The Visual Standard of the Fila Brasileiro Breed and Other Stories - Chapter 1
full text written by the founders, directors and judges of CAFIB
Américo Cardoso dos Santos Júnior
Luiz Antonio Maciel
THE EPIC OF FIGHTING MIX-BREEDING AND THE RESCUE OF THE PURE FILA VISUAL IMAGE
In this story, written in prose, but with the poetic spirit of the struggle for the rescue of a breed threatened with extinction by mix-breeding - a hazard that still lingers through the attempt to reintroduce, once again, in the breeding, animals that out of the standard -, we present and document all the facts and huge battles fought in the early years of this good struggle to deprecate mix-breeding, organize forms of struggle, dispute the right to establish an entity that could defend the pure Fila Brasileiro, disseminate technical knowledge and develop the unprecedented Visual Standard of our breed, in addition to a new and definitive written standard that not only thoroughly described a pure Fila but also pointed out the faults arising from mix-breeding, true evidence of a continuing crime that nearly destroyed, and still threatens, in other ways, the true Fila Brasileiro.
The ideal dog
It is said that absolute perfection is utopic and, in practice, unattainable. This does not prevent the different standards of dog breeds from always trying to define what a theoretically perfect specimen should look like. For this reason, the characteristics of structure, typicality and temperament of this ideal dog are described in detail. And this is the model that all good breeders should try to achieve in their breeding, in the programming of mating and in the selection of cubs, and that all judges must bear in mind when judging the specimens presented on the track.
To avoid doubts about certain undesired characteristics, the standards also list the faults that usually occur and, in addition, their different levels of severity - from mild to disqualifying. Thus, during the judgment, the referee makes a mental comparison between each dog exhibited on the track and the standard of the breed, which he must have perfectly clear in his mind; and, in this way, be able to qualify and classify them according to the degree of similarity they present with that hypothetically perfect prototype.
However, in the case of the Fila Brasileiro, this representation of the ideal dog is not limited to a descriptive text. CAFIB - Clube de Aprimoramento do Fila Brasileiro (Fila Brasileiro Improvement Club), more than four decades ago, in 1978, when it was still CAFIB - Comissão de Aprimoramento do Fila Brasileiro (Fila Brasileiro Improvement Commission), developed an unprecedented work in the national cynophilia elaborating and disseminating a visual standard showing the shape of a perfect representative of the breed.
There are previously planned canine breeds, which then are deliberately produced by breeders. Typical examples are the Doberman (formerly called Dobermann Pinscher), designed by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann and perfected by Otto Goeller, in the second half of the 19th century, as watchdogs, but on whose origin there is no organized documentation; and the Dogo Argentino, designed in a minutely planned and annotated manner, by brothers Augustin and Antonio Nores Martinez, in the first half of the 20th century, as hunting dogs for cougars and wild boars. On the other hand, the Fila Brasileiro - shaped mainly by natural selection, which eliminated the least skilled, and selected in a somewhat empirical way by farmers who preferred the most efficient dogs in handling cattle, hunting large animals and guarding properties - , was found practically ready by the pioneers who started to breed it by methodical criteria, in urban settings, as of the 1940's.
The return of Paulo Santos Cruz
This account - intended for those who do not know, have forgotten, or deliberately prefer to distort the truth - begins in 1978, when the lawyer and renowned "all rounder" judge Paulo Santos Cruz (1915 - 1990), accepted an invitation, made by the old Centro Cultural Itamaraty, at Rua João Moura, 307, in the São Paulo neighborhood of Pinheiros, to teach a course on the Fila Brasileiro dog, as recommended by journalist Antonio Carvalho Mendes, head of the "Cinofilia" column, published every Thursday in the newspaper "O Estado de S. Paulo", the well-known “Estadão”.
