The Fila Brasileiro has been conquering more and more space in the international scenery.
Until 2 years ago, the Fila was the only Brazilian representative among the more than 400 existing breeds in the world. In 1994, the Terrier Brasileiro (Brazilian Terrier), known in Brazil as Fox Paulistinha, obtained international recognition, even if yet temporarily. The Fila, however, has already garanteed its own space beyond the national boundaries, and its success seems to be only beginning.
The first country to give the Fila some attention, outside of Brazil, of course, was Germany, traditional for breeding guardian dogs. It is written in the records, that the German prince, Albrecht Von Bayern, on a visit to Brazil in 1954, liked the breed, and took some back to his country, in order to start breeding them. Walking arount the German high society, the Fila started to gain popularity in that country. Monika Reinherd, German breeder who has been working with Filas for the past 15 years, says that when she imported her first Fila, the breed was already known in Germany. "Even before I started breeding, the Fila was easily recognized on the streets."
But the main leap in exporting activities began a little over 10 years ago. "The 80's, that was the decade of the Fila exporting," tells us Procópio do Valle, from Kennel Irimáua, Rio de Janeiro. "Some breeders sent alone more than a hundred dogs abroad." Another breeder, Jether Benevides Garotti, from Kennel Corumbá, São Paulo, reaffirms this, "I sent 202 dogs to Nigeria, Japan and South Africa." In 1981, a complete book about the breed was published in Brazil, Grande Livro do Fila Brasileiro, one of the greatest bibliographic references about the breed. According to the author, Procópio do Valle, half of the books printed were sold abroad.
The success of the Fila in Brazil was great. In 1982 the breed was first in number of registrations, with more than 8 thousand puppies. A year later, a great national congress was held in Rio de Janeiro, so that breeders could determine how breeding should be done from then on, discuss alterations in items of the Standard, and make the Fila even better. There were numerous state clubs of the breed spread around Brazil.
Between 1980 and 1989, Cães & Cia published 15 articles about the breed. A special edition about the Fila was also published, and distributed in every embassy to promote the breed abroad. Many times, one of these magazines ended up in other countries. "I sold dogs to people from South American and European countries, who learned about the Fila through the magazine," says Jether. Whoever came to Brazil, could always have a chance of discovering the Fila, too. There was always one walking around.
1983 was specially important for the success of the Fila in the United States. Clélia Kruel, breeder for more than 19 years, currently living in the USA, wrote an article about the Fila for one of the biggest American selling magazines on dogs, Dog World. There were phone calls and letters from people around the country who were interested in the breed, and soon the idea of founding a Club of the Fila in the USA emerged. "Among the several people who looked me up, there was Jerry Lostin," remembers Clélia. "He was so fascinated with what he had read about the Fila, that he proposed the founding of an entity. I would run it from Brazil, and he would do it from the States."
So, in 1984, The Fila Brasileiro Club of America was born, with headquarters in Manchester, Georgia. The breed was growing in popularity in the USA. The club started sending mail to people and clubs with interest in guardian dogs. It promoted expositions. It also launched a small paper with articles written by Brazilian breeders, pictures and comments about the best reproducers. The Americans were so interested, that in less then three years the club had members in 24 different states. In 1987, the Fila was cover of the Dog World magazine. Clélia remembers that she started receiving many phone calls and letters from other countries. The reputation of the Fila was heard of everywhere.
In 1992, another American club was founded, the Fila Brasileiro Association, in Texas. The idea was to follow the CBKC policies, because the club from Georgia had developed its own line of action. This new entity also adopted a more comprehensive propolsal: to fill other countries in on information about the Fila. "We had calls from New Zealand," says Clélia, the founder. The entity has even placed the Fila Brasileiro on the Internet. "Now, from any place on the planet, whoever participates in the interactive world may get information about the history of the breed, the official Standard, and temperament," informs Adriano Kruel, who created the Filanet homepage, and a member of the Fila Brasileiro Association in Brazil.
Ines Van Damme, from Holland, has a Fila kennel in Spain, and tells us that when she started breeding seven years ago, the breed was new there. "They still stop me in the street, but it's to ask more details about a breed they already know. I even hear exclamations like 'Mira el Fila Brasileiro.'" Due to the growing interest of the Spanish people, Ines, who already published a book about the breed, informed Cães & Cia in April of this year, that in May she would launch a magazine about the breed, The Fila Brasileiro Magazine. "It will be quarterly, published in English and German, and will be sold in 16 countries."
