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Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff) Breed: Info, Pictures, Care & Traits

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on June 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

brindle fila brasileiro

Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff) Breed: Info, Pictures, Care & Traits

The Fila Brasileiro, or Brazilian Mastiff, is a dog breed that’s native to Brazil. This dog has been living alongside humans for centuries and was originally bred to be guard dogs over livestock. Fila Brasileiros are more commonly seen in Brazil and aren’t relatively rare to see in the US. Some countries also have bans or restrictions on them.

Fila Brasileiros are strongly recommended for experienced dog owners only because they can be particularly challenging to train. So, it’s important to do thorough research on this breed and know what you’re getting yourself into before you decide to bring one home.

Breed Overview

Height:

24–30 inches

Weight:

90–280 pounds

Lifespan:

9–13 years

Colors:

Black, fawn, white, brindle

Suitable for:

Experienced dog owners, single-family homes, families with older children

Temperament:

Independent, loyal, protective

Fila Brasileiros often have a bad reputation for being highly aggressive dogs. This can be true if they don’t receive proper care and if their owners have a flippant attitude towards training. On the flip side, Fila Brasileiros have the potential to become loving and hardworking companions. They take their responsibilities seriously and often make excellent guard dogs with strong and quick protective instincts. Training and taking good care of a Fila Brasileiro will result in having one of the most loyal and devoted companions you’ll ever find.

Fila Brasileiro Characteristics

Energy
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High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Trainability
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Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Health
+
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Lifespan
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Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Sociability
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Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Fila Brasileiro Puppies

Two Fila Brasileiro puppies playing in the grass
Image Credit: olgagorovenko, Shutterstock

Fila Brasileiros aren’t common in the US, and they’re not a breed that’s registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). So, it can be difficult to find a Fila Brasileiro breeder, and it’s likely you’ll have to travel far to find one. You may be able to find pet adoption agencies and rescue groups that have Fila Brasileiros that are ready to be rehomed.

Fila Brasileiro puppies are bundles of energy. This breed was originally bred to be working dogs, and they exhibit high levels of energy and stamina at an early age. Fila Brasileiro puppies aren’t known to be social and will start to bond with one or two people. Therefore, early socialization and training are essential for healthy growth and development. While socialization won’t necessarily transform them into social butterflies, it will help them learn how to interact with people and other animals appropriately.

Fila Brasileiro puppies also require firm, fair, and consistent training. They have strong guarding instincts that will show up in puppyhood, and they require an experienced trainer who can teach them appropriate ways to act on their protectiveness.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Fila Brasileiro

Fila Brasileiros are famously known for their loyalty and strong protective instincts. As working dogs, they have a strong work ethic and take their responsibilities seriously. They were bred to protect livestock from predators and thieves. So, they’re fast on their feet and quick to react to any potential threats.

When trained properly, Fila Brasileiros are loyal and loving companions that will do anything for their families. They’re highly intelligent and have a strong intuition. However, they can be difficult to train at first because they also tend to have a mind of their own. It takes a significant investment in time and effort to gain a Fila Brasileiro’s trust and establish a strong foundation for obedience training. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to work with a professional dog trainer to ensure a Fila Brasileiro receives adequate training.

It’s also important to note that Fila Brasileiros are naturally wary of strangers. They’ll always keep an eye out for anyone they don’t know and are often quick to react if they see anyone acting out of line. So, they’re not the best dogs to have if you like to host guests in your home frequently.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Adult Fila Brasileiro
Image Credit: olgagorovenko, Shutterstock

Fila Brasileiros are fiercely loyal to their families. Well-adjusted Fila Brasileiros can be fairly laid back and even docile when they’re with their families. However, due to the large investment in training that’s required, Fila Brasileiros are best for families with older children who know how to interact with dogs respectfully. Young Fila Brasileiros may not know how to be patient with younger children who haven’t learned to respect a dog’s boundaries yet. They’re highly reactive and can be quick to bite if they feel threatened or bothered. They may also knock over young children easily due to their large size.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

It’s possible for Fila Brasileiros to get along with other pets if they’ve been socialized at an early age. They were bred to guard livestock and can be trained to leave other animals alone. You’ll find the most success when Fila Brasileiros are introduced to other pets when they’re puppies. Adult dogs are less likely to form a positive attachment to other animals.

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Things to Know When Owning a Fila Brasileiro

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Fila Brasileiros are giant dog breeds, and proper diet and nutrition are essential for their development and well-being. In general, puppies require higher caloric intake and more protein for healthy growth and development, and they tend to burn energy faster. Fila Brasileiros often require a reduction in the amount of protein they consume as they age.

