Maremma Sheepdog

Type: Companion Dog

Height: Males: 25.5 - 28.5 inches ( 65 - 73 cm ); Females: 23.5 - 26.5 inches (60 - 68 cm ).

Weight: Males: 77 - 99 lbs. ( 35 - 45 kg ); Females: 66 - 88 lbs. (30 - 40 kg )

Life Span: 10 - 14 years.

Litter Size: 6 - 10 puppies.

Country of Origin: Italy

Activity: Medium. Puppies are large and active and their growth rate is fast. Free running will be especially beneficial for muscle development.

Watch-dog: Very high. Maremma Sheepdogs are intuitive, watchful and have a strong sense of territory. They tend to bark a lot. Unsociable and reserved with strangers.

Guard-dog: Very high. Incomparable. May even guard you too much. They have strong guarding instincts, and can be destructive to intruders.

Description: The Maremma Sheepdog is a majestic white dog, of a large size and a rustic appearance. They are strong, active, and for their size, very lithe. They have triangular drop ears and jet black lips, nose and eyes. They are quite furry, but not fluffy or shaggy. They have a long tail that almost touches the ground. The Maremma Sheepdog can be rather independent, especially in work. They are a working dog and need a job to keep them occupied. Their function has been to guard the flock and property of the shepherd for millennia, even in situations where man is not present. Maremma Sheepdogs are devoted to their master but treat them as an equal and a friend. They are affectionate with people they know, but if you mistreat the Maremma they will always remember it. The Maremma Sheepdog does not like to be dominated, and would not do well in an obedience course. Maremmas are so dedicated to their flock of sheep that one was said to have guarded sheep all his life on a particular farm. When the family got rid of their sheep and replaced them with beans in the same field, the Maremma was said to have taken over guardianship of the beans! Always treat a Maremma fairly and they will turn into an indispensable guardian angel for your stock, your farm and your family. Maremma Sheepdog

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Other Names: Maremmano Abruzzese, Abbruzzese, Pastore Abruzzese, Cane da Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese

Colors: Solid white. Shades of ivory, pale orange or lemon are tolerated but only in certain limits.

Coat: Very well furnished. Hair is long and rather harsh. A slight waviness is tolerated but only in certain limits.

Temperament: Maremma Sheepdogs are courageous, intelligent, sturdy and proud. They are independent and treat their owners as friends that are equal rather than the typical

With Children: Yes, very protective, also with children's friends once they get used to them. Best if the owner makes a formal introduction. They object to strange children being physical with their children.

With Pets: Yes, they were bred to care about sheep and goats. Quite tolerant with family's pets. Trouble is to be over food. If more than one dog is kept it is important to feed separately.

Special Skills: Family pet and herding guard-dog.

Care and Training: Maremma Sheepdogs are exceptionally clean in their habits. Brushing once a week and dry shampoo when necessary. Baths would damage the undercoat. Maremma Sheepdogs need no training for guarding. House training is easy for the Maremma Sheepdog. Social and obedience training is a necessity with a dog of this size and it should be start at an early age. Maremma Sheepdogs must be heavily socialized before the age of 6 months and must get used to meeting strangers. A 10 months puppy may weight 100 pounds! By the first month, working puppy dogs should get in touch with some subjects of the flock to develop their senses of smell. They must be involved in working with the stock before the sixth month.

Learning Rate: Medium. Maremmas have to learn very young. After, they are slow in responding to a command. Obedience - Low. Problem Solving - Medium.

Living Environment: Rural is the best or suburban with a big garden and enclosure. Quite happy to be outdoors in all weather. The best owner for this breed would be an active person who keeps animals or property that needs guarding, living in a colder country environment, who regards the dog as an equal.

Health Issues: Very healthy, although Maremmas may suffer from hip dysplasia and eye disease.

History: The Maremma Sheepdog belongs to the stock of the large White Dogs of central Europe. Maremma Sheepdogs have a history in Italy that can be traced back over 2000 years. They were already described by the Roman Varrone (116 B.C.) in Rerum Pastoralis. Two regions in Italy have always claimed this dog as their own, the Maremma and the Abruzzo, hence its native title " Maremmano Abruzzese". One lives in the valley of Maremma, the other in the region of Abruzze. For a while, however, these two were thought to be two different breeds in Italy. The Maremma was bred to be a guarding dog, and has well served its purpose in the past and current to guard sheep and cattle from wolves, foxes and other predators. Puppies were always sent to be with the sheep early on in order to "imprint" on them. Imprinting refers to imprinting the thought of sheep on the puppy in order to make him want to guard the sheep later on. One flock was said to have suffered a great deal from wolves, stealing sheep all the time. The family got a puppy Maremma Sheepdog that was only 6 months old, and within 1 month the sheep count was up and the wolf problem was solved. The puppy had "imprinted" that quickly and learned how to defend the sheep. Shepherds in Italy have long used Maremmas in the field, and still do today. The breed comes from other flock guarding breeds such as the Karabash and Akbash dogs of Turkey, the Kuvasz and Komondor of Hungary, the Kuvac of Slovakia, and the Pyrenees Mountain Dog of France. Still rare outside of Italy, the breed survives in Britain and Australia as well these days. In Australia, on Middle Island, the penguin population had been dwindling due to foxes and dogs. The people of the island tried different methods of protecting them, but none seemed to work. Finally, a farmer suggested using a Maremma Sheepdog puppy to protect the flock, and it worked so successfully that puppies are now being recruited to be moved to the island in order to continue using them as guardians and protectors of the birds. Today the breed has become more well known, but the breed is not recognized by the AKC, and has still not even been put on the Foundation Stock Service list yet - a list of breeds being considered and not yet eligible for the AKC.

Class: Flock Guarding

Registries: ANKC (Group 5), FCI (Group 1), UKC, ENCI, ARBA