In Brazil, it is currently difficult to find kennels of Filas which haven't exported dogs. "I have bred Filas that are now spread all over Italy, Portugal Holland, Hungary and Argentina," says Antonio José Brasileiro, from Kennel Bras Can, Paulista, Pernambuco.
Today, the Fila is the 6th most registered breed at the CBKC. During the last 7 years the number of puppies has been around 3 to 4 thousand, around half of the amount sold when this breed was a fad. But this is not bad. "Speculators and dealers stopped dealing with Filas, and went on to work with other breeds," says Jether. "The breeding profits from this." However, for the Fila, former number one in the country, and currently sixth, it is important not to lose ground in its country of origin, and a promotion work is already on its way. The bi-monthly journal of the CBKC has designated a permanent spot for articles on the Fila. Since the last November/December edition, there is a column for the clubs, breeders and fanciers in general, who might wish to contribute with opinions and suggestions. "We want support the breed," says Romero da Costa Machado, director of the journal, and also breeder at the Kennel das Leoas, Rio de Janeiro.
There are people who think the black Fila is not accepted, but that is not true. The official CBKC standard has always accepted it. The reason for the doubt concerning the black color comes from the end of the 70's. In 1978, the group of breeders who formed the Comissão de Aprimoramento do Fila Brasileiro (Cafib), stated that the black in the breed indicated poor breeding - breeding Filas with German Dog, which was done in the 70's. The highest ranking authority entity at the time was BKC (Brasil Kennel Clube, currently CBCK); they did not agree with the statement, and the black Fila continued to be welcomed. The committee decided to dettach from BKC and founded a separate club with their own standard prohibiting that color. The name remained the same, Cafib, but initial "C" stood for Club instead of Committee.
In that same year Cafib started to work independently, they launched a monthly journal about the breed. One of the issues addressed frequently was the fact that the black Fila was considered "mestiço". "The negative promotion done by Cafib against the black Fila influenced people," comments Araceli Souza Pontelli, from Kennel Aguascalientes, Valinhos, SP. "Even today, there are many people who come to my kennel and are amazed when they see the black Fila; they ask if it is a pure-bred dog." Carlos Alberto da Costa Gonçalves, from Kennel Borghetto, Bento Gonçalves, RS, adds that the prejudice agains the black individuals has made breeders disinterested in working with this color. "With less people breeding the black Fila, there was less selection in the breedings of this color," says Carlos Alberto. "This is why there are some typical flaws in the black, such as lack of dewlaps and low croup.
The evidence that seems to prove that black Filas don't come from the German Dog is that the black color was present in its forming breeds. The most probable theory for the origin of the Fila is the mixture of ancient types of the English Mastiff, English Buldog and Bloodhound. So it is natural that the genes for the black color have been transmitted to the Fila.
Besides, if the presence of black because of breedings with the German Dog occurred in the 70's, how could the existence of black Filas before that be explained? Joana Szitkowski, who breeds Rilas since 1939 testifies: "As soon as I started breeding I came across black dogs." Jether is another eye witness. "Around 1945 I used to live in a farm and there were black Filas with the same physical characteristics of the other Filas." To stop once and for all with the rejection of the black color, breeders are working on a campaign to favor black. The initiative came from CBKC. The column of the Fila Brasileiro, inaugurated by the CBKC journal last November and December has been published three times. In all three of them, the issue of the black Fila was addressed.The journal also asked readers to send pictures of good black individuals, so they could be published. In the last edition (April/May), the column headline was "Champion Black Fila." It portrayed the picture of a black female which won the title of best of the breed on an exposition in 1989. The text, with a touch of nostalgic celebration read: "It is with the utmost satisfaction that we receive the picture of the Champion, Great Champion and South American Champion, Saíra do Samor."
If some think the black color is prohibited, others think the white color is accepted. But it isn't. White Filas may be born in any broods, maybe as a heritage from the British Buldog, which can also be found in this color. However, not even in the first standard, written in 1946, this color was allowed. The determination, apparently for aesthetic reasons, was always followed by all with no questioning. It is not uncommon for people to mistankenly associate white color to albinism, which brings skin problems due to lack of pigmentation. That is why, for instance, the white color is not accepted in the Boxer. But, in the Fila this reason is not mentioned. People who have already had white dogs confirm this. "In my kennel 8 white Filas were born, and none of them was albino; their nose, lips and eye rim was completely pigmented," says Antonio José Brasileiro.
