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AUSTRALIAN Breed Standard

Maremma Sheepdog

General Appearance:

The Maremma and Abruzzese shepherd dog is a large dog, strongly built of a rustic (hardy) appearance, at the same time majestic and really typical. On the whole, his shape, of average proportions, is that of a heavy dog, whose body is longer than the height at the withers; it is harmonious as to form (heterometric) and relatively harmonious in outline. (halloidism)

Important Proportions: the length of the head is four tenths of the height at the withers; the body length is greater than the height at the withers by one eighteenth. Depth of the body is slightly less than half the height at the withers. (For instance a dog of 68 cm, the depth is about 32 cm)

the maremma shown in the photo is typcial of both the points described in the breed standard, but just as importantly he is typical of the general appearance description

The maremma is a majestic, distinguished and sturdy dog with a very intelligent expression. Lack of substance is regarded very seriously in Italy; they should be large and majestic. It is considered to be much more important to preserve and maintain 'type', that is, be typical of the breed, than it is for the dog to be 'spectacular'.

The difference between dog and bitch should be very evident, and not only physically. The dogs are larger, tougher and have a large collar, like a lion's mane. They are more extrovert, stronger in temperament and become aggressive, particularly with dogs who invade their territory. The bitches, on the other hand, may be a few inches smaller, are more elegant and can be feline in their movements; they are much gentler and more diffident.

For his stature, this dog has only a moderate appetite. The maremma is an irregular feeder, is not a glutton and will never over-eat. His irregularity in feeding needs getting used to, and it is necessary to be sure that water is always available to him.


It is a shepherd dog used mainly for the protection of flocks and guarding property.

The maremma is essentially an outdoors animal. He is a calm dog, only barking if he sees something unusual, otherwise he will be lying in the shade of the house or in some cool place, sleeping or pretending to do so. Thus, even his calorific requirements are smaller than those of other breeds of the same weight.


His principal function as a guard and defence dog of flocks and property in general, shows itself in the manner in which he accomplishes these tasks, with perception, courage and decision. Although proud and not inclined to submission, he is also devoted to his master and his entourage.

Temperament in this breed is as important as its appearance, as dogs who have the wrong temperament can develop an unwanted aggressiveness, which, besides being a problem to the owner, can do much harm to the breed.

Head and Skull:

On the whole the head is large and flat, of conical shape, reminiscent of that of a polar bear.

the proportions and angles displayed in the head of this dog match the breed standards nicely Correct maremma heads this head shows excellent breadth, almond shaped eyes and good angles that are typical of the maremma sheepdog



is of great width with the sides of the skull slightly rounded; in profile it is also convex. The upper longitudinal axes of the skull and muzzle are slightly divergent from each other, which makes the profile of the head slightly convex. The eyebrows are moderately arched. The medial furrow is slight. The occipital crest is not accentuated.

this head displays too much difference from skull to muzzle although this may soften as this young dog matures

Left: too much angle and ears too long

Right:narrow skull, ears high set

notice how close together the ears are at the skull of this dog, this is caused both by the skull being too narrow and the ears being set a little too high
Group of maremmas displaying typical heads whilst also displaying a range of angle differences a group of 5 maremmas with head excellence rating from left to right of: 1 excellent typical head, 2 good female head (ears held back in photo don't do justice), 3 goog-excellent head, 4 square head with high ear attachment, 5 slightly domed head with rosette ears, but otherwise good head



should not be pronounced. The depression is only slight and the angle is always very open


rather large, in line with the muzzle, with large, well-opened, moist and cool nostrils, and coloured black. In profile must not protrude beyond the front margin of the lips.


its length is one tenth less than that of the skull. Its depth, measured at the level of the corners of the lips, must equal half its length. Its width decreases progressively with the convergence of the sides of the muzzle towards the front. It is slightlly chiselled beneath the eyes.

the angles here are all wrong - the muzzle is fine and ear set too high ruining expression This first dog has a very narrow muzzle this dog displays incorrect angle of the muzzle leaving the skull not giving enough definition and causing a flat look to the face These 2 dogs have not enough stop lack of a good stop takes away the definition between the skull and the muzzle detracting from correct facial expression in this dog



Seen from the front, the upper lips are shaped like a semi-circle of very small radius at the lower edge of their junction point. The lips, being only silghtly developed, barely cover the teeth, and therefore the corner of the lips is only lightly accentuated. Consequently, the lower side profile is defined by the lips only at the front part; in its rear part it is defined by the lower jaw and the corner of the lips. The rims of the lips are black.


look strong and are normally developed.


moderately visible.

The head of the maremma should be immediately recognisable from the heads of similar breeds, such as the Kuvasz or the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, by its typical shape and expression.

Its size should be in proportion to the body, its shape large and conical; shaped like a blunt wedge and reminiscent of the head of the Polar bear, particularly about the muzzle. The conical shape means that even the sides of the muzzle must not be parallel, but taper towards the nose.


Not large in relation to the size of the dog; the iris is of an ochre colour, or chestnut brown. The eye, in lateral position, is neither deep set nor protruding. Lively and attentive expression. Eyelid opening is almond shaped, with black eyelid rims.

There is never enough importance given to the eye in this breed. The eyes should be almond shaped, neither too large nor too small and not too deeply set. The dog should have the "liquid" and "smiling" expression which gives great joy to all who love the breed.

