The Fila isn't suited to apartment life, by virtue of its size alone. Like many large dogs, it isn't particularly energetic but when it needs to exercise, it'll need an abundance of space to be able to do so effectively.
The dog is ideal for a country home, or a place on a farm. Open spaces will allow a Fila the freedom that it needs to work its rigid muscular frame.
A large home with a closed off yard will suffice, but the owner should be aware that claustrophobic city streets aren't the natural habitat of this particular breed. They aren't well adapted to urban life.
Providing the necessary shelter is in place, a Fila will quite happily sleep outdoors.
The Fila Brasileiro is a fiercely loyal and proud dog, with clear indications of bloodhound ancestry in its distinct appearance. It possesses a short, soft coat which is evenly spread over a muscular body.
One of the first things you'll notice about the Fila is the large muzzle. It's hard to miss with the heavy upper lips. Breeders take great pride in the skin of the dog, and it is preferred to be hanging loosely from the bulky body.
The dog is blessed with a mighty back, and the ability to generate great power, although it isn't in the temperament of the Fila to use it. The back rises up slowly to meet the hindquarters, and the camels gait is seen as one of the unique selling points which distinguish the breed.
When in motion, the dog moves forward with both legs on one side, before moving the others. This makes for a distinct walk, and adds to the harsh impression that the dog is lazy or slow off the mark.
You can always tell a Fila by its rugged face and angled body. It isn't the most graceful of breeds, but it has a very distinct character and the bone structure separates it as a powerful dog which is impressive to look at. Bitches tend to be less dominant in their posture, and particularly in the professional breeding environment, they are encouraged to display greater feminism.
The Fila is brave and will put itself in harm's way to protect not just the owner, but the owner's family too. It is portrayed as an aggressive dog, for which there is good reason, but the Fila can be extremely affectionate too.
The Fila possesses a smooth and dense coat, usually in fawn or brindle. Stripes of differing shades are fairly common. The coat is rough to touch as you'd expect by the dog's muscular frame, and there is not a lot of hair around the ears or muzzle.
It will shed an average amount of hair during the warm season, with the exact quantity varying from dog to dog. You may find some white markings on the chest and tail, although this isn't desirable amongst professional breeders.
The Fila Brasileiro is banned in some countries, yet it has a history of good behavior and well rounded discipline. Its ancestors date back to the 1400's in the form of the old English Mastiff.
In fact, the Brasileiro has developed slowly over time, taking from other notable breeds in the process. Traits taken belong to the Bloodhound, the Rafeiros and even the Bulldog.
The dog has traditionally been used to manipulate livestock. It has always possessed a threatening demeanor but is rarely violent unless provoked. Such false claims of unmerited aggression have lead to the breed being banned from certain countries, looking past several key jobs that the dog has previously performed.
The Fila used to return slaves to their captors in Brazil, without harming them in the process. It appears that this has gone forgotten in recent time. The breed eventually spread across North America and gained popularity in Europe, where it is still adored today.
Always keep the dog on a leash in public, not just to guarantee the safety of those around you, but to rule out the threat of dognappers who have routinely taken them in the past. The dogs are then sold in to pit fights for great profit.
You will find that there's a great deal of discussion over how the temperament of the Fila SHOULD be, and most of this discussion is divided in to two very different opinions. There are those who breed the dog with the sole purpose of being a protector - and ultimately mean - guard dog. And there are those who choose to breed a tamer Fila which is welcoming to strangers and less aggressive by nature.
One thing is for sure, the Fila is an immensely proud dog which doesn't need to be taught how to protect its owner. It is ingrained in the Fila's way. If a stranger tries to enter your house and the Fila isn't comfortable with their presence, rest assured, the stranger will be made well aware of his or her situation.
It is an intimidating dog, certainly when encountered on the other side of the fence so to speak. But the dog shouldn't be mistaken as a barbaric wild animal in the way that many choose to do so. It will trust who it sees you to trust. If you show a lack of confidence in the people around you, the Fila will instantly pick up on this and have doubts of its own. As such, they are remarkably attentive dogs.
