Working dog pages - Cão de Fila de São Miguel, Working dog from the Azores
Cão de Fila de São Miguel,
a working dog from the Azores
On the remote Portuguese isles of the Azores, in the middle of the Atlantic, lives a
unique working dog, Cão de fila de São Miguel, the Azores Cattle Dog. São Miguel is the
main island of the Azores and has given its name for the breed. The working style of
these dogs is aggressive, they are capable of dominating even the most bad-tempered
animals that they are herding. So these cattle dogs from the Azores do not lack of
courage. They are only working dogs and we think that they are not fit for being mere
dogs of companion.
The Azores Cattle Dog is an own cattle dog breed of the Azores which has been maintained
pure for several hundreds of years. The official registration of these dogs was started
in the 1980's, above all in order to secure the racial purity of the Azores Cattle Dog.
Upon that time, due to the regular modern communications, the Azores were opening
themselves to the outer world and thus more and more dogs of other breeds were
beginning to come ashore. This arouse the danger of a possible mixtures of breeds.
The "father of the breed" is, for good reason, Mr. Antonio José Amaral, who
initiated the registration in co-operation with a veterinary, Mrs Maria de Fatima Machado
Mendes Cabral. They are the persons to be thanked for the fact that the Azores
Cattle Dog is still living as strong and firm shepherd as e.g. 300 years ago. Corisca, a perfect standard female of her breed, Cão de Fila de São Miguel
(the Azores Cattle Dog), was named the official progenitor mother of the breed
(with the registration number 1, in 1982). The Clube Português de Canicultura (CPC)
approved and acknowledged officially the breed in 1984, in accordance with the breed
description elaborated by Mr. Amaral. The inhabitants of the these islands feel great
proud of this breed; they think it is, with good justification, a part of the old
tradition and culture. The breed is very rare, which is demonstrated by the fact
that there are only about 3000 registered individuals in the whole world, almost
all of them on their home island. Very few of these dogs have left the island.
The reason might be the remote location of the isles
of Azoresin the Atlantic and the fact that a knowledge of the breed is not spread
outside the isles or continental Portugal. The persons that foster the breed
want to keep it as a pure working dog and that is why they want to control
also the sale of the dogs. The Azores Cattle Dogs must have the right to do
what they were meant for, and that is why we absolutely do not recommend
them as dogs for company or hobby.
Characteristics and character in herding cattle
The Azores Cattle Dogs are strong and resistant working dogs with a firm character.
They are born in the pasture and that is where they probably will be buried, after
their time of service has come to an end.
They are intelligent dogs that learn quickly. In spite of their size (the height
being about 60 cm) they catch, bite and evade quickly as lightning. They grasp a bovine
only on the hamstring and know well how to beware the mammary glands of the cows.
They know very well how to control the biting so as not to wound an animal they are
herding. In addition to bovines, the Azores Cattle Dogs get well along with goats,
sheep and pigs. They do not shun even big and bad-tempered animals to be herded,
on the contrary - when needed, their manner of herding is aggressive and bold,
because without this characteristic the work could not be done. These dogs are
also used for guarding the cattle (e.g. against cattle thieves and wild dogs).
They do guarding on the pasture independently. They possess a huge amount of own
will and intelligence, and do not act only when the master is at side, giving
The Azores Cattle Dogs bear the herding instinct very strong in the genes, because
during their whole history they have been used only for work and that is why there
has been no regression in this characteristic. The inner instinct is so strong that
the puppies of the breed do not have to be trained to herding: they do it immediately
by instinct and grow to dominate different tasks while wandering around with the
master, doing farm works and imitating the example of older dogs.
Our own puppies of the breed in Finland have also started the herding at once,
without any training, even though there were no older dogs to show an example.
We have a good example of this in photo of our puppy of the Azores
Cattle Dog, at the age of five months: she is herding a calf on
a field with a fully orthodox method, and this was the very first time:
the puppy had been in the farm a little more than a week.
Beneath the headline The breed in Finland,
you can read more about the experiences that our puppies
have had in adapting themselves in Finland and working here.
A convincing watch and guarding dog
The Azores Cattle Dogs are also firm watch and guarding dogs, whether they are
keeping an eye on cattle, persons, the home yard, goods or anything that they
regard as their own. While they are guarding, it is useless for any stranger to
approach them. Just their strong appearance and severe glance are enough to drive
away an eventual intruder. Under the menace of a real danger they defend with a
fiery zeal and till the very end what they think is their own. These dogs have
a good sense of relativity, they know well how to discern a real danger from
a normal situation and they are capable of acting in an instant, guided by
their strong instincts.
There are very few cattle dogs in which these two working characteristics -
both herding and guarding - are combined in such a close-knit and convincing way.
It should also be mentioned that due to the strong instinct of a watch and guarding
dog, the training must in this sense be very coherent and even severe, when needed.
A well-balanced watch and guarding dog knows when to stop guarding, when the master
gives an order. Even the watch and guarding dogs should accept a stranger accepted
by the master, provided that the ranking order between the master and the dog is
clear. To those who buy our puppies, we will give instructions of all that is
related to the watching and guarding characteristic; they must be made clear
to an Azores Cattle Dog puppy, because this is a primitive breed with strong
The Azores Cattle Dogs In Finland
The following point of the main menu, The breed in Finland,
will give you information about the actual moment and additional information
about acquiring a puppy is given at the point Puppy information