A Brazilian Mastiff is a cross between a Mastiff and a Bloodhound. Another name for this breed of dog is Fila Brasileiro. Originally this large dog was bred in order to protect Brazil's plantations. The ancestral history of the Brazilian Mastiff includes Bloodhounds, Mastiffs and Bulldogs of European origin. The result of this breeding is an amazing dog which possesses the fearless power of a Mastiff and the incredible scenting ability of the Bloodhound. This combination made the Brazilian Mastiff perfect to defend the cattle ranches of Brazil, not only was he able to keep the cattle rustlers away, but he also kept wild jaguars from killing the steer.
The Brazilian Mastiff dogs were also used track , attack and then hold the intended prey until his master had arrived. In fact, the name Fila comes from Portuguese word meaning "to hold." An interesting note about this breed is that at one time they were used to track and capture slaves.
Mastiff dogs have unique characteristics which set them apart from other canine breeds. Their leg and spine joints are loose to allow the dog to change his direction extremely quickly. He can do this even while running at a full gallop. This capability is the reason the Mastiff dog is such a good tracking dog.
Another unusual characteristic for the Mastiff dogs is that they are probably the only breed that was purposely selected because of its dislike of strangers. Ironically, during a dog show the standard for this breed specifically states that the Brazilian Mastiff should not "allow the judge [a stranger] to touch it." However, as fierce as they may be with strangers they are quite gentle with their own families. They feel a sense to protect their owners and are very affectionate and tender with them. They are also a breed that is loyal to their owners.
The Brazilian Mastiff is a large dog that stands between 27 – 30 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs over 100 pounds. Females Mastiffs are slightly smaller, but they still weigh in at approximately 90 pounds, with a height that ranges between 24 – 28 inches tall. Their coats are short and smooth and are either solid yellow, reddish tan, or black and brindled in color.
If you are considering owning a Brazilian Mastiff be sure that you have done your homework and learned as much as you can about them first. Understand that they are indeed great guard dogs, however, they have been bred to actually dislike and distrust strangers which could become a problem. Mastiff dogs need more supervision, training, and understanding than most other breeds of dog.