Fila Brasileiro

Type: Guardian Dog

Height: 23.5 - 30 inches.

Weight: Males: 100 - 180 lbs; Females: 90 - 160 lbs.

Life Span: 10 -12 years.

Litter Size: 4 - 10 puppies.

Country of Origin: Brazil

Activity: Medium

Watch-dog: High. Suspicious of strangers.

Guard-dog: Very High. If not properly trained and socialized, Filas can be dangerous towards even welcomed guests.


Description: A massive breed, one of the powerful Molossers, the Fila Brasileiro is also known as the Brazilian Mastiff or Cao de Fila. Known for their outstanding courage and bravery, they are obedient to their owner and are unsurpassed guardians of their property. Fila Brasileiros are also used to hunt big game and herd cattle. They are one of two species to come from Brazil, and are Brazil's national dog. They have an abundance of thick skin, and a solid tail. They are lighter boned than the English Mastiff, weighing 40 - 50 pounds lighter. They have loose jowls and pulled back drop ears, much resembling their ancestor, the Bloodhound. They have elongated muzzles with excellent smell receptors. Fila Brasileiros are good at guarding and protecting, and some are raised to be aggressive. The Brazilian show warns judges not to touch this breed if they wish to keep their fingers, as most in Brazil are used for protection. The Fila, however, does fine with people and is not aggressive if trained and socialized from puppyhood. The Brazilian Mastiff is brave, courageous and self-confident. They are very loyal, being expressed through the Brazilian proverb, "Faithful as a Fila dog." Cao de Filas are loving of their family and even of the family's children, but do not welcome strangers. Caution should be exercised when even welcome guests enter the household with this breed. Before considering a Fila, understand the needs of this breed as they are a large responsibility.

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Other Names: Brazilian Mastiff, Cao de Fila, Brazilian Molosser

Colors: Brindles and all solid colors, except white or mouse gray. White is allowed on the tail tips and feet.

Coat: Short, smooth, soft and dense.

Temperament: Courageous, attentive and impetuous. Fila Brasileiros are courageous, fearless and protective. They will guard their family ferociously. They are suspicious towards strangers, but devoted and loving towards family. Fila Brasileiros are close to their human family, as well as faithful and tolerant. They require firm but positive training and socialization as puppies.

With Children: Yes, extremely tolerant and protective with children.

With Pets: Yes, will protect and bond with other pets.

Special Skills: Guard dog

Care and Training: Should be groomed with a hound glove. They need firm training and handling to control their aggression. Proper socialization and obedience training should begin at an early age.

Learning Rate: Medium.

Special Needs: Firm but positive training, leash, securely fenced yard, socialization and supervision at all times.

Living Environment: Fila Brasileiros need a lot of space, as they are large dogs. They also need a fenced in yard, as they are very unfriendly toward strangers. The best owner for this breed would be a dog-experienced person or family living in a rural environment. Care should be taken in securing a fence.

Health Issues: Hip dysplasia and Bloat (gastric torsion; twisted stomach). Bloat is a health issue to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs other than cancer, but Fila Brasileiros can be particularly susceptible to it because of their deep chests.

History: A native breed of Brazil, the Fila Brasileiro was developed from the Spanish and Portuguese Mastiffs and Bloodhounds. In the 16th century Spanish conquistadors brought these mastiff-type dogs to South America, and the breed resulted from various breedings with Portuguese Mastiffs and Bloodhounds. Filar, in Portuguese, means to hold or secure. This breed had the unique ability to, when it caught its quarry, hold it there at bay until its owner came. Other stories tell of Filas in the 19th century retrieving escaped slaves in South America by catching them and bringing them back to their master without injuring them. Some say this is what the Fila was bred for, as well as for guarding flocks and property. They were also used to hunt jaguars. They are best known as a fierce guard dogs in Brazil, where many are raised to harvest aggression toward outsiders. Brazilian judges in the show ring were warned not to touch the Fila if they wanted to keep their appendages. But the breed has be raised in other areas to overcome aggression, which has been successful. In some countries the breed has been banned due to potential aggression and its massive size. The final standardization of this breed was created in the 1950s. The breed is still rare but is slowly growing in popularity around the world.

Class: Working

Registries: FCI (Group 2), NZKC, CKC