FILA BRASILEIRO: Brazilian Mastiff Breed

Discover about the Fila Brasileiro, a powerful and loyal breed of dogs.  A mastiff breed, its key characteristics include its massive size, strong and muscular build, and its distinctive loose skin.

The Fila Brasileiro, also known as the Brazilian Mastiff or Brazilian Fila, is a large and powerful breed of dog originating from Brazil. It was historically used as a working dog on plantations and farms, primarily for hunting large game, guarding property, and herding cattle.

One of the most notable features of this ultimate mastiff is its temperament. While they are fiercely loyal and protective of their family, they can also be wary of strangers and exhibit a strong guarding instinct.

Discover its history, characteristics, temperament, and care requirements to determine if it’s the right fit for you as a pet owner.

History

The Fila Brasileiro, also known as the Brazilian Mastiff, boasts a rich history deeply intertwined with Brazil’s cultural heritage. Originating in the 16th century, this imposing breed was selectively developed through the breeding of European mastiffs, Bloodhounds, Bulldogs, and Portuguese herding dogs brought to Brazil by Portuguese colonizers.

Initially bred by Brazilian plantation owners and farmers, they served as a versatile working dog, excelling in various tasks such as herding cattle, tracking game, and guarding property. Their exceptional loyalty, intelligence, and formidable strength made them indispensable companions in rural settings, where they played a crucial role in protecting livestock and estates from predators and intruders.

Beyond their utilitarian roles, Filas were also valued for their innate ability to bond closely with their human families, displaying unwavering loyalty and devotion. This deep bond led to the breed’s popularity not only as a working dog but also as a beloved household pet.

Throughout history, his reputation as a fierce protector and loyal companion grew, earning them a place in Brazilian folklore and culture. However, their protective nature and formidable size also led to some controversies, particularly regarding their suitability as family pets and concerns over aggression towards strangers.

Despite these controversies, enthusiasts and breeders continue to uphold its legacy, striving to preserve its unique characteristics while promoting responsible ownership and breeding practices.

Today, the Fila Brasileiro remains a cherished symbol of Brazil’s heritage, revered for its strength, loyalty, and unwavering devotion to its family.

Personality

The personality of this breed is as distinctive as its appearance, characterized by a blend of loyalty, intelligence, and protectiveness.

Renowned for its unwavering devotion to its family, this breed forms deep bonds with its human companions, often displaying an almost intuitive understanding of their emotions and needs.

Despite its imposing size and formidable presence, the Fila is typically gentle and affectionate with those it trusts, often assuming the role of a devoted guardian and loyal companion.

However, its protective instincts can manifest strongly in the presence of strangers or perceived threats, making early socialization and training crucial to channel its innate instincts appropriately.

fila brasileiro

Physical Characteristics

Height

  • Male 25-29 inches
  • Female 23-27 inches

Weight

  • Male 110-180 pounds
  • Female 90-150 pounds

Coat

This mastiff has a short coat.

Color

The various colors are:

  • Fawn
  • Black
  • Brindle
  • Combinations of these colors

Eyes

He has medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes that are dark in color.

Ears

This herding dog has medium to large-sized, triangular-shaped ears that hang down close to the cheeks.

Tail

Generally he has a long, thick tail that tapers towards the tip, typically carried low and slightly curved when relaxed.

Life Span

The average life span is around 9-11 years.

Temperament

This guarding breed possesses a temperament characterized by its loyalty, protectiveness, and intelligence. Deeply devoted to its family, this breed forms strong bonds with its human companions and often exhibits a keen intuition regarding their emotions and needs.

As a natural guardian, he is inherently protective of its loved ones and territory, displaying a fearless and determined demeanor in the face of perceived threats. While its imposing presence may deter potential intruders, it is typically gentle and affectionate with those it trusts.

However, due to its strong guarding instincts, early socialization and consistent training are essential to ensure proper behavior around strangers and other animals. With firm yet gentle guidance, they can thrive as a loyal and affectionate companion, embodying the ideal balance of courage, loyalty, and intelligence.

Grooming

Grooming of this massive dog is relatively low-maintenance due to its short coat, but regular care is still necessary to keep the dog healthy and comfortable. A weekly brushing with a firm bristle brush or grooming mitt helps to remove loose hair, dirt, and debris, while also distributing natural oils throughout the coat to maintain its sheen.

Bathing should be done as needed, typically every few months or when the dog becomes dirty or smelly. It’s important to use a mild dog shampoo to avoid stripping the coat of its natural oils. Additionally, regular dental care, including brushing the teeth several times a week, helps to prevent dental issues such as tartar buildup and gum disease.

Nail trimming should be done every few weeks to prevent overgrowth and discomfort, as well as to minimize the risk of the nails becoming ingrown. Routine ear cleaning with a veterinarian-recommended solution can help prevent ear infections, especially in dogs with floppy ears.

Training

Training him requires a patient and consistent approach due to its strong-willed nature and protective instincts. Early socialization is crucial to ensure that the dog learns to interact appropriately with other animals and people.

Positive reinforcement methods, such as praise, treats, and play, work best with this breed, as they respond well to rewards for good behavior. Basic obedience training should be started early and reinforced consistently throughout the dog’s life to establish boundaries and reinforce desired behaviors.

