Origins of the Barbado da Terceira

The Barbado da Terceira is the most recently recognized Portuguese breed. The Portuguese Kennel Club (CPC) recognized it, on a provisional basis, on November 2004; it is not yet recognized by The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). It is a population native to the Azores Islands, in particular the Terceira Island. The existence of a population nucleus with enough homogeneity lead to the development of some studies on it since the 1990s. Several people, such as Dr. Deocliceano Pereira da Silva (veterinarian in Angra do Heroísmo), Dr. Artur Machado (from the Azores University), Eng. João Baldaia (Count of Rego Botelho), Mr. João Barata, Mr. Dédalo Henrique Ribeiro da Silva, Mr. Emanuel Vieira, Dr. António José do Amaral (CPC’s delegate to the Azores) were involved in several breed studies and standard proposals – one of which was even published in the newspaper Açoriano Oriental. With the support of the Agrarian Sciences Department of Azores University, a first scientific report on the breed’s morphology was completed in 1998 (1), a study which was followed by others on its biometry and genetics (2, 3).

Click here to see several specimens, showing different breeding lines

Since 1990, the Portuguese Kennel Club, through its board and the Portuguese Breeds' Committee, followed the work done in the Terceira Island for the breed, but only in 2004 recognized it. The breed’s acceptance within the Portuguese cynological world has been controversial. Specially within the CPC, many feel the recognition was premature, and unlike what happened for the Transmontano Mastiff (another Portuguese breed, provisionally recognized in April 2004), this institution has given very little support to the Barbado da Terceira.

Breed origins

Two hypotheses have been put forward regarding the breed’s origin (1). One says it come from hunting dogs brought by settlers from all over Europe,  due to the amount of wild cattle in the Azores, and it mentions the morphological similarity between several types of Griffons, Barbets and other large game hunting dogs with wire-hair and the Barbado. However, apart from the rarity of these dogs outside their national borders, this type of dogs is actually morphologically very different from the Barbado, it is used for hunting instead of herding and in very different conditions than those that exist in the Terceira.

The second hypothesis is that the Barbado comes from medium-sized long haired herding and/or cattle dogs, which exist pretty much all over Europe. Given the similarities in appearance and work among these populations, this is probably the most realistic possibility. Quite likely, the breed came from a similar stock of dogs that gave rise to the Azores Cattle Dog, given the similar history of settlement of the Azores islands by the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French, the Belgians, the Flemish, the English, the Dutch, etc.

Recent history on the mainland

For several years, the Terceira Island has held unofficial breed shows, aimed at divulging and promoting the breed. However, in mainland Portugal the Barbado da Terceira’s presence has been discrete. Although it is known that many dogs were sent to the mainland, most went as pets and/or cattle herding dogs. They were unregistered dogs (many of which came before the breed was recognized) and as such “missing” from the official cynology and the potential contribution they could give to the breed’s evolution.

With the gradual increase of breeders in the mainland, and greater exposure in the specialized media, it is expected that the breed will gain in visibility, as it is still quite unknown by the general public.

Dog shows

The first time the Barbado da Terceira was shown in dog shows in the mainland, and the first time they competed in shows scoring for national championship, was at the 3rd Fundão’s Portuguese Dog Breeds Show, on October 22, 2005 in Alpedrinha. With the support of the d’Alpetratínia Kennel, 2 males born and raised in the Terceira – Pastor (RI71625) and Açor-B (RI71644) – and one male born in the Terceira but living in the Alentejo area – Bravo (RI72307) – participated in the show. With Mrs. Carla Molinari as the judge, Pastor was Best of Breed.

 Julgamento de Raça na 3º ECERP Fundão - 2005

Judge Carla Molinari during the breed’s judging, ant the 3rd Fundão’s Portuguese Dog Breeds Show.

Os exemplares

Judge Manuel Loureiro Borges benefiting from a break in his judging to inspect the Barbados present at the 3rd Fundão’s Portuguese Dog Breeds Show. From left to right: Bravo, Pastor and Açor-B

 Since then and until the end of 2007, Barbados' participation in dog shows in the mainland was very irregular and discrete. However, since the beginning of 2008, breed specimens have regularly attended these events, with brilliant results and definitively helping to spread the breed’s image. On February 10, 2008, at the 9th Cascais’ Portuguese Dog Breeds Show, Adágio and Duquesa-B (owned by Dédalo Henrique Ribeiro da Silva) finished their championship, thus becoming the first Portuguese Champions in the breed. They were followed by Astra da Casa da Mina, on June 10, 2008. All over 2008, the breed was a regular presence in dog show podiums, with different animals achieving good results in the Portuguese dog breeds, group, puppies and veterans finals and in Best in Show finals. At the end of 2008, Duquesa-B was also ranked in 3rd place as Best Portuguese Breed Specimen (in the 2008 ranking for all dogs of Portuguese breeds competing in dog shows).

The first Portuguese Champions: Adágio + Duquesa-B

The first Barbados da Terceira that became Portuguese Champions: Adágio and Duquesa-B

In 2010 there was a new milestone for the breed, as some foreign kennel clubs allowed the Barbado to participate in their shows (as the breed is not FCI recognized, this needs to cleared at a national level). That year and the following year, our dogs or dogs out of our breeding attended several shows in Spain and Portugal, becoming the first champions of those countries (Figo, Sheila, Ali-babá de Aradik, Cortiça de Aradik, Ananás de Aradik, Bóina de Aradik) and arising quite some interest from public and other breeders.

The first Spanish and Gibraltar Champions: Sheila + Figo

The first Barbados da Terceira that became Spanish & Gibraltar Champions: Sheila and Figo

2011 was a new reference for the Barbado at dog shows in Portugal, as the breed was often one of the most numerous Portuguese breeds attending. It was also the year when, at the 9th of October, the first Barbado da Terceira National Specialty Show took place!

In 2013, two Barbados da Terceira ranked 1st and 2nd in the Portuguese breeds ranking (based on the points awarded to every dog competing in dog shows in Portugal throughout the year)



(1) Oliveira, A. A. (1998) Estudo biométrico, funcional e histórico dos Cães Barbados da Ilha Terceira para o seu reconhecimento como raça [Biometric, functional and historic study of the Barbado Dog from the Terceira Island]. Undergraduate report in Animal Science. Agrarian Sciences Department, Azores University, Angra do Heroísmo.

(2) AACCBIT (Associação Açoriana dos Criadores dos Cães Barbados da Ilha Terceira) (s/d) Cão Barbado da Ilha Terceira. Proposta de estalão. Caracterização biométrica e molecular do Cão Barbado da Ilha Terceira [Barbado Dog from the Terceira Island. Breed Standard proposal. Biometric and molecular characterization]. Unpublished report.

(3) Machado, A. (2001) Estudo biométrico e caracterização genómica através de microssatélites do Cão Barbado da Terceira [Biometric study and genomic characterization of the Barbado Dog from the Terceira]. In I Simpósio de Raças Caninas Portuguesas, Estação Zootécnica Nacional, Vale de Santarém.