The Fila de Sao Miguel has a robust, hardy and muscular appearance and it has body slightly longer than tall. The Saint Miguel Cattle dog is pretty big dog, but not over – sized. The average height is between 19-24 inch which is 48-61 cm and weight is usually between 50-80 pounds, which is 23-37 kg. Females are naturally slightly smaller than males.
These dogs have squared head with ears set at the top of the head, extremely strong jaws and expressive oval eyes in dark color. The ears are often times cropped, especially on the working dogs. The tail is medium long and sligthly curved, the chest is deep, back is straight and legs are pretty long.
The coat is traditionally in brindle color, and it can be grey brindle, different shades of brown bridnel and sometimes nearing full black. Often times, the muzzle and face are completely black, resembling a mask. The coat is relatively short, smooth and pretty dense.
The Fila de Sao Miguel is both – extraordinary working dog, but also great companion. When they are working, they are usually serving as cattle dogs and as protectors. And they are excellent at those jobs, because the Saint Miguel Cattle dog is very determined and it is said, that one Fila de Sao Miguel can manage a herd of cows. They are best for working with cows, because some farmers say that they are too rough to handle smaller farm animals like sheeps, but with enough training, they can do it as well.
These dogs also have high protective instinct, are pretty territorial, alert and very brave and courageous. All these traits makes them perfect fit for guarding, and indeed, this is exceptionally good guarding dog.
But this is not only a great cattle dog and protector, because this is also great companion. They tend to create a very strong bond with its owner and family, likes human companionship and they are very loyal. They are not overly affectionate like some other breeds, but they definitely love its people.
Even though this is highly intelligent breed capable of being very obedient and learning a lot of tricks, it is not a dog for novice and unexperienced owners. It is mostly because of their protective instinct. Without proper early socialization and training, they might become overprotective and agressive and that is why they need experienced owner who will show them the boundaries and will train them patiently and consistently.
Just like majority of cattle dogs, even this is pretty highly active breed and they definitely need proper daily physical and mental stimulation. Especially if you have this dog just as a companion, they need at least several daily outdoor walks accompanied with training sessions or some playtime.
This breed has a very descriptive name. The word Cao means dog, de Saint Miguel is describing the place of origin and the word Fila literally means hold, arrest or grab. So Cao de Fila can be translated as a catch dog. These dogs are also known under some other names, such as Saint Miguel Cattle Dog, Sao Miguel Catch Dog, Azores Cow dog or Azore cattle dog.
The breeds originated in the Azores, which are Portugal volcanic islands in the region of Macaronesia in Atlantic Ocean. To be more specific, they originated from the Sao Miguel island of the Azores and it is believed that they are relatives of already extinct Terceira Mastiff.
According to the official breed standard, the existence of the Saint Miguel Cattle Dog has been documented since the beginning of the 19th century, but the breed is definitely much much older than that. But because there is no documentation, we can not be sure about the breeds exact date of origin nor their ancestry.
Health and grooming
Great fact about this breed is its very long lifespan and great health. The average lifespan is reported to be around 15 years, which is just amazing for dog of this size. There are no reported health issues associated with this breed and according to the owners, this is usually a very healthy dog. The ocassional health issues are hip dysplasia and bloating, but they are not very common.
The maintenance is also very simple and these dogs are exceptionally easy to keep clean and healthy. You can brush the coat from time to time to remove dead hair, minimize shedding and keep the coat in good condition, shiny and healthy. But even without any grooming, they will keep their coat in good shape. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check their eyes, ears, teeth and nails and clip them or clean them if needed.