Other names: Maremma , Italian Shepherd
The Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog (Maremma) is an Italian breed of large white dogs, bred specifically for guarding and driving sheep. All individuals are distinguished by an innate distrust of strangers, as well as the ability to independently analyze the situation and make decisions.
- Characteristics of Maremma Abruzzo Sheepdog (Cane da pastore maremmano abruzzese) – Characteristics
- Basic moments
- History of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog breed
- Video: Maremma Abruzzo Sheepdog
- Breed standard for the Maremma-Abruzzo Shepherd Dog
- The character of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog
- Education and training
- Maintenance and care
- Health and disease of the maremma
- How to choose a puppy
- The price of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog
Characteristics of Maremma Abruzzo Sheepdog (Cane da pastore maremmano abruzzese) – Characteristics
|Country of origin||Italy|
|FCI breed group||Herding and cattle dogs other than Swiss cattle dogs|
- The breed is considered rare and not common everywhere. Most of all, the maremma is appreciated by farmers in Italy, the USA, Australia and Canada.
- The independent nature of the animals is the result of many years of working breeding with minimal contact with humans.
- In Australia, since 2006, the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdogs have been involved in the protection of the population of blue penguins and wombats.
- You should not start a maremma if your house is constantly open for big noisy companies and new acquaintances. Representatives of this family do not favor strangers, taking them for a potential threat.
- Shepherd dogs are not hyperactive and do not need intense sports activities, but it is difficult for them to adapt to life in an apartment.
- The breed is not created for official work and complete submission: the Maremma-Abruzzo shepherd dogs perceive the owner as an equal companion, whose opinion is not always worth listening to.
- Maremmas have a very developed craving for “guardian” activities, therefore, in the absence of sheep, the dog guards children, poultry and even small decorative pets.
- The snow-white coat of the Maremma-Abruzzo Shepherd Dog almost does not smell like a dog, even if it gets wet. The exception is neglected, sickly individuals.
- There are 6 to 9 puppies in a Maremma litter.
The Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog is a responsible guardian and protector who easily gets along with any representatives of the fauna, but is extremely distrustful of two-legged strangers who set foot on his territory. Only children are able to melt the ice in the heart of the maremma, whom she willingly trusts, forgiving the most annoying pranks. These harsh “blonds” also build relationships with the owner not according to the classic scenario for shepherd dogs. The owner for the dog is a friend and companion, but by no means an object of worship, whose requirements must be fulfilled with lightning speed. The family film “The Weird” (2015) brought additional fame to the breed.
History of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog breed
The Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog got its name due to two historical regions of Italy – Maremma and Abruzzo. For a long time, the regions fought among themselves for the right to be considered the birthplace of dogs. But since the conflict dragged on, and there was no preponderance in any of the parties, the cynologists had to compromise and enter both areas into the name of the breed. As for the first mention of the white-haired shepherd giants, they are easy to find in the writings of the ancient Roman authors Rutilius Palladius and Lucius Columella. Describing the features of farming in the territories of the Eternal City, both researchers noted white dogs, deftly managing herding and driving sheep.
Sculptures and frescoes depicting the first maremmas also survive. You can appreciate the appearance of the ancestors of today’s sheepdogs in the Archaeological Museum of Capua, the British Museum (look for a figure with the name Jennings Dog / Duncombe Dog), the church of Santa Maria de Novella in Florence, and the temple of San Francesco in Amatrice. If you happen to visit an exhibition of paintings from the Vatican Pinacoteca, be sure to look for the painting “Nativity” by the medieval painter Mariotto di Nardo – the Maremmo-Abruzzo shepherd is depicted very realistically on it.
Registration of the breed in studbooks began in 1898 – at the time of the procedure, documents were issued to only 4 individuals. In 1924, the animals received their first appearance standard, compiled by Giuseppe Solaro and Luigi Groppi, but later, until 1940, shepherd dogs were no longer involved in registration. It is worth paying attention to the fact that until the middle of the 20th century, dogs from the Maremma and dogs from Abruzzo were positioned as two independent breeds. This was explained by the fact that historically individuals from these regions very rarely contacted each other, developing in isolation. Mixing of phenotypes occurred only during the transhumance of cattle across the country – shepherd dogs accompanied sheep, entered into relations with dogs from other regions and produced mestizo puppies along the way.
