Fawn Fila Brasileiro

Fila Brasileiro Dog Breed

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

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

9 - 11 yrs.
24 - 30 in.
110 - 160 lbs
OverallFamily FriendlyChild FriendlyPet FriendlyStranger Friendly
Easy to GroomEnergy LevelExercise NeedsHealthShedding Amount
Barks / HowlsEasy to TrainGuard DogPlayfulnessWatch Dog
Apartment DogCan be AloneGood for Busy OwnersGood for New OwnersIntelligence

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 Colors

The images below represent the coat colors and patterns associated with Fila Brasileiros.

Black and Tan
Black and Tan
Additional Coat Colors

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 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.

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.

Fila Brasileiro Health Concerns

Below are potential health concerns associated with Fila Brasileiros.

Hip dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia

About this Article

Authored by:Dog-Learn
Updated:March 10, 2017