The Fila Brasileiro (or Cão de Fila, Brazilian Mastiff, Fila, Brazilian Molosser, Brazilian Guard Dog, Brazilian Fila, Dogue Brasiliero) is a large sized, short coated, muscular dog that is developed Brazil.
The Fila Brasileiro History
The Fila Brasileiro's ancestors were brought into Brazil by the Portuguese conquistadores (conquerers). The breed was created in the 19th century through existing Bloodhound, Mastiff and bullenbijter stock, the Rafeiros (Rafeiro do Alentejo) and even the Bulldog.
The dog has traditionally been used to manipulate livestock. Brazilian ranchers of the 19th century were isolated, needing tough dogs for protection, to hunt jaguars and as tracking dogs to track runaway slaves and fugitives. The Fila has also been used in dog fighting as it was a popular sport once, as such it also became known as the Brazilian Fighting Dog. Over time most breeds have been used in a dog fights by gamblers or to settle feuds, while they are strong dogs the Fila isn't a typical fighting dog by any means. The Filas were also intended to give assistance with the semi-wild cattle. When attempting to turn or stop a cow, they might bite and grasp the cheek or nose, but they generally grabbed the ear, just like their Alaunt ancestors. Although the breed has been utilized on ranches since its beginning, formal breeding, according to a standard, was augmented in the 1950s.
At that time Fila Brasileiros were found primarily on large plantations and cattle farms from where they originated. Dr. Paulo Santos Cruz contributed largely in writing the breed standard and importing the Fila from the farms to Sao Paulo. In the 1970s, due to political pressures from the dog world, the stud book was closed in Brazil. This led to the split of the Fila Brasileiro into two distinct bloodlines, often referred to by their registries, CBKC and CAFIB. CAFIB offers phenotypical evaluation and registration for unregistered dogs, in the hopes of preserving the working abilities of Fila Brasileiro dogs in remote regions of the country.
The breed eventually spread across North America and gained popularity in Europe, where it is still adored today.
Fila Brasileiro Appearance
Body: the Fila Brasileiro has a strong, broad and deep body and a rectangular body shape. One of the typical varietal characteristics is the loose skin over the whole body, which forms lobes around the the neck. Another striking varietal characteristic is that the powerful and long croup lies higher than the withers. The croup is about as wide or sometimes wider than the chest. The tail runs towards the hocks, is broad at the root and runs into a pointy tip. It may not be worn curled over the spine. The broad and deep chest extends to the elbows, the sternum clearly extends and the ribs are well bent. The abdomen is moderately tucked. The legs are straight and have strong bones. The knees are moderately angulated. The level feet are strong, with curved toes that are not too close to each other. The neck is very muscular and seems to have be short and at the top the neck is slightly bent.
Head: the head seen from above is trapezoidal. The snout is slightly shorter than the skull. The furrow is not too pronounced. The stop is sloping and the eyebrows are well developed. The snout is broad, deep and powerful, the top of the nose is straight or slightly curved (butterfly nose). The thick lips droop over the lower lips. The ears are large and thick V-shaped with rounded points. They are at eye level, are set quite far backwards and are carried hanging. The eyes are medium to large, they have an almond-shape and are placed relatively far apart and quite deep. The lower eyelids can droop. Fila Brasileiro have scissor or level bite.
Height at Withers: dogs measure 70 to 85 centimeters at the withers and bitches have a height at withers between 65 and 70 centimetres.
Weight: the males, weigh at least 50 pounds kilograms to about 70 kilograms and females weigh at least 40 kilograms up to about 60 kilograms in good relationship with their size.
Coat: the coat is short, soft and dense, and fits well together.
Colors: the Fila is present in various colors. Only white, mouse gray, mottled or speckled is not allowed. White spots are allowed, but only to the feet, chest and the tip of the tail. In any case they may not cover more than 25% of the total surface. The most prevailing color of this breed is brindle in various hues.
Fila Brasileiro Temperament
Character: to his own people the Fila Brasileiro is a very affectionate, gentle and obedient dog. He attaches himself very strongly to his owner and his family and has much difficulty in later life if he is reinstated. He is confident, courageous and they are quite hard on themselves. The Fila is very watchful and has an innate urge to defend. He has a good sense in guarding and defending territory such as the the house and the garden, including all those who love him, and does so very convincingly. Should uninvited guests present themselves or if dog thinks, whereever, that his boss is threatened he will not hesitate for a minute. At home, they are usually very quiet. These dogs have an exceptionally good nose and some of their hunting instinct may not be denied.
Social Build: for the owners children the Fila will be no problem, however for game companions of your children, it will be. Dealing with pets will not cause problems, provided the dog is familiarized when young, but new pets are generally not readily accepted. Fila Brasileiro's are known for their distrust of strangers. They can, depending on their individual character and extent of socialization, express themselves by either an evasive or an aggressive attitude towards strangers. It goes without saying that a busy residential area, is not an ideal living environment for a dog of this breed. Regular visitors, as long as the owner is at home, indicating that all is well, are generally well accepted. Towards other dogs, but especially those of the same sex and not part of its own pack, a Fila often is quite dominant.
Fila Brasileiro Socially
Care: the Fila needs relatively little coat care. It is sufficient to brush the coat once a week with a hair brush and during the shedding period, a rubber massage glove may prove useful to remove the dead and loosened hair effectively. Fila's need a soft place to rest on to prevent the forming of ugly callus places on the pressure points. These Callus places especially form on the elbows.
Education: Fila Brasileiro dogs are not suitable for volatile people or people who have little or no experience with dogs. They have a character that will be difficult to understand to many. A future Fila-owner must stand very firmly in his or her shoes both mentally and physically, have a natural superiority and have plenty of insight into the nature of the dog and dog behaviour in general to be able to accomplish a succesful upbringing. The education must be brought on in peace, in full harmony and with great understanding. The future Fila-owner should know that these dogs can react quickly. Reserve much time in a proper socialization.
Activity: in the best case scenario, a dog of this breed is provided with a well fenced area or garden, where he can control his own physical exersize. Every now and then you can take the dog while being leashed towards unknown territory to get some new and different impressions.
Fila Brasileiro Quotes / Trivia
Filar in Portuguese means to hold or secure. "Faithful as a Fila dog" is an old Brazilian proverb; the Fila's temperament makes it totally loyal to owner and family and naturally distrustful of strangers.
In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Hound of Baskervilles, there is reason to believe that the hound is a Fila Brasileiro. The dog's owner originated in South America and it was described as a Mastiff Bloodhound.