Firm but gentle leadership is important, as this mastiffs responds best to a confident and assertive handler. It’s essential to provide mental stimulation and physical exercise to prevent boredom and potential behavioral issues, such as excessive barking or destructive chewing.

However, it’s important to note its protective instincts may lead to territorial behavior, so proper management and training are necessary to ensure that the dog understands when it’s appropriate to guard and when to remain calm. Working with a professional dog trainer experienced in handling large, guardian breeds can be beneficial for owners seeking guidance in training their Brasileiro effectively.

Exercise

He is a large and active breed that requires regular exercise to maintain its physical and mental well-being. Daily exercise sessions that include brisk walks, runs, or playtime in a securely fenced area are essential to help burn off excess energy and prevent boredom.

Additionally, engaging in activities such as hiking, jogging, or participating in dog sports like agility or obedience can provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation for him.

It’s important to ensure that the exercise routine is appropriate for the dog’s age, health, and fitness level, gradually increasing intensity and duration as the dog grows and develops.

However, it’s essential to avoid over-exercising young puppies, as their bones and joints are still developing. Providing structured exercise and enrichment activities not only helps keep him physically fit but also strengthens the bond between the dog and its owner.

Nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of the Fila Brasileiro, providing the necessary nutrients to support its large size, muscular build, and active lifestyle. A balanced diet formulated specifically for large and giant breed dogs is recommended to ensure that the Fila receives the appropriate amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

High-quality commercial dog foods labeled as suitable for large breeds or formulated for active dogs can serve as a convenient option, providing the necessary nutrients in appropriate proportions. Owners should carefully read the ingredient labels and select foods that list meat or meat meal as the first ingredient, avoiding fillers and artificial additives.

Feeding guidelines provided by the manufacturer should be followed closely, with portion sizes adjusted based on the dog’s age, weight, activity level, and individual metabolism.

Additionally, dividing the daily food allowance into two or three smaller meals can help prevent digestive issues such as bloating and gastric torsion, which large breeds like the Fila Brasileiro may be prone to.

It’s essential to provide access to fresh, clean water at all times to prevent dehydration, especially after exercise or during hot weather.

Health Concerns

The Fila Brasileiro, like many large and giant dog breeds, is prone to certain health concerns that prospective owners should be aware of. While not all individuals will experience these issues, it’s essential to stay vigilant and provide appropriate veterinary care to maintain the dog’s health and well-being.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

One of the most significant health concerns for him is hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to discomfort, pain, and eventually arthritis. Elbow dysplasia is another orthopedic issue that can affect the breed, causing lameness and joint pain.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV)

This is also known as bloat, is a life-threatening condition that can occur in deep-chested breeds like the Fila Brasileiro. This condition involves the stomach twisting, trapping gas and fluid, leading to rapid onset of shock and organ damage if not treated promptly.

Heart Issues

Heart disease, particularly dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), is another concern for the breed. DCM can lead to heart failure and reduced lifespan if not managed properly.

Other health issues that may include:

Hypothyroidism

A thyroid disorder that can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems.

Entropion

A condition where the eyelid rolls inward, causing irritation and potential damage to the eye.

Ectropion

The opposite of entropion, where the eyelid turns outward, leading to eye irritation and susceptibility to infections.

Osteosarcoma

A type of bone cancer that can occur in large and giant breed dogs.

Bottom Line

The Fila Brasileiro, also known as the Brazilian Mastiff, is a large and powerful breed originating from Brazil. Renowned for its loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature, they form deep bonds with its family while displaying a keen instinct for guarding property and loved ones.

With its imposing stature and distinctive appearance, this breed requires firm yet gentle handling, early socialization, and consistent training. While low-maintenance in terms of grooming, the Brazil mastiff benefits from regular exercise and a balanced diet to maintain its health and well-being.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. Are these dogs aggressive?

They have strong guarding instincts and can be wary of strangers. Proper socialization and training are crucial to manage their behavior.

Q. Do Filas shed a lot?

They have a short coat that sheds moderately. Regular grooming can help minimize shedding.

Q. Are they good guard dogs?

Yes, they are excellent guard dogs due to their loyalty, protective nature, and imposing presence.

Q. Do Filas get along with other pets?

With proper socialization, Filas can get along with other pets. However, their strong prey drive may require supervision around smaller animals.

Q. Are Filas good for first-time dog owners?

Due to their size, strength, and protective nature, Filas are not recommended for first-time dog owners. They require experienced handling and training.

Q. Are these hunting dogs prone to overheating?

Yes, they can be sensitive to heat due to their large size and dense coat. It’s important to provide access to shade and plenty of water during hot weather.

Q. Are these mastiffs good apartment dogs?

Due to their large size and need for exercise, they are not well-suited for apartment living. They require ample space and regular outdoor activity.

Q. Are Brasileiros prone to drooling?

Some Brasileiros may drool, especially after eating or drinking. However, not all individuals exhibit this trait.

Q. Can Filas be left alone for long periods?

They thrive on companionship and may experience separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. They do best in homes where someone is present for most of the day.

Q. Do Filas require a fenced yard?

Yes, Fila Brasileiros benefit from a securely fenced yard to ensure their safety and provide space for exercise and exploration.

Q. Are they good with children?

With proper socialization and training, He can be good with children. However, their large size and protective nature require supervision around young children.

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