Banned and restricted in some countries, yet prized as the National Dog of Brazil. Find out why the Fila Brasileiro is such a controversial breed in today’s guide!
Height: Male 25.5-29.5 inches, female 23.5-27.5 inches
Weight: Male 64-82 kilos, female 57-73 kilos
Lifespan: 9-11 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): No, this breed isn’t registered with the Kennel Club.
Positives and Negatives
Check out the basic traits associated with the Fila Brasileiro below:
- Exceptionally loyal and hard-working
- Excellent guard and watchdog
- Minimal grooming needs
- Drafting dog used to pull carts
- Not ideal for first-time owners
- Aggressive and anti-social tendencies
- Heavy drooler
- Requires a garden, can’t live in an apartment
The Fila Brasileiro, also known as the Brazilian Mastiff is linked to aggressive behaviour but has never been used as a fighting dog.
The UK, Denmark, Australia, Malta, and Cyprus have all banned the breed. The Fila dog is not recognized by the KC or AKC although it has been accepted by the CBKC and the FCI.
The people of Brazil have a saying ‘Faithful as a Fila’. It is a tribute to the remarkably loyal personality of the breed.
They are prized in their native land, owning the title of the National Dog of Brazil. This giant breed is exceptionally hard-working but requires a firm, experienced owner.
Fila Brasileiros can be dangerous in the wrong hands.
Extremely territorial, nothing will get past the Fila Brasileiro. The home, land, and livestock will remain safe under their watch.
The powerful and dominant temperament should only be handled by those with experience. For this reason, first-time owners must steer clear!
Fila Brasileiro puppies excessively chew and their large jaws can cause some serious damage. Before bringing home a new puppy, ensure they have a variety of chew toys.
This giant breed also has large jowls and will drool heavily, especially after eating and drinking. Keep a towel nearby to wipe their mouths.
A distinctive characteristic of the breed is its gait which is known to resemble a camel’s walk. Their smooth short coat is found in colors black, fawn, and brindle.
Markings of white are accepted so long as it doesn’t cover more than a quarter of the body.
The Fila Brasileiro originates from Brazil but their exact historical background is vague. They have been in existence for the last 400 years working throughout the Colonial period.
Its genetic background has links to the English Mastiff, Bulldog, and the Bloodhound.
Fila Brasileiros were bred to work on farms and plantations typically found in the tropical rainforest.
They were used to protect livestock from predators such as the Jaguar and would also hunt. Their job was to capture as opposed to killing.
The breed would also chase runaway slaves, pinning them down by the necks until the slave master arrived.
It’s their incredible sense of smell that allows them to effectively track down prey. Many believe this trait and their saggy skin is derived from the Bloodhound.
These canines may be large in size but that doesn’t stop this agile breed from reaching speeds of up to 35mph!
Commonly the Fila Brasileiro was associated with Paulhistas. They were slavers, traders, and explorers from the state of São Paulo.
Extreme working temperatures make the Fila Brasileiro the most heat tolerant of the Mastiff breeds. Fila Brasileiros were popular right up until the 19th century.
Unlike other breeds used to capture slaves, the Fila Brasileiro did not become extinct.
By the 20th century, the need for a Fila Brasileiro had changed. Crime increased dramatically across Brazil, leaving many to source the Fila Brasileiro as a form of protection.
It is thought this period attributed to the aggressiveness of the breed. Despite being banned in certain countries, the population of the Fila Brasileiro dog breed is on the rise in Brazil.
Fila Brasileiro Temperament:
Powerful, independent, aggressive, territorial, loyal, courageous, and docile are all traits to describe the Fila Brasileiro.
This breed is a challenge to raise and requires a dedicated, experienced owner. Somebody dominant that can hold the Alpha position.
Fila Brasileiros don’t bark very much. When they’re not working, the breed is docile and calm.
Fila’s are fiercely loyal and will bond closely with all members of their household. It is incredibly important these canines are socialized well.
If used as a guard dog, they must be responsive to their owner’s commands.
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Are Fila Brasileiros Good with Strangers?
