The origin story of fila brasileiro

Table of contents:

The origin story of fila brasileiro
The origin story of fila brasileiro

General description of the dog, the reasons for breeding Fila Brasileiro, possible progenitors, distribution and unique characteristics of the breed, the advancement and development of the animal, the position of the species in the modern world. The content of the article:

  • Reasons for breeding
  • Possible grandparents
  • Distribution and their unique features
  • History of promotion and development
  • The position of the dog in the modern world

The Fila brasileiro or Brazilian Mastiff is a large working breed that originated in Brazil. He is known for his superior tracking ability, aggressiveness, and unrelenting fast-paced nature. When these dogs find their prey, they do not attack it, but hold it in place until the hunter appears.

Due to these qualities, the fila brasillero is used as guard animals, herding dogs for cattle breeding and hunting dogs to track and control large prey. When slavery in Brazil was legal, Brazilian mastiffs were used to bring fugitives back to their slave owners unharmed. This breed has been banned in many countries due to its temperament and potential for aggressive behavior.

Bloodound genes are flowing in the breed, which show up in their long snouts and loose skin. These giants are rectangular in shape. Although they are massive, their natural flexibility is evident. The neck and back are well muscled and the chest is broad. The head is large and heavy with a deep muzzle. The ears are pendant, wide and narrowed, drooping or folding back. The coat is smooth and short. Coloring of the dog's coat: black, red, brown-brindle.

The reasons for the breeding of the Fila Brasileiro breed

Fila brasileiro

Fila Brasileiro was developed in an era when the pedigrees of the then canines were practically not recorded in writing. Representatives of the species were mainly distributed in remote areas of the rainforest. As a result, most of the details of the origins of their family tree are lost, and only general data are known. It is probably the oldest of all Brazilian dogs. The ancient past of such a mastiff is close to the history of his bright homeland - Brazil.

On April 22, 1500, Portuguese explorer Pedro lvarez Cabral became the first European to travel to the Portuguese colony (the area now Brazil). He discovered vast areas of rainforest that were home to hundreds of unique Native American tribes, and with them the ancestors of the Fila Brasileiro. The local strange and violent wildlife was impressive and daunting, and most importantly, it was rich in valuable Brazilian timber.

Portuguese colonists began to flock to the new colony in pursuit of this valuable resource. The remnants of the indigenous population that did not kill the epidemic diseases brought by the Europeans were conquered and enslaved. Gradually, sugar, cotton and rubber plantations replaced local forests as the driving force of the Brazilian economy. These "fields" required cultivation - an enormous amount of human labor that slaves could provide. And also the dogs that look after them, such as the Brazilian mastiff.

In addition to the captured indigenous tribes, the Portuguese imported more than 3,000,000 African "captives" into Brazil, fewer other groups including Portuguese prisoners, Moroccan soldiers and various Islamic layers from all over the Indian Ocean. Unsurprisingly, most of the enslaved strongly resisted their position, and countless thousands of slaves fled into the jungle.Indigenous Brazilians and equatorial Africans were significantly more adept at surviving the local rainforest climate than their European owners. People were often never found after escaping into the jungle. It quickly became clear that more funds were needed to track the fugitives.

For several thousand years, dogs, the forerunners of the fila brasileiro, were the primary means by which Europeans tracked people and animals. Hunting breeds were definitely used throughout Europe at least 10,000 years ago, and some researchers believe the actual date is close to 30,000. Europeans have also long used massive and aggressive dogs in battle, traditionally rooted in ancient Greece.

Brazilian plantation owners quickly realized that the chances of finding and capturing fleeing slaves without specially trained dogs, the ancestors of the fila brasileiro, were very low. In particular, they needed a dog with a unique set of characteristics. She had to: have an exceptional natural sense of smell, a determined desire to keep track of prey, endurance in the tropical heat, strong immunity to disease, large enough to bring down an armed man and the necessary aggression to attack.

