Let's talk Cão Fila de São Miguel dogs

Hailing from a secluded island in the Azores, the Cão Fila de São Miguel started out in life as a herding breed. That means discipline is the name of their game. This is a rustic and hardy dog who thrives on a good task or two. A joy to train with their high intelligence and keen perception, the Cão Fila de São Miguel is still widely used as a guard and watchdog, but nonetheless can fit into the human pack with aplomb, bonding strongly to their owner.

Official name: Cão Fila de São Miguel

Other names: Fila de São Miguel, São Miguel Cattle Dog, São Miguel Catch Dog, Azores Cattle Dog, Azores Cow Dog, Saint Miguel Cattle Dog

Origins: Portugal

Close-up of Cao Fila de Sao Miguel looking at camera in black and white
 Drooling tendencies

Medium

Warm weather? Medium
 Shedding level Medium
Suited to apartment living?  Very low
 Energy Level* High Family Pet?* 
Medium
 Compatibility with other pets Medium
Can stay alone?* Low

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age.  Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
Spider chart of Cao Fila de Sao Miguel characteristics
Illustration of Cao Fila de Sao Miguel
Male
50 - 60 cm Height
25 - 35 kg Weight
Female
48 - 58 cm Height
20 - 30 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 15 months
 Adult age 15 months to 5 years
 Mature age  5 to 8 years
 Senior age  From 8 years

Two Cao Fila de Sao Miguel dogs looking at camera in front of blue screen

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Get to know the Cão Fila de São Miguel

All you need to know about the breed

Hardly known outside of their native territory, the Cão Fila de São Miguel still has bragging rights, full stop: The breed comes from Saõ Miguel, San Miguel to the anglophone world, an island in the Portuguese Azores, a locale that’s as striking as this dog is strong and smart. A legacy as a working breed used to herd cattle makes them confident but also dominant.

Ensure your Cão Fila de São Miguel has a job and they’ll be contentedly occupied. They are still used widely for work; centuries of existence hasn’t dimmed their work ethic nor genetic desire for activity. The breed may be best then for experienced owners or those who require a strong working dog for their premises. Many Cão Fila de São Miguel have been used to spending a majority of their time outside tending to their herd.

As far as their health is concerned, the Cão Fila de São Miguel is a hardy, muscular breed, medium to large, with a great constitution and a good lifespan.

Affectionate and content with those they know, the calm, cool Cão Fila de São Miguel takes to family life well but can be very wary of strangers; once they’re introduced, they’ll settle right in.

Close-up side view of Cao Fila de Sao Miguel

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2 facts about Cão Fila de São Miguel dogs

1. Leader of the pack

Dogs like the Cão Fila de São Miguel are very strong and make great watchdogs. To thrive best, the one thing they must have is an assertive head of household. Dogs see owners as part of their pack, and they naturally need a leader. Once you’re established as such, order will ensue, which is just fine with the Cão Fila de São Miguel.

2. Still going strong

Dogs like the Cão Fila de São Miguel usually possess such a powerful musculature that it causes the breed to waddle slightly as they walk, a physicality born of years of herding - with male Cão Fila de São Miguel dogs slightly stronger than females. Make sure to provide plenty of exercise for your dog to keep them their fittest

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History of the breed

From the mid-15th Century, the island of São Miguel in the Azores, an archipelago off the west coast of Portugal, was home to wild cattle, so the need for a cattle dog in turn. The Cão Fila de São Miguel was bred as an intense chaser of the wandering herds, the dogs making a name for themselves with their grit and determination. The Cão Fila de São Miguel breed is descended from the now-extinct Fila da Terceira, who was bred with other Molosser-type dogs to produce the very sturdy dog we know today.

The Cão Fila de São Miguel became celebrated in their neck of the woods for their acumen. The first written mention of them occurs in the 19th Century. The Portuguese Kennel Club recognised the Cão Fila de São Miguel in 1984, writing the breed standard, and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale followed, recognising the breed in 1995.

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel standing looking at camera in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Cão Fila de São Miguel dogs

1. Ears

Medium-sized triangular ears, set somewhat high and slightly drooping

2. Coat

Rough, short dense coat

3. Body

Robust, extremely muscular body

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel running towards camera across grass

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Cão Fila de São Miguel
Cao Fila de Sao Miguel standing in long grass looking at camera

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Caring for your Cão Fila de São Miguel

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The close-lying fur of the Cão Fila de São Miguel makes grooming the breed uncomplicated. Brushing your dog two to three times a week is best, with bathing only needed on an occasional basis. This is an outdoorsy breed so check their fur for debris that’s unduly picked up. Brush their teeth daily (they can be trained to let you from puppyhood) and keep nails trimmed and ears cleaned. The powerful Cão Fila de São Miguel dog will need lots of exercise. Traditional working dogs will surely get enough time to run around; those who are family pets will need to be walked daily or kept in a large but enclosed area where they have room to roam. When it comes to training the Cão Fila de São Miguel dog, a very experienced owner is necessary. Highly perceptive and intelligent, the breed bonds strongly to one person, so will easily take commands. They also have a high prey drive and will need very strong socialisation with other animals from the get-go. They are gentle with children, once trained, though their extreme strength could mean they could knock someone over without meaning to, so observation is essential.

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All about Cão Fila de São Miguel dogs

The Cão Fila de São Miguel has a lot going for them but it’s their acumen with cattle that they’re most known for. A herding dog, they’re physical but friendly, a powerful breed that always needs a job. They are also known to be standoffish with strangers and territorial with other dogs. Early training and socialisation is vital to keeping them well-balanced.

A complex appearance makes the Cão Fila de São Miguel a curious breed. Said to descend from Molosser-type dogs - large breeds who existed thousands of years ago - they have an extremely heavy, muscular build, a face that’s Akita-like in appearance and ears that hang to the side like a Labrador’s. They are, though, a Cão Fila de São Miguel through and through!

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/