Opening parenthesis, as a historical curiosity, this Pinheiros region is one of the oldest districts in São Paulo and the Pinheiros district is considered by many scholars to be the first in the city of São Paulo. And, as a dog-related curiosity, we remember that there are not many Brazilian canine breeds. In addition to the two breeds recognized by the FCI - Fédération Cynologique Internationale (founded in 1911 and headquartered in Belgium), the Fila Brasileiro and the Brazilian Terrier (which was promoted from the state to the national level, as it used to be formerly called Fox Paulistinha), there are still some others with a certain expression, such as the Brazilian Tracker (which has already been recognized by the FCI and today, some dog-enthusiasts consider extinct), the Brazilian Dogo, the Ovelheiro Gaúcho (Gaúcho Shepherd Dog), the Veadeiro Pampeano (Pampas Deer Dog) and the Campeiro Bulldog. The latter, originally from Rio Grande do Sul, is usually divided into two types: Campeiro Bulldog and Serrano Bulldog (which some even consider two distinct breeds). And, also as a as a dog-related curiosity, it is worth noting that the definitive recognition of the Brazilian Terrier was made official in May 2007, in Acapulco, Mexico, during the FCI general meeting, twelve years after the breed's provisional acceptance. At that time, the representatives of approximately 50 nations, by unanimous vote, definitively recognized, in addition to the Brazilian Terrier, also the Cão Fila de São Miguel, a medium-sized Portuguese molossoid breed, originally from the Azores Archipelago and that, until these days, follows the centuries-old tradition in its native land, has been used as a watchdog and cowboy dog; the Australian Shepherd, which - despite being known in English as the Australian Shepherd, in French as Berger Australien, in Spanish as Perro Pastor Australiano, and in German as AustralischerSchaferhund - is considered, by the FCI, as a breed originating in the United States; and the Italian Cane Corso, a large molossoid that - according to a paper published by British researcher James Rhys Clark - has one of the strongest bites of the canine species, registering 49.2 kgf / cm² (kilogram-force per square centimeter), from a ranking led by the Turkish Kangal, which reaches 52.2 kgf / cm² (surprisingly, in this survey of bite force as well as in similar ones, the Fila Brasileiro and the portentous Pastor do Cáucaso, or CaucasianOvcharka were not assessed).
Closing parentheses, years ago, Paulo Santos Cruz, as he was friends with the also “all rounder” judge Adolpho Lourenço Rheingantz - at the time president of KCP - Kenel Clube Paulista (founded in 1931 in São Paulo as the Brazilian League of Dog Amateurs, a name that was subsequently replaced by Federação Cinológica do Brasil and, in 1936, as a result of Rheingantz's proposal, finally changed to Kenel Clube Paulista) and which, later, would be responsible for the official recognition of the Fila Brasileiro breed by BKC - Brasil Kennel Club, in 1954 -, relied on this support to be one of the founders (in 1949) and member of the first board of one of the oldest dog-related clubs in the country, SKC - Santos Kenel Clube, which he chaired for several terms, over 18 years. It was also Rheingantz who commissioned Dr. Paulo, in 1951, to write the first standard of the Fila Brasileiro breed and who then presented the text to the veterinarian, “all rounder” judge and breeder of German Shepherds, Erwin Waldemar Rathsam (Tabajara do Sul Kennel), and to engineer and Filas breeder, João Ebner (Rancho Alto Kennel, registered in 1946), who analyzed and approved it so that, subsequently, he also received BKC's approval.
As a historical fact, before 1951 - when Paulo Santos Cruz registered his first litter at KCP, produced by Netuno from Parnapuan and Lupe von Cadyz y Cadyz -, João Ebner had already registered three, in 1947, 1948 and 1949, all generated by Tita from Rancho Alto, bred during the first two times by Bumbo from Vila Paulista (the first Fila to receive Initial Registration) and, the third, by Bacho from Vale da Decisão.
