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Fila Brasileiro: Dog Breed Information and Pictures

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Heard of a mighty mastiff breed with an intimidating appearance, and fierce personality? The Fila Brasileiro perfectly fits the list. With its roots in Brazil, this dog was bred for many purposes. These include big-game hunting, cattle herding, and guarding. Their loyalty, bravery, and protectiveness are exemplary. No wonder the Brazilian says ‘as faithful as fila’ after this breed’s loyalty.

These dogs have varied temperaments. They are docile and even-tempered at home but fierce and aggressive when defending their territory. Mind it. It’s not a dog for the novice or first-timers, as they may need help to tackle its bout of aggression.

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History of the Fila Brasileiro

There must be concrete information about where, when, and how Fila Brasileiro originated. It is assumed that the Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, and Bulldogs played a significant role in their development. They were developed in Brazil. Their ancestors were the European dogs brought to the country in the Colonial era.

The Fila were big, powerful, brave, and strong. It made them be used in large plantations and even cattle farms to ward off big predators like the jaguar. They were even trained to chase the fugitive servant, who would try feeling away. These mighty dogs would catch the enslaved people by their neck, holding onto them until their masters arrived.

The first standards of the Fila were written in the year 1946. The Paulistas, inhabitants of Brazil’s Sao Paulo, were responsible for planning a breeding program for the Fila. They were also asked to open a stud book for registering these breeds.

Dr. Paulo Santos Cruz played a significant role in breeding the Fila. He even made his contributions to developing a specific standard for this breed. Thus, he is often known as the father of Fila. The BKC, or Brasil Kennel Club, accepted this breed in 1954. The FCI, or Federation Cynologique Internationale, acknowledged the Fila in 1960. The United Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club are yet to recognize this breed.

More About the Fila Brasileiro

More About the Fila Brasileiro

The Fila Brasileiro is an interesting breed indeed. Its fierce look, combined with its dignified demeanor, makes it all the more interesting. Read on to learn more about its appearance and temperament.


The Fila has that big, scary look, all because of its prominent physical features. Their head is big and heavy, while their muzzle appears deep. What adds to the Fila’s fierce appearance is its large ears, thick towards the base and tapering near the end. The ears may either droop or remain folded back, which varies as per the dog’s mood.

They even have a well-muscled neck, back, and deep, broad chest. The Fila is extremely fast on their feet because of their heavily-boned and muscular legs. Another striking feature of the Fila is its dewlaps or loose skin seen around its chest, abdomen, and neck.


These big mastiffs are mighty when it comes to size. The male Filas measure between 25 and 30 inches, weighing around 110-180 pounds. They have a height of 23-27 inches and a weight of 90-110 pounds. Their female counterparts appear slightly smaller.

Personality and Temperament

Handling a Fila at home is no mean feat as they aren’t easygoing. Their behavior is a part of the job they were employed to do. However, the present-day Fila is a much toned-down version. Yet the aggression and protective instinct remain intact. They are bold, active, alert, and at their best at work. Contrastingly, they are docile and silent when in the bounds of their home.

Their potential aggression towards strangers is no secret. It can only be corrected through extensive socialization. They have an immense tendency to attack at the slightest trigger. Thus, a firm, alert, and tactful master is needed to prevent the occurrence of any untoward incident.

Health Problems

Overall Fila Brasileiro is healthy. Yet, they might suffer from certain health problems common to big dog breeds. Some are explained as follows:

Hip Dysplasia

Like all other big dogs, the Fila is at an increased risk of hip dysplasia. The symptoms of hip dysplasia will become prominent by the time the dogs are 1 or 2 years old. Limping, reduced physical activity, and inconsistency in the movement are the common symptoms.

Elbow Dysplasia

Like hip dysplasia, in elbow dysplasia, the joints in the Fila don’t develop the way they should. This results in stiffness in your dog’s elbows that worsens after exercise. In severe cases, the elbow would become puffy or swollen.


Being a deep-chested dog, the Filas Brasileiro is highly prone to bloating. So, it is advisable to keep a close watch on his diet. Also, ensure you don’t exercise your Fila for at least two hours from when he has had his meal.


The agile and active dogs they are, it goes without saying that the Fila needs immense exercise. It would help them stay energized and happy. They need around two or three one-hour walks each day. It should be coupled with sufficient playtime. You could add 2-3 short walks in between for 15 minutes on average.

