Breed of the Week: São Miguel Cattle Dog 07/12/16

Sao Miguel Cattle Dog 2

Breed Stats

Country of Origin: Sao Miguel Island, Portugal

Average Height: Males 50-60 cm (19.5-23.5 inches), Females 48-58 cm (19-23 inches)

Average Weight: 25-35 kg (55-77 lbs), Females 20-30 kg (44-66 lbs)

Average Lifespan: 12-15 years

Coat: Short, smooth, dense and harsh to the touch.  Some brushing is necessary.

Colour: Always brindle of either brown or grey with black.  Can have white markings on the forehead, chin, chest and the feet.


            More traditionally known as the Cão Fila de São Miguel, the São Miguel Cattle Dog is a large molosser-type dog that was used mostly for driving cattle.  The breed originated on São Miguel Island, for which it is named, which was settled by the Portuguese.  The island had no mammals on it so plenty of cattle were brought there.  The cattle were raised free, and eventually they started to grow wild.  Therefore the need for a cattle dog was great.  It is said that dogs were brought from a neighbouring island that was also well-known for cattle, and that these dogs played a large role in the development of the São Miguel Cattle Dog.  They ended up being great cattle dogs as well as guard dogs.

Traditionally, the São Miguel Cattle Dog had its tail docked and its ears cropped. The ears would be cropped quite short and rounded off.  It is said that this was done to ensure that the dog doesn’t have its tail or ear bitten by the cattle when herding.  Luckily docking and cropping is now illegal in many countries and more countries are adopting similar laws.

The existence of the São Miguel Cattle Dog has been documented since the early 19th century; however the breed standard was not published until 1984.  This standard was recognised internationally in 1995 when the FCI accepted the breed standard.   Although they are described as cattle dogs, the São Miguel Cattle Dog is in fact a Molosser type dog;  Meaning that they descended from the Greek Molossus along with many other large breed dogs that we know today. Nowadays they are primarily used as companion animals and are quite a rare breed; however they are imported and bred in North America.


FCI: Group 2, Section 2 Molossoid breeds #340




KC (UK): N/A


The São Miguel Cattle Dog is dominant, active, independent and intelligent. As they are working dogs, they require regular training and extensive physical and mental exercise.  They are very affectionate with their family and love to be with them.  Due to their large size and strength, it is very important to train and socialize the dog from as young an age as possible.


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