Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unusual Breed: Fila Brasileiro

It's been longer than I thought since my last Unusual Breed post.

A female Fila Brasileiro

The Fila Brasileiro or Brazilian mastiff is an unusual dog in the fact that it is bred for extreme distrust and aggression toward strangers. So much so, that a Brazilian proverb is "Faithful as a Fila dog." It is a guardian breed and is prized for its ferocity. Videos are very easy to find of these dogs showing their aggression toward people, which is encouraged. In fact, for a dog to receive its championship the Fila Brasileiro Association requires the dog to pass a temperament test that includes the following, which is a direct excerpt from the standard:
  • Attack with a stick. The dog is supposed to attack in front of the handler, without being coached, and the exhibitor or handler will remain in his position. It is forbidden to touch or to beat the animal.
  • Shooting test. There will be blanks fired at a distance of five meters from the dog. The dog should express attention, show self-confidence and self-assurance.
  • During all performances in the ring, the judge will analyze the behavior and temperament of the entrant, paying attention to his expression. During the temperament test the following should be observed:
    • The dislike of the animal to strangers.
    • The self-assurance, courage, determination, and braveness of each dog. 

Needless to say, this is not the dog for everyone. Because of selection for this sort of behavior, these dogs are illegal in several countries, including the United Kingdom. I am against Breed Specific Legislation, but in the wrong hands a Fila could be extremely dangerous. Even though they are loving to their family, it is probably not the best idea to take a Fila for an unmuzzled walk around town or to let them run free because they could be a danger to people, especially those not familiar with the distrusting nature of the breed. They are brilliant at what they were bred for, so if someone is in need of protection for whatever reason the Fila would be a good choice.

The Fila is accepted by the FCI and NZKC. They are prone to some serious health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia, luxating patellas, bloat, osteochondritis (a cartilage issue), and panosteitis (a bone issue in young, large breed dogs) and often have very short lifespans.

Image is copyright free from Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Judges are not allowed to touch the Filas. In fact, it's encouraged if they are slightly aggressive toward the judges in the show ring.

    There's quite a few litters of these popping up in my neighbourhood. I have seen people walk them too.

  2. That's pretty crazy. I thought I had heard that before, but I couldn't find a reference to it.

  3. Apart from its scary impetuous personality , Fila Brasileiro has earned great respect for its measured and elastic gait , like that of a Cat. It seems people flock to see this fascinating disposition in Brazil !!

  4. Interesting...I would be curious to see one gaiting.

    I don't know if I would call that very cat-like...

  5. Its fascinating carriage like a Cat may be observed in Dog Shows!!

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