The Fila Brasileiro is a large dog of terrifying look and ferocious temperament. Originally developed to trace runaway slaves in the Brazilian jungles, today it’s treasured mostly as an intrepid guardian throughout the world. Because of its predisposition to aggressive issues the breed is either prohibited or restricted in lots of countries and isn’t recommended for a novice dog owner.
The Fila Brasileiro was bred by first Brazilian planters and colonizers somewhere in the XVI century. At that time slave labour was widely exploited on sugar, rubber and cotton plantations in this country and provided the prosperity of Brazilian economy. Naturally majority of slaves opposed resolutely to their fate and numerous thousands fled into tropical forests. That’s why Brazilian farmers needed strong, tough and tenacious dog to track down rebellious slaves in barely passable vegetation of Brazilian jungles. The Cao de Castro Laboreiro and the Rafeiro do Alentejo were chosen as the base for breeding program for their impressive size, fierce nature and tremendous strength. In order to enhance the above-mentioned qualities these native breeds were crossed with several English breeds including the English Mastiff, the Old English Bulldog, and the Bloodhound.
Great heat tolerance, tenacity and excellent scent made the Fila Brasileiro one of the most popular tracking dogs in this country. It also proved to be a highly reliable guardian and big game hunter. Brazil is the home to a great number of dangerous creatures such as cougar, jaguar, and peccary. Thanks to its huge size the dog was capable of not only tracing down these beasts but also had enough power to bring them down. Additionally Brazilian ranchers trusted their Fila Brasileiros to guard their livestock from marauders and wild animals.
Despite the abolishment of the slavery in Brazil in 1884 the population of the Fila Brasileiro didn’t experience any significant reduction. By that time the dog had gained wide-spread repute in other roles and its popularity continued to rise throughout the XX century since the rapid urbanisation led to sharp increase of the criminal rate it cities and towns.
The first standard of the breed was written in 1946. The very same year it was recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). This organisation as well as the Brazillian Kennel Club favours specimens with Mastiff-type body, a Bloodhound-like muzzle and less hostile nature. Nonetheless there is a large group of breeders who take preference for a less heavy and more aggressive dog.
Today’s Fila Brasileiro is predominantly kept as a guard dog all around the world. However its reputation of an extremely aggressive breed was the reason of its partial or complete ban in several countries.
The Fila Brasileiro has all essential qualities of a perfect guard dog including unshakable loyalty, strong protective drive and fearful nature. This breed is prone to choose only one members of its family for the role of a master although it will lay down its live for its favourite people without any hesitation. Being a typical introvert it prefers to show its affection in a fairly reserved manner and most of its specimens have an independent air. Because of its inherent aggressive tendencies early and continuous socialisation and obedience training acquires paramount importance for this dog. It isn’t the best choice for families with small children although the well-socialized member gets on perfectly well with older kids.
The typical feature of the Fila Brasileiro, which is even described in its standard, is called ojeriza. The word loosely means xenophobia and implies deep suspicion of unfamiliar people. Furthermore an under socialised specimen tends to be unpredictably aggressive towards all strangers and may snap without any obvious reason. Apart from being one of the most appreciated guarding dogs it’s also endowed with enough vigilance and strong territorial instinct to become a superb watcher.
The Fila Brasileiro is notable for fairly nasty reputation when it concerns other animals. It will never back down from confrontation with other canines and most of the fights will lead to lethal end for its adversary. Strong, independent and authoritative character of this breed purports that it does best as the only canine pet. It’s also known for its strong prey drive so it should never be trusted around homeless cats and other creatures. At the same time this dog will accept other pet as the part of its pack if they have been introduced to each other in an early age.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· canine hip dysplasia;
· elbow dysplasia;
· patellar luxation;
· skeletal growth abnormalities;
· gastric torsion;
· eye problems.
The Fila Brasileiro has rather basic grooming requirements. The owner should resort only to occasional brushing of its coat in order to remove superficial dirt and loose hair. This dog sheds moderately but because of its massive size shedding may become a serious issue. It’s also highly important to thoroughly and systematically clean facial wrinkles of your pet from remnants of food, water and other objects.
Other than that the Fila requires regular nail clipping and weekly teeth brushing. Make sure to accustom your dog to above-mentioned procedures in an early age so you won’t have to sedate a 100-pound wilful dog in order to just trim its nails.
The training of the Fila Brasileiro represents a great challenge because of its self-willed, overconfident and independent disposition. This dog will never become an obedience champion so don’t except that your training efforts will pay off soon enough. It won’t take orders from someone who couldn’t win its respect and trust.
It’s highly advisable to hand over the breeds’ training to a professional handler with experience of working with this breed. Harsh discipline will surely fail to make the dog a more motivated and diligent learner. It responds much better to positive reinforcement in the forms of its favourite food and soft words.
The Fila Brasileiro is a well-built and fairly lively dog with average need for physical exercise. It’s absolutely imperative to provide it with at least 30 minutes of vigorous walk every single day. Nonetheless this dog will never be fully happy if it doesn’t have a large and safely fenced yard to roam and guard.
That’s why it can’t be considered an optimal choice for an apartment dweller. Be mindful that without some minimal physical activity the Fila Brasileiro is prone to exhibit such behavioural issues as nervousness, destructiveness and unpredictable aggression.