The Fila is not an appropriate choice for an inexperienced dog owner. While the breed standard for the Fila says that he should be docile and obedient with his family, extremely tolerant with children, and calm and self-assured in new situations, he doesn’t come that way. This dog is large, powerful, intelligent, active, and headstrong. He also has outstanding courage, determination, and bravery. A Fila needs a leader who can develop and manage all of those characteristics by guiding the dog with firmness and consistency but without using force or cruelty.
The Fila Brasileiro is a descendant of the 15th-century English mastiff, bloodhound, bulldog and rafeiros. Its bloodhound ancestry being evident in its long muzzle and pendulous skin. It is a Molosser breed with large bones and loose skin.
Though large in size, the Fila does not appear static. Rather he is harmonious, cat-like and above all powerful. The expression is noble, solemn, dignified but somewhat melancholic. The Fila appears self-assured and calm but is never absent in expression. When at attention, the gaze of the Fila Brasileiro is firm, alert and unwavering. Another typical characteristic of the breed is its gait, which is similar to that of a camel, moving two legs of one side at a time.
The Fila Brasileiro is believed to have been evolved from a number of breeds: the Mastiff, the Bulldog, Bloodhound and the Rafeiro do Alentejo. The Fila Brasileiro breed was bred and raised primarily on large plantations and cattle farms where they were originated.
They were taught to chase down jaguars, cattle, and other animals, as well as runaway slaves. The dogs would grab the slave or animals by the neck and hold them until the farmer arrived. This instinct can be observed among puppies when they are playing.
The coat of the Fila Brasileiro is smooth and short. Black, Fawns (Red, Apricot, or Dark), and Brindled (Fawn, Black, or Brown Brindle) colors are permitted, except Mouse-Grey, Black and Tan, Blue and Solid White. White markings, not exceeding 1/4 of the coat surface area, are permitted on the feet, chest, and the tip of the tail in the FCI standard.
The Brazilian Mastiffs are known to be naturally protective. It is also known for its extreme wariness of strangers and agility when protecting or defending its master. The dedication and obedience of the Fila Brasileiro has found its way into Brazilian saying “As faithful as a Fila”
The Fila Brasileiro temperament is what characterizes the dog. The Portuguese word for their temperament is Ojeriza, which directly translated into English means dislike and distrust. The socialization period (about the first year with the first 6-8 months being the most important) of the dog’s life is crucial to the temperament of the individual dog. If the pup is exposed to a lot of people in a positive manner, the pup (keeping in mind the dog’s natural protective instincts) can be encouraged to behave in a calm manner in public, but emphasis should be placed on the fact that socialization is done differently from other breeds. Despite extensive socialization, the fila is instinctively protective and will naturally guard and protect its owner, their family members and the family pets; this is not something that needs to be trained, it is an innate trait. Strangers should not be left unattended with a fila and, like all other guardian breeds, it may not be the best choice for those who have frequent visitors to their homes. Lack of all socialization with strangers at a young age will result in a dog which is very anti-social.
This breed is not suited to city life, as its vigorous body must work off energy in the freedom of the country. It needs a fenced-in yard with room to run. The Fila can sleep outdoors with proper shelter. The Fila needs plenty of chance to exercise. While some can appear to be very lazy, big couch potatoes, like all dogs, they should be taken on daily walks.
Still, because most people are not experienced enough at “reading” and responding properly to canine body language, the Fila Brasileiro is “too much dog” for the vast majority of households. This is a serious working dog with tremendous strength. Very few people really have the knowledge or skills necessary to manage this breed.