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The Cao fila de São Miguel, a rare dog breed outside Portugal

Also known as the "cow dog", the Fila de São Miguel is a cattle dog that performs brilliantly in defense, guarding or companionship. Despite its many qualities, it is a rare breed outside its native Portugal.

Picture Credit : Wikipedia

Characteristics of the Cao Fila de São Miguel

It may not have the look of the most beautiful dog breeds, but its rustic appearance makes it exceptional. The Fila de São Miguel is distinguished by its well-muscled, strong body with a straight back and ample chest, ending in a large, high-set tail of medium length. Dog fanciers agree that the Fila de São Miguel has an athletic physique that gives off an impression of power. The Fila de São Miguel has a strong, square-shaped head with a rounded, broad skull and a pronounced stop. Its facial region is distinguished by a large black nose, a straight muzzle and well developed and powerful jaws. Oval shaped, the eyes are of medium size, quite expressive and dark brown in color. The ears for their part are attached high, of average size, drooping and in triangle. Generally, they are cut in a round shape, but this practice is forbidden in France. The hair is short and dense. The coat is brindle and can be sable, fawn or grey.

History of the breed Cao fila de São Miguel

The Fila de São Miguel has its origins on the island of Saint-Miguel located in the Azores, Portugal. In the 20th century, a multitude of herds were introduced to the island as well as dogs that were used to guard them. The Terceira dog is one of the first existing breeds on the island and now extinct, which helped create the Fila de São Miguel. Crossbreeding with mastiffs was also carried out. The Fila de São Miguel was mainly fed on curdled milk, which is why it is nicknamed "cow dog". And although its existence goes back a long way, it was not until 1980 that it was given an official standard. The FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) will officially recognize it only in 2007.

Necessary living conditions and behavior of the Cao Fila de São Miguel

The Fila de São Miguel develops a strong guarding instinct, which is why it is still used today in Portugal to guard dairy cows. It preserves this quality even if it integrates a family as a pet and thanks to its instinct of protection, will rescue them from danger and intruders. Its physique of a bully is also very dissuasive. The Fila de São Miguel does not always know how to show affection, but this does not prevent him from being faithful, playful and calm. It is an intelligent being and endowed with a lot of softness with which the interactions remain very pleasant. Moreover, as he is receptive, his learning will not give any difficulty.

Diet and main health problems of the Cao Fila de São Miguel

The Fila de São Miguel is spared from hereditary diseases. However, it is advisable to monitor certain pathologies typical of large dogs such as hip and elbow dysplasia. As far as food is concerned, he can be fed with kibble or homemade food. The consumption of curdled milk as it was done in the past is not adapted.

The Bernese Mountain Dog, a dog that looks like a big teddy bear

Under its teddy bear look, the Bernese Mountain Dog is considered a utility animal since it is solicited as a civil protection dog or guide dog for the blind. This big, friendly, quiet and never aggressive dog evolves easily in large families but will prefer to have a large garden at his disposal rather than live in an apartment.

Characteristics of the Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large, powerful and muscular dog that can reach 70 cm for males and 66 cm for females. It owes its teddy-bear appearance to its long, slightly wavy or smooth coat, which can be tricolored or black with generally white tips on the tail and legs. The muzzle, forehead line and the area between the eyes are also white. The cheeks, eyes and paws have red spots known as "pellets" in dog parlance.

The Bernese Mountain Dog has a powerful head, triangular ears that are set high but fall to the sides, and very bright, almond-shaped, dark brown eyes.

History of the Bernese Mountain Dog breed

Belonging to the molossoid breeds of which the oldest known is the Tibetan Mastiff, the Bernese Mountain Dog would have appeared in Switzerland, in two villages located near Bern which are Dürrbach and Berthoud. The ancestor of this breed would have been used by the Romans to pull the loads of dairy products or as a herdsman. It was also used as a fighting dog in the past. Because of its origins as a draught dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog was for a long time called the poor man's horse. In Switzerland, it became one of the most famous dogs for searching in the snow. Some associations also use its skills as a guide for the blind. The official recognition of the breed was made in 1913.

