CHAPTER THIRTEEN
THE SHARP TEMPERAMENT OF THE FILA

THE TEMPERAMENT TEST

is to show the reaction of the dog, who is calm and friendly under his master's command and may also be aggressive and highly protective when challenged by the agitator. He is supposed to show his fighting spirit and his courage when the agitator threatens the dog with a stick yelling at him. When the Fila flies into the hostile stranger and breaks the stick, he will receive the mark - excellent - on his certificate. The dog's self-confidence and nervous stability are also evaluated under the firing of a blank pistol at a distance of one yard. The reaction to sound is one of the initial tests we used for young dogs to note if the puppy ignores the noise, if he remains stationary with the ears up, or if he runs away frightened. Of course, depending on the age, not all Has show themselves completely brave. It will depend a great deal on the way they have been raised or trained. All dogs may experience fear, what we try to do is to find out how they may deal with it. Most people do not know the difference and may ruin a good protective young dog.

Courage, determination and outstanding braveness are part of the characteristics of a true Fila besides his "ojeriza" - aversion, dislike - toward strangers. Over-socializing a Fila under the pretext to have him under control in the show ring is a mistake, as Filas are intelligent, very trainable dogs, and eager to please his owner. I have raised and trained dozens of Filas that became champions, and none of them had their temperament broken in order to enter in the ring. No other breed standard gives so much importance to the temperament of the breed as the official standard of the Fila Brasileiro. To begin with, aggressiveness to his owner and cowardice are disqualifications. Major faults include apathy or timidness. In order to obtain a champion title a dog must pass the Temperament Test first. Any dog over twelve months old may compete in a temperament test. The main objective is to measure the dog's capacity to recognize a potentially threatening situation and show how the dog defends himself and his owner in the face of a threat. In Brazil two sticks and shoot blanks from a starters pistol, at the same time, are used, at a distance of one yard. Only the dogs that stand their ground or that defend their handlers charging are approved in the test. The best dogs usually go for the sticks breaking them with violence and still go for the gun. But, due to over-socialization, some Filas become so mellow that they will never pass a temperament test. Filas are clever dogs and know exactly when there is a menace to their owners, or to their territories. None of them have the same degree of aggressivity. It seems to me that the Fila's dislike for strangers is a combination of several traits such as courage, self-confidence, dominance, territorially, which although expressed as a guard in their homes, need not to be expressed in hostility to judges in the ring or even outside their homes, as long they have not been challenged. All puppies are very friendly with strangers until they reach seven months old, tough some of them show already a strong guarding instinct at three months old, but this is an exception.

At seven months it is time to have your Fila under control. Basic obedience training for ten minutes per day is all you need. The Fila is a marvelous combination of a working, hunting and companion dog. This breed represents the embodiment of loyalty and submission. A Brazilian proverb says: "Loyal as a Fila" - it is used to describe the ultimate faithful friend. A Fila is able to perform all kinds of tasks with equal efficiency. They are excellent protection dogs, tracking dogs, bomb sniffers, guides for the blind people, cattle drivers, sledge dogs, hunters, and excellent baby sitters as well as they are very tolerant with children.

Parents should be very careful when introducing a puppy to small children. A wrong environment, bad nutrition, the wrong or rough handling, abusive training, can ruin a good dog. Puppies are never shy of their mother or of their owners either, provided they are handled and treated in the right way.

"The Fila Brasileiro Guide"
Clelie Kruel