Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog
Other names: Pastore Abruzzese, Pastore Maremmano, Abruzzo Sheepdog, Abruzzese Sheepdog
The Maremma Sheepdog is used to protect livestock. It is indigenous to central Italy and continues to be used by Italian farmers for this purpose. Ancient Roman chroniclers extolled the virtue of the use of a white sheepdog because it could hide among its flock without being spotted by a predator. The Maremma Sheepdog is a recent (1950s) conjoining of two separate but related breeds called the Pastore Maremmano and Pastore Abruzzese.
Key facts about the Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog
Life expectancy :
Origins and history
White ‘defence’ dogs were recorded in ancient Roman literature. The noble Maremma remains a steadfast cattle dog put to use by Roman farmers even today. The Maremma was introduced to the UK only recently and remains rare.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 1 : Sheepdogs
Physical characteristics of the Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog
Female : Between 24 and 27 in
Male : Between 26 and 29 in
Female : Between 66 and 88 lb
Male : Between 77 and 99 lb
Usually this dog’s coat is solid white but occasionally ivory and lemon colours are seen.
Type of coat
Long, harsh and straight topcoat lying flat against the body; there is usually seen a thicker collar of fur around the neck of the Maremma. The soft undercoat grows only in the winter.
A strongly built dog is the Maremma. Not elegant but pleasingly rustic and ‘shaggy’. Its body is longer than it is high and overall this is a well-proportioned and solid dog. The dog’s tail grows a little further down the croup than usual due to its sloping rump. The tail is carried more or less level with the top line when the dog is active.
Good to know
This dog is not often chosen for its companionability. Its raison d'être is to guard and to herd livestock; it is still bred for this function in its native Italy and elsewhere. Its sensibilities as a sheepdog (serious, protective, territorial, independent) do not lend themselves well to that of a cuddly pet.
The Maremma Sheepdog is friendly and has a stable temperament.
An active and playful dog, the Maremma tends to play only when it feels like doing so. This is not a submissive dog.
The Maremma is confident and calm.
This is a highly intelligent dog that requires a firmness of training; it is immensely stubborn and wilful.
Maremma Sheepdogs are not hunters; they are herding dogs. They may not have a high prey drive but they are slaves to their herding and guardian instincts.
Fearful / wary of strangers
This dog tends to be reserved around strangers. Introducing someone new to the household should be done with patience and gentleness.
The Maremma is very independent and will tend to do things when it feels like it. Even when trained, this dog will test boundaries.
Behaviour of the Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog
If left alone for long periods of time this dog becomes agitated.
Easy to train / obedience
Training the Maremma Sheepdog is challenging. It must be carried out by a confident master who is consistent and varies their style of training. Harsh training techniques will not work with any dog. The Maremma is not described as an ‘obedient’ dog.
The Maremma seldom barks.
Tendency to run away
This dog is keen to please its owner but it will also want to please itself. The recall command may not work with the Maremma.