Necessary living conditions and behavior of the Bernese Mountain Dog

Affectionate and calm, the Bernese Mountain Dog has a great need for human contact and remains very loyal to its masters. Moreover, it supports very hardly the change of owner. This strong attachment to the members of its family is even worth the nickname of "pot de colle" in the canine sphere. Although it is not very sporty, this dog will not be reluctant to go for a few long walks. He will not dare to move too far from his masters at the time of his walks, it is thus possible to let him roam without leash. In a desire to protect his family, the Bernese Mountain Dog can also be suspicious of strangers. Nevertheless, he will calm down as soon as he feels that there is no danger.

As for its living environment, as it is a mountain dog, it will prefer large spaces to narrow places. Notice to those who have a garden in their home, this dog is made for you.

Food and main health problems of the Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a greedy animal. For his well-being and health, it is advisable to take time to prepare home-made meals and not to give him leftovers. If this is not possible due to lack of time, premium type kibbles are suitable for a daily quantity of 570 grams divided into two meals.

On the health side, although it is known for its robustness, this breed is not immune to certain disorders such as stomach torsion or hip dysplasia. The Bernese Mountain Dog is also one of the breeds that can be frequently affected by cancers, including those of genetic origin.

Spitz or Spitz-type dogs: top 10 most famous spitz

Affectionate, playful and curious, Spitzes are nowadays very popular as companion dogs. However, the Spitz is not just the short-legged little ball of fur that we usually think of, and some well-known breeds are part of the larger Spitz family without many people knowing it.

What is a Spitz?

The Spitz is not a breed of dog as one might think, but a family of dogs, coming from different countries and divided into different breeds, just like the bulldog or the spaniel. They come in different sizes, weights and colors depending on their origins.

Top 10 different breeds of Spitz

German Spitz

The German Spitz is the traditional little ball of hair that we imagine as soon as we talk about Spitz, also called Dwarf Spitz, Pomeranian Spitz or Wolf Spitz depending on their size. The origins of this breed date back to the Stone Age, the current German Spitz probably descending from the dogs of the German peat bogs (natural wetlands). Traces of this breed can be found in ancient times and in the Middle Ages.

Miniature Spitz or Pomeranian Spitz

The smallest Spitz, also known as the Pomeranian, is often red in color, but there is a wide variety of colors such as black or white. It has a curved tail on its back, measures about 20cm at the withers, weighs between 2kg and 3.5kg and has a life expectancy of 12 to 16 years. The dwarf spitz is particularly playful and attached to its owners, including children with whom it gets along very well.

Medium Spitz

The medium Spitz, which is the German Spitz of intermediate size. There is a wide variety of colors also ranging from black to red, which measures about thirty centimeters at the withers, for a weight of 7 to 11kg. It can live up to 19 years. It is compatible with other pets, but much less with children, against whom it can be aggressive if they become too insistent.

Wolf Spitz

The largest variety of the German Spitz, this one is the closest to the original German Spitz. It is always gray-black in color, like a wolf. Much larger than its cousins, it measures about 50 centimeters at the withers, weighs between 14 and 18kg and generally lives between 13 and 15 years. It is a good watchdog that can live with other animals and children, and very attached to its owners.

Japanese Spitz

As its name suggests, this breed of Spitz is of Japanese origin. Essentially white in color, and with hair a little shorter than that of the German Spitz, it measures an average of 33cm at the withers, weighs from 6 to 10kg and generally lives from 10 to 16 years. The Japanese Spitz is a very active dog that likes to play with children, but much less with other animals, because of its very jealous and exclusive character with its master. It is also very affectionate.


The Akita is also a Spitz of Japanese origin. Its name comes from the Japanese prefecture, Akita, where the breed was created. Originally intended for hunting large game, such as bear or wild boar, it is now very popular as a pet dog. This breed of Spitz measures between 64 and 70cm at the withers, weighs between 34 and 50kg for females, and between 34 and 60kg for males. It lives on average between 10 and 15 years. The Akita is a very affectionate and protective dog. This Spitz breed will do well in a family with children, and will get along relatively well with other animals, although it can be jealous.


The Chow-Chow is characterized by its distended skin that gives it a puffy appearance. This breed also has the particularity of having a bluish colored tongue. The Chow-Chow measures on average 54cm at the withers, weighs between 25 and 32kg for the males and between 20 and 27kg for the females. It has a life expectancy that goes from 9 to 15 years. It is a very good watchdog, with a very calm temperament. He will not be very comfortable with children or other animals, because of his reserved temperament. Of Mongolian origin, this breed is said to be the oldest dog breed in the world. The Chow-Chow was used in the 19th century as a guard dog, but mostly for hunting, where its thick, flexible skin allowed it to turn on its prey, even when bitten in the throat.

