Belonging to the livestock guardian category, these shepherd dogs hail from the Abruzzo as well as Tuscany and Lazio regions of Maremma in central Italy. It has attained its name from the Maremma region where it was widely used for herding sheep. Their broad head resembles that of a bear, while their lively expressive, almond-shaped eyes are small in size. Other features include a black nose that turns pinkish brown as it grows in age, V-shaped, pointed ears, muscular body stature, tapered muzzle and a low set feathery, tail covered with hair.
|Other Names||Abruzzese, Cane da Pastore, Abruzzese shepherd dog, Abruzzenhund, Pastore Maremmano, Pastore Abruzzese, Italian sheepdog|
|Common Nicknames||Maremma, Maremmano|
|Coat||Long, thick wavy white coat encircling its neck like a collar.|
|Color||Solid white with shades of ivory, orange and yellow|
|Group||Livestock guardians, Mountain dogs|
|Lifespan/ Life Expectancy||10 to 13 years|
|Height||24 to 29 inches|
|Weight||Male:75 to 100 lb; Female: 65 to 90 lb|
|Litter size||6 to 9 puppies|
|Behavioral Characteristics||Loyal, brave, friendly, dignified, gentle, intelligent, affectionate, hardworking|
|Good with children||Yes|
|Shedding||Heavy ( particularly during spring and fall)|
|Competitive Registration Qualification/Information||ACA, CKC, APRI, ACR, DRA, KCGB, FCI, NZKC, NKC|
The Maremma Sheepdog has an ancient history, finding mention in ancient Roman paintings, sculpture, and literature. Though there is no concrete document of how they originated, it was registered for the first time in the year 1898. Luigi Groppi and Giuseppe Solaro took initiatives of devising the first standards for these dogs in 1924. In fact, Maremmas are said to share their lineage with other LSDs including the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Kuvasz, and the Polish Tatra Sheepdog.
Initially, the Maremmas and the Abruzzo sheepdog were considered as distinct breeds, with societies formed for them in 1950 and 1953 respectively. However, they were unified to a single breed on the 1st of January, 1958, by Italy’s national dog association Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiano (ENCI). In the present times, their task as livestock guardians have not just remained confined to Italy but has also spread to other countries including UK, USA, Australia and Canada. These dogs have been acknowledged by environmentalists since they have reduced chances of livestock falling prey to coyotes, fox, and wolves by about 70 to 80%.
The Maremma Sheepdog Club of America founded on the 15th of August 1988, aims at encouraging the promotion of this breed.
Friendly and affectionate, they are said to be immensely loyal and devoted towards their family surpassing all hurdles to protect them from any danger. However, being guardian dogs, they also possess an independent nature that might make them strong willed at times, hence making them an excellent option for those acquainted with big farm dogs rather than first-time users.
These gentle dogs are however shy or reserved when interacting with strangers or an unfamiliar face, emitting a bark to warn their masters of any impending danger. This along with their brave disposition makes them excel as great guard dogs, who bark when the need arises.
Though they get along well with kids of the family, supervision is needed when the Maremmas, mainly the puppies are interacting with the little ones as the latter get over energetic during their play session resulting in knocking down or hurting the children. It even gets along well with other dogs and pets, but smaller animals are not recommended keeping their guarding and herding instinct in mind.
Their big size, herding instinct, and active nature make them unsuitable for an apartment life. They would rather do well in big farms or ranches where they have a flock of sheep or animals to guard.
They have a high enduring capacity of surviving cold weather conditions because of their double coat.
Though a quick learner, these dogs often have an independent mindset because of the herding tasks that they have been assigned since time immemorial. They may often defy the command unless handled in a firm and tactful way. Training sessions should be kept short to prevent them from getting bored, while the positive reinforcement methods would keep them hooked into their training regime.
Socialization: Since they are protective of their surroundings the Maremma puppies are to be socialized at the earliest to keep this tendency under control. They need to be acquainted with diverse experiences and observe people of different physical traits so that they eventually begin distinguishing the good from the bad.
Obedience: Acquaint it with commands like “Stop” or “No”, so that whenever they indulge in any unacceptable behavior like getting harsh on the livestock or nipping and biting at strangers. The command “Come” would encourage him to claim his treat on displaying good behavior.
Divide his meals into small parts instead of giving it all at once as it is prone to bloating. Besides a high-quality dog food opt for a proper nutrient based diet needed for your big dog to be in sound health.