Imagine a cross between a Mastiff and a Bloodhound. That’s what a Brazilian Mastiff. Perhaps you know this dog by his other name, the Fila Brasileiro.
This large dog was bred originally to protect the plantations of Brazil. Not surprisingly, the ancestors of this dog included Bloodhounds, Mastiffs and bulldogs of European origin. The ancestors of this dog were brought to South America by the Conquistadors.
The result of this breeding is a dog who possesses the incredible scenting ability of the Bloodhound and the amazing fearless power of a mastiff. And this combination made the Brazilian Mastiff suited him well in defense of the cattle ranches of the Minas Gerais region. Not only was he able to keep the cattle rustlers away, but he also kept the steer safe from the wild jaguars.
The history of the Brazilian Mastiff though also includes the use of them on hunting trips. These dogs were used to track, attack and then hold the intended prey until his owner arrived. In fact, the name Fila comes from Portuguese for “to hold.” Interestingly, the Brazilian Mastiff, at one point in the history of the breed and the country, was used to track and capture runaway slaves.
The leg and spine joints of the Brazilian Mastiff demonstrate perfectly what made this dog such a great tracking dog. The joints are loose. This allows the dog to change his route extremely quickly – even if he’s traveling at a full-blown gallop.
This dog has a unique characteristic for which it is known. It is probably the only breed that was purposely selected for its actual dislike of strangers. And to this day, the trait definitely shows. In fact, temperament tests are run during championships. The tests include the ability to attack without being instructed, to remain self-confident during a shooting test as well as to overtly display their dislike and suspicion of people they don’t know.
Ironically, the standard for this breed during a dog show specifically states that the Brazilian Mastiff should not “allow the judge [a stranger] to touch it.” Furthermore, the standard explains that should the dog attack the judge, this action “must be considered a fault, but only a confirmation of its temperament.”
As fierce as they can be with strangers, the Brazilian Mastiffs are gentle with their own families. As with other types of Mastiffs they are tender and affectionate with the family they are charged to protect. And, of course, the members of this breed are loyal to their owners as well.
And like his cousins, the English Mastiff and others, he is a large dog. He stands between 27 to nearly 30 inches tall at the shoulder. His weight is no less than 100 pounds. While females are slightly smaller, they are still quite big as well. The female Brazilian Mastiff weighs approximately 90 pounds, with a height that ranges between 24 to nearly 28 inches.
The coat of the Brazilian Mastiff is short and smooth. Colors include solid yellow, reddish tan, as well as black and brindled colors. There are tons of mastiff pictures available on the net.
If the Brazilian Mastiff has won your heart and you’re considering owning one – beware. While the Mastiff as a general breed is a ferocious guard dog ,the Brazilian Mastiff was bred to go one step further to actually distrust and dislike stranger. This means he needs more supervision and understanding than your average dog.