Siberian Husky

As surprising as it may seem, the Siberian Husky is a member of the Spitz family. This breed was created a very long time ago (about 2000 years BC), by the Chutches, a people of Pelosiberian origin. The animal was used to protect children and as a sled dog. The Siberian Husky is white on the belly, and black-gray on the back, like wolves. It measures on average between 50 and 60cm at the withers, weighs between 15 and 23kg for females and between 20 and 30kg for males, and its life expectancy is about 13 years. They are very protective dogs but also very independent, and very sociable with other animals.

Finnish Spitz

Of Finnish origin, this is a medium-sized dog (45cm at the withers on average), reddish-brown in color, and weighing from 12 to 14kg for males and 7 to 10kg for females. This breed lives between 12 and 14 years. The Finnish Spitz is a hunting dog that needs a firm education and barks a lot. It is very loyal to its master but tends to be wary of strangers. This breed of Spitz was designated the "Finnish national dog" in 1979.

Norrbotten Spitz

Originally from Sweden, the Norrbotten Spitz was used to hunt ermine for its fur. After the Second World War, furs were no longer in great demand, and this breed became less and less interesting. It was eventually declared extinct. In 1965, however, there were a few Norrbotten Spitzes used as guard dogs or pets by Swedish locals, and in 1967, breeding of this breed resumed, which saved it from extinction. The Norrbotten Spitz measures about 43cm at the withers and weighs about ten kilos. It lives on average from 12 to 15 years. Having origins of hunting dog, it will be of a natural active while being also a very good guard dog. He will be very well suited to a family with children.


This breed of Spitz, of Russian origin, is characterized by its thick white fur, as well as its "smile", with its large mouth often open. The Samoyed comes from Samoyed tribes, reindeer herders of Russian and Siberian origin, who are now called Nenets. The dogs were used as herdsmen, as well as guarding children, and slept with humans at night to provide warmth. The Samoyed is about 55cm at the withers, weighs between 16 and 20kg for females and between 20 and 30kg for males, and lives between 12 and 13 years. They are very affectionate and protective dogs, especially with children. They are also very accepting of other animals.

Top 10 smallest dog breeds

Let's discover the ten breeds of miniature dogs, their characters, their main defects and qualities. These are dogs with a fairly long life expectancy, as is the case with all small breeds, as long as the master gives his little companion the care he needs. The food must be adapted to the animal of course, to its stature, activity and age. In order for the dog to live a long and healthy life, it is ideal that it receive regular veterinary care.

The Chihuahua

The Chihuahua holds the record as the smallest dog in the world. Its length, from the muzzle to the tip of the tail, does not exceed 21 cm for a height at the withers of 15 to 22 cm. Its maximum weight can reach at most 3 kg, some of these dogs weighing only 800 g. He has a great character so that despite his small size he occupies an impressive place in his master's life. A little too spoiled sometimes he can take very bad habits. The Chihuahua - like many other dogs - needs to be educated. He is fearless, capricious sometimes, not always very conciliatory with children, but he is also courageous and despite his small size, he is resistant to many diseases. Its life expectancy is between 14 and 18 years.

The Miniature Spitz

With its airs of small teddy bear, this dog is nicknamed Loulou of Pomerania. It weighs at most 2 to 3 kg and does not exceed 21 cm. He is known for his bad temper. It is a born runaway, so it is essential to have a yard or a garden completely closed. This ball of energy that needs to be exercised every day is faithful and covers its master with affection. His big fault is to bark a lot without any reason. It is thus essential to educate him as soon as possible so that he does not disturb the family life, nor the neighborhood. Its life expectancy is 14 years on average.

