Fila Brasileiro Dog Breed

Fawn Fila Brasileiro
  • Other names:
  • Brazilian Mastiff
  • Brazilian Molosser
  • Cao De Fila

The Fila Brasileiro ("FEE-luh BRAH-se-LEH-row"), also known as the Brazilian Mastiff, is a large-sized member of the Molosser family of dog breeds. Originating centuries ago in Brazil, the Fila was developed as a multi-purpose working dog, capable of herding cattle, hunting large game, and even tracking and capturing runaway slaves. This breed is known for its utter loyalty to the people whom it knows, and likewise for its intense distrust of strangers. Filas normally have extremely obstinate and dominant personalities, and are known to be extremely mistrustful of and highly aggressive towards strangers; in other words, they are essentially the antithesis of a "cuddly family pet." In recent years, these dogs have been banned in some places, and many landlords and neighborhood associations in the U.S. forbid their tenants from owning them. Filas will be extremely affectionate and loving to their families – but owners are encouraged to have a good defense attorney on speed-dial.

Fila Brasileiro Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred9-11 yrs.24-30 in.90-160 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Below are the details and specs for the Fila Brasileiro dog breed.

Fila Brasileiro Breed Description

This is a very large-sized breed. Males weigh 110-160 pounds; females, 90-120 pounds. Males are 26-30 inches at the shoulders in height; females, 24-28 inches.

Fila Brasileiros are absolutely devoted to the people they know, and utterly vicious towards those they don't. This breed is notorious for its intense dislike of strangers (and oftentimes other animals); Fila owners will need to spend a great deal of time with behavioral conditioning and early socialization for these dogs. Though they are affectionate and playful with kids of their own families, Filas are not recommended as a family pet because of the potential for violence against unknown children (and adults, for that matter.) Filas are also quite willful and independent, and can be difficult to train. This breed should only be owned by people with a great deal of experience with dogs.

Filas require very little grooming, and a moderate amount of exercise, but will need plenty of training, particularly in the areas of behavior and obedience.

Fila Brasileiro Breed History

The Fila Brasileiro presumably originated in Brazil, where the breed has existed for centuries. Though its exact origin is unknown, historians believe these dogs were developed by crossbreeding English Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, and various bulldog breeds, among other Molosser types, supposedly to create a working farm dog capable of tracking down and detaining large game, rowdy cattle, and even humans (the word "fila" is from the ancient Portuguese filar, which means "to secure or hold"). Beginning in the 1500s, Portuguese and Spanish explorers sought to colonize Brazilian territories, and established numerous sugarcane plantations there; they made the indigenous tribal peoples their slaves, and Filas were used to guard the slaves and cattle, and were employed in tracking and capturing runaway slaves as well.

Through the centuries, Filas continued as Brazilian working dogs, and were utilized in jaguar hunting, cattle herding, and as guard dogs on plantations and in gold mines. During the twentieth century, the Fila gained popularity in other countries, particularly as a guard dog. The first official breed standard was published in Brazil in the 1960s, and in 1984 the Fila Brasileiro Club of America was formed. Despite this breed's current popularity, its viciousness toward strangers has been frowned upon by some people, and Filas have been banned in some parts of the world.

Fila Brasileiro Appearance

The Fila sports a short-haired, dense, and rough coat. This breed's overall appearance borrows heavily from its Mastiff and Bloodhound ancestors; its large, rangy body type recalls that of a Mastiff, while its loose skin and pendulous facial features closely resemble the Bloodhound. One noted attribute of a Fila is its "camel"-like gait; though large in size, the breed walks harmoniously, almost in a catlike manner.

The rectangular body is normally a bit greater in length than in height. The Fila's large head is in the shape of a trapezoid, with a short muzzle and lips and jowls that hang a good bit; the almond-shaped eyes are of medium size and range in color from yellow to dark brown, and correspond to the coat color; The triangular, hanging ears are large and thick, and are usually rounded slightly at the tips.

A Fila's neck and shoulders are extraordinarily well-muscled, and its chest is broad and deep; its back is normally angled upwards a bit from front to rear; the medium-length legs are fairly straight and muscular, and the tail is high-set, of medium length, and is often curved at the end.

Fila Brasileiro Coloring

This breed exists in a variety of colors, with fawn, black, and brindle the most common; some dogs are gray, black and tan, or red. Some Filas with brindle coats have markings that appear "striped," and resemble a tiger's coat; still others have slight white markings, usually on the feet, chest, underbelly, and tip of the tail.

Fila Brasileiro Size

Filas are a very large-sized breed. Males range in height from 26-30 inches at the shoulders; females, 24-28 inches. Weight is 110-160 pounds for males, and 90-120 pounds for females.

