Characteristics and Care of the Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff)

Fila Brasileiro dog portrait, summer forest scene

The Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff) is an unique Brazilian big guard dog breed with a muscular physique, remarkable thick and loose skin, strong jaws, and an odd topline shape down its back. These massive canines were bred on Brazilian ranches and used as security dogs, livestock herders, and to track, chase, catch, and hold enormous creatures such as jaguars until the hunter came.

The toplines of most dog breeds are flat and level. Afghan Hounds and Whippets, for example, have arched toplines. The croup, also known as the rump or buttocks, of the Fila Brasileiro, on the other hand, is higher than the withers at the top of the shoulders.

These highly adept bodyguards are not for everyone. The ideal scenario for a Fila is to live in the country on a large piece of land. A Fila will not be content in the city or in the suburbs. The Fila is not the breed for you if you have an active social life and constantly invite people over to your house. However, with the correct owner, the Fila Brasileiro's dedication and commitment to its human family is practically unrivaled. In fact, in Brazil, the breed is known as "Faithful as a Fila."

Breed Overview

Group: Molossoid breeds, Mastiff type (FCI)

Height: 26 to 30 inches (males); 24 to 28 inches (females)

Weight: 140 to 180 pounds (males); 130 to 160 pounds (females)

Coat: Short, smooth, dense fur

Coat Color: Brindle, fawn, and black; with or without black markings on the face

Life Span: 9 to 11 years

Temperament: Reserved, protective, fearless, active, alert

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Brazil

Characteristics of the Fila Brasileiro

When it comes to their human family, particularly children, the Fila Brasileiro is courageous, resolute, and self-assured. Owners must educate their children how to engage with this breed in a courteous manner. A Fila wants to be precisely where you are, and if it loses track of you, it will find you.

This dog is naturally reserved among strangers, but when it comes to its humans and possessions, it is fiercely protective. Filas have a strong predatory drive and should not be trusted around cats or small dogs. If raised together, they may be able to survive happily with other family dogs, but adding a new dog to the mix once a Fila has established itself in the household is not recommended.

Affection Level Medium
Friendliness Low
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Low
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Low
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Fila Brasileiro

The origins of the Fila Brasileiro are a mystery. According to one hypothesis, the Fila's ancestors included the Mastiff, Bloodhound, and a sort of bulldog that existed in the 1400s. This bulldog breed was much bigger and more violent than the short, placid bulldogs of today.

We do know that the Fila Brasileiro was created in Brazil centuries ago. The breed's keen sense of protection made it a sought-after protector and property guardian. It was able to herd, track, and trap huge prey like jaguars because of its power and courage. The word "filar" in Portuguese means "to seize," and that's exactly what these dogs would do: grab the animal by the neck and pin it down until the hunter arrived.

No major kennel groups in North America recognize the Fila Brasileiro (the American Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club, and the United Kennel Club). The Confederaço Brasileira de Cinofilia (CBKC), the Federacion Canofila de Puerto Rico (FCPR), and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale all recognize it in Brazil, Puerto Rico, and globally (FCI).

Fila Brasileiro Care

Along with its enormous size, the Fila Brasileiro requires a lot of attention to keep happy and well-behaved. These dogs require a lot of physical exercise and training, but their short coats are low-maintenance in terms of grooming.


The Fila Brasileiro is a large dog that requires a lot of exercise. These athletic, robust dogs thrive when they are given at least an hour of daily activity. Filas are active creatures who require both physical and mental stimulation to be happy. They are outstanding working and who thrive when given a task to complete. It's advisable to take this breed for lengthy hikes and walks in rural locations because they shouldn't be permitted near animals they don't know. Filas also like chasing toys, playing games with their owners that test their intellect, and utilizing puzzle toys that reward them with goodies.


The Fila Brasileiro has a short, silky coat that requires little upkeep. This breed sheds considerably all year, but owners may keep up with shedding by brushing their dogs a few times a week to remove loose fur. When Filas' coats grow soiled after being outside, bathe them as needed.

