The Fila Brasileiro is a fairly old Mastiff-type dog breed that was developed as hunting and a working dog breed in Brazil. It is one of the two native Brazilian dog breeds and the other one is, of course, the Brazilian Terrier. This is a massive dog breed and it can certainly strike fear and respect just by showing up, but these dogs create one of the strongest bonds with their owners. There is a popular saying in Brazil “faithful as a Fila” and there is certainly a reason behind it.
The Fila Brasileiro was known by many different names throughout history and some of them still exist today. Some of these names are Cao de Fila, Fila, Brazilian Mastiff, or Brazilian Bloodhound.
FUN FACT: These dogs are illegal to own without specific permission in the UK, Malta, Norway, and Cyprus.
24-30 in (61-76 cm)
90-180 lb (41-82 kg)
Just like the other Brazilian breed, the exact history of the Fila Brasileiro remains a mystery. Canine historians believe that large, Mastiff-type dogs, possibly the English Mastiff, played a huge role in the development of this breed. They have dated the creation of the Brazilian Mastiff at the beginning of the 17th century. Based on the characteristics of this breed, canine historians came to the conclusion that the Bloodhound and the Bulldog also had a pivotal role.
The Brazilian Mastiff was mostly owned by Brazilian farmers and plantation owners and these dogs were used as general farm dogs. Their main job was to protect the farm and livestock against predators like jaguars. They were also used as tracking dogs for escaped prisoners, and unfortunately, Brazilian slaves.
It wasn’t until 1946 when the first Fila Brasileiro breed standard came out and breeding of these dogs was put under control by reputable breeders who wanted this breed to gain popularity across the globe. The majority of these breeders were located in Sao Paolo.
Dog Breed Characteristics
The Fila Brasileiros characteristics are a clear indicator that the English Mastiff, as well as the Bloodhound, had an important role in its ancestry. The Fila has a long muzzle and they give an impression of having excessive skin.
These dogs have a strong, rectangular build that is harmonious and well-proportioned. The Fila Brasileiro is more agile than the rest of the giant Mastiff-type dogs. This breed should have a clear difference between male and female dogs.
The Brazilian Mastiff is a breed that is fully recognized and registered by the FCI and as such has a full standard in place. That standard places these dogs in Group 2 (Pinscher and Schnauzer-Molossoid breeds- Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs), Section 2.1. (Molossoid breeds, Mastiff type).
According to this standard, male Fila Brasileiro dogs should measure 25,5-30 in (65-76 cm) and female Fila Brasileiros should measure 24-27,5 in (61-70 cm) at the withers. Male dogs should weigh a minimum of 110 lbs (50 kg) and females should weigh at least 90 lbs (41 kg). This breed is not required to have a working trial.
The Fila Brasileiro was registered by the FCI on the 1st of January 1960.
It is not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Fila Brasileiro has smooth and short hair that only needs weekly brushing to keep the hair under control. Regular brushing will take care of the dead hair, and since these dogs are moderate “shedders,” brushing will also help you keep the place clean and hair-free. Dogs’ coats have natural, protective oils that can be washed off if they are being washed too often. They will also need other basic care; brush their teeth at least three times a week. Check their ears for signs of infection and redness, bathe them regularly, and trim their nails if they don’t wear them down naturally.
Fila Brasileiro coat colors:
- White markings are allowed on the feet, chest, and tip of the tail.
Fila Brasileiro dogs have a high amount of energy despite being so big. These dogs require a large space where they can run and bur off their energy. They are not best suited for apartment living and they will do best in a house with a big yard. Few playing sessions and daily walks can be enough to keep this dog happy and satisfied.
Fila Brasileiro temperament
The Fila Brasileiro is one of the most stubborn dog breeds out there. They were carefully bred to be loyal and devoted to only one owner. This is a breed that is not suitable for everyone and certainly not for inexperienced, first-time owners.
If you are someone who can handle such a strong and stubborn breed, you will get a devoted dog that will do anything for you. Most of the time they are peaceful and prefer to just lay somewhere comfy and close to their owner. Their demeanor can switch in a blink of an eye from peaceful to protective so it is extremely important that they have a strong leader that can properly handle them.
Brazilian Mastiff socialization
We cannot stress enough how important socialization is for the Brazilian Mastiff. This is a breed that was created for a single purpose and it is hard to go against their genetics. You will need to teach your Fila Brasileiro puppy what are good ways of reacting to different things and the best way to do that is to expose them to different sights, sounds, and situations.
Have a friend or a family member suddenly enter a room or come unannounced while your Fila Brasileiro puppy is in the room. Experiencing situations like that can teach a dog that not everyone who comes close to you is an enemy.
Early socialization and proper training can teach them to behave even when children are around. Their temperament makes them more suitable for families with older children. If you train and socialize your dog well, your children will get a great playing partner that has plenty of energy. These dogs can play for hours upon hours without getting tired or bored. Your children will also get a guard dog that is naturally suspicious of strangers, and you can be sure that they will warn you about any potential dangers approaching your kids.
Fila Brasileiro and other dogs
The Fila Brasileiro is not the breed that is naturally good with other dogs. They are protective and dominant so it is extremely important that they are properly trained and socialized.
They can learn to get along with other dogs of the same size, but they have a natural instinct to view smaller dogs as prey.
Like any other dog breed, the Fila Brasileiro can potentially develop health problems. If you are buying a dog, make sure the breeder can provide you with the necessary health tests and guarantees. Always ask to see the results of tests from the puppy’s parents. The health problems these dogs are associated with are:
The Fila Brasileiro is generally considered a very healthy breed that can live 9-12 years.
Health problems associated with this breed are;
- Hip dysplasia - Genetic problem affecting hips resulting from an improperly formed hip joint.
- Elbow Dysplasia - Usually, it affects large breeds and is caused by uneven growth of three bones making a dog’s elbow.
- Entropion - A defect causing the eyelid to roll inward.
- Gastric Torsion - Also known as bloat. A dangerous condition that causes the stomach to twist (torsion).
- Allergies - these dogs are prone to have allergic reactions to specific foods, products, or medications.
If you decided that this is the right dog for you, now it's time to find a good and responsible Fila Brasileiro breeder. Buying a dog from such a breeder will provide you with a healthy puppy who will not have health and temperament problems. These dogs became very popular, and many unethical and bad breeders started to breed these dogs to earn money without worrying about puppy health, temperament, and well-being.
Buying a dog from a responsible breeder will cost you more money, but you can be sure that you will get a healthy puppy. If you are unable to buy a dog, we advise you to search for local animal shelters because there is a chance you can find Fila Brasileiro dog in it.
When you bring your new puppy home start with the training and socialization immediately. By doing so, you will end up with a well-behaved dog whom you can trust. Provide him with enough daily exercise for him to be happy. With this dog, you must be firm and you must be an alpha for him to listen to you. If you devote your time and energy to this dog, you can be sure that you will end up with a companion for life.
World Dog Finder team