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Fila Brasileiro Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

The Fila Brasileiro is one of those “rare” dog breeds where, if you haven’t heard of them before, we really can’t blame you for that; they aren’t all that common. And there’s a good chance that even if you’ve had the good fortune to meet one in person, you may not have realized that you were looking at a Fila Brasileiro because they look similar to a “traditional” Mastiff dog.


Even those familiar with the breed often call these guys Brazilian Mastiffs, so there you go! However, we here at IndulgeYourPet are big fans of large dogs (especially those that like to drool and snore), so we figured we would take a moment or two and shed some light on this particular dog breed. So that if you ever get a chance to own one, you won’t be surprised by what that is like!

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Fila Basileiro Dog Breed Fast Facts

Country of Origin:  Brazil

Original Purpose:  Hunt and track people and animals, guard dog

Height:  23 to 29 inches

Weight:  90 to 100 pounds

Dog Breed Classification:  Not “officially” recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC)

Lifespan: 10-12 years

Origin of the Fila Brasileiro

We’re not going to sugarcoat it; these dogs were initially bred on large plantation homes in Brazil to chase down escaped enslaved people during the 1700s and 1800s. While the exact percentage “makeup” of the Fila Brasileiro is n’tpreciser, it is believed that they represent a combination of the Bloodhound, English Mastiff, and the Old Bulldog of the 15th century. It makes sense when you look at the Fila Brasileiro and understand how good they are at tracking scents and courageously attacking anything they are trained to.

But as we always say…

Around IndulgeYourPet, there’s no such thing as a bad or animal; there are only evil people. This is why, despite their original purpose, looking past that and seeing these guys for what they are- a highly tuned hunting machine is essential. Now, we would be remiss if we did not at least mention some competing “theories” about the origin of the Fila Brasileiro dog mix, and some believe that these guys weren’t created and developed within Brazil. Instead, they are the product of mixing different Spanish and Portuguese dog breeds during the “Iberian Union.”

That said, however…

Most current evidence seems to dismiss this alternative narrative, so we believe they were created initially in Brazil. It should also be noted that these animals were not “only” used to track down escaped enslaved people. They were also used to help guard the homes against thieves, herd livestock, and even protect the livestock from jaguars and other wildlife within the jungles of Brazil. So yeah, these guys are pretty tough!

So tough that…

Even the Brazilian army has shown some interest in this dog breed and compared the Fila Brasileiro breed to German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers after doing comparative studies. And what they found was that while German Shepherds had the highest intelligence, and Doberman Pinschers were the most aggressive, the Fila Brasileiro was superior in:

  • Strength,
  • Stamina,
  • And Temperament.

Which is pretty impressive given the quality of both the German Shepherd and Doberman Pinscher breeds. Currently, the Fila Brasileiro dog breed is not “officially” recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the United Kennel Club (UKC). Still, the American Rare Breed Association and the Federation Cynologique Internationale recognize it.

Physical Characteristics

After a description like that, it really shouldn’t be a huge surprise to learn that the Fila Brasileiro is a “big-boned” dog with a somewhat “truck-like” rectangular structure. Or perhaps instead of saying “big-boned,” I should say “well-boned” because we don’t want to leave you with the impression that these guys are “fat” because the truth is, they’re all muscle.

And because of their…

Bloodhound ancestry, you’re also going to find that they will have the classic pendulous (hanging down loosely) skin of a Bloodhound, along with the long muzzle and excellent tracking ability. Combined with the drooping lips, they make him appear more like a Mastiff.

His coat can come in a variety of colors, including:

  • Black,
  • Fawn,
  • Brindle,
  • Tan,
  • Etc, etc…

Brindles may also have stripes on their coats, and a black mask may or may not be present. Fila Brasileiro may also have a bit of “white markings”; however, these markings will typically be limited to their feet, the tip of the tail, and the chest, if present. Their coats will also be very dense, smooth, and soft, in addition to “abundant” because of their sheer size and how the skin seems to “hang” from their body along their thick, dewlap neck and head.

One thing that might surprise you is that despite their size, these guys have a very measured and elastic gait, making them almost appear “cat-like” when they walk.

Temperament and Personality

While the Fila Brasileiro is docile and affectionate with his family and even with children, the dog is instinctively territorial and possessive.   This means they don’t like strangers or do well with them. And given the sheer size of these animals, some areas within the United States have deemed them unsafe and illegal to own.

 That is why…

If you are committed to getting a Fila Brasileiro, you’ll first want to make sure you’re legally permitted where you live and then be sure that you properly train them from a very young age. Because no matter what you do, these dogs simply aren’t going to do that well with people he doesn’t frequently see. If your child has playmates over, the dog may attack them if he senses rough play to save or protect your kid. And when we’re talking about a dog this big, that can have horrific results!

