The dog that even the judge can’t touch at the shows: do you know this rare breed?

Csupor Erik

2023. October 15 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

There is a worldwide interest in hard working dogs, and unfortunately these virtues are becoming harder to find in the "modern" Mastiff breeds. Few people are aware of it, but they still exist today, but they have not yet become very well known or fashionable. So their character has not been almost irreversibly softened. One of the most prominent of these working Mastiffs is the Fila Brasileiro, which the Western world has only become familiar with in recent decades.


We talk to Ede Schmidt, President of the Hungarian Molosser Lovers Association, about Fila Brasileiro.

LMD: What kind of dogs are Fila Brasileiros and how do they differ from other Mastiff breeds known in Europe?

ES: Even the Fila Brasileiro breed has many specialities and unique characteristics. Brazil is a very exciting country with many specialities. The dog itself is unique in many ways. For example, in the way it moves, as it has a poroscopic gait that many people call “camel-walking”, where it moves with two limbs on one side at the same time. The other peculiarity is that this breed of dog has an extremely loose skin, wearing a coat 2-3 times the size of its body. One more characteristic of their appearance that distinguishes them from other dogs is that the tail is higher.

If we look back at the history of the dog, where and when the breed started to develop, we have to look back to the 1400s. The origins can undoubtedly be traced back to the dogs of the indigenous people of Brazil, which were then mixed with the large, molosser-type dogs of the many European nations in that country. The traces of this are still clearly visible today. They inherited from the English bloodhounds their low-set ears and that sad-looking expression which is so characteristic of them.

What kind of dog is a Fila Brasileiro? What do Brazilians use them for?

ES: Interestingly, we are talking about an absolutely universal dog. On the one hand, it has been used in the past and is still used today for herding, hunting, guarding objects and large areas. But I must also say, unfortunately, that their duties used to include the effective pursuit of runaway slaves. The Brazilian army still uses them as service dogs in tropical conditions with great success.

One very exciting experiment, for example, was when American kinologists tested several species in parallel, Dobermans, German shepherds and Fila Barsileiros under combat conditions. To everyone’s surprise, Fila emerged victorious in jungle conditions, once again proving the extraordinary diversity of the breed. These dogs now protect the Brazilian fazendas (large estates), often bordering wooded areas where large predators are also found. These dogs usually perform excellently, protecting territories and the owners’ livestock, herds of cattle.

What is the character of the Filas, compared to, for example, the European Mastiff breeds?

ES: It’s very important to know about them that perhaps no other breed of dog has these emotional extremes as the Fila. At one extreme is the mad love he feels for the owner and his family. At the other extreme is the insane hatred that is instinctively encoded in them towards strangers. There is not much transition between the two. The Brazilians have a special word for this and call it “orejiza”. Coming back to the love of the owner, I know a lot of dog breeds, but I really haven’t seen this with other breeds. It is to be imagined that even in the case of larger, unsocialised, growing dogs, this state of love to the grave can develop literally within days of the arrival of a new owner.

There is also a Brazilian saying: “nothing is as loyal as Fila”, and that is very true. But if you think about it, it’s not too far from the Brazilian mentality. It works well in a family and, surprisingly, it does not harm any other animals in the family. Even the cat can sit on its head and not be bothered. However, a Fila Brasileiro can never be “paired” with a stranger. Nor with close family friends who occasionally turn up. In this sense, it is actually one of the most ideal guard dogs. However, it is very difficult or impossible to fit into the environment of an active social person.

What is also a big plus point for me is that they can reproduce and care for the pups without any human intervention. This may sound extremely silly to an outsider, but unfortunately I have to say that some of the Mastiff breeds of our time have lost this ability. I usually recommend this excellent breed with its ancient virtues to people and families who need protection, but who do not have a lot of visitors at home, because in the case of the Fila this is difficult to do only by “locking”.

Come to think of it, at dog shows, which are basically a kind of appearance show, the Fila Brasileiro is the only breed where even the judge cannot touch, which the trained judges are familiar with. This species is still small in number in Europe. We’re talking maybe a few hundred – a few thousand. The lack of a fashion craze is one of the main reasons why Fila has retained the mental, physical and health condition of its ancestors. This is much less the case with the other mastiffs that are common today.

breed dog breeds Erik Csupor Exhibition fila brasileiro guard dog guardian-protector interview mastiff molosser

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