Due to his self-confidence the Fila Brasileiro shows a calm
disposition as long as he is not defied or threatened. He is most happy while in company
of his master. Filas love to sit very close to their owners, craving for physical contact.
By Clelia Kruel
It all happened back on June 1983 when the American magazine Dog World published
for the very first time my article on the Fila Brasileiro breed. The response was a very
impressive one and since then, like a snowball it is still rolling. Fila breeders are in
debt with this magazine for the continuous promotion of these so-called "rare
breeds." It is interesting to point out that the Fila Brasileiro breed though
recognized by the worldwide FCI (Fédération Cynologique International) organization and
also by the SKC (States Kennel Club) is still among the breeds not recognized by the AKC
(American Kennel Club).
Still more interesting is the fact that 96% of the Fila owners in the United States
voted against the acceptance of the Fila by the AKC fearing it would change the Fila’s
original standard and the natural aggressiveness of the breed. Fila puppies are playful
and friendly until the dog reaches between five and seven months old. From there on the
Fila starts showing a highly protective attitude unless the dog is duly socialized.
Nevertheless if the owner oversocializes his puppy, it will become as friendly as a
cocker spaniel. I prefer to give the basic obedience lessons to my Filas and keep them
under control but preserving its natural protective instincts. The Fila is very humble,
docile and devoted dog to all members of his family accepting stoically the rough play of
Nowadays the Fila is still a "rare breed" in the States, but thanks to the
two clubs The Fila Brasileiro Club of America in Georgia and The Fila Brasileiro
Association in Texas it certainly is not an unknown breed any longer. In one of our last
shows in Texas we had 33 entries. This is a great achievement considering that when I
arrived in Burleson in 1989 there were only two breeders in Texas. Now there are over 50.
The rare breed clubs also put on shows in different parts of the country and so does
the States Kennel Club giving the opportunity for Filas to participate in the conformation
shows. Fortunately the Federacion Canofila de Puerto Rico is affiliated to the FCI
(Fédération Cynologique Internationale) permitting the registration of the Fila
Brasileiro within the United States. Their pedigrees come with the stamp of the FCI on.
When discussions about "vicious dogs" take place, Fila breeders point out
that Filas never turn against their owners or members of the family and that accidents
registered with other breeds are far higher than with Filas even in Brazil where this
breed is the most popular one after the German Shepherds, showing 5.000 puppies being
officially registered per year.
Their faithfulness became a Brazilian proverb: "Faithful as a Fila" is an old
Brazilian saying. Courage, determination and outstanding bravery are also part of the
Fila’s characteristics. Due to his self-confidence the Fila shows a calm disposition as
long as he is not defied or menaced, not being disturbed by strange noises or when facing
a new environment. He is most happy while in company of his master. Filas love to sit very
close to their owners, craving for a physical contact. An unsurpassed guardian of
property, he is equally inclined, by instinct, to hunt big game or to herd cattle.
Filas are wonderful with children and can also be guides for blind people. I remember a
bitch called Elza who worked as a guide for a blind man in Germany. She was extremely
cautious looking at both sides before walking her master across the streets of Einbeck, a
little town close to Hanover.
Elza would bring to his master anything he asked for: keys, glasses, the stick,
handkerchief, etc. Her sweet brown eyes were full of love but that loving look changed as
soon as anyone tried to put a finger on a lighter or anything belonging to her owner. She
growled and showed her teeth in a very convincing way. As soon as I showed no intention to
take anything away she was perfectly friendly and at ease again. Elza had this Fila’s
trait to evaluate different situations in the most amazing way.
From my twenty years of experience breeding Filas I found out that the most protective
dog in the litter is also the most intelligent one. The dog showing a dominant trait
always ends up being the leader of the pack. Intelligence and aggressiveness are part of
their leadership. They are in command of the pack and will determine their positions while
guarding their territory or in the moment of stopping an intruder, besides giving
directions to the pack while hunting. The "alpha" dog may be a male or a bitch.
In their society what prevails is the strongest character and personality. During nine
years Nubia de Samor has been the leader in our kennel until the day of her death. The
hierarchy is established in a natural way and all the members of the pack respect it
maintaining an orderly relationship.
Today not only in Brazil but around the whole world as well the Fila Brasileiro is
considered the main breed for personal and property protection. Only a few dogs are still
used for jaguar hunting or as cattle herders in the hinterland of Brazil.
His abilities as a police dog have been highly appreciated in different countries as by
the naval police of Peru, the army in Brazil and K9 units in the United States. The nose
of a Fila is comparable to a Bloodhound therefore the breed is also used for sniffing
bombs and drugs successfully. The great advantage is that a Fila will get hold of the
suspect at the end of the trail. The word "fila" means "to grab, to
hold" in archaic Portuguese.
There is no doubt about the increasing popularity of such a formidable guardian and
devoted companion not only here in the U.S.A. but also all over the world, though a lot of
responsibility is required by anyone owning a Fila. One cannot forget that the Fila
Brasileiro was not man made but rather a product of its environment and the bare
necessities for its own survival in the jungle, shaped by Nature in every detail to
perform well any task with endurance and efficiency.