Average Adult Height

24-30 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

90-160 lbs

Fila Brasileiro Temperament

Extremely loyal, protective, and courageous, yet fairly obedient and at times docile, the Fila Brasileiro is an intelligent and intuitive animal that can be quite serene until it is disturbed – when it can transform into an unmerciful, intensely fierce protector of its family. This breed is extremely devoted to (and protective of) its human "pack"; a popular Brazilian proverb, in fact, describes extreme devotion with "as faithful as a Fila." These dogs are normally calm, loving, and playful (especially as puppies) with people whom it knows, and wholly distrustful of (and often aggressive towards) strangers. Filas normally despise being touched by unknown people; a common piece of advice shared by dog show judges contends that "touching a Fila Brasileiro may lead to lost fingers." Filas are also known to be willful and independent, and will need a great deal of firm, consistent training, along with early socialization with people and other animals, to learn proper behavior. This breed is also known for destructive behavior – often of catastrophic proportions – when it is bored or left alone. For these reasons, Filas are recommended only for experienced dog owners, since this breed requires a lot of training and socialization. And even so, experts contend that Filas are most well-behaved when raised from puppyhood.

Neither are Filas the most "cultured" of dog breeds. Most are known for their variety of "bodily noises," including grunts, wheezes, loud snoring, and unfortunately, excessive flatulence. These dogs tend to slobber and drool excessively as well.

All that said, if properly trained, a Fila will make an affectionate, loyal addition to the family. Its impetuous and fierce temperament makes this breed one of the best watchdogs of any known, and it can be a loving, peaceful companion if provided with proper guidance.

Fila Brasileiro and Children

This breed is not recommended for families with kids. While a Fila will be loving and devoted towards its own "family member," it will not be so to other children; these dogs are known to misinterpret kids' horseplay, and will promptly attack a child whom it thinks is trying to harm its "own" child.

Fila Brasileiro and Other Pets

Filas do not normally socialize well with other animals. If raised with them, this breed may tolerate other pets fairly well, but its instinct is to chase and "seize" other animals (often with its mouth); this is especially true of cats. And Filas are known to be highly aggressive towards other dogs, particularly those of the same sex.

Fila Brasileiro and Strangers

Fila Brasileiro owners should remain on high alert when their dogs come into contact with strange people. This breed is highly suspicious of strangers, and will often attack them unprovoked.

Fila Brasileiro Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Fila Brasileiro dog breed.

Brindle Fila Brasileiro
Fawn Fila Brasileiro
Fawn Fila Brasileiro
Fawn Fila Brasileiro
Fawn Fila Brasileiro
Gray Fila Brasileiro Puppy
Brindle Fila Brasileiro

Fila Brasileiro Maintenance

Fila Brasileiros require a good deal of care, particularly in the area of behavior training. Though any training might prove difficult due to a Fila's obstinate temperament, experts highly recommend consistent (but gentle!) behavioral guidance, when the dog is still a puppy if possible, to instill proper obedience. Little grooming will be necessary, and depending on a Fila's age, a moderate amount of exercise is required.

Grooming Requirements

Filas shed quite a bit. Even so, their short coats are fairly self-maintaining; these dogs only need brushing about once a week to remove any excess or dead hair. Baths are required every 2-3 months, or when the dog gets dirty.

Exercise Requirements

Providing the right amount of exercise for a Fila Brasileiro can be a tricky undertaking. As puppies, these dogs can be quite energetic and rambunctious, but are known to suffer bone, joint, and ligament damage if these body parts are over-stressed; professional trainers recommend an hour or two of boisterous play each day, combined with plenty of calm, relaxed supervision and companionship, for younger Filas.

Likewise, adult Filas will not be as eager to play, but will need some daily activity to prevent them from becoming lethargic (and possibly obese). Trainers recommend at least an hour of outdoor activities each day, preferably in a fenced yard; a long daily walk is also a good idea, but by all means use a leash to prevent a Fila from attacking people and other animals.

Living Requirements

Due to its size, this breed is best suited for homes with yards. A Fila may feel too confined in an apartment, which will lead to thoroughly destructive behavior; a busy, noisy apartment building will not be a good match for its willful and suspicious temperament.

Temperature Range

Filas don't handle extremes in temperatures very well. Due to its size, this breed may overheat in excessively warm weather; experts recommend providing these dogs with plenty of water at all times. Conversely, its short coat means a Fila will be cold in chilly temperatures, and the experts additionally recommend allowing a Fila to remain indoors when the temperature drops below 40 degrees.

Fila Brasileiro Health

These dogs have a relatively short lifespan; 9-11 years is the average. While generally healthy, Filas have a relatively high risk of suffering hip and elbow dysplasia. Like most dog breeds with deep chests, Filas also have a high occurrence rate of gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat.

  • Bloat
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Hip Dysplasia

Fila Brasileiro Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Fila Brasileiro as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • National Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
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