The Barbado da Terceira aka the Terceira Cattledog originated in the Terceira island in the Azores, Portugal. The breed was a vital tool for the inhabitants of the island who lived off the land and required a strong cattle dog to assist with the control and herding of semi wild cattle on the island.
The Azores were first discovered in the 1420’s but were not settled until the 1430’s. All of the Azores islands were covered in dense vegetation so early Portuguese explorers released cattle onto the islands to clear some of the vegetation. Years later, when the first settlers arrived on the islands the cattle had flourished and were now living wild.
A total of three cattle/bulldog breeds were created in the Azores. The Fila da Terceira, Fila de Sao Miguel and the Barbado da Terceira. The Fila da Terceira which is now extinct was also from the Terceira Island and in my opinion played a role in the creation of the modern day Barbado and Fila de Sao Miguel.
There has been a number of studies carried out on the Barbado over the years but none have ever been conclusive in finding out the true origin of the Barbado. In my opinion, there is a clear link between the Fila de Sao Miguel and the Barbado da Terceira despite both breed originating in different islands.
A true working Barbado da Terceira should be like the original working Bouvier des Flandres and other similar long haired types (e.g Briard, Spanish Water Dog, Cão Serra de Aires and Smithfield Cattle Dog) that existed in mainland Europe. These types were taken to the island by the Portuguese, Spanish, French and Belgian/Dutch explorers travelling to and from the Americas.
Once there, they were bred together to create a type that was physically and mentally capable to deal with the harsh weather and physically demanding terrain on the island. These dogs lived among the livestock all year around. Their sole purpose was to guard, control and herd livestock on large farms.
Despite, the Barbado being an old breed it was only only officially recognised by the Portuguese Kennel Club in 2004. All of todays Barbados go back to a few lines that are the ancestors of all modern day Barbados.
The ‘Baldaia’ line is probably the most famous line of Barbados. They were were the heavyweights of the breed. They were big, strong and very imposing animals. They were mainly used as guard dogs on farms.
The ‘Porto’ line is the ancestor of the ‘Baladaia’ line and they were also large and powerful dogs used for guarding.
The ‘Siuve’ and ‘Meirelles’ lines are also very well known lines of Barbados. They were also mainly used as guard dogs on farms but were also used to control livestock. They were slightly smaller and lighter in build when compared to the ‘Baldaia’ and ‘Porto’ line.
The ‘da Silva’ and ‘Vieira’ lines were both used as guard dogs and to control livestock. They were somewhere in-between the Baldaia/Porto and the Siuve/Meirelles lines in size.
It’s sad to say but very few owners still work their Barbados. I can only think of 2 or 3 breeders who still work their dogs on cattle. I remember visiting one of these breeders a few years ago and it was amazing to see his pack of Barbados working together as a well disciplined unit to move and control hundreds of cattle.
I hope that the breed does not get forgotten by farmers who still require good quality cattle dogs as it would be a great shame if the Barbado became the next working breed to be taken over by the show fraternity.