This is why…

We only recommend these dogs to be experienced/responsible dog owners who will be committed to ensuring that every safety precaution is put in place to ensure that not only will those around them be safe but also that you, Fila, will live a safe and happy life.

This includes ensuring that your Fila Brasileiro gets all the exercise they need because these guys are SUPER active and love chasing after “quality” scents and having a good old rowdy time!

Potential Health Concerns

Like other dog breeds, the Fila Brasileiro is prone to getting a few more diseases than others. This is due to the lack of genetic variation in purebred dogs. But remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog will develop any of the following diseases or medical conditions, but that you should watch for them.

Common medical conditions that can affect the Fila Brasileiro dog breed include:

While it’s true that not all these diseases are life-threatening, most,t if not all,l can become quite expensive to treat, particularly if they recur.

This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet always advise any new pet owner to take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for their new loved one. If they ever become sick or injured in the future, you won’t be on the “hook” for 100% of the cost of treatment.

For more information on who we “feel” currently offers some of the “best” pet insurance policies, check out our Top 10 Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • RICHARD R. April 14, 2020, 4:49 pm


    • indulgeyourpet April 14, 2020, 6:36 pm


      Thanks for sharing, we think they are pretty awesome too!



  • Setite July 11, 2020, 8:15 pm

    What is said here is highly accurate, except maybe that the Fila doesn’t look a mastiff all that much. Similar yes, but not enough to be confused.

    If you have kids I wouldn’t recommend a Fila. It will treat your kids as if they were his own, love them and take care of them with his own life if needed… But that doesn’t extend to the *friends* of your kids. He will kill any visiting kid instantaneously in one bite. Believe me, he can tore apart a small kid. I have seen one rip off a big adult man’s arm once, with a single pull.

    They tend to kill cats, dogs and other pets you may have, too.

    That being said, other than Mastiff, Mastino Napoletano and Cane Corso no dog can even compare to it when you need to guard a house in a bad neighborhood with big bad guys around. Those are the top four for that job.
    I would recommend a couple of them, in that case. Male and female are complementar in the guard job.
    Also have been proven time and time over the best dog for high security prison jobs. Can track like a bloodhound, intimidate as a mastiff and fight as a pit bull.

    • indulgeyourpet April 13, 2020, 6:46 am


      Thanks for sharing your own personal experiences with this breed.


  • Timothy November 27, 2020, 3:18 pm

    If you are looking for a dog that will give you affection and unconditional Love, get a Fila.

    However, this breed is only recommended for large properties like farms; they need a lot of exercise and freedom. Do not leave them alone with strangers – they do not like being stroked or approached by people that they haven´t socialized with since an early age. They are extremely protective and liable to attack anyone they think represents a threat to their owner or close family.

    With family they are very affectionate – sometimes these huge creatures will try to sit on their owner´s knee – and will follow you around quietly wherever you go, just happy to be with you.

    We had a Fila on our farm in Brazil and he was wonderful as long as we took great care when visitors were there!

  • Fred J. March 10, 2022, 8:48 am

    Ours is the most gentle girl ever, with family. Taking her to the Vet causes massive issues and someone knocking on the door immediately knows she’s there. Sanza is tolerant of our cats but not around her food. She also “allows” our other dogs to live with us but she’s not a huge fan. Talk to her sternly and she looks like she might cry but those events are few and far between because she’s smart. As a guard dog we’ve never had a better family member. She was a pound find and we are lucky to have her. A plus has been she never tends to gain the extra weight that tends to be prevalent with traditional mastiffs or larger breed dogs. She does move like a smaller agile dog and it’s amazing at times to see how swiftly she can pounce into action mode. Love her to death.

  • Marcelo February 25, 2023, 2:00 am

    We had filas in my family even before i was born. These dogs are pure love. As long as they are in good hands, they will never attack you or the family with who you live daily, perhaps, they are very friendly with your kids and they will also play with precaution to dont harm them, even when they are big and strong.

    The truth is, they will always put you first over anything, no matter what situation are you in, this makes them special. But what makes them special, has to be controlled very well to not have problems with visitors, they are always working in what they do the best, take care of you and yours.

    My advice is, to teach them to be follower and not the leader in every situation you face, no matter what, this way, you will never have a single problem with stangers, couse since they are very loyal and respect the power chain very well, if you are the leader (this apply to every dog also), they will let you handle the situation, they will respect you as the leader and the visitor, even if the visitor is an animal, couse you, the leader, say so, couse you wanted it that way. All what the fila will do, is to be close enough and paying attention in case you need him/her. Couse as i said before, they never stop doing them job.

    I ensure that if you have a balanced fila in your family once, you will never forget or regret, in fact, probably one fila will not be enough :).

    PD. Prepare for saliva all over you clothes sometimes, they love you, so they come to be pet all the time and meanwhile, they will give you something so you dont forget about them wherever you go.

    Thanks for the article very accurate.

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