Cao Fila de Sao Miguel

44-66 lbs
Azores Cattle Dog, Saint Miguel Cattle Dog

The Cao Fila de Sao Miguel dog is an ancient breed that originated on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores, most likely as a way to round up and tame the feral livestock that lived on the island. This breed is a fairly large, solidly built canine with a powerful jaw and a naturally aggressive and territorial attitude. While they are believed to be descended from ancient molosser type dogs, they are somewhat smaller than other molosser breeds and have longer muzzles than most. They tend to be extremely loyal to their owners and families, protecting them at all costs, but are standoffish towards strangers and violent towards other animals. 

Cattle Guardian, Herder
Date of Origin
Ancient Times
Ancient Molosser Breed

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel Health

Average Size
Male Cao Fila de Sao Miguel size stats
Height: 19-24 inches Weight: 55-80 lbs
Female Cao Fila de Sao Miguel size stats
Height: 18-23 inches Weight: 44-66 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Usually A Very Healthy Breed
Minor Concerns
  • Hip And Elbow Dysplasia
  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) or Bloat
Occasional Diagnoses
  • None Known
Occasional Tests
  • Full Physical Examination
  • X-rays or other radiographic imaging

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel Breed History

The Cao Fila de Sao Miguel is a medium-large cattle dog, suitable for both herding and guarding duties, that was developed at some point in the distant past, prior to any form of record keeping regarding dogs. While their ancestry is unknown, most experts suspect that their first ancestors to the islands were a mix of large molosser dogs of undetermined varieties. Molosser type dogs were often used throughout Western Europe in the 14th century, to handle cattle, particularly stubborn or aggressive cattle. The molosser dogs in the area of Portugal are slightly smaller than most molossor type dogs as well as being less brachycephalic. The mixture of these dogs eventually led to new types of cattle dog that eventually bred true. Dogs were not often referred to in art or literature in the early culture of Portugal so the first mention of this breed as a written record occurred in the early 19th century, although they soon became quite well-known throughout the islands for their superior skill with herding, driving, and guarding cattle. As ancient as this breed’s history is, the breed standard for the Cao Fila de Sao Miguel was developed fairly recently in 1984, which helped this canine to earn its recognition through the Portuguese Kennel Club. While the Cao Fila de Sao Miguel breed was formally recognized by the Federation Cynologique International in 1995, the majority of these dogs are still used for their original purpose on the islands and are not frequently seen in other locations, and they have not yet been recognized by the American Kennel Club. 

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel Breed Appearance

These are medium-large dogs that are slightly longer than they are tall with well-defined musculature and a heavy build, and the males tend to be slightly taller and heavier than the females. The musculature on some dogs is so intense that it causes the canine to waddle slightly as they walk. Their head is heavy and square-shaped with an extremely well-muscled and powerful jaw. Their oval eyes are generally a dark brown in color and extremely expressive and they have medium-sized triangular ears that hang nearly to their cheeks. The ears on working dogs are often cropped to help protect them in the field. Their high-set, medium-length tails are slightly curved, and are also cropped on a frequent basis. They have a short, smooth coat that is dense and lightly fringed on their tail and the back of their thighs and come in several shades of fawn with black or grey brindle markings overlaying it.

Eye Color Possibilities
brown Cao Fila de Sao Miguel eyes
Nose Color Possibilities
black Cao Fila de Sao Miguel nose
Coat Color Possibilities
fawn Cao Fila de Sao Miguel coat
gray Cao Fila de Sao Miguel coat
brindle Cao Fila de Sao Miguel coat
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Cao Fila de Sao Miguel straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel Breed Maintenance

These dogs are exceptionally easy to keep clean and healthy, typically only needing bathing on an occasional basis. Brushing with either a slicker brush or rubber curry comb is recommended two or three times a week to remove dead hairs and to keep the coat shiny and healthy, but it should otherwise remain easy to care for. This breed tends to spend more time outdoors on their own than other breeds and a little extra time should be taken to check for cuts, scrapes, insect bites, and thorns when you are grooming them. This breed also has ears that fold over when they are not cropped, making them slightly more prone to ear infections so their ears should also be checked for damage or infection at each grooming session. Ideally, the teeth should be brushed a few times per week and the nails trimmed monthly.

Brushes for Cao Fila de Sao Miguel
Slicker Brush
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Cao Fila de Sao Miguel requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel Temperament

This breed of dog typically was bred as an outdoor dog that was tasked with staying with the cattle and keeping them safe and in line. This is not a typically affectionate canine, although they tend to bond deeply with one specific person or family and can be extremely difficult to re-home. They can be socialized to be fairly gentle with children, but these are exceptionally muscular dogs which may not know their own strength, so supervision is always required. They are extremely alert and territorial making them an exceptional candidate as a watchdog, but a poor one for apartment living. It is important to remember that this is a breed designed to be highly aggressive towards other animals, and it is not uncommon for them to attack and even kill smaller animals, including other dogs. While training and socialization will help to curb violent reactions, some Cao Fila de Sao Miguel dogs may never be trustworthy around other canines.

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel Activity Requirements

This is an athletic and powerful animal and it will need a great deal of exercise to maintain that athleticism. These dogs should get at least an hour to an hour and a half worth of vigorous exercise in each day and if they are not actively working strength training activities may be recommended to maintain muscle tone, particularly as they age. There are several alternative activities which can help you to keep your dog in good condition including herding exercises and agility training. This dog is not generally suited to apartment living as they are typically too territorial for close living. 

Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
15 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.5 cups
Daily Cost
$1.20 - $1.45
Monthly Cost
$34.00 - $45.00

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Cao Fila de Sao Miguel size stats at six months
Height: 18.0 inches Weight: 47.5 lbs
Female Cao Fila de Sao Miguel size stats at six months
Height: 17.0 inches Weight: 38.5 lbs
12 Months
Male Cao Fila de Sao Miguel size stats at 12 months
Height: 20.5 inches Weight: 60.5 lbs
Female Cao Fila de Sao Miguel size stats at 12 months
Height: 19.5 inches Weight: 49.0 lbs
18 Months
Male Cao Fila de Sao Miguel size stats at 18 months
Height: 21.5 inches Weight: 67.5 lbs
Female Cao Fila de Sao Miguel size stats at 18 months
Height: 20.5 inches Weight: 55.0 lbs

Cao Fila de Sao Miguel Owner Experiences

8 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Play with our other dog
This is my first Sao Miguel, they are a very good looking breed and quite healthy. Our pup is about 8 months old and about 60 pounds right now. He's very bright, friendly, loyal and protective. I am very glad we were able to bring this little guys in to our lives. Only negative thing I can say is he likes to dig and eat grass, not really a huge issue in my eyes though. We are definitely hooked on this breed!
1 year, 1 month ago
Book me a walkiee?
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