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.
Am I the pet for you?
- Maremmas are fabulous sheep protectors that prefer to sleep with the livestock they are protecting.
- They are affectionate to human family members they know well, including children, and very devoted guard dogs. Like with all dogs, Maremmas should be supervised when around children.
- Maremmas are low-key, hardy dogs that don’t need mollycoddling or much upkeep.
- Maremmas are not a pampered pet dog; they need to protect! If you are looking for a house pet, look elsewhere. They will also not recognise their master as pack leader easily though may share leadership if trained well.
- Maremmas are not suited for city life and need a large property, ideally with livestock to guard. Though they can be good with families if they have enough room to run around in and are socialised from a very young age.
- Maremmas can be wary of strangers, which includes a tendency to bark. Whilst this makes them excellent guard dogs, they can also be hostile to passersby or guests to the home who should be introduced slowly. Early and consistent socialisation can help temper these issues.
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Our 5 year old maremma was born with extremely cow hocked back legs. As he has grown, obviously a large dog due to breed, he has developed arthritis and has weakened muscles in his hips/legs. He currently has a series of steroid injections every 6 months for 4 weeks at a time and has pain meds in between if needed. He has also just started on 4cte for dogs. We have tried many different things like fish oil tabs etc, but nothing with too much success. We love our dog more than we can begin to express and will do anything to help him and prolong his time to what ever extent we can. We have seen some extremely treatments on the show for dogs who have completely lost the use of their back legs and wondered if there is anything more we can do/consider to help our dog?