Video: Maremma Abruzzo Sheepdog
Breed standard for the Maremma-Abruzzo Shepherd Dog
Maremma is a solid, but by no means overweight “blond”, inspiring respect with its impressive noble appearance. External nervousness and feigned suspicion are not inherent in the breed, therefore the expression of the muzzle in shepherd dogs is more concentrated and attentive than stern. The physique of the representatives of this family is moderately stretched, but at the same time balanced. Males are noticeably larger and heavier than females. The standard height of a thoroughbred “boy” is 65-73 cm, weight is 35-45 kg. “Girls” weigh 30-40 kg with a height of 60-68 cm.
The shape of the skull of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog resembles a polar bear. The head itself is in the form of a cone, large, without relief outlines. Rounded cheekbones stand out well on a wide skull. The divergence of the line of the head from the upper line of the muzzle is noticeable, forming a convex profile pattern. The occiput and arches of the eyebrows are clearly marked. The frontal furrow, on the contrary, is strongly smoothed. Stop implicit. The muzzle is shorter than the skull by about ⅒.
Jaws, lips, teeth
Impressive jaws with massive, evenly set incisors. The teeth are white, healthy, in the bow forming the correct bite-scissors. The lips of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog are devoid of the fleshiness characteristic of many large breeds, therefore they barely cover the teeth. As a result: if you examine an animal with a closed mouth in profile, only the angular part of the lips, painted in a rich black tone, will be noticeable.
With more than impressive dimensions, the maremma has small eyes. The shade of the iris is usually ocher or chestnut blue. The eyeballs themselves do not differ in bulge, but a deep landing is also not typical for them. Black-lined eyelids have an elegant almond-shaped slit. The look of the breed is smart, insightful.
The ear cloth of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog is characterized by excellent mobility and hanging position. The ears are set above the cheekbones, that is, very high. The size of the ear cloth is small, the shape is v-shaped, with a pointed tip. The length of the ear does not exceed 12 cm. An important nuance: today’s maremmas do not stop their ears. An exception is individuals who continue to carry out shepherd service.
A large black lobe with wide nostrils should not extend beyond the front edges of the lips.
In a purebred shepherd, the neck is always ⅕ shorter than the head. The neck itself is thick, without dewlap, remarkably muscled and forming an arched curve at the top. This part of the body is pubescent very abundantly, as a result of which the hair closer to the chest forms a rich collar.
The body is strong, slightly elongated. The rounded, tapering downward chest descends to the elbow joints. The back on the segment from the wide, raised withers to the croup is straight, then with a slight slope. The lumbar part is shortened and does not protrude beyond the upper dorsal line. The croup is powerful, with a good slope: the angle of inclination in the area from the base of the tail to the thigh is 20 °. The bottom line is arched with a tucked up belly.
The rear and front legs of the Shepherd Dog are in balance with the body and have an almost straight set. The scapular areas have a developed muscle mass and elongated contours, the shoulders stand at an inclination of 50-60 ° and are closely pressed against the sides. The forearms are longer than the shoulders and are located almost vertically, the metacarpal joints are thickened, with a clearly defined protrusion of the pisiform bones, the size of the pastern is necessarily ⅙ the length of the front leg.
In the Maremma-Abruzzo shepherd dog, the hips are tilted (direction from top to bottom). The tibia is shorter than the femur, but with strong bones and dry muscles. The joints of the hocks are thick and wide. Metatarsus strong, dry type, always without dewclaws. The paws of the dog are rounded, the fingers are closed, the claws are black. A less preferred option is chestnut claws.
Since the croup of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog is characterized by a strong slope, the base of the tail of the dog has a low fit. At rest, the tip of the tail hangs below the level of the hocks. In a moving shepherd dog, the tail is raised no higher than the upper back, while the tip is noticeably curved.
The dog of the maremma resembles a horse’s mane. The hair is long (up to 8 cm), rather hard, abundant and uniform in all parts of the body. It is desirable to have a collar on the chest and feathering on the hind legs. Not considered a defect and a slight waviness of the coat. On the head, muzzle, front of the paws and ears, the hair is very short. In winter, a thick undercoat grows on the body, which disappears by summer.
The ideal Maremma is a white-coated dog. It is undesirable, but it is permissible to have areas on the body painted in ivory tone, or in light red and yellowish-lemon colors.
- Depigmented nose.
- Aggression. Unreasonable cowardice.
- The muzzle is convex or concave.
- Pronounced jaw undershot.
- Strabismus, unevenly stained iris, eyelids without pigment.
- Short or completely absent tail.
- Curly wool.
- Solid isabella color, as well as the presence of spots of this shade and black hairs.
