All that is certain for this breed is that it was developed on the Island of Sao Miguel in the Azores and it is its homeland ever since, but that was long before there were any records kept for breeds. Everything else is guesswork. The islands were completely uninhabited, so the first settlers released cattle, pigs and other livestock. The islands had rich vegetation so it was no problem for the released cattle to multiply quite fast. The European settlers who began to arrive in the Azores hadn’t had a technologies we possess today and they needed to round up the cattle. That’s when they started breeding Molosser-type of dogs to do the job, therefore resulting in a breeding of the Saint Miguel cattle dog, though, it was recognized in 1995.
The Saint Miguel cattle dog is a fairly big Molosser, smaller than most of the other varieties, but still big, averaging 60cm in height and 35kg in weight. The dog is very muscular and appears to be very powerful and intimidating. Its athleticism and physical abilities are very easy to spot as it always stands tall. Its tail usually is docked between the vertebra, in a short stump, it is always thick and curved.
Head of the dog is square, most of the times proportional to a body of the dog, but sometimes it tends to be large. It is always powerful looking. Muzzle is short, but not excessive. Ears are short, cropped, pricked and always erect, and its nose is big and always black.
Coat of the Saint Miguel cattle dog is short, dense and smooth. Color is very important for this breed as it should always be brindled, meaning it needs to have a black stripes. As long as it is brindled, the dog can have different colored coat – pawn, black, reddish and all types of gray.
Character and behavior
The Saint Miguel is known to be a very hard working dog. Some sources claim it is aggressive, but this can mostly be the result of the certain way of a training, it is not inherited. The facts are that the breed develops incredibly strong devotion for its owners, therefore it is extremely hard for the dog to switch homes. It attaches strongly to a single individual and is known to be a one person dog. The breed is extremely dominant and isn't very affectionate, though that does not go for every representative of the dog.
The breed is extremely protective of its owners and family. Although it is not the biting type, it will always alert of an intrusion and is likely to deal with it alone. The Saint Miguel cattle dog is a very good protection dog which is more likely to allow harm to itself then to let harm come to its family.
Training and education
Training and education are extremely important for these dogs, as if not done properly, your pet may not recognize which individuals pose a threat and which do not, which may result in aggression. Socializing with other animals is also of great importance as they tend to be aggressive. The Saint Miguel is known to be one of the most intelligent dogs, attending lots of competitions which concers behavior and obedience. But the dog tend to develop affection and respect for its master, it would not obey anyone it feel is not worth it. This basically means that the master of the dog should always be in the dominant position, a true leader.
There are no health studies of the breed showing problems in the Azores. On the contrary, they show the perfect health and can live up to 15-16 years. Individuals outside the Azores tend to be raised bigger which can result in some health problems like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, ectropion, entropion and cataracts.
Grooming and care
It requires brushing once or twice a week as any dog does. There are no reports of its shedding as it is mostly used as a working dog. Though, heavy shedding is quite possible.
Children and other pets
When properly trained, the dog can be very protective over children and family, therefore if you are looking for puppies for sale, the Saint Miguel cattle dog would make a fine friend for your children. Nevertheless, it may not feel the same way about other pets if not introduced to them properly at a young age.
Nowadays, dogs from the Sao Miguel islands are exported to different areas of the world where they are bred and promoted as a rare breed type.