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What is a maremmano or maremma sheepdog?

Originating in Italy, these majestic dogs have been used as livestock guardians, primarily of goat and sheep herds for over two thousand years, a history that on its own commands a certain amount of attention.

The correct way to pronounce the name of the breed is shown phonetically as mar - EMM - ah. So there is a slight emphasis on the middle of the word, and you will notice that it is not a hard E as in sleep, but a soft E as in pen.

The correct Italian name is: Cane Da Pastore Maremmano Abruzzese. This is literally translated as "the dog of the shepherd of the Maremmano and Abruzzese regions". In most english speaking countries the dog is known as the Maremma Sheepdog. However this name can be misleading as 'sheepdog' brings the connotation of a dog that herds sheep. The maremma will NOT herd your flock, though they may be seen leading a flock to feeding areas, or the flock may run to the dog if they sense danger and then even follow the dog to a safe place. This behaviour is amazing to watch - seeing a herd of animals, naturally fearing dogs, run to their dog and follow his lead!

Throughout this web site you find the dog referred to as either the Maremma, or the Maremmano Abruzzese and you can consider them to be one and same dog..

These dogs are unique, but do share some characteristics with the other breeds that are classed

" Old World Breeds "
typcial maremma sheepdogs with their owner Katrina Jeffery

Italian shepherds have laid their very lives in these dogs hands, by having to sleep out in the wild, when needing to take their herds out for feeding. The lifestyle was wild and rugged, and the dogs have a disposition allowing them to seem quite oblivious to the harshest of weather conditions, whether the summer heat or the winter snow, and even today they retain their rustic character, requiring little food for their size and little training and supervision.

The predators were ominous and life-threatening to both shepherd and sheep alike, consisting mostly of wolves and European brown bears.

Now many people raise a viable question immediately upon being presented with the duties of the Maremma - "Since dogs themselves are predators, how can they be trusted to guard ? "

Perhaps the studies carried out at the School of Natural Science in Massachusetts have come up with the best explanation. The behaviour of animals is directly related to the way they are built. The most obvious example is that wings are for flying and feet for walking. Animal breeders select two animals with the characteristics they desire, breed them together and so strengthen these desirables. Now in the case of breeding Maremmani, the desirable is a dog with a strong instinct to guard, no instinct for herding, coupled with a physical size comparable to the predator at large. This breeding selection of course is not achieved within one or even two generations, but over more than two thousand years of such breeding selection the characteristics are well defined within the Maremmano Abruzzese.

You will find information here describing what the Maremmano is to look like and how the Maremmano is bred to behave. The combination of these two factors are what makes up 'BREED TYPE'

Type is not just physical conformation, nor is it just temperament conformation.

As you move through these pages, you will find answers to many questions that you may have come searching for. If you need a more active approach to learning about the Maremma, you may find it very helpful to subscribe to the Maremma Community (free) where you can talk to other Maremma owners around the world, ask questions and have them answered by people of varied experience and situations.

These pages are arranged according to topic as much as possible, since many of the topics are intertwined you will find links within the site to allow you to move around the site following threads, and each topic or article is broken into parts to allow you to find the specific information you need as quickly as possible.

Use the drop menus at the top of each page to move directly to what you need to know, or use the search box to quickly find information on this site using Google.

male maremma playing with his pups displaying the loving nature of these livestock guardian dogs

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