These dogs can’t dwell in condos or apartments. They require a large and spacious dwelling. A countryside home with a large yard or garden is perfect for the Fila. If you have a job for the Fila, like guarding your property or farm, that would be a bonus. Remember to make your dog wear a leash when taking him out since I’m sure his chasing instinct is familiar to you. And, once he finds something suspicious, he would do all that it needs to attack and get after it.

Maintaining them is relatively easy. You must follow the basic hygiene requirements. These include regularly checking and cleaning their ears and eyes to avoid infections. Trimming your dog’s nails once or twice a month would be best. How would you know your dog’s nails have grown? You will hear the clicking noise when they walk or run around. Brushing their teeth thrice or four times a week is a mandate. It will help prevent plaque buildup and other bacterial infections.


These big dogs have a high chance of getting obese if their diet isn’t controlled. Ensure that the formula food you feed your puppies and dogs is protein-rich. When your dog becomes an adult, give him two small meals a day instead of a big one. You could give one for his breakfast and the other for your puppy’s dinner. If you give your dog homemade food, consult your vet first. Knowing the dos and don’ts of your dog’s food is essential.

Coat Color and Grooming

The Brazilian Mastiff comes in a range of colors. These include black, different shades of fawn, and brindle. The colors not permitted according to the breed standards include solid white, black, and tan, mouse gray, white, and a dotted pattern. Dogs with such colorations aren’t purebred. They can have white markings, but that shouldn’t exceed more than 1/4th of the surface area of their coat. Moreover, the white markings are only on their tail tip, chest, and feet. Some dogs may even have a black mask, which isn’t mandatory.

These dogs have smooth, soft, and dense coats fitted tightly around their body. They are regular shedders. So, brushing them once a week to remove dead hairs and keep their coat in proper shape is important.

Children and Other Pets

Children and Other Pets

Because of their temperament, the Fila doesn’t qualify to be a perfect dog for kids. However, with proper socialization, these dogs may eventually get along with the family and kids. Teach your kids how to behave with a dog as big as Fila’s stature. Ensure that they don’t do anything that could trigger aggression in Fila. If you have small kids at home, never leave them alone with this mighty breed.

The Fila will get along well with canines similar in size to theirs. Anything smaller than that is prey to them. The same goes with cats; keeping them with felines and smaller pets is a no-no; it would trigger the dog’s chasing instinct.


As mentioned, there are better choices than the Brazilian Mastiff for beginners. They are strong-willed and stubborn. These traits make it extremely challenging for owners to train these dogs. You should start socialization training with your dog as weary as possible. It would help them accept the people and pets around them. Moreover, they should be exposed to good and bad situations. In this manner, these dogs would understand that not every stranger poses a threat.

Similarly, obedience training and leash training are also necessary to control their chasing instinct. Teach them the basic commands like ‘No,’ ‘Stay,’ and ‘Stop .’ Once they get adept at following the same, chances are these dogs would stop doing anything undesirable when they hear your voice.

Yet, it is important to know that even after proper training, these dogs could chase anything smaller than them at the slightest trigger. So, when you take the Fila out, please keep a vigil on them. Never omit the leash. Keep them aloof from smaller pets at home, lest it leads to an accident.


So, it is well understood that if a cute, cuddly lap dog is on the cards, the Fila is not the perfect pick. But, if you are in for some challenges and desire to keep a powerful, loyal guard dog, the Fila is the best thing you can have.


Does the Fila Brasileiro bite?

The Fila isn’t a regular biter. Their bite force is 238 PSI, that’s quite strong indeed. But it can get quite aggressive at times. If the situation goes out of control, the Fila may bite its victim.

Is it illegal to own the Fila Brasileiro?

Fila Brasileiro is a fierce protector. If not trained best, these dogs can get immensely ferocious and dangerous. Hence there are restrictions in some parts of the world regarding the ownership of the Fila Brasileiro.

Owning these dogs in Malta, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Fiji is illegal unless a court’s exemption is obtained. In Turkey, owning and breeding the Fila is illegal as well. In Trinidad and Tobago, the breed is under the dangerous dog category. Therefore, importing them isn’t allowed. Also, the male Filas should be neutered.

Is the Fila Brasileiro a catch dog?

Filar is a verb in Portuguese that means to grab, arrest, or hold. That’s what the Fila does. It catches its prey and bites in a way that the grip doesn’t loosen. It makes it a catch dog.

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