The dappled Fila is not accepted since 1983. The decision to exclude it was made in the national congress of breeders that took place in Rio de Janeiro. According to Romero da Costa Machado, breeder who was present when decision was made, the reason is that in the dappled dogs there is a predominance of white, and therefore, the chances of breeding completely white individuals grow if they are bred among themselves. Just for curiosity sake, in the history of the Fila Brasileiro, the first Best of the Exposition title among dogs of all breeds was given to a dappled Fila in 1952.
A two month old Fila puppy looks exactly like an adult. The most important characteristics of the breed are visible. If it is a good individual, it must present some basic qualities. The ears will be long, inserted at the eye level when in repose - above eye line is typical of other breeds like the English Mastiff. The head is massive, with loose skin over the neck forming pronounced dewlaps. The stop is low, practically non-existent. Another distinguishing trace is the high croup.
The Fila is a dog that grows very fast. If it is not fed good quality, balanced dog food, it requires vitamine and calcium complements during its first year of life, to avoid rachitis. It is important that dosage be correct. "Both lack and excess can cause bone malformations," explains veterinarian and breeder Jefferson Garotti. A slippery floor is completely out of the question. The Fila may slip because of his weight, and this can deform his body.
Another problem, common in many large breeds, is the gastric dilation, known as bloat. Normally it is caused by an exagerated amount of food in only one meal. If right after it the dog drinks a lot of water or exercises, the chances of a bloat condition increase. So, feed your dog with multiple smaller portions. Take away water bowl during meals, and only put it back half an hour later. Do not submit dog to physical activity. In case you notice symptoms (dilation of abdomen, attempts to vomit, and panting), take it to the veterinarian immediately. This condition can kill quickly.
The only hereditary problem in the Fila is the Hip Dysplasia, typical of larger breeds. It consists of a fitting problem in the thighbone and the pelvic cavity, and may leave dog crippled. To avoid it, only dogs that are certified with normal hips should be bred, and you shouldn't buy puppies whose ancestors presented the disease. Dogs should be controlled through X-ray exams. In Brazil some kennels already do this. "Everyone should be aware of the importance of X-rays, and get into the habit of doing this," suggests Carlos Cezar Lagarto, from Kennel Pedra de Guaratiba, Rio de Janeiro.
Since this breed has big broods, some with 14 to 16 puppies, it is subject to labor complications. "When many puppies are born, physical exaustion causes a diminishment of womb contractions, and the expulsion of the next puppy takes longer," says Jefferson. "If the inverval of each puppy's birth is over an hour, the lives of both mother and puppies are at risk." Besides, long labors increase the possibility of uterus infection, because uterus is opened too long. So, keep an eye on the watch, and if it be the case, run to the veterinarian.
During heat, the vaginal mucosa has a great celular multiplication due to the high production of feminine hormones. This provides the formation of a protuberance called vaginal hyperplasia, which makes natural mating difficult. In that case, an artificial insemination may be performed. The problem is characteristic of dogs with massive bone structure. When protuberance is small, it can be treated with antibiotics. If it is large, or doesn't disappear after heat, a surgery can solve the problem.
Three out of four veterinarians consulted by Cães & Cia said that the Fila is also subject to gastroenteritis. Veterinarian Ricardo Pires Moreira da Silva explains: "Dogs which stay outdoors are more inclined to get this disease because they are more frequently in contact with other animals, and their fezes." This infection is easy to notice. The dog vomits a lot, and presents diarrhea with blood. It can die in a few days. The way to prevent this is to keep track of shot dates, maintain dog free of fleas, and away from ill individuals.
The history of the Fila is about four centuries old. It was used as a jaguar hunter, cattle herder and farm guardian. The most accepted theory about its origin is the mixture of ancient types of English Mastiff, Bloodhound and English Buldog, breedings which occurred in Brazil. From the Mastiff it would inherit its massive body structure and the shape of the skull. From the Bloodhound, the loose skin, the melancholic look, the pendant ears, the well developed nose and the long barking. The Buldog would be responsible for its ability to herd cattle, and resistence to pain.
CBKC Nº 225 / 04.10.94
FCI Nº225 / 01.01.84
Country of Origin: Brazil
General Appearance: Typically molossoid breed with powerful bones, rectangular and compact structure but harmonious and proportional. Added to his massiveness a great agility can be easily seen. Bitches must show a well-defined feminimity which diferentiates them immediately from males.