Possible progenitors of Fila Brasileiro

Two Fila brasileiro

As the Roman era had a significant impact on Portugal, the area became home to massive guardian breeds such as the cao de castro laboreiro and rafeiro do alentejo, often known as the Portuguese guard dog and the Portuguese Mastiff. It is very likely that some of these canines were imported to Brazil. These species, the ancestors of the fila brasileiro, possessed the size, ferocity and strength needed to successfully catch slaves.

In addition, several English breeds were also brought to the country. Great Britain and Portugal had a close relationship, since the English crusaders on their way to the Holy Land in 1147, helped the local monarch reclaim the city of Lisbon from the Islamic Moors. Dogs from Great Britain, the ancestors of the Brazilian mastiff, were well known to the Portuguese. The Giant English Mastiff, then renowned as a formidable war dog, was bred to add size, ferocity and strength. Also featured is the Old English Bulldog, arguably the most ferocious in the world until the 19th century.

The Bloodhound, or St. Hubert's dog, was probably attracted to the fila brasileiro breeding because of its olfactory ability. It was probably the first variety specially bred and used to track people. These dogs have helped British lords find criminals and escaped serfs for centuries.

Bloodhound was especially important to Brazilian farmers as Portugal is not home to any Scenthound breeds. Plantation owners in Brazil have crossed English Mastiffs, Old English Bulldogs, Bloodhounds and Portuguese Guard Dogs together to create a dog with all the functions desired. The new breed became known as the cao de fila or fila brasileiro. Dogs became famous for their unique method of capturing slaves. They bite the victim on the neck or shoulder and hold until the owners arrive.

Fila brasileiro distribution and their unique features

Fila brasileiro flock

Such mastiffs were kept throughout Brazil, but they were especially associated with the paulhistas by the inhabitants of São Paulo, who constituted a "collection" of researchers, slave traders and merchants. These people are some of the most iconic figures in Brazilian history, known for pushing the country's borders hundreds of miles in depth.

The Paulhistas took the fila brasileiro on their many expeditions across the Amazon, using them for defense and battle. During her stay in Brazil, fila brasileiro has become increasingly adapted to the country's climate.The breed became one of the most heat-resistant of all molosser / mastiff canines, and was able to operate for several hours at temperatures that would quickly destroy most of these breeds. The dog has also acquired natural immunity to countless diseases and parasites common in the region.

By the middle of the 19th century, fila brasileiro was an important part of the Brazilian plantation system. Unlike breeds such as the Cuban Mastiff, which were used almost exclusively to keep track of slaves, the Brazilian breed quickly proved useful in several tasks. The massive and ferocious animal had excellent watchdog qualities, and was used to protect the "extravagant" mansions of the richest citizens of Brazil.

In addition, Fila Brasileiro's keen nose allowed him to track both animals and people. The jungles of Brazil are home to large populations of very dangerous animals such as the jaguar, cougar and bakers. The Brazilian Mastiff was the only breed that not only possessed the sense of smell needed to track these creatures, but also the size and strength to fight them. Brazilian farmers across the country have used these canines to fend off any predator threatening their livestock.

Although the first steps towards freeing Brazil's slaves began in the 1820s, the nation remained largely dependent on slave labor until the late 19th century. This meant that the fila brasileiro was still valued for years after dogs with similar features disappeared in the Caribbean and the American South.

Only in 1884, in Brazil, one of the last countries in the world, slavery was completely abolished. Fortunately for the fila brasileiro, during the ban on slave labor, they had already established themselves so well (as watchmen and big game hunters) that the dogs continued to be kept even after their original functions were no longer needed. Brazilian mastiffs became especially common in the interior of the state of Minas Gerais, where they were highly prized as a deterrent against thieves and predators.

The history of the promotion and development of fila brasileiro

Fila brasileiro on a leash

During the 20th century, crime rates rose sharply across Brazil as the country became more urbanized. At that time, the fila brasileiro was a popular guard dog, and gained high demand and prevalence in its homeland. Currently, there is considerable controversy regarding the temperament of the species. Many amateurs argue that the Brazilian Mastiff has always shown strong aggressiveness, while others note that these dogs traditionally did not differ in such behavior and only became so during the 20th century.