The Maltese

This small ball of hair of an immaculate white has a maximum weight of 3,5 to 4 kg and measures at most 24 cm. Extremely loyal to its owners, it is very affectionate. It is said to be able to read on their face the least of their emotions. Intelligent, sensitive, courageous, the Maltese can put his life in danger to defend his master. Easy to live with, it is dynamic and can even be fearless when played with. Its life expectancy is about 15 years.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a small, long-haired dog that measures no more than 25 cm for the female and 27 cm for the male, and weighs between 4 and 8 kg at most. This "lion dog" (that's what its name means in Tibetan), is quite calm and very affectionate, it needs a fairly serene master. Patient, voluntary with sometimes a little bit of obstinacy, he has a joyful character and likes to play a lot. The Shih Tzu likes any environment, house, apartment, countryside, city. Sociable, he hates solitude. Of good constitution, it is not particularly fragile. Its life expectancy is between 11 and 14 years.

The Yorkshire Terrier

This dog among the smallest weighs only 2 to 3 kg in adulthood for a maximum length of 15 to 25 cm. The Yorkshire Terrier has a strong character and is not particularly patient with children. It is sometimes cantankerous and generally stubborn. But this does not prevent him from being affectionate with his master. It is a dog that barks a lot, so it is important to teach him to channel himself. Courageous, it does not hesitate to hunt some rodents like the rat if the occasion is given to him. On the health side, he is quite exposed to joint problems. Its life expectancy is estimated at about fifteen years.

The Little Brabançon

This small short-haired dog has a maximum height of 24 cm for a weight of 3 to 6 kg. It is thus a small but robust size. Muscular, it does not hesitate to be active. He likes to play and shows a great temerity even with imposing dogs. A little bit stubborn and sometimes fickle, he must be educated as soon as possible, especially since it may allow him to support more easily the presence of children. It is even necessary to be vigilant when the family counts very young children. Close to his master, he is faithful, affectionate, and prefers not to spend too much time away from him. It does not like solitude. This dog enjoys a solid health. Its life expectancy is 13 years.

The Russkiy Toy or Russian Toy Terrier

It is also called small Russian dog. It measures from 20 to 25 cm and weighs at most 2 to 3 kg. Intelligent, patient, docile, affectionate, sociable with everyone including strangers, it is an adorable little companion who gets along with other animals. He likes to live in an apartment or in a house with a garden. Energetic, he likes to spend himself daily. It is a small dog which is very easily trained. It does not present any particular vulnerability on the health plan. Its life expectancy is 11 to 12 years.

The Toy Poodle

A small curly-haired dog, the Toy Poodle measures about 24 cm and weighs 2 to 4 kg. We do not know him any defect in terms of character. We can at most reproach him to bark a little too much without reason. A habit that he can never take if he is educated early enough, which is very easy because he is obedient and intelligent. He is also affectionate, always jovial, very balanced, he loves to play and is never aggressive. It is a particularly sociable dog that can accompany its master everywhere. It is better not to leave him too long without company because he hates solitude and inactivity. Its life expectancy is about 12 or 13 years.

The Miniature Dachshund

This muscular dog measures an average of 27 cm at the withers and weighs only 4 kg at most. The Miniature Dachshund has a balanced personality. They love to play and are very affectionate, even with children. However, he can be reproached for being a little possessive and barking frequently without reason, which can disturb the peace of the neighborhood. We therefore advise to educate this dog from a young age and with a certain firmness. As far as health is concerned, he can be fragile at the level of the rachis. Its life expectancy is about 13 years.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

It is a small breed dog with long hair that measures between 25 and 34 cm for a maximum weight of 6 kg. It is classified in the category of pleasure spaniels. Intelligent, it breathes the joy of living and is very affectionate. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel loves to cuddle. However, he is relatively reserved with strangers. He likes to play with children and enjoys their company. He is very easy to train which is a plus for the owners who are not very patient. Its life expectancy is on average 11 years.

Don't get me wrong, it's not because these dogs are small that they don't need to be active. Sure, they can live in apartments and urban environments, but like any larger dog they need activity. It is very important for their development and health. Sedentary life is not good for the owner or the dog, no matter how small, so this is an excellent reason to share a daily walk outside, with a few games, so that everyone can get some exercise.

The Japanese Terrier, small, compact and elegant dog

Small, compact and elegant dog, the Japanese Terrier is a rare breed, even in its native country. However, it has everything to please because of its pleasant and easy-going character. This dog is also quiet and easy to train.