Dr. Paulo was also, in the 1960's, primarily in charge for the recognition of our breed worldwide by FCI, at the time chaired for the first time by a South American authority, the Brazilian “all rounder” judge Antonino Barone Forzano. The curriculum of Dr. Paulo also includes the title of pioneer in the export of Filas Brasileiros to Europe, having, in 1954, sent to Germany the pup Dunga from Parnapuan, acquired by His Royal Highness Albrecht von Bayern (1905 - 1980), Prince of Bavaria, who, afterwards, would also buy other dogs from the kennel in Santos. In 1955, he came to Brazil and visited Dr. Paulo, who then took him on a road trip on the muddy roads of the south of Minas Gerais, where, on several occasions, the German noble, presumptive heir to the Crown of Germany and Prussia, already covered in mud, had to sweat his shirt to help pull out the car.
Still on this subject about Fila exports and the Breed Standard, a curiosity is worth noting. In the item “Coat”, the text specifies: Low, short, non-layered; rustic, thick coat, individually highlighted to the vision and touch. A little richer at the withers. In one of his visits to Brazil, in the 1950's, Albrecht von Bayern granted an interview published in the newspaper "A Tribuna", from Santos, where it is interesting to highlight an excerpt that confirms the rusticity of the breed, even far from its tropical cradle, and points out characteristics that the standard could not predict: “...at first, we all assumed that acclimatization would take one to two generations. However, Dunga himself, in the first winter, was already perfectly acclimated. It was adapted in such a way that the belly and the inner side of the legs, usually almost hairless here in Brazil, including the Filas, were covered with abundant coat. The trunk was covered with a wool undercoat. Dunga, to our surprise, prefers to walk and lie in the snow rather than stay at home by the fireplace. This quick adaptation demonstrates the breed's rusticity, the tremendous health that they enjoy and a fantastic organic perfection. You can all be proud of having set such an extraordinary breed of dog...”.
It is also important to note that, years later, in 1984, the “Father of the Breed”, then president of CAFIB – Brasil, would travel to Germany, at the invitation of Club Für Molosser e. V., to participate in the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the import of the first Fila Brasileiro by that country. Fluent in the German language, at the hotel where he stayed, he gave a long lecture, to the many breeders who attended it and which had been scheduled to last a few hours, but which, due to the interest and enthusiasm of the participants, ended up extending until high dawn. And the next day, with the presence of about 60 Filas on the track, he carried out, also in German, an explanatory evaluation of the dogs, along the lines of the Phenotype and Temperament Analyses that we already promoted throughout Brazil. That performance by Paulo Santos Cruz in Germany was a huge success and Walt Weisse, president of that country's dog-related club, handed him a gold medal and a commemorative diploma.
And we also remember another curious situation. Before the approval of the first standard, when the still little-known specimens of the so-called Fila Nacional began to appear at the exhibitions, that is, in the period from 1943 to 1950, his judgment was always in the hands of farmer Tito Pacheco, who bred only Fox Terrier of Pelo Liso (Flat Coat), at his Umuarama Kennel.
But going back to the 1970's, Dr. Paulo - who, disillusioned with dog-related politics, had been away from clubs, associations of breeders and, also, from the exhibition tracks as a judge for many years - had continued to breed his Filas in his historic Parnapuan Kennel, in the house with open land, where he lived at Rua Oswaldo Cruz, 394, Boqueirão district, Santos, SP. The kennel's name had been inspired by a small beach also known as Paranapuã, at the São Vicente Bay, close to Ponte Pênsil and the place where, on January 22, 1532, Martim Afonso de Souza established the first village in Portuguese America, which he called São Vicente (current city of São Vicente, neighboring Santos, on the coast of São Paulo). Paranapuã, in Tupi-Guarani, means "round sea" by the junction of paranã (sea) and apu'a (round) and the name was used to designate the bay where the beach is located.