Although the fila brasileiro has almost certainly crossed over its long history with other breeds, they have remained largely pure. By the 1940s, there was considerable interest in the standardization and registration of fila brasileiro. These efforts centered around the city of São Paulo, where the Paulists lived who had long appreciated the variety. In 1946, the first official written standard for these canines was published.

These criteria were based on the guidelines of the Federation of Cynology, which caused a serious rift between lovers of the species. The FCI standard introduced a dog with a massive mastiff-like body and a bloodhound-like muzzle. FCI regulations also called for a less aggressive and more manageable breed.

The Brazilian Kennel Club (CBKC) and its breeders used the FCI standard. These recommendations greatly angered many breeders who wanted a less bulky and more active dog, as well as a significantly more aggressive one. Therefore, the fila brasileiro club (CAFIB) was created to improve and promote the traditional dog.

CAFIB has focused on maintaining the typical character of the variety.The extreme distrust and dislike of strangers, known to Brazilians as "ojeriza", was considered a valuable part of the standard. CAFIB breeders have long focused on maintaining this fila brasileiro behavior and a lighter build. Dogs bred by CAFIB breeders have such a natural, typical appearance for the breed, many individuals do not trust and attack outsiders even without formal training.

At the end of the 20th century, the Brazilian army wanted to determine whether the Brazilian mastiff would be a good military dog. The breed was considered particularly desirable as it is naturally more resistant to temperature than traditional European working dogs such as the german shepherd dog. Experts conducted a 5-year study comparing German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and Fila Brasileiro, focusing on their ability to work in extreme rainforest conditions.

The main areas of research were intelligence, aggressiveness, sensitivity, temperament, energy, resistance, unpretentiousness and strength. It was determined that the German Shepherd dog has the highest degree of intelligence and the Doberman Pinscher has the highest level of aggression. In all other areas studied, the Brazilian army found the fila brasileiro to be superior to other breeds.

The position of the fila brasileiro dog in the modern world

Two fila brasileiro in the snow

Since the 1980s, the Brazilian Mastiff's reputation as a huge and incredibly brutal guard dog has spread throughout the world. A number of hobbyists, both in the US and in Europe, have begun to import these dogs for use as personal and property protective animals.

As a result of irresponsible possession combined with natural tendencies, fila brasileiro were involved in very serious dog attacks. These incidents prompted several countries, including the United Kingdom, Israel, Denmark, Norway, Malta, Cyprus, Australia, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago, to ban mixing with fila brasileiro altogether.

In addition, numerous municipalities across the United States and Europe have imposed outright bans and restrictions on the breed. Although the Brazilian Mastiff is naturally a natural protector, many amateurs find this attitude unfair. Those who have trained and interacted with the Fila Brasileiro have found that this dog can adapt well to the presence of strangers, and many are reliable and trustworthy like other large guard species.

Despite this, attitudes towards Brazilian Mastiffs remain extremely controversial, and many breeders of other target breeds, such as the Rottweiler and American Pit Bull Terrier, often compare their dogs to fila brasileiro to show that their canines much less aggressive.

Despite the controversy surrounding the fila brasileiro, the number of livestock continues to grow worldwide. The breed is very popular in Brazil, where it is one of the most widespread purebred species. The number of such pets is also rapidly increasing in both the United States and Europe. Owners looking for a very large and aggressive dog are increasingly opting for fila brasileiro, and its reputation is controversial - both positive and negative.

Unlike most modern varieties, which are no longer used for their original purpose, the vast majority of Fila brasileiro remain primarily working animals. Almost all members of the breed are active or retired guard dogs and this situation will almost certainly remain the same for the foreseeable future. Thanks in large part to the breed's reputation as well as the behavior described in their standard, fila brasileiro is currently not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC). In the near future, they are unlikely to be "appreciated" by large canine organizations.

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