type. Even pets that have been socialized from a very young age may still be standoffish around unfamiliar people. These dogs are also incredibly territorial and do not hesitate to defend their home from intruders.
Did You Know?
The Fila Brasileiro also goes by the names Brazilian Mastiff or Brazilian Molosser.
In the United Kingdom, Denmark,Norway, Malta and Cyprus it is illegal to own any of these dogs without specific exemption from a court. The Fila is a restricted breed in Australia, the states of Qld, N.S.W., Victoria, S.A and W.A the Fila is a restricted or proscribed breed. Imports are also prohibited. They are automatically classified as a dangerous dog in New Zealand and Trinidad & Tobago,meaning they cannot be imported and males must be neutered.