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Maremma Sheepdog

Feature image

Proud and strong, the Maremma are the perfect bodyguards for a range of livestock, though most well known as sheep guardians. Definitely not a dog for the city, a Maremma will thrive on a large property with a vulnerable flock animal to protect.

Choose a Maremma if you want a dog to look after your valuable stock and property.

Where I'm From

The Maremma sheepdog originates from the mountainous areas of Italy’s Abruzzo and Maremma regions. Bred for hundreds if not thousands of years to help shepherds protect livestock, principally sheep, from marauding wolves. White sheepdogs resembling the Maremma are represented in various iconographies stemming from the Roman period until today.

The breed was first recognised officially in Italy in the early 20th century. Maremmas remain popular sheep protectors around the world, though are not so common in Australia.

However, a special Maremma was trained to protect a threaten penguin population in Australia. Now the subject of feature film Oddball.

What I Look Like

Maremmas are large, solid and sturdy white dogs with a rough, thick double coat that protects them from the elements. Males can weigh up to 45 kilograms, females up to 40 kilogram. Their dark eyes and black nose sit in stark contrast to their light coats. With a large head, floppy ears and a long curled tail, they make impressive yet imposing looking dogs.

How I Act

The Maremma are independent thinkers that can be aloof to strangers. Though they will bond with and protect their human family and the livestock they are defending. It is important to develop a consistent relationship with the dog from a young age to ensure they have a strong bond with their masters.

Training is crucial for a dog of the Maremma’s size. Training and socialisation must begin early to ensure your Maremma understands commands and won’t feel threatened by newcomers. If you want your Maremma to become a sheep guardian, the dog should be introduced to livestock from puppy age so they develop an in-built protective relationship with the animals.

They are used to spending time with slow moving, travelling stock and need wide-open spaces to roam around in. If not protecting livestock, Maremma still need substantial exercise of 30-60 minutes per day and may be suited for obedience trials.

Looking After Me

Maremmas should be fed high quality smaller meals 2-3 times per day to reduce the incidence of bloat, a potentially fatal digestive condition.

The Maremmas are fairly low-maintenance dogs but still need a brush a couple times a week and a bath every so often to remain in good shape. Their dense undercoat sheds heavily in spring and autumn, and requires more attention during these times.

Maremmas are a hardy, healthy breed of dog though can suffer from some health ailments including hip dysplasia or bloat. They can also suffer from sensitivity to anaesthesia.

It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy’s parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog though not every ailment can be predicted. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders.

Maremma have a lifespan of 10-14 years.

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Cockatiel plucking her feathers

Hi! I hope you can help me with my cockatiel, I write from Spain and here they aren't that common so vets don't know much about treating them. I have a 5 years old female cockatiel and she is very affectionate, 2 years ago I had to spend a couple of months at a hospital and my parents during that time were either working or visiting me, so she felt lonely and started plucking her feathers. Even after I went back home she continued with this behaviour and hasn't stopped. I took her to different vets, they told me to give her small amounts of a syrup that was meant for calming itching and an antibiotic in case it was something producing an itching, but neither worked. I also tried a spray called "Pluck-no-more" with the same results. In case she was lonely we got her a mate, but it may be also female since they don't pay attention to each other at all. She rubs her cloaca on the perch often but the other tiel ignores it (the pet shop said it was male but they said the same with her and then she laid an egg...). The layer that covers the feather while growing (not sure of the name in English) doesn't grow normally, looks more like bland plastic than a hard cover like the ones on my other birds pin feathers (besides her, I have another cockatiel and a lovebird). Is as if the feathers on the plucking areas aren't growing correctly. The areas she plucks are under the wings, the part where wings join the body, and the body area that is covered by the wings while resting. While plucking she lets out small cries. The fluff covers these areas so by just looking at her isn't easy to tell, unless you watch her while preening. I let her play outside of the cage very often, but lately she can't fly well and I think it may be caused by the loss of these feathers. As I said, vets in this area are more specialized in cats and dogs and know little about parrots, so I hope you can advise me since these birds are native to Australia. Is there some kind of balm or spray I can apply on her skin to soothe it? Some medicine I can ask my local vet to use? I love her and it hurts seeing her in pain everytime she preens. Any advice would be much appreciated. Greetings from Spain!