Character and Temperament: Outstanding courage, determination, and bravery are part of his characteristics. He is docile and obedient to his owners and family, and extremely tolerant with children. His faithfulness became a Brazilian proverb. He is always looking for the company of his master. One of his characteristics is his loathing towards strangers. He shows a calm disposition, self-assurance, and self-confidence, not being disturbed by strange noises nor when facing a new environment. An unsurpassed guardian of property, he is also inclined, by instinct, to hunt large animals and to herd cattle.
Expression:In repose it is calm, noble, and full of self-assurance, never disclosing a bored nor absent expression. When in attention, the expresion should reflect determination and alertness with a firm and piercing look in his eyes.
Height:Males - 65 to 75cm; females - 60 to 70cm.
Weight: Females - minimum of 40kg (90 lbs.). Males - minimum of 50kg (100 lbs.).
Colors:All solid colors are permitted except the disqualigying ones (white, mouse gray, patched dogs, dappled, or black and tan). Brindles of a basic color may have the stripes of either less or with very strong intensity. A black mask may or may not be present. In all permitted colors, white markings should be limited to the feet, chest, and tip of tail. The white markings are not desirable on any other part of the body.
Skin: One of the most important breed characteristics is the thick, loose skin over the whole body, chiefly at the neck, forming pronounced dewlaps, and in many individuals the folds proceed to the chest and abdomen. Some dogs show a fold at the side of the head and also at the withers descending to the shoulder. When the dog is in repose the head is free of wrinkles. When alert, in order to lift the ears, the contraction of the skin at the skull forms little wrinkles along a longitudinal line of the skull.
Coat:Short, smooth, dense and tight to the skin.
Head: Heavy and massive, always proportionate to the body. Seen from above, it resembles a trapezoidal figure in which the head appears pear-shaped. From a side view, muzzle and skull should have approximately the proportion of one to one, or with the first being slightly smaller than the second one.
Skull:The profile shows a smooth curve from the stop to the occiput which is well-defined and salient, especially in puppies. From a front view the skull is wide, ample with the upper line slightly curved. The lateral lines descend slightly curved, almost in a vertical line, narrowing toward the muzzle, never showing a stop.
Stop: From a front view it is practically non-existent. The medium furrow runs up smoothly until approximately the halfway mark of the skull. From a side view the stop is low, sloping, and virtually formed by the very well-developed eyebrow ridges.
Muzzle:Strong, broad, and deep, always in harmony with the skull. From a top view it is full under the eyes, very slightly narrowing toward the middle of the muzzle and slightly boradening again until reaching the front curve. From a side view the bridge of the muzzle is straight or has a Roman nose, but never in an ascendant line. The front line of the muzzle is close to a perpendicular line in relation to the superior line, showing a slight depression right under the nose. A perfect curve is formed by the upper lips which are thick and pendulous, drooping over the lower lips giving shape to the lower line of the muzzle which is almos parallel to the upper line. The labial rim is always apparent. The lower lips are close and firm up to the fangs and from there on they are loose with dented borders. The muzzle has a great depth at the root but without surpassing the length of the muzzle. The labial rim has the shape of an inverted and deep U.
Nose: Well-developed with broad nostrils not occupying entirely the maxilla width. The color is black.
Eyes:From medium to large size, almond-shaped, spaced well apart, from medium to deep-set. The colors are from dark chestnut to yellow, always in harmony with the coat color. Due to the profusion of the loose skin, many individuals present drooping lower eyelids which are not considered a fault as such detail increases the melancholic expression which is typical of the breed.
Ears:Pendant, large, thick, V-shaped, broad at the base and tapering at the end with rounded tips. They are inserted at the posterior part of the skull in line with the medium level of the eyes when in repose. When roused the ears go above the original position. The root is oblique with the front border higher than the back border. The ears are drooping at the cheeks or are folded back allowing the interior to be seen.
Teeth: Noticeably wider than long. They are strong and white. The upper scissors are broad at the root and sharp at the edges. Canines are powerful, well set and well apart. A scissors bite is the ideal, but a level bite is acceptable.
Neck: Extraordinarily strong and well-muscled giving the impression of a short neck. It is slightly curved on the top and well-detached from the skull. The throat is furnished with dewlaps.
Body: Strong, broad, and deep, covered by thick and loose skin. The thorax is longer than the abdomen. The length of the body is the same as the height at the withers plus ten per cent. when measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks.
Topline:The withers, standing in a sloping line, are set well apart from each other due to the distance between the scapulas at a slightly lower level than the croup. After the withers, the topline changes direction, ascending smoothly to the croup, with no tendency to show a sway nor a roach back.
