The Fila Brasileiro was developed in Brazil centuries ago as a large game hunting dog and working dog. These large dogs can be intimidating, but there is a reason why the saying, “faithful as a Fila” exists in Brazil.
This breed is also known as the Brazilian Mastiff, Brazilian Bloodhound, Cao de Brasil, Cao de Fila, and the Fila. Although these are purebred dogs, you may still find them in shelters and rescues. Remember to adopt! Don’t shop if this is the breed for you.
This massive dog probably isn’t the best choice for novice pet parents or people who live in apartments, as the Fila Brasileiro needs firm, experienced training and a lot of space to run around. The breed is banned in several countries where these dogs are considered aggressive. But for an experienced large dog owner who’s ready to devote a serious amount of time to training and socialization, the Fila Brasileiro can make a wonderful companion and watchdog.
FunkyPaw recommends a big, spacious crate to give your big Fila Brasileiro a place to rest and relax. You should also pick up a dog brush and massager for your short-haired pup!
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Working DogsHeight:24 to 30 inchesWeight:90 to 180 poundsLife Span:9 to 12 years
More About This Breed
- Fila Brasileiros have high energy levels. Make sure your dog gets at least two to three good half-hour- to hour-long walks per day with a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks mixed in.
- The Fila Brasileiro’s coat can be brindle, fawn, or black. Sometimes, a Fila may have a black mask.
- Their coats are smooth and short-haired, and they shed regularly. This means they don’t make great choices for allergy sufferers.
- Your Fila may not take well to other kids, like playmates, so it is important to set up boundaries for both the dog and kids. Teach your children how to properly interact with your Fila Brasileiro to prevent any unwanted injuries.
- Filas can get along with other dogs their size but tend to view anything smaller as prey. Even with consistent training, Filas are hard-wired to chase down small animals like cats and smaller pups, and will likely be best suited as the only animal in the home.
- The Brazilian Mastiff was bred to be loyal only to their owners, which means that consistent and early socialization is key to raising a Fila Brasileiro who won’t become aggressive around visitors or strangers.
The exact origins of the Fila Brasileiro, including when the breed came into existence, aren’t well-documented. Based on the Brazilian Mastiff’s appearance, it’s believed that the massive breed was created by crossbreeding English Mastiffs, Bulldogs, and Bloodhounds during the 1600s.
These large dogs were used by colonist plantation owners to fend off large predators like jaguars. They were also used to hunt and would track down livestock like cattle, sadly along with escaped enslaved people from the plantations, and grip them by the neck, holding them down until the dogs’ humans arrived.
Despite their massive size, these guard dogs are agile. The Fila Brasileiro could chase at up to 35 MPH for their plantation owning humans, and then shift into a quiet, docile mode when relaxing with the family.
Centuries later, in 1946, the first breed standards for the Fila Brasileiro were published. The inhabitants of the city Sao Paulo were put in charge of keeping breeding records. In 1954, the Brasil Kennel Club (BKC) accepted the breed, and in 1960, so did the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).
The stranger-aggressive breed isn’t recognized by show clubs like the American Kennel Club, as judges would not be able to inspect the watchful, powerful breed.
Male Fila Brasileiro stand 25 to 30 inches from the shoulder and usually weigh in anywhere between 110 and 180 pounds Female Brazilian Mastiffs are slightly smaller, standing between 23 and 27 inches tall from the shoulder and weighing somewhere between 90 and 110 pounds. That said, many can be larger or smaller.
The Fila Brasileiro is one of the largest, most headstrong purebred dogs out there, and only a select few are truly up to the challenge of raising and socializing this working breed. The Brazilian Mastiff was bred to be loyal only to their owners, which means that consistent and early socialization is key to raising a Fila Brasileiro who won’t become aggressive around visitors or strangers.
Still, when the Fila Brasileiro has a strong human pack leader who’s consistent, this large dog breed is nothing but devoted. When they aren’t running around or working, the Fila Brasileiro is often silent and docile, resting near their people. However, if something catches their attention or aggravates them, the Fila is quick to action and can go from lounging to lunging in seconds. Again, this is why it is so important that this breed has an experienced and consistent trainer.
For being such a large dog, the Fila Brasileiro has a surprising amount of energy. The massive dog needs big spaces, like a fenced-in yards, to run freely and burn off some excess energy. The Fila Brasileiro doesn’t fare well in small spaces like apartments or condos, even for the most active and dog-experienced of urban dwellers.
Fila Brasileiro are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be subject to certain health conditions. Not all Filas will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this large breed.
Some of the more common health problems Fila Brasileiro suffer from include:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
As with all dogs, you should keep up with your Fila Brasileiro’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet can help you develop a care routine that will keep your dog healthy.
If not exercised properly, Filas are prone to weight gain, and they have high energy levels. Make sure your dog gets at least two to three good half-hour- to hour-long walks per day with a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks mixed in. This is a breed you simply cannot have without having a yard, and you should work in some active outdoor play sessions with your Fila as well, when weather permits.
Check their ears for debris and pests daily, and clean them as recommended by your vet. Trim your dog’s nails before they get too long–usually once or twice per month. They should not be clicking against the floor. Your groomer can help with this.
You should brush their teeth daily, as many dogs are prone to dental issues. Your vet can instruct you on how to brush your dog’s teeth properly.
An ideal Fila Brasileiro diet should be formulated for a large breed with high energy levels. The Brazilian Mastiff has a high tendency to gain weight. Keep your Fila Brasileiro in good shape by measuring their food and feeding them twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time.
As with all dogs, the Fila Brasileiro’s dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. You should ask your veterinarian for recommendations about your Fila Brasileiro’s diet, as there is far too much variation among individual dogs–including weight, energy, and health–to make a specific recommendation.
Coat Color And Grooming
According to FCI standards, the Fila Brasileiro’s coat can be brindle, fawn, or black. Sometimes, a Fila may have a black mask. White marks aren’t up to breed standard, but they won’t make your Fila any less tenacious or loyal.
Their coats are smooth and short-haired, and they shed regularly. This means they don’t make great choices for allergy sufferers. A good brush per week, plus regularly bathing, should keep your Fila Brasleiro’s coat in good shape.
Filas can fare well in warmer weather, but this big dog should not be left in any extreme weathers, hot or cold.
Children And Other Pets
Even though the Fila Brasileiro can be intense, with consistent training, the massive breed can make a wonderful companion to children in the family. Your Fila may not take well to other kids, like playmates, so it is important to set up boundaries and teach your children how to properly interact with your Fila Brasileiro to prevent any unwanted injuries.
When it comes to other animals, Filas can get along with other dogs their size but tend to view anything smaller as prey. Even with consistent training, Filas are hard-wired to chase down small animals like cats and smaller pups, and will likely be best suited as the only animal in the home.
Rescues specifically for Fila Brasileiros might be hard to come by. However, you can always check with your local shelter, and you may want to try a rescue that caters to all kinds of dogs. You can take a look at the following:
- Wright-Way Rescue
- Angels Among Us Pet Rescue