During this long period of absence, however, Dr. Paulo, who had an office at Rua Dr. Adhemar de Figueiredo Lira, 55 - 5th floor, suite 51, maintained his technical and scientific interest in dog-related matters. He continued to write, for many years, a column in the newspaper "A Tribuna", from Santos, entitled “Cães e Canis" (Dogs and Kennels).
In 1976, when he still had three Filas at home, Una, Henequém and Vice-Rei of Parnapuan, in addition to a large collection of birds in cages of varying sizes and, also, in a aviary that could be seen through a wide window pane of his living room, Santos Cruz was visited by a then young Rio de Janeiro enthusiast of the Fila Brasileiro dog, Francisco Peltier de Queiroz (Chico Peltier), who informed him about Fila's cross-breeding complaints with other breeds, especially with the Old English Mastiff, the Neapolitan Mastiff and the Great Dane, producing puppies registered with false genealogies, and convinced him to write articles in the magazine "Animais e Veterinária" (Animals and Veterinary), then one of the most respected magazines in the sector.
According to complaints brought by Chico Peltier at the end of the 1970's, the former president of Clube Paulista do Fila Brasileiro, João Batista Gomes, at his Sete Barras Kennel, would also have participated in the experiments of crossing Filas with English Mastiff, using his own Mastiff, called Willy, to mate with the female Filas. The newsletter "O Fila", number 9, Year I, of August 1979, published a photograph, provided by Francisco Peltier de Queiroz, of João Batista Gomes with Willy.
On the question of mix-breeding, one of the first contributions of Dr. Paulo to the magazine was a letter dated April 11, 1977, in response to a question by Francisco Peltier about “the sudden appearance of the interest in the black color” in the Fila Brasileiro, published under the title “Duas Cartas: Uma Só Preocupação" (Two letters: one concern).
The confirmation of mix-breeding by the master
At that time, the aforementioned Antonio Carvalho Mendes, from “Estadão”, had also been publishing these accusations that circulated in the dog-related media about the occurrence of mix-breeding in the Fila breed. To check whether the accusations were well founded, the journalist, who had met Dr. Paulo many years ago, invited him to come to São Paulo on Sunday, December 4, 1977, a beautiful sunny day, to, along with his colleague from "Jornal da Tarde", journalist Luiz Antonio Maciel, visit a few kennels. Right off, in the first district - Ipiranga -, where a lady was responsible for the breeding, the evidence of mix-breeding with English Mastiff was evident: huge, yellow dogs, with almost hexagonal head, short and deep snout, high set ears and with no aversion to strangers. The mix-breeding was also confirmed in the visit to other breeders that day. In the column of December 29, 1977, Carvalho Mendes wrote: “According to what could be recently found cross-breeding of Fila dogs is now commonplace. Twenty-five days ago, by visiting some kennels of dogs of that breed, Dr. Paulo Santos Cruz confirmed “in loco” how the cross-breeding was being held. Most of the time, the “Filas” barks are no longer as frightening as they used to be... ”
A few years later, in an interview published in the newspaper "O Fila", number 29, Year III, Dona Antonieta Figueira Brás dos Santos Cruz would make it clear, in an excerpt on page 6, how her husband had returned to dog-related activities: “CAFIB was finally established, and Paulo was again pulled into cynophilia or, better, by "filafilia", by the specialized journalist, Mr. Antonio Carvalho Mendes, from "O Estado de S. Paulo".
Luiz Antonio Maciel, when he accompanied Santos Cruz and Carvalho Mendes on these visits, on December 4, 1977, was already aware of the occurrence of “experiments” of cross-breeding (therefore, of mix-breeding) of Filas, specifically with the English Mastiff. When he acquired his first puppy, a female, in early 1976, the seller told him that some breeders were using the English Mastiff to "improve" the Fila's head and to live up to the fact that he was also known as "big-headed cowboy dog". Later that year, when he started attending CPFB - Clube Paulista do Fila Brasileiro and KCP - Kennel Clube Paulista exhibitions, in contact with other exhibitors and breeders, he learned that mix-breeding in the Fila Brasileiro breed was a frequent practice by some breeders, not only with the Mastiff, but also with the Neapolitan Mastiff and the Great Dane, among others. From then on, together with a group of Filas owners, among who was Roberto Maruyama, who would later join CAFIB, he began to denounce the cross-breeding to CPFB, KCP and BKC, predecessor of the current CBKC - Confederação Brasileira de Cinofilia, and challenging judges who rewarded mixed-bred dogs, especially the “black filas”.