High-quality dog food that’s specifically formulated for large and giant dog breeds often suffice. Fila Brasileiros will also benefit from diets or supplements that support bone and joint health as they age because they’re susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia.

It’s best to consult your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your specific Fila Brasileiro and if they’ll benefit from taking supplements. Your veterinarian can also help you determine how much food to feed your Fila Brasileiro daily.

Two Fila Brasileiro dogs, autumn scene
Image Credit: olgagorovenko, Getty Images

Exercise 🐕

Despite their large size, Fila Brasileiros tend to be energetic and quick on their feet. They’re used to herding and guarding livestock, so they have a lot of stamina. With that being said, they’ll benefit from at least 1 hour of exercise a day. They’ll enjoy going on walks and running around in a securely fenced yard.

Keep in mind that even well-socialized Fila Brasileiros may not benefit much from going to the dog park. They’re not a very social breed and often don’t prefer interacting with other dogs. Because of their strong work ethic, they’d much prefer having a job that’s incorporated into their daily routine.

Fila Brasileiros are also intelligent dogs that require daily mental stimulation. They’ll usually enjoy playing with treat-dispensing toys and having other enrichment activities scheduled for them at different parts of the day.

Training 🎾

Adequate training is necessary for Fila Brasileiros. Therefore, they’re not recommended for first-time dog owners or inexperienced dog owners. They require handlers who have extensive knowledge of dog behavior and effective training techniques.

Fila Brasileiros will not stand being disrespected and will respond poorly to negative reinforcement. They do best with multiple short obedience training sessions throughout their day. Fortunately, training does get easier as Fila Brasileiros learn to trust and strengthen their bond with their owners. They’re intelligent dogs and tend to be fast learners once they’ve gotten the basics down.

Young female Fila Brasileiro outdoors
Image By: Artush, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Fila Brasileiros have short coats that require relatively minimal grooming. They’ll benefit from getting brushed with a bristle brush every few days to get any dirt or debris off their coat. They can get by with getting bathed every few weeks. Just make sure not to overdo it, as overly frequent bathing can dry out their skin and cause irritation and other skin and coat issues.

It’s also important to note that Fila Brasileiros shed moderately. So, they’re not ideal dogs for allergy sufferers.

Health and Conditions 🏥

In general, the Fila Brasileiro is a relatively healthy breed. However, they’re susceptible to certain medical conditions as they age. Their lifespans are also shorter than the average for dogs.

Minor Conditions
  • Entropion
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
Serious Conditions
  • Bloat
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis

Male vs Female

Male Fila Brasileiros tend to be a little larger and heavier than females. Other than size and weight, there’s little difference between male and female Fila Brasileiros. They don’t have distinct personality traits or temperaments that are dependent on their sex.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Fila Brasileiro

1. They didn’t have an official breed standard until 1946.

There are records of Fila Brasileiros that date back to the 1600s. They were bred by cross-breeding Bloodhounds, Bulldogs, and English Mastiffs. They didn’t have a standard appearance and were more identified by their temperament and ability to work.

These dogs eventually received their first breed standard in 1946 and were recognized by the Brasil Kennel Club (BKC) in 1954. The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) followed suit and recognized the breed in 1960. The AKC currently doesn’t have the breed in its registration because judges wouldn’t be able to inspect them thoroughly during shows.

two Fila Brasileiro
Image By: Artush, Shutterstock

2. They’re outlawed from certain countries.

Certain countries have laws that either ban or restrict specific dog breeds due to their potential dangers. Australia, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Malta, Norway, and the United Kingdom all have laws that make it illegal to own a Fila Brasileiro unless you have a court exemption. It’s illegal in Turkey to own or breed Fila Brasileiros, and Trinidad and Tobago classifies this breed as dangerous dogs.


3. They were originally bred to fend off large predators.

Just by looking at a Fila Brasileiro, you can tell that they’re powerful and intimidating dogs. However, you may be surprised to know that they were bred to be able to fight jaguars. They can run as fast as 35 miles per hour and can easily chase down all sorts of predators that hunt their livestock or threaten their territory.

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Final Thoughts

As with any dog breed, the Fila Brasileiro isn’t going to be the best fit for everyone. They do best with experienced dog owners who can provide the proper training they need to thrive. They also require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

Despite their reputation, Fila Brasileiros are amazing and interesting dogs. Those who personally know Fila Brasileiros can trust that these dogs have their backs and make some of the most loyal companions that anyone could ask for.


Featured Image Credit to: olgagorovenko, Shutterstock

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