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The Fila Brasileiro (or Brazilian Mastiff) is a large working breed of dog developed in Brazil. This very loyal and fearless guard dog looks like a cross between a Mastiff and a Bloodhound, and was originally bred to protect the Brazilian plantations of the 19th century.
The Fila is a courageous, determined and serene dog who shows self-confidence and fearlessness, even in unknown situations. Filas do not hide their aversion to strangers, however, with their human family, they can be very tender and affectionate and are extremely loyal. Clearly this is not a dog for everyone or every setting. Once you have a Fila at home, allowing occasional visitors or a weekly cleaning help into your home may become a problem. Therefore, Filas need responsible, cautious owners who understand the need of early socialization of their Fila puppy.
Appearance: The Fila Brasileiro is large and heavyset, with a powerful structure and large head. The breed standard is for males to be between 65 and 75 cm (27 – 29.5 in) at the shoulder with a minimum weight of 50 kg (100 lb). Females are slightly smaller at 60 to 70 cm (24 – 27.5 in) with a minimum weight of 40 kg (90 lb).
Coat: The coat of the Fila Brasileiro is smooth and short. Solid Yellow, Reddish, tans, brindled colours are permitted except mouse-grey and white. Dappled coats are outside the breed standard, although some white markings are permitted on the feet, chest, and the tip of the tail in the FCI standard.
Temperament: The breed is considered by owners to have a calm and loyal temperament. As with any canine it should be socialized poperly. The larger the dog the better manners it must have.
History: The Fila Brasileiro’s history is rich with legend and myth. One can spend a lifetime in research, and never uncover its early origins. Some say the genesis of the Fila is believed to have been developed from various breeds including the English Mastiff, Bulldog and the Bloodhound; the latter contributing to the Fila’s loose skin.
They were often used as estate guardians, tracking dogs, and herding dogs. Now, due to a lot of misinformation, they are mostly kept in tight kennels and are rarely exposed to people or exercise. Their main function is reproduction and show.
Dr. Paulo Santos Cruz, one of the important men who began to systematically breeding the Fila Brasileiro, contributed largely in setting the standard and removing the breed from its original environment. He is called the “Father” of the Fila Brasileiro. He must now be rolling in his grave. In march of 1978 he formed a foundation called CAFIB (Club for the betterment of the Fila Brasileiro). In the beginning CAFIB organised 51 analyses and 42 exhibitions for the Fila Brasileiro. At a typical CAFIB’s Fila analysis a photograph of every dog is taken, the dog is weighed and measured and then are precisely judged from 27 positions. All data and results, including the photograph of the analyzed dog will be centrally registered by the CAFIB. If he’s lucky, the dogs owner will get extensive documents about the results of the analysis.
By mid August 1983 there were 2055 Filas analysed in the whole of Brazil. 976 of these have passed the analysis procedure. Only the dogs who have passed the Phenotype-Analysis and the character-test, are allowed to be shown at the CAFIB exhibitions. Nevertheless, they will still be bred. Up to now there are 357 registered puppies of tested parents. On top of that comes the Fila breeders, who only breed with dogs examined by the CAFIB, but register at the Brazilian CBKC – Kennel Club because the parents have CBKC pedigrees. This means the assurance of having a real Fila Brasileiro is not to possess a CAFIB pedigree, but first of all the fact whether the parents of the dog will have passed the Phenotype and character test of CAFIB.
Before every exhibition there is an pre-evaluation, where the non-tested dogs have the chance to get qualified for the exhibition. Therefore the number of dogs grows. Only 7 of the 2000 anaylzed Filas have scored “excellent” by the CAFIB judges. Were this to be done by the usual standard – the author feels embarrassed to reveal that this shows a sign of poor quality breeding in general.