The Fila Brasileiro temperament isn’t for most dog owners. He has a ferocity that’s a level above all other dog breeds. He also has a high prey drive that’ll make him quite a nuisance to have in densely animal populated areas.
But he has some enduring qualities as well. His loyal, loving nature that he expresses with loved ones makes him an excellent family dog; however, it takes the right situation for these charming aspects to emerge.
Given this information, you should refrain from getting a Fila Brasileiro unless you can command his respect. You need to be an authority figure in his life and resume the role of alpha. If you don’t, his overly aggressive personality will be a significant issue.
The Fila Brasileiro Temperament & Personality
The following in-depth look at the Fila Brasileiro temperament will showcase why he isn’t an ideal breed for most households. But it’ll also become quite clear, which environments might be able to use all his behaviors positively.
Loyal & Territorial
The Fila Brasileiro temperament involves having an intense loyalty to the people he loves. He’ll do anything in his power to ensure their safety. This aspect makes him a fantastic guard dog as well as a loving companion.
After all, it’s hard to imagine an intruder having much success breaking into a house with a Fila inside it. If they did manage to get inside, they’d face a dog that’s as fierce as any on the planet.
But this intense loyalty also means he has a massive distrust of strangers in his DNA. It’s not uncommon for a Fila to become overly aggressive toward people who try touching him in public.
And if you make a sudden move toward his loved ones, you can forget about it. It’s also essential we note that he doesn’t do well with other animals either. He has a territorial personality that believes his loved ones are his alone.
You can imagine how an inexperienced or multiple dog owner would be a problematic situation for a Fila. It’s quite apparent these dogs need an owner who has experience and understands how to handle difficult temperaments.
A Fila Brasileiro temperament also has an aggressive nature that is unrivaled in the dog community. Once he’s triggered, getting him under control can be a daunting task. It’s best to keep potential stressors out his eye line.
It also doesn’t help that he has a high prey drive that can be quite problematic in most environments. He will have no problem killing other animals, which means your house will need a tall, structurally sound fence.
But with the right owner, you can control this aggression only to come out when you see it fit. Whether it be for hunting or defensive purposes, this aggressive nature would be quite useful. All you need to is demonstrate your status as alpha, and he will respect you.
Docile & Affectionate
Ninety-five percent of the time the Fila Brasileiro will be an affectionate dog that’ll be incredibly faithful to his family. There’s even a famous phrase, “as faithful as a Fila,” which demonstrates their love for their families.
This love will come in various affectionate ways: playing, cuddling, drooling all over your pant leg, or licking your face. A Fila will make sure that his owners know they’re loved. This love even extends to children within the family as well.
Filas are actually well known to be excellent with children and will often form a bond with them; however, you still should supervise any interactions between kids and the Fila. It’s also never a good idea to leave a Fila alone with kids who are playing.
He might misinterpret the playing as a threat to the kid he’s formed a bond with and try protecting them. As you might expect, this reaction could end up being incredibly tragic as he’s much stronger than your typical child.
It’s best you socialize him early to help make sure his docile and affectionate emerges more often than not. If you do it correctly, this socialization should take hold and make him become a fantastic companion.
Unlike the majority of dogs the Fila Brasileiro size, he requires a lot of activity. He isn’t a dog meant for a small apartment lifestyle. He needs lots of room and physical/mental stimulation to be the best version of himself.
If you don’t fulfill this requirement, he’ll start building up excess energy. In response, he’ll start using this energy on things like your furniture, which will end up shredded. This situation is why he does best when he’s given a task to do like work around a farm.
But if you don’t have work for him to do, you can always take him for a walk. This exercise will help him both become socialized and get rid of his pent up energy. This socialization is keeping the Fila Brasileiro temperament in check.
You should also invest in something to keep his mind busy such as puzzle toys or more extensive training sessions.
Fila Brasileiro History
The history of the Fila Brasileiro can be dated back all the way to 15th Century Brazil. He was developed in this era out of a need for a dog that could be useful in working areas: guarding, hunting, and protecting.
His origin seems to come from the crossbreeding of large Spanish and Portuguese dogs like the Spanish Mastiff. But there are other theories like him being the product of crossbreeding between the Bulldog, English Mastiff, and the Bloodhound.
Either way, the Fila Brasileiro was perfect for both plantation and cattle owners with their strong work-related traits. It also helps he had an incredibly protective personality, which made him a high-quality guard dog.
He was even used to hunt ferocious predators such as Jaguars who represented a significant danger for cattle. Slave owners also made them hunt runaway slaves and taught them to hold the slaves down until their masters arrived.
In recent years, some countries have banned them from being pets due to their aggressive traits and size. This action was a result of Fila Brasileiros in the hands of unfit owners, which caused some tragic situations.
As a result of several Fila Brasileiro attacks, the breed gained a bad reputation, which has haunted them for years. But this reputation doesn’t mean he can’t thrive as a family pet. You just need to be wary of his aggressive personality and ensure you’re capable of handling it.
Everything You Need To Know About Fila Brasileiro Training
Training a Fila Brasileiro can be a somewhat frustrating experience for a variety of reasons. For one, he’s incredibly smart, which is fantastic for learning commands; however, his high IQ also gives him an independent nature.
