The Maremma Sheepdog is a massive, noble, distinctive-looking dog with a bear-like head. The jaws are strong with a scissors bite. It has a black nose that often becomes slightly pink-brown with age. The ears are V-shaped, pointed and rather small.
The eyes have a lively, intelligent expression, but are not large. The nasal canal is straight. The tail is low set and thickly feathered with dense hair. The deep, well-rounded ribcage extends to the elbows. The long, harsh and very abundant hair has a slight wave. The undercoat is dense. Coat colors include white with markings of ivory, light yellow or pale orange on the ears.
The Maremma is a friendly and well-balanced flock guardian. For several decades, it has also achieved success as a companion dog. Sober and dignified, this loyal, brave and determined dog makes an excellent guard dog without being a constant barker. It is correctly described as affectionate, but not dependent. Working lines that are put out to work will not easily follow your every command submissively, as they are bred and trained to be independent. You must display calm, but firm, confident and consistent leadership toward the dog in order to make it listen. It is very intelligent and its training requires mutual respect in handling and voice, and above all, consistency. It gets along with other dogs and pets and can be slightly reserved with strangers but not strongly so. People who are not welcome on your property will be stopped in their tracks. The Maremma is not as large as many of its fellow flock guards, but he still possesses comparable endurance and strength, as well as the ability to make up for the extra 50 pounds it lacks. It is alert and independent.
A flock guard of impressive dominance and lifelong dedication, this breed takes control over its flock. When humans are part of the dog’s pack, the humans must be pack leader over the dog. Allowing any dog of any size to be a human’s pack leader is dangerous, as dogs instinctually communicate their displeasure with a growl and/or a bite. Humans who keep flock guard type dogs as companions must understand how to calmly, but firmly display their authority over the dog. Passive owners will not have a successful human/dog relationship. As a pet, the Maremma is not very attached or overly outgoing. Nevertheless, this rugged wolf-slayer breed has adapted into a marvelous companion, without losing its extraordinary working abilities.
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It will defend both house and master, and it is particularly attentive with children. The Maremma is a marvelous sheepdog and loves its work. It is a terrible enemy of the wolf, but tame with man. Held in high esteem by shepherds, especially in the mountains where it thrives in the snow it is resistant to both cold and brambles. This is not a breed for beginners.
Height: 23.5 – 28.5 inches (60 – 73 cm)
Weight: 66 – 100 pounds (30 – 45 kg)
This breed needs space—mental as well as physical. If it is not working as an active flock guardian, it needs to be taken on daily, brisk walks. A short walk around the block three times a day is not enough for this dog. Long and alternating walks are necessary. It must have frequent opportunities to run free. When it gets enough exercise, freedom and space, it will be quiet in the house.
Some claim at one time there were two separate breeds: the Abruzzese and the Maremmano. The Abruzzese was more of a mountaineer and had a longer body, while the Maremmano had a slightly shorter coat. However in the 1950s the two were officially established as a single breed with a hyphenated name, Maremmano-Abruzzese. This is a classic European flock-guarding dog, probably a close descendant of the great, white Eastern sheepdogs that slowly spread across Europe over 2,000 years ago: the Karabash and Akbash sheepdogs of Turkey, the Kuvac of Slovakia, the Kuvasz and Komondor of Hungary and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog of France are all included in its blood. The ancestors of the Maremma evolved to become smaller than their fellow herd guardians while retaining the independence and aloofness of their heritage. Although it is now seen regularly in Great Britain, this breed is still rare in other countries outside Italy. It is strong-willed and not easy to obedience train, but makes a super guard. Its country of origin is Italy.