The character of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog
Do not confuse the security activities of maremmas with the working equipment of a wolfhound. Historically, the breed was bred to scare off enemies from the herd – there was never any talk of engaging in a fight with predators and thieves who decided to feast on free lamb. Usually the dogs worked in a group: each participant in the action had his own observation post, which helped to repel the attack of the enemy in a timely manner. Modern Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdogs have retained the watchdog instincts of their ancestors, which could not but leave an imprint on their character.
All representatives of the family of today’s maremmas are serious and proud creatures who periodically have problems with subordination. It cannot be said that these “Italians” are the most difficult to educate shepherd dogs, just unconditional submission is not their strong point. The dog considers the person in general and the owner in particular equal to itself, therefore, all attempts to “suppress” the animal with its authority can be considered a deliberate failure.
The Maremma-Abruzzo Shepherd Dogs are condescending only to children, patiently enduring their strokes and suffocating hugs. True, such benevolence does not apply to an unfamiliar baby, so if friends with a not particularly well-mannered child visit you, it is better to isolate the dog – the maremma may react to the pranks of someone else’s offspring in an unexpected way.
The breed has a pretty good memory, reinforced by selectivity in communication. Usually the dog peacefully greets guests who have previously appeared on the threshold of the house and are remembered for their exemplary behavior. Strangers and family friends who previously provoked the pet into a conflict, the animal suspects of all mortal sins and scans with a pointedly hostile look.
Maremmas do not have hunting habits as such, so the breed is not dangerous for other domestic animals. Moreover, existence side by side with other representatives of the fauna awakens ancient instincts in the sheepdog. As a result: the maremma begins to “graze” chickens, ducks, cows and in general any living creature up to penguins.
Education and training
The slight detachment of behavior and unwillingness to blindly follow the owner of the maremma were deliberately formed. Historically, contact between puppy and owner has been kept to a minimum, and individuals that have become friendly with humans have often been culled. At a month and a half, the Maremmas were already planted in a pen with sheep, so that they learned to protect their “flock” and weaned from communicating with the owner. This helped to educate the shepherd dogs responsible, capable of independent decision-making defenders, but not the most obedient servants.
There is an opinion that the Maremma-Abruzzo Shepherd Dogs, in principle, are not aimed at memorizing commands, so if the pet manages to develop adequate behavior for the demands of “Come to me!” and “Sit!”, this is already a great achievement. In fact, everything is not so sad. Yes, maremmas are not servicemen and, facing the choice of protecting the territory or rushing after a stick thrown by the owner, they will always choose the first option. However, it is realistic to train them. In particular, with a six-month-old puppy, you can easily complete the OKD course. The training methodology is the same as for all shepherd dogs – maremmas do not need exceptions and indulgences.
A very important nuance is punishment. No physical impact should be exerted, no matter how the puppy provokes. And the point here is not in the fine mental organization of the dog. It’s just that the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog will never forgive you for a blow and will cease to recognize your authority after the first execution. The most difficult period in the life of every owner of a maremma dog is the age of 7-9 months. This is the period of puberty, when the puppy grows up and begins to encroach on the title of head of the house.
You will have to deal with a grown-up bully more strictly, but without assault. A short leash is effective for disciplining a pet. Training at this time is not canceled, but carried out in the standard mode, but with more stringent requirements. Another “cure” for disobedience is a demonstration of physical superiority. This approach is used only in a situation where the dog calls the owner to an open confrontation. Usually, to sober up a presumptuous animal, a push in the chest (not to be confused with a blow) or a sharp jerk of the leash is enough.
In articles on breed training, inexperienced owners are strongly advised to use the services of a professional dog handler. However, do not rush to blindly follow the recommendations: the pro maremma, of course, will teach, but she will obey, basically, him, and not you. If you want to get a well-mannered and adequate dog, train it yourself, and take your pet to classes with a cynologist a couple of times a week to get useful advice and correct mistakes.
Maintenance and care
The Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog is an open-air cage dog. It is also possible to meet representatives of the breed who have managed to get used to living in a city apartment, but it is important to understand that in such cases, animals simply adapt to the situation. There is no question of any full-fledged life in cramped conditions.
Ideal when the pet can move freely from home to yard and back. Maremmas are also not created for life on a chain: such restrictions break the psyche of a shepherd dog, turning it into an embittered and uncontrollable creature. The breed does not need intense physical activity, but twice a day an adult dog needs to discharge himself on a walk. Maremma is supposed to be walked for 1.5-2 hours, and in any weather, so for inactive owners, a shepherd dog from Abruzzo is not the most suitable option.