Embryos of the CAFIB future
This meeting on December 4, therefore, marked, in practice, the return of Dr. Paulo Santos Cruz to the cynophilia and the struggle for the purity of the Fila Brasileiro. On that day, he, Antonio Carvalho Mendes and Maciel talked about the possibility of establishing a club to gather only pure Filas. In the "Cinofilia" column of December 29, 1977, where the visit to the kennels was reported, the title promptly announced what would be an embryo of the future CAFIB: "Breeders want to preserve the breed"
The article began with the following text: “With the purpose to preserve the Fila breed, in order to keep it from coming to extinction in a few more years, a group of breeders is seriously thinking about founding the "Associação de Criadores de Cães Filas Puros" (Pure Fila Dog Breeders Association) In this entity, only breeders who did not “mix things” would be entitled to join, that is, did not mate their animals with other dogs, such as Great Dane, English Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff. The entity - designed by the individual considered as the “Father of the Fila breed”, lawyer Paulo Santos Cruz - would have as its main task to inspect the mating and check the litters, in order to avoid the birth of cross-bred dogs, without the qualities that designed the Fila.”
Interestingly, the title of “Pai da Raça” (Father of the Breed), adopted by Antonio Carvalho Mendes and later also by CAFIB in honor of Dr. Paulo Santos Cruz, in fact, paradoxically, was granted to the lawyer, judge and breeder from Santos by the Fila Department of the Kennel Clube Paulista, probably between the end of the 1960's and the beginning of the 1970's. The fact was reported, without clarifying the date (hence the imprecision above), by the breeder and judge João Batista Gomes, on page 44 of his book “Fila Brasileiro - Origens e Evolução” (Fila Brasileiro - Origins and Evolution) (released in 1976). He said he had had his first contact with the Fila breed and Dr. Paulo at an exhibition of Kenel Clube Paulista in Parque da Água Branca: “Thus I met that man to whom, many years later, I would have the honor of handing, as well as Dona Antonieta, his wife, the title of “OS PAIS DOS FILAS” (THE PARENTS OF THE FILAS) on behalf of the Fila Department at Kennel Clube Paulista.”
In the draft of a statute for the entity, which Dr. Paulo afterwards called “Clube dos Criadores de Cães Fila Brasileiro - C.C.C. FIBRAS" (Fila Brasileiro Dog Breeders' Club) a Breeding Commission was envisaged, chaired by a Breeding Master, who would have to, among various competences,“...study, research and regulate all aspects of the Fila Brasileiro breed, always aiming at its purity and improvement”. It also proposed "standards aiming at the uniformity of the racial phenotype, elaborating the racial standard, regulating the breed verification, certifying its approval" and "issuing registration certificates for specimens approved in breed verification".
In this entity's project, therefore, the fundamental ideas of what would become CAFIB were already outlined, including the notion of improvement - a word that was integrated into the name of the future entity, first as the "Comissão de Aprimoramento do Fila Brasileiro" (Fila Brasileiro Improvement Committee), at the suggestion of Luiz Antonio Maciel from the original idea of Dr. Paulo Santos Cruz, and later as the "Clube de Aprimoramento do Fila Brasileiro" (Fila Brasileiro Improvement Club), when CAFIB decided to leave BKC, in August 1979 ("O Fila", number 9, Year I, page 3), keeping the same abbreviation.