Maremma Sheepdog

History

The Maremma Sheepdog originates from Italy where it was used by Shepherds to guard sheep from wolves. These large dogs have been around for at least 2,000 years and are patient guardians of their family. They are similar to the Pyrenean Mountain Dog and Kuvasz from Hungary and are still used as working dogs in the Abruzzo region of Italy where wolves are still a problem for farmers. They are also used to protect cattle, goats and even a dwindling penguin population in Australia.

Behaviour

The Maremma is a guardian, be it sheep, people, chickens or territory. They will always be alert for danger and will protect your home. They are good within a family and with children but naturally wary of strangers entering the home. Socialisation from an early age will help to some extent, but they were bred to guard and excel at it. Even when introduced to a stranger and they are sat having a coffee, the Maremma will be watching if he perceives any danger or just to be on guard. They like company, be it human or canine. They will even make friends with a cat if that is the only company they have during the day. They can usually even be trusted with chickens in the garden and will see it their job to protect them. Maremmas generally bark to warn off intruders, be that people, birds or other dogs. Barking can be a problem with the breed, so the 'quiet' command should be taught from day one. They are intelligent but will not follow your commands blindly. They like to think for themselves and can take a few moments to obey, having first weighed up the pros and cons. Whilst they can be taught, they will never win first prize in an obedience competition, as they like to take their time with most things. They need a fair amount of exercise, but seeing as they are slow to mature, proper long walks should not be given until they are at least 6 months old. Once they are old enough, then a long walk every day should be enough to keep then happy.

Maremma Sheepdogs have a thick double coat to protect them from the elements when outside guarding sheep. The coat needs to be brushed regularly but bathing is not really needed. They moult once/twice a year, but generally don't seem to lose much fur. Health wise, they are a sturdy, healthy breed that rarely suffers any major issues, however due to the limited gene pool, Canine Hip Dysplasia is more common in the breed.

Temperament

The Maremma Sheepdog posses a dignified and rugged temperament. Bred to kill wolves that threaten its flock you must have a full understanding before you consider getting a Maremma. In need of authoritatve training from early puppyhood it is important that you gain respect from this dog and do not let it think it is pack leader.

The Maremma needs loads of exercise in as many different locations as possible. This is because they love to roam and have outstanding stamina. The Maremma is not very affectionate but can be surprisingly good with children he lives with. Unsurprisingly they can be cautious of strangers as they try to determine friend from foe.

Health Problems

Health problems that may affect Maremma Sheepdogs include canine hip dysplasia (CHD) and entropion (inward rolling of the eyelid which can irritate the eyeball).

Breed Details

  • Status: Rare
  • Life Expectancy: 11 - 17 years
  • Weight: 30 - 45 kg
  • Height: 24 - 29"
  • Rare: No
  • Coat: Medium
  • Grooming Requirements: More than once per week
  • Town or Country: Country
  • Minimum Home Size: Large House
  • Minimum Garden Size: Large Garden
  • Breed Type: Herding
  • Size: Large
  • Energy Level: High
  • Exercise Required: Over 2 hours

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