A Fila must not only be loved but also understood above all. Evidently the
deterioration of so many other wonderful breeds due to their popularity should serve as a
warning of what may happen in the future. Selective breeders and their clubs will try to
avoid the most distressing situations that seem to pursue the most popular breeds.
Popularity always claims for a very high price, but maybe the Fila Brasileiro will be
an exception due to its own characteristics, as the Fila is not meant for the average
person. The deep love, respect and devotion must be mutual. We are living in a very
perturbed world where man systematically destroy the only available shield in the sky, our
precious rain forests, our fountains and rivers are poisoned and our food transmit
irreversible diseases to our children. Is there any room to preserve what is still pure
and primitive? We do hope so with the help of people who care.
Over one decade and a half passed by since my first article showed up about the Fila
Brasileiro. Since than we saw the breed taking its own place of honor around the world
with the help of the Fila Brasileiro Association, which is an international organization
following all CBKC/FCT regulations. The Fila Digest is a quarterly bulletin
distributed for free to all its members.
Our goal is to preserve and to protect this wonderful breed handing out useful
information on breeding, nutrition, diseases and above all asking each owner to xray his
producing stock to avoid hip dysplasia. We are serious about xraying all the producing
stock and discarding those with bad hips. A FBA champion must have proof of being Hip
Dysplasia free before getting his title.
There will always be commercial kennels interested just in making money, producing
quantity not quality. They do not xray their dogs and do not give a sales guarantee as it
is customary among conscious breeders. They will present a very poor excuse saying that
"as long the dog moves well he does not present dysplasia". Well, I had to put
down more than one Fila I had imported for being severely displastic in spite of his
moving like a feather.
I lost the dog, the money and I had to go through all the trauma of losing a friend
knowing that it was better for him to be sacrificed than to suffer an endless pain.
Besides xraying our dogs we incorporate the use of vitamin C in their diet in order to
enhance collagen production. Collagen is the intracellular cement that gives strength to
ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
Dr. Wendell Belfield, published several works about HD and came up with a biochemical
concept. He affirms that since he incorporated the use of collagen and vitamin C for the
prevention of HD he saw very few cases of it in his practice.
In order to fight this problem that is a plague to all giant breeds, we hand out all
available information besides asking the breeders to study well the pedigrees of future
litters. If you buy a puppy having in mind the objective to enter it at shows in the
future, or if you plan to breed your dog some day, the pedigree of your puppy is of great
importance and certainly you should try to know as much as you can about its ancestry.
Oldtimers are the best people to talk about the champions, if any, listed in the
pedigree of your dog. Possibly they will remember something about their quality and
structure besides the temperament of the dogs. This will prove very helpful while planning
your breeding program. Selection is the key of success and the American breeders are being
very successful following the breeding regulations of CBKC (Brazilian Confederation) and
trying to breed only good to good or good to excellent specimens.
The results can be seen in the World Shows where the American stock came out as
winners. Top winners came out mostly of the Samor, Embirema, Tamuana, Kartagena and
Camping bloodlines, which are very well represented in the United States with dogs
certified free of hip dysplasia.
If you are new at breeding, remember that your devotion and perseverance to the breed
will not always get immediate results. It may happen that the wonderful champion you have
in your hands, after years of intense work, does not produce well. Be prepared to start
all over again. Besides time and money you will need a lot of patience as well. There are
several different levels of dog qualities: There are some top winners, there are dogs of
champion quality that are able to gain sometimes but lack that "extra quality"
that makes them so special, and there are those who are good dogs but not outstanding.
It is better to look for a consistent winner strain and not for just an occasional
"star". Try to make a survey on the best existing dogs, their pedigrees and
health records, besides paying special attention to their temperaments. Do not try to
guess about the breed. It is worth to start a serious investigation to see how many HD
free dogs there are in a pedigree. Ask the breeders about the hips of the parents,
siblings, brothers and relatives. Be sure to get the best possible bitch to start your
breeding program. Read the official FCI standard of the breed until you know it by heart
and be prepared to accept the responsibility of raising an aggressive dog towards
strangers. His aggressiveness will depend on the way you raise and train him. It is up to
you to preserve his natural aggressiveness or to transform him in a mellow and friendly
Read The Fila Brasileiro Guide where you can find advice about the several
different stages of puppyhood and changes in the temperament of the dog. This is just the
beginning before you go further into the mysterious and complex paths of genetics. If you
have a computer visit the internet site http://www.dt.fee.unicamp.br/~amaury/filanet.html
If you want to join the Fila Brasileiro Association, which is an international club
handing out information on how to preserve and promote the Fila Brasileiro breed, please
write to: FBA, 5029 CR 605, Burleson, TX 76028 USA and ask for a membership application
form. The international annuity starts from the day of payment ($35.00). The Fila
Digest is distributed for free to all FBA members.
Clelia Kruel is the president of the Fila Brasileiro Association. She
also founded the Fila Brasileiro Club of America with Jerry Loftin and the Fila Brasileiro
Association in Texas. She wrote three books on the Fila breed: The Fila Brasileiro,
All About the Fila and The Fila Brasileiro Guide. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
for further information.