This independent nature gives him a mind of his own that’ll be a pain to deal with for an inexperienced owner. It’s quite clear he needs a handler with a strong, firm training method to get the best out of him.
He does his best when he’s given a work-like task to achieve such as guarding or tracking. It's also necessary to socialize him at an early age. If you don’t, his innate distrust of strangers will only heighten to the point of him becoming aggressive.
In other words, he’s not meant to be someone’s starter dog. It’s best to leave him in the hands of someone who has experience with difficult breeds.
The Fila Brasileiro Grooming Requirements
The good news is the Fila Brasileiro’s a relatively low maintenance dog. When compared to other breeds, he’s a mild shedder, which only requires weekly brushing. His bathing requirements aren’t extensive either as it’s only on an as-needed basis.
You can even usually get by with a simple rub down with a wet towel. It’s also essential that when you do give him a bath to use vet recommended shampoo and conditioner; it’ll make sure his natural oils stay protected.
Drying all the deep folds in his skin is another must for any Fila Brasileiro owner. It'll reduce the risk of skin issues such as infections or rashes. And aside from these things, the rest of the Fila Brasileiro grooming requirements are standard with any breed:
- Trim his nails monthly
- Check ears for tar and wax build ups regularly
- Brush his teeth twice a week
The Relevant Fila Brasileiro Health Issues
If you’re planning on getting a Fila Brasileiro, there are a few health issues that he’ll be prone to contracting. Once you understand the following health conditions, you should be able to ensure your dog lives a long, happy life:
This lack of relevant health issues means there isn’t much that needs doing to ensure your Fila Brasileiro stays healthy. But the one thing you must do is keep up with regular vet checkups. After all, Mother Nature isn’t predictable, and you never know what might happen.
It's also imperative you ensure the puppy you end up getting has parents with certified hips. It’ll reduce the risk your dog ends up contracting hip dysplasia, which is something dogs must avoid at all costs. It’s brutal on both the dog and owner alike.
If the breeder doesn’t have this certification or information, it’s a warning sign something isn’t quite right with the situation. Due to this, you should move onto the next breeder as quickly as possible.
Finding Your Fila Brasileiro
If you find the Fila Brasileiro temperament intriguing, you have two options to choose from: adopting or buying. As you might imagine, the process for each one is a little different; therefore, we’ll go over what you should do in the sections below.
Fila Brasileiro For Sale
Since Fila Brasileiros aren’t recognized by either the American or United Kennel Clubs, finding a reputable breeder will be problematic. It’ll limit your options and means you’ll have to do a lot of research into the breeders you do discover.
The first place you should check is a place like Puppyfinder.com or a similar website. These sites will show you a list of available Filas around the US and contact info for Fila Brasileiro breeders.
If this option doesn't work out, you could also try looking at breeders’ websites. However, never blindly trust a breeder regardless of where you find them. It’s essential you set up a meeting at their facilities before you purchase the dog.
It’ll allow you to make sure everything seems legitimate and nothing sketchy is happening. The following signs should alert you that you’re dealing with a lousy breeder: numerous Fila Brasileiro litters at once, ability to pay online with credit card, and dogs without hip clearances.
If you find a breeder that you’re comfortable with, a Fila Brasileiro puppy will cost anywhere from $1000 to $1300. This price can vary depending on bloodlines, shipping costs, and other aspects of the buying process.
Fila Brasileiro For Adoption
If you don’t feel like dealing with breeders, you can always try adopting a Fila Brasileiro. There are various Fila Brasileiro rescues out there waiting for would be owners to come and save a neglected dog.
For example, Big Dogs Huge Paws would be an excellent organization to look at in your search. This rescue helps large dog breeds find new homes and Fila Brasileiros happen to be one of those breeds.
If you don’t find the rescue option appealing, you can try going to your local shelter. You never know when a Fila might end up in one of these places; letting them know you’re interested in getting one could help a Fila avoid euthanization.
But it’s highly possible your local shelter, or humane society won’t have one. In this case, try going to Adoptapet.com, which will alert you to Filas near your home that are adoptable. It’s a quick, easy access point that gives you several possibilities.
Once you do find an adoptable Fila, do make sure to ask an excessive amount of background questions about him. The chances are he’s coming from an awful situation, which could be highly problematic considering their temperament.
It’s also imperative that we note that the rate for an adopted Fila Brasileiro puppies ranges from $50 to $300. Whether the cost falls on the range’s lower end or the higher, will depend on many factors: medical expenses, shelter or rescue, age, etc.
Conclusion: Is the Fila Brasileiro the Right Dog For You?
If you need a dog for protection reasons, the Fila Brasileiro temperament could be a phenomenal fit. But you must also make sure you have the experience and space to deal with this challenging breed successfully.
It’s essential you don’t make the mistake of bringing a Fila into the wrong environment such as a crowded suburb. This situation will end being a liability for you and could result in some tragic circumstances occurring.
Calvin is the co-founder and one of the main contributors to dogtemperament.com. He has been an avid dog lover all his life. He enjoys researching and sharing great ideas on how you can avoid common pitfalls of dog ownership and build the most loving and enjoyable relationship with your dog.