The origin of the dog breed cao fila de Sao Miguel is in the Azores, specifically on the island of Sao Miguel, from which it takes its name. It descends from the fila da terceira, which is now extinct. This breed has also risked extinction several times and is nowadays still at risk as there are not many specimens.
Thanks to the studies of dog lover Antonio Jose Amaral, the breed is likely to be officially recognised by the Clube Portugues de Canicultura. He has in fact shown that this dog existed even in the 16th century and from the 18th century onwards there are references to it, both in Portuguese works and in those written by foreign travellers who visited the island. Row-type dogs that attacked unarmed passers-by have been described by various people. The breed standard was set at the beginning of the last century.
The cao fila de Sao Miguel is a bovine dog, used for herding livestock, especially cattle. It is almost unknown in the rest of the world.
Character of the cao fila de Sao Miguel dog breed
It must be said at once that this dog is a working animal, certainly not a pet. It has a rustic, strong and decisive character and needs to be employed in some activity, otherwise it suffers greatly character-wise, even to the point of being destructive.
It is an excellent guardian, both of the herds and of the house, and has a strong temperament towards strangers, while it is affectionate towards its owner and his family, even if it does not show it much, but it is faithful and able to defend them.
It is an aggressive dog, has much quicker reflexes than other recognised Portuguese dogs and is more agile as it has a lighter structure than the others. It is capable of staying outdoors throughout the year to do its job as a livestock guardian. It is an excellent worker, able to lead the herds of cows with great decision, even biting them to be obeyed. Unfortunately, it is a rather easy biting dog.
This is why its training is not at all easy, it has a very strong character, so the owner must establish a good relationship with this dog, which is able to listen and learn very quickly thanks to its intelligence, but must be trained from puppyhood to try to mitigate its innate aggressiveness. It is one of the most challenging dogs currently in existence. Its aggressiveness needs to be tamed in all its parts but to do this requires great experience in training techniques and above all a very firm pulse combined with consistency, constancy and patience.
It does not get on well with other domestic animals as it is very territorial.
Appearance of the cao fila de Sao Miguel dog breed
The Cao Fila de Sao Miguel is a medium-sized dog, the height at the withers of a male ranges from 50 to 60 centimetres and weighs 25 to 35 kilograms. Females usually weigh slightly less. Its body is strong and robust with a very broad chest and a short but also very robust neck.
It belongs to the molossoid and mountain dog group. The limbs are strong and straight, the feet are oval with strong toes and nails. The tail is attached high, thick, of medium length and slightly curved. It is usually cut at the height of the second or third vertebrae or is short by nature.
The head is square, strong and well-developed, with a broad, square skull. The jaws are powerful and strong. The eyes are oval, very expressive and generally dark brown in colour. The ears are attached high and of medium size, triangular in shape and drooping. However, they are usually cut round and therefore resemble the spotted hyena, which is the breed’s distinguishing characteristic. The truffle is broad and dark.
The coat is short, smooth, dense, with a rough texture to the touch. The undercoat is very thick and dense. The colour can be fawn, sandy carbonate and grey with lighter or darker shades. It is always striped; sometimes there may be white spots on the forehead and from the chin to the chest, as well as on the feet.
Health and care of the cao fila de Sao Miguel dog breed
The cao fila de Sao Miguel is a very hardy and rustic dog and no genetic diseases or hereditary types have been documented. They therefore enjoy excellent health and are able to cope with any condition that comes their way with great strength and determination. It has a life expectancy of about 15 to 16 years. It needs daily exercise, long walks and runs.
It can live outdoors as it is not very sensitive to both heat and cold, but in both cases it is best to give it a place to shelter.
For the care of the coat it is sufficient to brush it once a week to keep it healthy. A bath only when it is really necessary. The loss of hair is moderate.
As far as feeding is concerned, this breed does not tend to put on weight as long as it gets enough exercise.