The coat of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog is considered self-cleaning. This means that the dog is able to get dirty, but this condition will not radically affect its exterior. Dirt sticks to maremmas in rainy weather, while only the dog gets wet, and the undercoat remains dry and clean in any case. The coat of the breed does not stray into mats either, if the dog is healthy and cared for at least minimally.
Shepherd males molt once a year, with females such transformations can occur more often, especially during the gestation and birth of puppies. Many breeders recommend bathing the maremma at the very beginning of the molt – this speeds up the process of changing the coat. In other cases, it is better to replace bathing with a systematic dry or wet brushing – in the period between molts, the hair of the Maremma-Abruzzo shepherd dogs almost does not fall out.
Puppies should be brushed more frequently, ideally daily. In order for junior wool to be replaced with adult wool faster, you need to purchase a slicker. Maremma babies do not favor this device, but with regular use they quickly get used to endure it. Claws for puppies are cut every two weeks, for adults – once a month. Systematic hygiene of the ears and eyes of the maremma is also required. No specific skills are required for this. From the corners of the eyelids, dust lumps should be removed daily with a damp cloth, and the ears should be cleaned once a week with a cloth moistened with a special lotion.
The breed is suitable for a natural diet, which should be based on any lean meat and offal. Heat treatment of meat is not required, since raw animal protein is healthier for shepherd dogs. You can supplement the menu for maremma with frozen boneless sea fish, low-fat cottage cheese and yogurt. An egg can be given no more than 1-2 times a week. Be sure to make shavings for your pet from raw fruits and vegetables – apples, pumpkins, carrots, zucchini. Such salads can be dressed with sour cream, unrefined sunflower oil or fish oil. For cereals with meat, it is better to use buckwheat, rice and oatmeal.
A bowl of water must be freely available, while a bowl with lunch and dinner is given to the pet for a strictly defined time. If the dog does not want to finish eating the portion, the food is removed. This approach allows you to discipline the animal and quickly accustom it to the regime. From 1.5 to 2 months, puppies of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog are fed six times a day. From 2 to 3 months – five times a day. By 3 months, the number of feedings is recommended to be reduced to four per day. From 4 to 7 months, the maremma is fed three times a day. An 8-month-old puppy is considered an adult, so his bowl is filled with food only twice a day.
Important: do not be impressed by the impressive size of the breed and do not try to increase the standard portion of food – the shepherd should not get fat and spread out in breadth, which will create additional problems for the joints.
Health and disease of the maremma
With proper care, Maremma-Abruzzo Shepherd Dogs live up to 12 years and are distinguished by good health. At the same time, the breed has an increased sensitivity to anesthetics, which complicates many veterinary procedures, including operations. Like most large breeds, maremmas also have joint problems. In particular, animals can develop hip dysplasia, diaphyseal aplasia, and dislocation of the patella.
How to choose a puppy
- If you do not plan to grow a working shepherd dog from the maremma to protect livestock and property, look for breeders who breed exhibition and domestic lines of the breed. Their wards are more focused on contact with a person and less suspicious of others.
- A good maremma puppy is a brave puppy! If at the entrance to the nursery a four-legged shaggy ball barked at you, you can be sure that in the future a brutal and stern watchman will grow out of it.
- It is undesirable to take a pair of same-sex puppies: both in work and in everyday life, males and females of the Maremma get along better with representatives of the opposite sex.
- Assess the living conditions of puppies in the kennel: dogs should not be locked up and afraid of people. An unpleasant smell in the room where the animals live also does not characterize the breeder in the best way.
- Having litter breeders with test results for genetic joint dysplasia would be a great advantage.
- Always check the age of the manufacturers. Keep in mind that Maremma Abruzzo Shepherd females are allowed to be bred from 18 months of age and end their breeding “career” by 8 years of age.
- Find out from the seller what is the number of puppies per year. Ideally, if the maremma brings offspring once every 12 months. In some cases, two litters per year are allowed – the FCI no longer registers more.
The price of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog
You need to buy an animal in monobreed nurseries officially registered by the FCI (“Svet Posada”, “White Guard” and others). The cost of a promising maremma puppy ranges from 35,000 to 50,000 rubles. Individuals from American breed lines are considered a good acquisition. The average cost of a baby Maremma-Abruzzo Shepherd Dog in the USA is 1200-2500 dollars, and the lower price bar is relevant only for pet-class animals that will not be able to participate in breeding.