A Gigantic Dog that’s Dainty on Its Feet But Will Protect You at the Cost of Its Own Life!
The Fila Brasileiro is a dog breed so physically imposing that it can literally take your breath away. It is a Molosser breed, as are other large dogs like the Newfoundland and St. Bernard. Large-boned with loose skin, this stunning dog stands 23 to 27 inches high at the shoulder with females weighing at least 90 pounds and males, 110.
What makes the Fila Brasileiro so physically unique is that despite its large size, there is not a hint of clumsiness. This dog is both powerful and elegant, even catlike in its movements. While some other large dogs may tend to lumber, the Fila Brasileiro is the vision of grace. One of the most descriptive terms for the Fila Brasileiro is that it is "harmonious" and noble, a peaceful, sometimes melancholy dog. If challenged and in a protective mode, though, the Fila Brasileiro is focused, courageous, and absolutely fearless.
Fila Brasileiro History
The Fila Brasileiro probably got its start in Brazil and evolved from Molosser and other breeds like the ancient English Bulldog (not to be confused with the modern breed of the English Bulldog), the Bloodhound, and the Mastiff. While most breeds have been carefully developed, the Fila Brasileiro simply "happened" as a result of necessity. When colonists in Brazil needed a hard-working, strong and sturdy dog that could drive cattle, hunt jaguar, guard people and property, and be a loyal companion dog, all rolled into one, they created it. Today, the Fila Brasileiro is the National Dog of Brazil.
Over the years, the breed has developed into a loyal, exceedingly protective guard dog, fiercely loyal to those it loves. Stories have been told, in fact, that the Fila Brasileiro will readily clear a six-foot fence if it thinks its owner is in danger and needs rescue.
The dogs' original job was to chase. Thanks to their Bloodhound origins, they have excellent tracking abilities, and were used to overtake cattle, attack jaguars, and even catch runaway slaves on plantations. Instinctively, these gentle dogs do not inflict harm, however. "Fila" means "hold" in ancient Portuguese, which is exactly how the Fila Brasileiro captures its prey. They do not attack; instead, they grab the escaping prey firmly but gently by the neck in their powerful jaws, and hold it there until human help arrives.
Fila Brasileiro Appearance
The Fila Brasileiro is an awesome sight! This dog is handsome, well-structured – and big! Its Bloodhound ancestry is evident in its long nose, seemingly melancholy expression, and loosely-hanging skin which hangs loosely all over its rectangular body, gathering noticeably at the neck. In some cases, it may have a black mask, and can be a variety of colors including black, brindle, or fawn, with white markings on the tail, toes, and chest. The coat is short, soft, and very thick.
Perhaps most striking about this dog, though, is its movement. Unlike some other Molosser breeds, the Fila Brasileiro is precise and almost dainty, an odd description for a dog that can weigh more than 100 pounds!
Fila Brasileiro Temperament
This lovely, gentle dog is simultaneously courageous and powerful. Very dedicated to you and your family, it will literally risk its life for you without a moment's hesitation if danger is present. When relaxed, the Fila Brasileiro is totally calm and docile, but can shift into protective, self-assured boldness instantly if necessary.
A natural guard dog who won’t need to be taught to protect you; it simply does that naturally once it knows and loves you. The Fila Brasileiro's faithfulness, in fact, has been immortalized in a well-known Brazilian saying: "Faithful as a Fila."
Although the Fila Brasileiro is a naturally peaceful pet, it is also a guard dog and is very protective. Fila Brasileiro puppies naturally display a characteristic called "ojeriza" – not overt aggression, but a distrust of strangers. This means you should never, ever leave your pet unattended with anyone your dog doesn't know well. Although these are normally gentle dogs and almost never bite, they are so physically imposing that they can be dangerous to so-called "intruders" if they feel you are being threatened. Therefore, it's imperative that you socialize your puppy as soon as possible. Make sure you're the absolute boss; if you can show your Fila Brasileiro puppies that you are the one in charge, it will follow your lead, and will remain calm and well-behaved as long as it is by your side.
Despite its massive size, the Fila Brasileiro is in fact so gentle that once your pet knows and loves your small children, it will be very protective and in fact will take "abuse" from those children without complaint. Therefore, it's also important that you train even your little children not to be overly rough with your pet, since the dog will simply accept painful treatment, regardless of whether it causes distress or annoyance.
A Note About The Fila Brasileiro’s Restricted Status As A "Dangerous" Breed
Unfortunately, the Fila Brasileiro has been designated as a "dangerous" dog in some countries. It is illegal to own one without specific permission from the courts in Israel, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Malta, Cyprus, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, and New Zealand. In addition, imports are banned and males must be neutered in Trinidad and Tobago, and New Zealand, as well. Those who know and love the Fila are dismayed by this "dangerous" status, since they believe that improper socialization or abuse is to blame for any undesirable behavior rather than the dog itself, a plight which can affect any breed.
Fila Brasileiro Proper Environment
The Fila Brasileiro is typically a country dog, and needs lots of exercise outdoors to stay healthy and happy. It can accept life in an apartment, but prefers an environment where it has lots of room to run and use its excess energy. Unlike other Mastiff-type dogs, the Fila Brasileiro needs a strenuous physical outlet, or it can become destructive out of frustration. Above all else, your pet must not be left alone; the Fila Brasileiro craves companionship, and will suffer anxiety and depression if it cannot protect you.
Fila Brasileiro Health
Like most large dogs, Fila Brasileiro puppies have relatively limited lifespans. They live between 9 and 11 years on average, although their health is quite good. The most common problems as with all large dogs are hip dysplasia and bloat. Bloat is very dangerous and can be fatal within an hour of symptom onset. It's imperative to feed your dog small meals and avoid overfeeding. If you see symptoms of bloat in your dog (apparent discomfort, and/or failed attempts to vomit), visit the vet immediately.
Fila Brasileiro Grooming
The Fila Brasileiro has smooth, short hair that's very easy to groom. Brushing with a firm bristle brush and then wiping with a piece of towelling will give your pet a glistening, gleaming coat that's truly beautiful. Bathing should rarely be necessary.