Fila Brasileiro Temperament
Despite its aspect as a medium-sized/big guard dog, the Fila Brasileiro has a very special temperament, rapidly conquering its owner and those around. The Fila is a gentle, loyal and excellent companion. This is emphasized in our book about the Fila Brasileiro.
A Fila’s behavior is influenced by genetic and environmental factors, but none of them acts independently.
“Anyone who owns a dog knows that there are numerous canine personality traits that distinguish one individual from the other.” The dogs’ behavior development occurs mainly by adaptation.
The behavior of a dog, including the Fila Brasileiro, is also shaped by the treatment it receives as a puppy. Mr. Wanildo Siqueira observes the difficulties or the impossibility of training a Fila who lacked proper care and affection in the first months of life.
The Fila Brasileiro is not only a “dog of one owner only”; it is also a dog belonging to a small community, that is, to a family.
One characteristic is worth mentioning: The Fila hates strangers, and is inextricably integrated with its owners; a big, brave and even violent dog that often exhibits a “near-human” temperament.
Moreover, a Fila will not accept other male and will have a strong sense of pack of hounds.
An important issue we will be dealing with here is the need to discard the ideal of a Fila as a dog specially designed for exhibitions. In a troubled world, packed by wars and racial conflicts such as the one we live in, people look for a guard dog, not for a handsome dog. During the 60’s and 70’s, in the numerous exhibitions of the old BKC, few Filas Brasileiros were shown, and those who did were kept separate from the other dogs. They would not allow being touched by a judge nor having its teeth examined. Over time, Filas became gentler. However, preserving the Fila’s temperament as a guard dog is possible. And we should add that the Fila is the only molloser to keep the “ojeriza” (sharp aversion) towards strangers. Nonetheless, as the world advances, we can see houses with no walls around to protect them, especially in the United States.
Before they are shown at exhibitions, the Fila dogs are submitted to tests of attacks to humans. These are conditioning tests. A dog repeats what it is taught. It can provide us no real idea of its temperament.
How could we possibly please everyone, presenting a Fila according to the Standard and, at the same time, a guard dog? We ran some tests, in an attempt to find Filas with different temperaments, without submitting them to the superficial tests that have been used at the shows. Our suggestion is based in a deep knowledge of the Fila’s temperament, and the tests were applied within the dogs’ own territories. The tests were never applied on Filas who were less than ten months old. It should be added that the dogs were being observed since a very early age, a time in which it is possible identify the cleverest and the most aggressive ones.
A description of our test follows:
The dog is moved away from all people, except its owner or trainer, restrained by a strap.
We could distinguish four groups:
1. A stranger approaches. The dog remains indifferent; it does not snarl nor shows its teeth. The stranger gets closer and tries to touch the dog to examine its teeth. If the dog allows it, with no reaction, it will be scored a ZERO. It is not a guardian dog, because it keeps a juvenile temperament. It could, though, be a companion dog for children and for the elderly.
2.A stranger approaches the dog. The dog becomes restless, snarls, and shows its teeth, but allows the stranger to touch it. It is scored a ONE. Still not a guardian dog.
3.A stranger approaches the dog, and it starts to snarl and to bark. It scores a TWO. It is considered the perfect guardian dog – polite, but not friendly towards strangers.
4.Finally, if, as the stranger approaches, the dog tries to attack and bite him, rendering any contact impossible, it will be scored a THREE. This is a guardian dog just like the old farm dogs in Brazil. Paradoxically, it is docile with its owner and with those around.
According to the all rounder judge, Antonino Barone Forzano, the Israeli Army chose Filas Brasileiros as efficient dogs, for they do not show any fear of shots and bombs.
Clélia Kruel, in her second book, stresses the Fila’s temperament. She calls them sled dogs. Clélia received a letter from John Quy and Earle Magge, who live in Finland, Minnesota, where during winter temperatures may reach 30 below zero. They live within 5 miles from their closest neighbor. The dogs are used to pull the sleds when they returning from the market with groceries. There are also many unwanted visitors, such as wolves and large moose, which can weight as much as 800 pounds. Why would they prefer Filas to other breeds to protect them? The answer is: “Because the Fila breed provides superior protection to both. It is not just the bravery and the ferocity of the breed, nor its strength and agility. It is rather its nature as true guardians of their owners… Dogs who run like crazy to attack wolves end up dead. Our Filas, when lost in the farm, act as if they were a pack of dogs, and never go beyond our property. When they go out with us, they are always nearby, as if their first and foremost duty was to protect and love us.”
This article was writen by Prof Procópio do Valle, to whom we thank for allowing us to publish it on our site.