Blog #34 – Barbado da Terceira

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.

3 thoughts on “Blog #34 – Barbado da Terceira”

  1. Very interesting breed. Is it possible for Fila de Sao Miguel to be the result of crossing the Barbado type with de FdT type? It kinda fits into this bull herder type, which I really love.

    1. In my opinion the Fila de Sao Miguel of today was very close to the original filas. The Fila de Terceira was bred from crosses between the original filas and English and French bulldogs taken to the Azores. The Barbado was a cross between the original filas and large herding type dogs taken to the islands. The last few Fila da Terceiras that existed are believed to have been crossed into the Fila de Sao Miguel and the Barbado.

  2. I got one of them. The strongest personallity I have ever known for a dog, its very different from the dogs you will usually find in the modern world. As for intelligence it is up there among the top tiers. Very robust physically, a tractor. Every situation and every person is evaluated. The herding instincts are strong and mine will nip at heels at times with one exception – my son, who is clearly treated as the calf.. The guard instinct is also strong. She has a zone of about about 100 meters around my house that she is very alert to. When we exit that she really calms down. Would i recommend the breed? Only if you are 100% sure you can meet its needs that are more demanding then the average dog…its not a 15 minutes in the park dog, it takes a whole lot of dedication and its not a dog you want to go wrong with. That beeing said, this is not a breed that just any undedicated person stumble over. Personally I spend about 4 hours active hiking, meeting other dogs and training every day. Also I bring her everywhere i can. Is an amazing and balanced breed if you manage it.

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