(aka: Pastore Abruzzese, Cane da Pastore, Maremmano-Abruzzese, Italian Alpine Dog, Italian Mountain Dog, Italian Sheepdog)
The Maremma Sheepdog is a majestic dog with a rustic appearance. They have a large, sturdy frame covered in a rough, thick and slightly wavy coat that’s usually white with possible patches of yellow of orange. Its broad, triangular head has a slightly tapered muzzle, hanging V-shaped ears and dark, almond-shaped eyes. They have triangular drop ears and jet black lips, nose and eyes. Its body is slightly longer than tall, and its well-plumed tail hangs low but curves upward.
The Maremma Sheepdog possesses a majestic appearance, is sturdy, and carries itself with dignity. This breed is large, well-built, and has an aloof expression.
Maremma Sheepdog Temperment
A fierce defender of life and property, this rather intelligent dog spends much of its time being very cheerfully methodical and thoughtful, while slow to anger. These dogs are proud and usually consider themselves something of a partner. They don't tend to be particularly affectionate, but are sure to be loyal.
Though quite intelligent, they are just intelligent enough to question orders much of the time and just do what they think is best. This can be rather vexing, depending upon your dog's judgement. However, in working situations, they usually do know what's best as far as sheep and their own safety is concerned.
Indeed, they take their jobs very seriously once they get the idea that's what they're supposed to do and enjoy. Though not quick to anger, the Maremma can nonetheless be very imposing to anyone who doesn't belong.
Though not overly affectionate, the Maremma will bond very tightly with his or her human family. This often takes the form of people herding, but may also include leaning and pawing. Regardless of the form it takes, affection is always on the dog's terms - not yours (rather like a cat!).
All weather coat requires regular, thorough combing and brushings to remove all dead and loose hair. Take extra care when the dog is shedding.
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.
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 is slowly becoming more well known.
The key characteristic of their training is dealing with the breed's general indifference to what you want. Training can be rather demanding for this reason. They have no respect for people who can't make up their mind, being very contemplative themselves.
Early socialization and basic obedience are recommended. Maremma Sheepdog's regards their master as an equal and a friend. They will not respond to harshness. Training must be done with respect and consistency.
These dogs are happiest with a job to do, so your new pup needs a job, and it's up to you to get him or her ready. The first two years of your Maremma's development are crucially important in bringing up a dog that will make an effective guard dog for livestock. They've been successfully used with Llamas, Alpaccas and goats as well as sheep.
They will eventually take well to herd training and they love keeping a careful eye on things. Ideally, one already has a well-trained dog that can teach the other one. Their intelligence and imperious temperament makes them generally unwilling to carry out your wishes. They like to decide things for themselves.
Either way, the housebound Maremma will herd the human members of the flock for lack of sheep. Generally the Maremma is not recommended as a pet because it is so difficult to train up, being so proud. The key is to remain firm and consistent with your training and have everyone in the house do so, too.
Very healthy, although Maremmas may suffer from hip dysplasia and eye disease.