It is also a breed which shouldn't be taken care of by a passive owner. You must understand the need to show confidence, as the Fila will interpret your own lack of confidence as a reason to be aggressive and dominant. Knowing your dog is certainly important, and absolutely crucial in the case of the Fila Brasileiro owner. The owner must understand the alpha male attitude of the dog.
If you wish to own a tamer Fila, it is important to train it socially from an early age. This means mixing it socially amongst different faces and getting it used to situations where strangers will have contact. Even then, don't assume that just because you have trained your dog, it will be used to any kind of social environment. It is the nature of the Fila to protect, and it will go to great lengths to ensure that it does so. It is not a breed to hold back when provoked either.
Remarkably, despite its potentially aggressive stance around strangers, this is a dog which is brilliant to have around children and other small animals. The dog can be wonderfully impassive around those that it trusts, and you'd be amazed that such a fierce looking breed could be so gentle with the kids.
Being one of the larger breeds in the dog world, the Fila Brasileiro is somewhat prone to the ailments which you'd typically associate with bigger dogs.
One of the main reasons behind these Health hazards lies in the bloating nature of the Fila Brasileiro. They do tend to fill up after a meal therefore it is important to maintain a healthy balanced Diet to avoid Bloat. This means Feeding several similar sized portions rather than one large meal, which is more likely to produce health complications or disease. There is not much that can be done to tackle the bloating issue, other than to keep a close eye on the diet and the size of its meals.
The Fila needs a fair deal of grooming, despite the easily maintainable style of the coat. It is a naturally smooth coat and can be brushed down easily.
Use a rough bristle when combing the dog's coat. This will produce the best effect, especially when combined with a soft towel to wipe the hair down and leave it looking shining and fresh.
It's also advisable to bathe the dog regularly with shampoo. Not only will the Fila enjoy this attention, but it will keep the skin and coat looking healthy for all to see.
The dog will shed an average amount of hair, with a little variation across the breed as you'd expect. The ears should be cleaned at the canal to minimize the chances of infection. Filas aren't shy when it comes to throwing their weight around so be prepared for treatment of minor injuries.
Overall, it isn't a high maintenance breed and can be looked after quite easily.
This dog needs plenty of exercise to burn off steam from its large frame, but don't be under the impression that it's an athletic breed. The Fila can seem very lazy and quite content to sleep in its yard, even rejecting the opportunity to go for a walk.
It can be a moody dog, tired and slumbering one minute, desperate to be taken for a stroll the next. It is important to get in to a habit of exercising the dog at similar times, so that it knows what to expect. Regular exercise from a young age will also encourage healthy activity.
The Fila isn't the best companion for rigorous workouts, but it will happily oblige if the activity isn't overly exhausting.
The Fila must be trained from an early age in order to become obedient and passive in social situations. If left untrained, the dog has a tendency to become overly aggressive and potentially violent.
A firm and sensible trainer is required, preferably one who understands the alpha attitude of the dog. You cannot teach the Fila to guard and protect as it sees these duties as its own, whether you train it to or not.
The trainer must be confident and in control of the situation at all times. If strangers enter the house and the trainer doesn't feel entirely comfortable with their presence, the dog will latch on and its protective instinct will rise to the surface. This can mean a hasty exit for the stranger in your living room.
At the same time, if the trainer shows confidence and trust in the people that they're dealing with, the dog will appreciate the display and the stranger will have earned the dog's trust too. The Fila is very brave and never afraid to step in to the firing line, making it an easy choice for a guard dog.
In fact, the Fila rarely needs training in order to be a guard dog - excluding the basics of obedience.
Socialization training should involve presenting the young Fila to various strangers and unknown faces. If this is done regularly as a puppy, it will be much easier for the trainer to take control in similar situations when the dog is fully grown and mature.
The dog, for all of its muscular aggression, is brilliant to have around the owner's family. It will treat young children and smaller animals as its loyal companions and will resist all teasing. When you have a Fila's trust, it will treat you impeccably.
No matter how well trained the dog is, it should never be allowed to roam unleashed in public. You can treat your Fila with the utmost respect and control it in the home, but if somebody else steps out of line, the dog will respond. You can't train it to forget about its natural instinct. So remember the leash!