Thorax:The ribs are well sprung, though not interfering with the position of the shoulders. The chest is deep and large, descending to the level of the elbows.
Loins:Shorter and not as deep as the thorax, showing a separation of the two component parts. The lower part of the loins is more developed in the females. Viewed from above, the loins are narrower than the thorax and croup, but should not form a waistline.
Underline: The chest is long and parallel to the ground in all its extension. The tuck-up extends in a slightly ascending line but is never whippety.
Croup: Broad and long, with an approximate anguglation of 30 degrees to the horizontal line, showing a smooth curve. It stands a little higher than the withers. Viewed from the rear the croup must be ample and its width is approximately equal to the thorax and may be even wider in females.
Forequarters: The ideal shoulder structure should be composed of two bones of equal length (scapula and humerus), with the former at an angle of 45 degrees from the horizontal line and the humerus forming an approximate 90 degree angle with the scapula. The articulation of the scapula-humerus forms the point of the shoulder which should be situated at the level of the prosternum but a little behind it. In its ideal position the shoulder covers the space from the withers to the prosternum and the point of the shoulder should be place halfway to this distance. An imaginary perpendicular line coming down from the withers should cut the elbow and reach the foot
Feet: Formed by strong and well-arched toes which are not too close together. The pads are thick, broad, and deep. The correct position of the feet is pointing to the front. The nails are strong and dark, but they may be white when this is the color of the respective toe.
Hindquarters:The hindlegs are less heavy boned than the forelegs but never light as a whole. The upper thigh has curved borders shaped by muscles descending from the ilium and ischium, which trace the curve of the rear, and for this reason the ischium must have a good length.
Legs: Parallel, with strong tarsis, metatarsis slightly bent, higher than the metacarpis. The stifles and hocks are moderately angulated.
Tail: Very wide at the root, medium set, reaching to the level of the hocks, tapering rapidly at its end. When the dog is alert, the tail is raised high, and the curve at the extremity is more accentuated. The tail should not fall over the back or curl up.
Gait:Long reach and elastic gait which reminds one of the great cats' movements. His main characteristic is the pace (camel's gait), moving two legs of one side first, followed by the two legs of the other side which causes a rolling lateral movement of the thorax and hindquarters accentuated by the tail when it is raised. During the walk he maintains the ehad lower than the back line. He shows a smooth, free, and long reaching trot with a powerful stride. His gallop is powerful with an unsuspected speed coming from such a large and heavy dog. The Fila Brasileiro's gait is always influenced by its typically molossoid articulations which give the impression, and in fact it is true, of effectively permitting him sudden and swift changes in direction.
Very Serious Faults:
Minor Faults: Anything in disagreement with the standard.
Test of Temperament: This is compulsory requirement for all individuals (after 12 months) in order to obtain a registered championship title. All champions must have a certificate of approval at the temperament test. This type of test is made at al specialty shows. It is optional at general shows, up to the judge's will, providing it is public and takes place outside the show ring. The trial includes:
Note: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
For More Information: Clubs in Brazil - SPFB, São
Paulo, SP, tel. (011) 413-6399; SEFB, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, tel. (021) 288-9076;
CPFB, Curitiba, PR, tel. (041) 224-3136; CSRFB, Porto Alegre, RS, tel. (051)
341-7665; CAFIB, Campinas, SP, tel. (0192) 57-5905.
Clubs in the USA - The Fila Brasileiro Association, CR 605 BOX 5029, Burleson, TX 76028-9143; The Fila Brasileiro Club of America, 1920 Paradise St., Waukesha, WI, 53188.
Reading Material: Books - The Fila Brasileiro and The Fila Brasileiro Guide, both by Clelia Kruel, Kruel Publications, Florida, USA. Magazines - Fila Brasileiro Magazine (in English and German), Ines Van Damme, ac 31, 03760, Ondara (Alicate), Spain, tel/fax (003465) 76-6769. Internet - http://dt.fee.unicamp.br/~amaury/filanet.html
We would like to thank the people interviewed, and the
veterinarians Ana Elisabeth Soares Cavalcante and Manuel de Castro Leite Neto
for the information and the tecnical review of this text, also done by Hilda
Drumond, ABC's cynophilic director, and José Peduti Neto, CBKC all
Research: Moisés Henrique Lemus. Text: Flávia C. Soares
Translation of Official Standard: Clelia Kruel (CBKC/FCI/SKC Judge)
Picture: M. J. M. P.
Owner: Kennel Brenda Lee