No, this breed doesn’t take well to strangers… at all! They are wary, suspicious, and even aggressive towards those they don’t know.
Bred for guarding purposes the Fila Brasileiro is very distrusting of strangers. Whilst some dogs may bark and growl as a warning, others will go straight for the attack. This breed is constantly on alert mode.
Are Fila Brasilerios Good with Children?
No, the Fila is not advised for households with children. Whilst many Fila Brasileiro owners have stated the breed is fantastic to their children, there are still many risks.
Older children would be better suited for the breed and should be introduced into the home during puppyhood. Be aware of other children outside the household visiting the home.
Are Fila Brasileiros Ok with Other Dogs?
No, the Fila Brasileiro isn’t known for its sociability. The breed is better suited to single dog households. Although they could be raised with other dogs their size of different sex.
Cats, smaller dogs, and other animals should not be kept in the same home as this breed. Their strong prey drive will see them chase and possibly kill them.
The Fila Brasileiro dog will need up to two hours of exercise each day. This can be split into hourly sessions. These dogs are agile and energetic despite their giant status.
They require more daily exercise than other Mastiff breeds. Due to their strong prey drive, these canines must have a securely fenced garden. They can and will kill smaller dogs and animals.
As their personality isn’t very sociable, rural environments are better suited to the breed. They need outdoor space they can patrol.
Without vigorous play and mental stimulation, the Fila Brasileiro will pick up destructive behaviors. They will be at their happiest when given a job.
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Check out the breed-related health conditions of the Fila Brasileiro below:
- Hip Dysplasia- Poor development of the hip joint will lead to symptoms such as pain, inflammation, and swelling, Arthritis will eventually follow. A common condition affecting large and giant breeds.
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus- Another condition affection large and giant breeds is GDV. Fast eating is just one cause. The stomach twists trapping the contents and gases inside. Potentially fatal requires immediate veterinary attention.
- Wobbler Syndrome- Affected dogs will walk with a wobble. This is due to the compression of the neck’s spinal cord and nerves.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy- Over time, the photoreceptor cells within the eye will deteriorate eventually causing blindness. It is an inherited condition.
- Elbow Dysplasia- Affected dogs will walk with a limp. Lameness is displayed between the ages of 8 months to two years.
- Lip-fold Pyoderma- The folds of the skin, particularly those by the jaw, suffers from an infection. This is due to the build-up of bacteria and moisture. Redness and a smelly odor are just some typical symptoms.
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy- A potentially fatal condition affecting the cardiac muscles, reducing the pressure needed to pump blood around the body. It is large and giant breeds mostly affected.
Intelligence & Training
The Fila Brasileiro is undoubtedly intelligent but is notoriously difficult to train. They are stubborn, head-strong, dominant, and will try to overthrow their owner’s position of dominance.
Always remember, exercise and training go hand in hand. A dog bursting with energy will be harder to train.
From the day the Fila Brasileiro enters their new home training must begin.
This breed loves to work, so make them work for their rewards!
It is incredibly important a Fila Brasileiro puppy is well socialized throughout its early years.
Group puppy classes are a good way to introduce them to other dogs and strangers, whilst learning commands.
Whilst these dogs can handle harsh training methods, they will not accept threatening behavior. Regular supervision will be needed because of their territorial nature.
Naturally anti-social, the Fila Brasileiro will need intense obedience training to readily accept commands.
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The Fila Brasileiro’s short, smooth coat is rather dense and sheds moderately. Shedding is at its heaviest during the Spring and Autumn seasons because of a coat blow-out.
Brush them once a week using a bristle brush or grooming rake to remove dead fur. It also redistributes the coat’s natural oils.
The folds of the Fila Brasileiro’s skin are prone to infection because of moisture and bacteria build-up.
These should be cleaned weekly and dried thoroughly after a wash.
Baths will be needed once every three months but due to their size, it may be easier to wash them in the garden!
Their long floppy ears are a breeding ground for infection. Ensure these are cleaned weekly, to prevent the build-up of debris in the ear canal.
File their nails fortnightly if these haven’t been reduced naturally. Don’t forget their dental hygiene! Vets recommend teeth are brushed daily.