By Christofer Habig
Published in Molosser Magazine 1986/nš 1

There's quite a lot of evidence to indicate that old stories about the Fila Brasileiro are increasing confusion in Europe and the USA. What was forgotten about long ago in Brasil is now being dug up and told to unsuspecting Europeans and Americans, namely the wrong story of the oh-so-young Fila breed, which is still meant without any uniformity and where Filas with Mastiff looks or Mastiff or GreatDane characteristics (or just a general mix up of everything) could turn up at any time. According to this tale there was never any secrative cross-breeding responsible for that, nor any type manipulation, or any pedigree falsification to be contented with. Thatīs how the story goes.

Bastard or not, Fila was Fila. No difference between a true Fila and an Bastard - according to these tales - can be noticed. There are many people, who both knowledgeable and respectable have fought against this nonsense. Among others even the President of the Brasil Kennel Club (CBKC). MM too, has never been in favour of this fashion. Since 1981 we have always tried to see the truth and clarity and have even managed to stop a few unpleasantries from happening worldwide.

Still ignorence prospers. This situation is aggravated even more by breeders and dealers who, in wanting to sell their bastards, spread this propaganda. What, then, are MMīsarguments against it ?

Basicly you only have to remember five things:
1. The Fila Brasileiro breed belongs to the many breeds where differences in type can be seen again and again between the indivudual dogs.That is something common to all Molosser breeds, though. The Fila is nothing special there. These differences in type are the result of relativly little planned, as a pose to a lot of unplanned breeding. This again has something to do with the history of the Fila as a working dog on the farms of Brasil where it was more important for the dog to be able to fulfill his tasks rather than for him to be beautiful. Apart from this there has been only a standard for this breed laying down the phenotype and the temperament since 1946.

Despite these difficulties, all the old documents show that there was already a definite Fila type at the beginning of the century which was almost identical with the pureFila type of today.

The structure of the head and body of the old dogs and the better ones of today is the same. In particular you may care to think about the substantial, long, and noble head with the one-to-one relation of skull and muzzle. The current CBKC Standard, which became valid as from the 1st of January 1984, requires an almost unchanged type of head.

2. The differences in type between the pure Filas have nothing at all to do with the kind of "type-chaos" since the seventies which the secretive cross-breeding with Mastini, Mastiffs, Great Danes and others has resulted in. The differences between the pure Filas are very small and hardly worth talking about in comparison to the problems which have been caused by the bastard-breeders of Brasil. The genepool of the breed has been severely damaged for years to come. Differences between the pure-bred dogs can be systematically eliminated but the bastards bring an element of uncertainty into the whole thing, of which one should not underestimate the adverse effects.

Those of you who have ever observed the effects of cross-breeding in other breeds will apprecicate how many generations of systemetic breeding are needed in order to get rid of the foreign influences again.

3.The breeding of Fila bastards by some of the more active Brasilian breeders has never and wonīt ever result in making for a more uniform breed , but will only result in changing it. It was as though the Fila Brasileiro was to have been turned into the "Mastin Brasileiro" through unnatural means. This, thankfully was succesfully quashed. These dogs, who may look like a lot of things, only not like a Fila, cannot fulfill the requirements of the valid standard. Thank God.

4.There is nothing but the barest commercialism to be found as a reason for the breeding of bastards. The name of the game is selling and the development of new markets abroad. Foreign markets have become of utmost importance to Brasilīs awful economic situation -it means being able to export those cross-breeds and sell "Filas from Brasil" at high prices to unsuspecting buyers in Europe and the USA who wish to have such a dog.

While I was in Brasil I saw many breeders from both sides of the fence, and I could easily have brought a lot of these Fila bastards home. But to what avail ? None whatever. It would only have caused chaos, disappointment and have constituted a kind of "labelling" fraude. You can always find unsuspecting buyers, although you have to watch the scene very carefully lest you get involved in dog-dealing. The breed would not benefit from this at all.

5. It is, though, a lot more difficult to buy pure bred Fila puppies in Brasil, especially if you want them to be healthy, too. There are hundreds of bastards to be had, wheras the good Filas are few and far between. The field has opened up for those only out for profit: the pure Filas, though, who come out of Brasilian kennels whose owners engange themselves in the preservation of the true Fila in the CBKC and in the CAFIB are still a matter for the experts.

For those of you who cannot know, and especially for those of you who donīt want to know I will repeat myself again:
The president of the CBKC, Eugenio Henrique Pereira de Lucena, sharply critisized cross-breeding in his country in an impressive conversation which I had with him in Rio in August 1983. He made history in writing an open letter to the readers of MM in which he, for the first time ever (!) , on behalf of the Brazilian Kennel Club admitted and condemned the presence of the "mistura de caes de Fila com outras raįas no Brasil" (see MM 2/1982). The cross-breeders I visited all admitted their secretive pedigree falsifications anyway and by now hope that the damage caused can be kept to a minimum. This coincides with the opinions of the CBKC president, too,who talks of "os erros do pasado" (the errors of the past), in his letter to the readers of MM, which I gave to the ESTADO DE SAO PAULO (1.5 million copies) for publication.

Once you have managed to see the light there is no way back, only foreward. So what does that mean ? What can we do here in Europe and in the USA ? MM has often expressed its opinion about this subjects in its more then 1.300 pages since 1981. Let me summarize the most important points. Anyone who wants to further the Fila breed in an informed and respectable manner in Europe and in the USA today, ought to remember the following five points:

1. Donīt breed with dogs of whom you know (either through their documents or through the type of their parents) that they will pass on non-Fila characteristics.

This is the top priority. If this demand is met, then quite a number of dogs fall by the wayside for breeding purpose anyway. There are, you see, still proofs of quick a few Fila bastards in Europe and the USA. These demands are sadly only met by those who are prepared to put themselves out a little. These enthusiasts are necesarry, though, to ensure the continuation of a pure Fila breed.

2. Only breed with Fila bitches who have alien blood in them if they have some other excellent qualities to compensate. Only use pure Filas with good heridarity factors for those bitches, though.

3.Never breed with studs who could pass on non Fila blood and atypical characteristics.

The demands made in point 2 and 3 are the minimum priorities which really ought to be fulfilled by anyone who calls himself a "friend af the Fila". What this really means is: Donīt mate a bastard with a bastard in the hope of thus slowly reducing the amount of foreign blood. Be selective: thatīs the only answer !

4. Donīt import cross-breeds and make the European and American situation ever worse. That means no dogs who either themselves or whose parents showed atypical characteristics for the breed.

5. Try to judge in accordance with the standard in the ring. Differences in the personal taste of the judges are perfectly natural, but thatīs not the point. What I mean is: donīt "interpret" the standard requirements so that atypical characteristics become viable in the Filas. The judge though can only assess what he sees -not what has been written in the pedigree. This is an important point, by the way. The CBKC president in Rio de Janeiro has also promised greater efforts from the Brazilian Kennel Club with respect to judges and judging. The problem of the judges has clearly been understood there!

If these wrong stories about the Fila Brasileiro could now eventually be forgotten about (the main reason for writing this article) and the European and American fila enthusiasts could all agree on the five points mentioned above, we would then have made the best of our present situation. This, though, makes the cooperation of all concerned necesary