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

Background information

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 Azores in 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 orders.
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 instincts.

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 .