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Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog

Other names: Pastore Abruzzese, Pastore Maremmano, Abruzzo Sheepdog, Abruzzese Sheepdog

Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog
Maremma and the Abruzzes 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.

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Key facts about the Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog

  • Life expectancy : Between 11 and 13 years
  • Temperament : Intelligent
  • Size : Large
  • Type of coat : Long, Hard

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)

Section

Section 1 : Sheepdogs

Physical characteristics of the Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog

Adult size

Female dog Between 24 and 27 in
Male dog Between 26 and 29 in

Weight

Female dog Between 66 and 88 lb
Male dog Between 77 and 99 lb

Coat colour

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. 

Eye colour

Ochre/chestnut.

Description

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.

Temperament

Affectionate

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The Maremma Sheepdog is friendly and has a stable temperament. 

Playful

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An active and playful dog, the Maremma tends to play only when it feels like doing so. This is not a submissive dog.

Calm

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The Maremma is confident and calm. 

Intelligent

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This is a highly intelligent dog that requires a firmness of training; it is immensely stubborn and wilful.  

Hunter

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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

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This dog tends to be reserved around strangers. Introducing someone new to the household should be done with patience and gentleness. 

Independent

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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

Tolerates solitude

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If left alone for long periods of time this dog becomes agitated.

Easy to train / obedience

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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. 

Barking

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The Maremma seldom barks.

Tendency to run away

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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.  

Destructive

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If it feels anxious the Maremma will be destructive.  

Greedy / Gluttony

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Maremmas are not prone to obesity.

Guard dog

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Maremma Sheepdogs will bark when they feel threatened and are fiercely territorial and protective. 

First dog

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A Maremma Sheepdog needs to be challenged physically and mentally in order to stay happy and out of trouble. It is not a good choice of first dog due to its stubbornness and unwillingness to be trained. 

Lifestyle

Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog in a flat

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This dog prefers to be outside and thrives on high intensity exercise and endless adventure. Neither a flat nor a small garden will suffice such a dog. 

Need for exercise / Sporty

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An energetic dog is the Maremma. Maremma Sheepdogs are better suited to rural life than they are urban life. 

Travelling / easy to transport

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The Maremma Sheepdog will be happy to travel. 

Compatibility

Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog and cats

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Although the Maremma Sheepdog is not known for its high prey drive it will still be interested in small scurrying (and flying) animals. The household cat may be in danger.  

Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog and dogs

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Maremma Sheepdogs are protective and territorial. They will not appreciate sharing their space with another dog. 

Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog and children

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Young children that run around the house of a Maremma may find themselves being herded like sheep. Maremmas enjoy the chase, whether that is of animals or people. 

Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog and the elderly

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Because it is a dog that requires lots of exercise, the Maremma Sheepdog is not the perfect choice of dog for someone of senior years. 

Price

The price for a purebred puppy will be anything upwards of £500. It will cost £100 to £150 per month to keep this dog.

Grooming

Twice-weekly brushing will prevent this dog’s coat from becoming matted and tangled. 

Shedding

This dog sheds throughout the year. 

Nutrition of the Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog

It is always worthwhile to feed the Maremma a high-quality and specially formulated dog food rather than human food. The Maremma’s diet should consist of good amounts of protein and fat. 

Health of the Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog

Life expectancy

The Maremma Sheepdog is generally healthy and robust. Its average life expectancy is 11 to 13 years.

Strong / robust

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The Maremma Sheepdog has been bred to work outdoors. This is a big, strong and robust dog. 

Withstand heat

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This dog tolerates hot weather reasonably well. 

Withstand cold

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The double coat of the Maremma Sheepdog keeps the dog warm. 

Tendency to put on weight

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If the Maremma is not exercised as regularly as it should be and is fed too much human or substandard food it will become obese, but the dog does not have a tendency to obesity.

Common illnesses

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. 

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.  

Names

Brutus, Caesar, Luna, Rhea

Find out more dog name ideas here

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