Fila Brasileiro dogs are devoted to their handlers and family. They are courageous and will guard their human families. They can be antagonistic and even dangerous dogs but they can also be loving dogs.
The breed descended from bloodhounds which is apparent when you look at the Fila. These dogs have big muzzles with large upper lips. Their loose skin droops away from their large bodies. The fur is short and soft.
Filas are large in stature and are powerful animals. They have a rolling walk that is unique to their breed. When these dogs walk, they move both of their right legs and then both of their left legs.
This breed has a soft and thick coat. Fawn and brindle are the two most common colors. It is often striped in different shades and it may have white markings. However, white markings are not desirable in a show dog. The texture of the fur is rough. The breed has average shedding.
The Fila Brasileiro is descended from the Old English Mastiff, the Bloodhound, the Rafeiors and the British Bulldog. Historically, the breed was used to work with farm animals. Filas also had the responsibility of returning slaves to their Brazilian owners.
This breed is controversial and sometimes aggressive. It has been outlawed in several countries although some people do not find this appropriate or fair. Many people believe that if you treat the Fila well then it will behave well.
It is important that this breed be protected while it is outside either in a well fenced area or on a lead. This is both to protect the safety of other people and animals and the Fila who is a frequent target of thieves who sell the dogs so that they can compete in fights.
There are two distinct camps of thought on what a Fila’s temperament should be. One camp believes that the Fila should be a fierce guard dog. The other camp believes that the Fila should be a tame breed.
Both camps agree that the Fila are protective of its handlers and family. The breed trusts those whom it chooses to trust and can be aggressive to those whom it doesn’t know.
Handlers of this breed must be proactive and self-assured. If a handler is hesitant or unsure then the dog may become violent or domineering. In order to socialize this breed, the owner must start when the dog is a puppy. Socialization is the key to training the Fila and must include getting it used to a variety of different and unfamiliar people. Even with proper socialization, the Fila may become aggressive when it feels the need to guard itself or its family from strangers.
Strangely, this breed that is so dangerous with people it doesn’t know, can be passive and calm with children and small animals in its own household.
The Fila Brasileiro is somewhat prone to the ailments which you’d typically associate with bigger dogs. These problems include: hip dysplasia and to a lesser extent elbow dysplasia, CHD, PRA, gastric torsion and heart problems.
The Fila is prone to swelling up after meals so proper nutrition and small meals are advisable.
While a Fila’s fur is easy to care for with regular brushing, the dog does require regular grooming. A Fila needs to be bathed often which is likely something the dog will take pleasure in. Its ears need to be cleaned often as well to keep them healthy.
Due to their large size, Filas need regular exercise. However, they are temperamental animals that at times seem exhausted and then immediately want to be exercise. Handlers should exercise these animals on a regular daily schedule so that the dogs learn to expect it at certain times of the day. Beginning exercise routines during puppyhood can also encourage Filas to continue exercising throughout their lives.
The Fila must be trained from an early age in order to become obedient and passive in social situations. If left untrained, the dog has a tendency to become overly aggressive and potentially violent.
It is essential that training begin in puppyhood for this breed if the dogs are ever to become gentle and trustworthy. Handlers must understand that this breed believes it is the alpha dog. Therefore, the handler must be self-assured and always in control. These dogs pick up on anxiety and doubt and may become violent and attack a person who makes their handler uncomfortable.
The breed is a natural guard dog and no training needs to be done to teach it how to perform that job. Socialization with strangers, on the other hand, must be done often.
Strangely enough, Filas are good family dogs and trust children and smaller animals. Trust is the key with the Fila and once that trust is earned, the recipient is likely to be treated very well.
Despite the best training, this breed should always be leashed when it is outside. It is impossible to tell how the Fila will react to strangers, no matter how good its training has been in that regard.