Maremma Sheepdog, Good Companion Dog

The Maremma Sheepdog, or the Maremmano-Abruzzese as scholars who have researched the origins of the breed refer to the dog, is a breed of livestock guardian dog that originated in central Italy and has been used for centuries by Italian shepherds to guard sheep from wolves. The breed's English name derives from the Maremma section of Tuscany where British and American breeders first saw the dog and mistakenly believed the dog originated. The dog breed is widely employed in Abruzzo where sheep herding remains vital to the rural economy and the wolf remains an active and protected predator. The breed resembles the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, the Kuvasz of Hungary, and the Akbash Dog of Turkey.


The Maremma Sheepdog has a solid, muscular build, thick white coat, large head, black nose, and typically weighing between 65 to 110 pounds (30–50 kg) and standing from 23 to 29 inches tall (60–75 cm) though some dogs grow to even more massive proportions. As far as coloring goes they can have tints of yellows, creams and lemon/brown spots. A minimal amount of color is demanded. Solid white is most common, but the colored kind is becoming more popular.

Some divide the dog breed into various subtypes, largely based on small differences in physical attributes and with subtype names based on village and provincial names where the dogs may be found , e.g. the Maremma, the Marsicano, the Aquilano, the Pescocostanzo, the Maiella, and the Peligno. However, biologists dispute this division, as well as over reliance on minor physical differences, as the dogs were bred over the centuries for their behavioral characteristics making them good guardians shepherds.


Despite their large size, Maremma Sheepdog can be good companion dogs in areas with adequate open space. Centuries of breeding the dogs to be gentle with lambs but fiercely protective of their flock has created a breed that will bond to families and show a calm, intelligent disposition. However, the dogs may display hostility towards outsiders and they are not suitable companion dogs for urban areas due to their large size and need for open space.

Dog Training

Maremma Sheepdog used as LGDs are introduced to sheep flocks as puppies so they bond to the sheep. Some ranchers place Maremma puppies as young as 3-4 weeks old with young lambs though beginning this bonding process at 7-8 weeks is more typical. Although it is easiest to bond Maremma to sheep and goats, cattle ranchers have found that the dogs will bond with cows and Maremma are increasingly used to protect range cattle.

Recently in Warrnambool, Australia, the world's first trial utilized a Maremma to guard the dwindling penguin population of Middle Island. While using Maremma to guard an endangered species is rare, Maremma along with other dog breeds of livestock guarding dogs are appreciated by environmentalists because they make it possible for livestock to coexist with endangered predators such as wolves and coyotes reducing their predation by 70% to 80% or more. National park authorities in Italy, the United States and Canada have promoted use of the Maremma Sheepdog, as well as other types of LGDs, to minimize conflict between endangered predator species and ranchers.

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