On average, larger dogs tend to have a shorter lifespan than less hefty dogs. Being large, like the Fila Brasileiro, comes with a host of health problems that can affect longevity. The weight of their massive frames lends them to having problems with bone and joint diseases, which can cripple them. Many contract cancer when they are just middle-aged, in terms of dog years. The heart in smaller dogs doesn't have to work as hard as it does in a dog like a Fila Brasileiro that has a huge body to support. They also tend to have fewer growth hormones, which might be one of the reasons the dog is noted for its short lifespan. While small dogs can live anywhere from 14 to 15 years, the Fila may expire at only 5 to 7 years of age. This appears to be the case with Fila Brasileiros brought up in the United States, although Brazilian dog breeders claim the dog can live up to 12 years of age.
Much of the longevity of the dog is due to the size, but it could also be attributed to health problems that affect its longevity. The Fila Brasileiro is subject to bloat, a condition common to larger dogs. This condition can be fatal and may be difficult for people not familiar with it to diagnose. The dog's stomach can bloat and just appear to be gaseous when in fact, it is torsioning, causing blood to flow back to the major organs and swell up. The stomach itself could be dying or becoming necrotic. This will eventually cause the dog to die. One way to determine if a dog is torsioning (the stomach is flipping over), if you notice a bloated appearance, is to give it water to drink. If the water comes right back out forcefully, it may be experiencing bloat. If this is the case, you will need to get the dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. It may require further diagnostics and/or surgery.
Cancer is also a health condition that appears to be hereditary in the Fila Brasileiro. There isn't much you can do to prevent cancer and the only thing to do is to be aware that this dog has a predisposition to develop it. Other medical conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia can be screened for by the breeder.
To increase the longevity of your dog and its chances to live to a ripe old age, concentrate on giving it a very good diet and exercising it regularly. You will want foods that will not cause bloat or swell when they get in the stomach. You will want to provide it with a balanced diet and enough water, but not during meal times. If you can opt for a natural diet, this will also eliminate the possibility of food allergies triggering stomach problems too.