This breed, like other breeds, should have its teeth brushed, nails trimmed, and ears checked for debris on a regular basis. To avoid infections, use an ear cleaning manufactured particularly for dogs.


The Fila is a strong-willed and powerful creature that requires a handler that can lead with authority and constancy. Despite their intelligence and ability to master complicated tasks, Fila Brasileiros may be stubborn and difficult to teach. When pups are around eight weeks old, basic obedience training should begin.

Training approaches that are effective must be employed. A Fila cannot be forced to do anything. Positive, reward-based training can be effective, but keep sessions brief and minimize over-repetition to maintain your Fila's attention.

Because of the breed's strong aversion to strangers, early and rigorous socialization is essential to avoid creating a dog who will not tolerate strangers. Even with continuous socializing beginning at a young age, the Fila will seldom be willing to sit back and relax with people passing by. This breed demands a leader who has expertise with guardian breeds and can be stern yet fair. However, in the correct hands, the Fila is a faithful and courageous guardian.

Common Health Problems

The Fila Brasileiro, like other purebred dogs, is prone to several genetically inherited health concerns. To avoid passing diseases down to puppies, reputable breeders will test their adult dogs before to breeding. Inquire about the medical history of the litter, as well as any accessible test results for hereditary disorders.

Common conditions associated with this breed include:

  • and : Dysplasia is caused by a malformation in your dog's joints as they age. Common in large breeds, this condition may require surgery in severe cases to help your dog live comfortably.
  • : This condition is characterized by eyelids that roll inward, rubbing against the eye. Treatment is necessary to prevent damage to the eye's surface.
  • : Like other large, deep-chested dogs, the Fila is prone to experiencing Bloat. This serious condition can be fatal, and it's caused by a buildup of gases in the stomach that results in it twisting. Your veterinarian may recommend preventative surgery to tack the stomach down.

Diet and Nutrition

Filas may weigh up to 100 pounds, therefore they consume a lot of food. Your Fila will require more food the more active it is. It is, nevertheless, critical to avoid overfeeding. puts a pressure on the body and joints, contributing to health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as diabetes.

To avoid weight gain, eat small meals. Because this breed is prone to bloat, it's crucial to give little quantities many times a day (at least twice) to keep your dog from overeating. Inquire with your veterinarian about a balanced nutrition plan depending on your dog's age, weight, and activity level.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Fila Brasileiro

Because the Fila Brasileiro is an exceptionally that is not recognized by any major North American kennel associations, finding one in the United States may be challenging. Reach out to your local shelter and meet breeds like the Fila that can join your family if you're looking for a comparable dog in need of a permanent home.

Those who are passionate about owning a Fila should seek for breeders outside of the United States and Canada. Breeders usually charge between $1,000 and $2,000 for puppies. Regardless, the Fila Brasileiro is not a suitable breed for the majority of dog owners. Other huge guardian breed rescues, like as Mastiff rescues, may be able to give you with information about adopting Filas in your area:

  • Mastiff Club of America Rescue

Fila Brasileiro Overview

  • Extremely loyal

  • Protective of its home and family

  • Determined working dog

  • Requires a very experienced owner

  • Needs extensive socialization 

  • Should live in rural homes away from neighbors

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you like the Fila Brasileiro, you might also like these breeds: 

There are a variety of dog breeds, as well as dogs that are similar to the Fila Brasileiro, that are better suited to live with most families. You may find your perfect mate with a little investigation!

  • Is the Fila Brasileiro a Good Family Dog?

    Although the Fila Brasileiro is very protective of its family, it is not suitable for most owners. Without comprehensive, consistent, and continuous training and socialization throughout its life, it is prone to become violent with people and other animals.

  • Where Are Fila Brasileiro Banned?

    Many nations consider the Fila Brasileiro dangerous, and owning or breeding these dogs is prohibited outside of Brazil. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Turkey, Norway, Malta, and parts of Australia are among these nations.

  • Do Fila Brasileiro Dogs Shed?

    Fila Brasileiro dogs shed minimally because to their short, silky coats and do not require much maintenance beyond routine baths and normal nail, tooth, and ear care.