Maremma Sheepdog

April 12, 2012

The Maremma Sheepdog is a livestock guardian dog that originates in Italy. This is a breed of dog of massive proportions weighing between 65 to 110 pounds and measures 23 to 29 inches. The Abruzzese shepherd dogs have developed into different subtypes. The subtypes can be based on the marked morphological differences of the dogs. Subtypes are also based on the area or provinces where the dogs are commonly found. The Mariscano type was developed in the area of Marisca; the Aquilano type in the Peligna Valley and in the Gran Sasso Mountains. The Maiella types were commonly found in the Maiella Mountains and the Maremma sheepdogs were developed in the Maremma region of Italy.

For centuries the Maremma has guarded livestock. This wolf slayer fiercely protects the flock but it is known to be gentle with the lambs. The Maremma sheep dog may not be as large as the other Abruzzese types but it has comparable endurance and strength. This serious tireless worker is most valued by shepherds as it is considered to be a fierce enemy of the wolf but a docile and tamed companion of man. The long harsh coat of the dog is weather resistant. The coat protects the dog from brambles and snow and allows the dog to thrive in the mountains.

A Maremma makes a wonderful family companion as the dog would bond strongly with the human family. This is a loyal and devoted friendly pet. This dog may be affectionate but it is not dependent. Do not expect the dog to be your shadow or to kowtow to your every command. This is a subdued and dignified dog that has the tendency to be independent. Accustomed to protecting the livestock, this dog would be fiercely protective of the family too. This dog displays hostility towards intruders and strangers. If you have a Maremma guarding your home and property you can be very sure that no one will be able to trespass as unwelcome people will surely be stopped.

Other breeds of dogs have the inclination to wander… to run and to inspect and investigate anything and everything. Not a Maremma as this dog would stand, lie and basically stay near the livestock or property it is guarding. Presently, these dogs are extensively used in Italy and in other European countries to guard sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas.

Information

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Appearance

The Cana Pastore da Maremmano-Abruzzese is a large white or cream coated dog that has a solidly constructed body. The tight skin that covers the entire body grows a long top coat that is quite harsh to the touch and lies flat to the body. The undercoat is wooly soft and grows very thick especially during the cold winter months. Both coats are weather resistant and water repellent. This allows the dog to brave inclement weather in guarding the livestock in the mountains. The coat forms a ruff around the dog’s neck and feathers the hindquarters. Coat color is predominantly white although shades of cream, pale orange or lemon is acceptable.

The Maremma has a bearlike head, conical in shape, large and flat. This dog has a slightly rounded skull. The large black nose has well opened nostrils. Black nose turns to pale pink brown when the dog aged. Black lips barely cover the teeth. Almond shaped ochre or chestnut brown eyes have a lively and thoughtful expression. Triangular ears that have pointed tips are set on high and hangs down. Thickly feathered tail is low set and hangs down when the dog is at rest. When the dog is on the move the tail is carried level with the topline with a hooked tip.

Personality

Maremma Shepherd dog is a working breed mainly used to protect livestock and property. The dog has an inherent courage, perception, ferocity as well as the ability to make instant decision. This breed has a strong guarding instinct that makes shepherds confidently leave the flock with only the dog in charge. The flock is the primary concern of this breed. He knows that his main function is to protect the master and his properties. This dog will accept the alpha male but it will never be submissive. This is a very independent minded dog that would not take orders from the master.

Having been accustomed to protecting the flock, to being gentle with the lambs, a Maremma generally responds well to children as the dog usually considers the children to be his own. This dog however can no be considered as a gentle giant. The dog may unknowingly hurt small children. It is best no to leave small kids alone with the dog. Maremmas love company. The dog is tolerant of other dogs and can live peacefully with them. Being a shepherd the Maremma will consider other animals and smaller pets as a member of the flock it is guarding. This dog adores cats, hamsters, chickens and other small pets. But this dog will chase any other dogs and animals that it considers not to be a part of the family.

A Maremma Sheepdog is a large breed of working dog. This breed is vey energetic and would naturally require vigorous exercise. If the dog is not actively guarding the livestock, the owner should ensure that the dog is given sufficient exercise opportunities. A walk around the block would not be enough for this breed. A Maremma should be able to run freely. This is why this breed is not suitable for urban or apartment dwellings. These dogs are accustomed to wide open spaces. In its country of origin, the dog is seldom kept inside the house. The weather proof coat allows the dog to live outdoors in all kinds of weather. Similar to any other breeds of dogs, a Maremma gets bored easily especially if it is left alone and not given a chance to exercise. A bored Maremma will resort to destructive chewing. The dog may also get the idea to redo the landscape. This breed is a digger.

Care

The Maremma is by nature a clean dog. Except when the dog is wet, this breed has no doggie smell. The dog has a thick double coat that is water resistant. Mud and dirt that would cling to the feet and the underside of the dog would fall away when the dog dries. This dog needs very minimal grooming. Regular brushing would stimulate coat growth and promote the good condition of the skin. Regular grooming will also enhance the pristine condition of the coat. If the dog is bathed ensure that it is thoroughly dried especially during the cold winter months. This breed sheds once a year usually at the onset of winter. During the shedding period, the dog’s coat must be brushed regularly to remove dead hair and to hasten the shedding process. Ears must be regularly checked and cleaned and nails trimmed regularly.

History

The Cane da Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese as the breed is known in Italy is deemed to have existed over 2000 years ago. This breed is considered to be one of the oldest breeds in existence. Descriptions of sheepdogs with similar physical characteristics to the present day Maremma are found in ancient Roman literature. The dog was described in Rerum Pastoralis by Roman Varrone in 116 BC. The same type of dog was depicted in ancient works of art. A picture that dates back to the 13th century in the Church of Santa Maria portrayed a Maremma Sheepdog.

The Maremma Sheepdog is believed to have originated from the white eastern sheepdogs that have migrated to the different part of Europe. It is possible that the Maremma Sheepdog has the genes and the blood of the Akbash and Karabash of Turkey, of Slovakia’s Kuvac, the Komondor of Hungary and France’s Pyrenean Mountain Dog.

This breed was claimed by two regions in Italy – the Maremma and the Abruzzo hence the hyphenated Maremmano-Abruzzese title of the breed. The Maremmano and the Abruzzese was once considered to be a separate breed. The Maremmano is identified for its shorter coat while the Abruzzese has a longer body and considered to be more of a mountain dog. In spite of the differences of the two breeds it was decided it should be joined to form one single breed. In 1958 the two breeds were finally “joined” and given the name Cane da Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese. To this day the Pastore Abruzzese still exist in its true form and can be found in the Abruzzi Mountains. The Maremmano in its true form is no longer extant. The Maremmano-Abruzzese has replaced the original breed.

The breed’s prowess of protecting the flock is legendary. The breed gained recognition not only in Europe but also in other dog loving countries.

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