The Brazilian Mastiff

The Brazilian Mastiff, also known as the Fila Brasileiro, looks kind of like a cross between a Mastiff and a Bloodhound.

Like other Mastiffs, this dog was bred to protect the lands of their owners. In Brazil, this meant plantations. The ancestors of the Brazilian Mastiff included Mastiffs, Bloodhounds and bulldogs from Europe. These breeds were brought to South America by the Conquistadors.

As a result of this mixed heritage, the Brazilian Mastiff has the scenting abilities of the Bloodhound as well as the fearlessness of the Mastiff. These qualities came in handy guarding cattle ranches in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil. These brave guardians were able to scare off rustlers and protect the cattle from the jaguars.

Brazilian Mastiffs are not only guard dogsā€¦ they are used for hunting as well. Because of their scenting talents, they can track game, attack and hold them until the hunters arrived. The word "Fila" in the name Fila Brasileiro is Portuguese for "to hold." The Brazilian Mastiff was also used at one point to track and help capture slaves that had run away.

The loose joints of the Brazilian Mastiff are perfect for a tracking dog. For such a large animal, he can change his direction quickly, even at a full gallop.

The Brazilian Mastiff has a very unique quality that has been accentuated through selective breeding: its natural dislike of strangers. Even today, this is a definite personality trait. During championship shows, temperament tests are administered to the dogs. These tests judge the ability of the dog to attack without instructions from his owner, to stay confident while their owner shoots a gun, and to display their suspicion and dislike of strangers.

It is interesting to note that the standard for this breed actually says that the Brazilian Mastiff should not "allow the judge (a stranger) to touch it." The standard also goes on to describe that if the dog should attack the judge (a stranger), that this must be "considered a fault, but only a confirmation of its temperament." While they can be rather fierce with strangers, these intimidating dogs are very gentle with their families. Just like other types of Mastiffs, they are affectionate and protective of the family they live with. Loyalty is a big part of the personality of the Mastiff.

Like other Mastiffs, the Brazilian Mastiff is big. Between 27 and 30 inches tall at the shoulder, he weighs a minimum of 100 pounds. Females of the breed are a little smaller, but still a formidable dog. A female would weigh about 90 pounds, and stands between 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder.

The Brazilian Mastiff has a smooth, short coat. He comes in a brindle, black, solid yellow and a reddish tan. If you've never seen a Brazilian Mastiff, be sure to look up photos online. This is a dog that is not soon to be forgotten.

If you find this interesting breed appealing, and you are considering adding one to your life, be careful. Mastiffs in general have always been bred to be fiercely protective, but the Brazilian Mastiff was selectively bred to actually distrust and dislike strangers. You will need to be more understand of this dog than an average dog, and to be always vigilant about keeping him under supervision.

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