Characteristics of the Japanese Terrier

The Japanese Terrier shares many physical traits with the Smooth Fox Terrier except for size, coat color and character. This breed of Japanese origin has a well-drawn, compact appearance and a distinguished look. It measures between 30 and 33 cm and weighs around 4 kg. This Japanese dog has a more or less narrow and flat skull with a moderately pronounced stop, a straight muzzle, a black nose and tight, thin lips. Its expressive eyes are oval-shaped and medium-sized with a dark color. The ears are thin, small, set high and V-shaped. The whole is carried by a strong neck, more or less long and thick towards the shoulder. The Japanese Terrier has a smooth and short coat that is tricolored, i.e. black, white and tan. The black and white coats simply are also allowed.

History of the Japanese Terrier breed

The Japanese Terrier was developed around the 18th century and was born from a cross between several dogs including the smooth-haired fox terrier which was introduced from the Netherlands in Nagazaki a century before. It also carries the blood of the English white terrier, the black and tan English toy terrier and small native dogs. Originally, the Japanese Terrier was bred to exterminate vermin. But it changed its vocation by becoming a pet when the ladies living in Yokohama and Kobe adopted it. Today, this breed remains confidential even in Japan. The registration in the standard in the Japanese Kennel Club dates from 1930.

Necessary living conditions and behavior of the Japanese Terrier

The Japanese Terrier is described as a perfect pet. It is loyal, expressive, balanced and intelligent. It develops sensitivity and demands attention. This dog can evolve with the elderly, but also in families with children. It adapts to a life in apartment and will be able to be forgotten provided that one meets all its needs. Indeed, it is a great sportsman who must go out regularly to release his energy. He can participate in all kinds of dog sports such as treibball, tracking, hiking or flyball. Its education must be done with kindness so that the animal does not develop fear or aggressiveness.

Diet and main health problems of the Japanese Terrier

The Japanese Terrier is spared from hereditary diseases. It is a solid and robust dog. It does not need any specific food either. Premium kibbles will be more than enough, but care must be taken to rationalize the daily quantities correctly to avoid deficiencies or, on the contrary, overweight.

The Sakhalin Husky, extremely resistant dog

The Sakhalin Husky is an unparalleled beauty. This Spitz-type sled dog is also considered one of the most resistant breeds in the world. Sadly, it is on the verge of extinction today. Learn more about the Sakhalin Husky, a Japanese breed.

Characteristics of the Sakhalin Husky

The Sakhalin Husky is a majestic breed that borrows its physical traits from the Spitz, as do many Japanese dogs such as the Akita Inu. It reveals a primitive air and develops an imposing size. It is the largest representative of the Huskies family. The dog measures between 56 and 66 cm at the withers and weighs between 30 and 40 kg on average. Due to its rarity, there is not much information about the characteristics of this Japanese breed. We notice its harmonious and proportional body with a large head, small eyes slightly inclined and almond-shaped. The ears are pointed and small, as in the Spitz. The animal has stable, strong and muscular legs. The tail is straight, long and covered with thick hair. Being a sled dog, the Sakhalin Husky has a thick coat and a dense undercoat that allows it to withstand the harshest weather conditions. No particular coat color is required. The coat simply does not have to be completely white.

History of the Sakhalin Husky breed

The Sakhalin Husky, also known as the Karafuto-ken or Sakhalin Island dog, originated on the island of Sakhalin, which is part of Russia. It is for this reason that the two countries are still disputing the paternity of this breed until today. It is the only Japanese sled dog. Although a few breeders still exist in its native country, the Sakhalin Husky is very rare and even close to extinction. It does not have a standard, because breeders want to be able to develop the breed and its capabilities by crossbreeding. For these reasons, it does not benefit from the recognition of the Société Centrale Canine nor the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

Living conditions and behavior of the Sakhalin Husky

The Sakhalin Husky is above all a working dog. It has the stamina and strength needed to pull the sled over long distances. It is an independent animal, but is nevertheless attached to its masters. Like all pack dogs, it is a sociable being, especially compatible with children. On the other hand, it will not be able to live in the city and even less locked up in an apartment. He absolutely needs his freedom to play and run around as he pleases. The Sakhalin Husky is also receptive to orders. It is apt to education provided it is done in the rules of art.

Diet and main health problems of the Sakhalin Husky

As we have seen, the Sakhalin Husky is a very large dog. Because of this particularity, it can then develop problems related to hip dysplasia. If it is used for work, its pads require a careful inspection to check for abrasions or injuries.