Breed Category: Working
Country of Origin: Italy
Average Size: 60-70 cm (at the withers)
Average Weight: 35-45 kg
Average Life Span: 12-14 years
Grooming Requirements: Medium
Exercise Requirements: High

History

The full name of the Maremma Sheepdog is the Cane de Pastore Maremman-Abruzzese and this breed is beloved for its ability to be both a guardian of livestock and a companion dog. This breed is thought to have been in existence for many centuries, as evidence of it can be found in Italian artwork dating back to the 1300s. It may share common ancestry with other European breeds such as the Kuvasz or the Pyrenean Mountain Dog.

In ancient days, as well as in some instances today, wolves were an enormous threat to the livestock of shepherds and farmers. For this reason, a breed that could be gentle with cattle, goats and sheep while fending off dangerous wolves was highly sought-after. The Maremma Sheepdog was charged with this task and served as a remarkable protector. A small group of dogs could fend off wolves, but other tactics were also employed, such as a collar with long, sharp spikes that would prevent the dog from sustaining wounds to the head or neck.

Its history is richest in the cities of Abruzzo and Maremma, though wolves are now an endangered species in Maremma. It is now used as a companion dog as well as a protector against other livestock threats like coyotes. While the breed is still commonly used in Europe, particularly Italy and England, it remains a rarity throughout the rest of the world.

Appearance

This breed’s signature colour is white, as being easily distinguishable from the wolf at night is crucial to ranchers and land owners. The coat may also be light shades of yellow or cream. It requires frequent brushing of its coat, which is long and may be straight or wavy in texture. Its medium-to-long coat makes it best-suited for colder weather and care should be taken to prevent the Maremma Shepherd from becoming overheated during warmer months.

The Maremma Shepherd is sturdy and heavy-boned. Dogs of this breed are large in size and are made to look even bigger by their thick, coarse double coat of fur. It is 60-70 cm in height with a hardy weight of 35-45 kg. It has large, floppy ears and a bold, black nose. Its tail is naturally long and feathered.

Temperament

The Maremma Sheepdog was bred to guard livestock, so it is naturally gentle with those of whom it feels protective. For this reason, this breed is compatible with children and other household animals and tends to be loyal and tolerant towards them. It also serves as an alert and attentive guard dog of both home and land.

This breed has an independent nature. It enjoys the company of its family, but it does not entirely depend upon humans the way many other breeds do. It can be stubborn and difficult to train in other areas besides guarding, so it is important for this dog to undergo socialisation and obedience training. With proper training, this breed will be more welcoming with new people and will not have the domineering personality it may otherwise possess.

If the Maremma Sheepdog is not put to work as a working dog, it is very important that its physical and mental needs be met in another manner. This breed is not content to spend all its time indoors and needs a great deal of exercise in order to thrive. A large yard or long, frequent walks may be an adequate substitute.

Health

Hip dysplasia is a condition that commonly plagues dogs of this size, though the Maremma Shepherd is otherwise a very healthy breed.

The Maremma Shepherd lives an average of 12-14 years, which is slightly longer than usual for a dog of this size.

Maremma Sheepdog Organisations in Australia
Maremmas in Rescue

Maremma Sheepdog Organisations in the UK
Maremma Sheepdog Club of Great Britain

Maremma Sheepdog Organisations in the US
Maremma Sheepdog Club of America (MSCA)
Maremma Sheepdog – Rescue Rex

Did we miss your organisation? Let us know. Contact Us