The image below cannot be said to produce a liquid, smiling expression

this maremma has a domed skull, with very round eyes, large ears and a narrow muzzle - whilst this is certainly a maremma the difference to photos of correct dogs is marked

Set very high over the zygomatic arches, they hang down but are very mobile. Triangular shape (in a V), their extremities form a narrow point, never rounded; they are small in relation to the size of the dog. For a medium size dog their length must not go beyond 12 cm. The ear leather is of medium width. Cropped ears are tolerated only in dogs really used as herd dogs (NOT legal in Australia)


Teeth are white, strong, complete and with a scissor bite. Anything other than a scissor bite is a fault, and any deviation from the correct bite is regarded seriously.


the eyes of this maremma are too round rather than almond shaped round eyes
correct eyes the almond shaped eye of the maremma is a critical point in obtaining the melting expression this breed is loved for
the ears on this young maremma are far too long to fit the standard ears too long
correct ear size notice that the ear on this dog is only just down to the level of his eye - compare this with the photo of the long ear previous
example of what to look for in your maremmas mouth, or for that matter the  mouth of any dog that should have a scissor bite and compare to this great set of teeth scissor bite


Strong, of medium length, devoid of dewlap, with thick hair that forms a collar or mane.


Straight limbs when viewed from the front and side; forequarters well balanced in relation to the body, and the various parts of the forequarters are well proportioned to each other


long, sloping, with powerful muscles. Must be really free in movement. In length measures about one quarter of the height at the withers. Its angulation below the horizontal is from 50 - 60 degrees.


normally close to the chest, they are covered with a soft, loose skin. Their position must be parallel to the median plane of the body; the point of the elbow must be on an imaginary vertical plane from the shoulder blade. The angle formed by the junction of the humerous and the radius varies between 145 and 150 degrees.


straight and vertical, heavily boned. Its length is slightly more than the length of the upperarm, whilst being a little less than a third of the height at the withers. The front leg from the ground to elbow measures 53% of the height at the withers.

angulation of the shoulder is critical for free movement and is particularly important in a working dog that may need to cover a lot of farm area, at speed when a threat is imminent for many years of their lives. This dog shows straight shoulders that do not provide free movement

Both these shoulders are too straight, and will not allow correct free movement - note the difference in the angles shown in red

again you can see incorrect angles on this shoulder preventing correct free movement

Now correct legs, with the angles shown in red. Compare this photo to the angles drawing

even without the angle planes marked on this image you can see the difference in the set of the shoulder and therefore the placement of the leg well under the shoulder to allow free movement for the dog


Pastern joint (wrist or carpus)

extends the vertical line of the forearm. Strong, clean, smooth and of good thickness; the pistiform bone at its back edge is clearly visible.

Pastern (metacarpus)

its length must never be less than one sixth of the foreleg measured from ground to elbow. It is lean with a minimum of sub-cutaneous tissue. Seen from the side, slopes slightly towards the front.



Solidly constructed, its length (measured from point of shoulder to buttock) is one eighteenth greater than the height at the withers.


straight from behind the withers to the rump where it becomes somewhat sloping.

this dog exhibits a lovely straight topling sloping off correctly at the rump straight toplines lovely topline - this young bitch at the time of this photo also has lost all her winter coat in the australian heat which allows us to see her body structure very clearly this maremma has a good straight topline and a strong body overall
the very long body, incorrect leg angles and high rump give this unfortunate maremma a sausage dog apprearance and movement that are not at all typcial of livestock guardians and never a desirable body shape to breed from there are so many points to notice on this dog - begin with the hind feet and travel up - the feet are splayed, the legs are straight instead of angulated and this causes many hip problems (this dog has canine hip dysplasia) and is causing the back to have an arched appearance - this dog not only has poor movement but also pain incorrect toplines angulation of the hindlegs is critical to providing a straight and strong topline that will last a large dog a lifetime without pain, injury or reduction of movement



slightly above the topline; wide because of the distance separating the shoulder blades.


straight in profile, length is about 32% of the height at the withers. The loin which merges perfectly with the topline has a slightly curved profile with well developed muscles. The length of the loin is one fifth of the height at the withers, and its width is nearly equal to its length.


Wide, strong and well muscled. Its slope from the hip to the tail set is 20 degrees, increasing to 30 degrees and more if we refer to the ileum-ischium line; that is why the rump of the Maremma and Abruzzese shepherd dog must be qualified as sloping.


Ample, descending to the level of the elbows, deep and well rounded at mid-height. Its circumference must be one quarter greater than the height at the withers; its maximum width at mid-height must be at least 32% of the height at the withers, then decreases progressively downwards, whilst retaining a good width in the sternal region.


Its lower line, from the sternum forward, rises very slightly toward the flanks, in such a way that the belly is slightly drawn up.


Seen as a whole: Limbs are straight when seen from behind. The general aspect is in proportion with the body, and the various parts of the hindquarters are in harmony with each other.

Upper Thigh

Long, wide with prominent muscles and the rear edge slightly convex. Its width, measured from edge to edge, is three quarters of its length. It is slightly angulated from top to bottom and rear to front; the angle of the femur with the hip-bone is about 100 degrees.

Lower Thigh

Its length which is a little shorter than the upper thigh, is 32.5% of the height at the withers. Its angulation below the horizontal is about 60 degrees. Strong bone, muscles lean and the groove in the leg well marked.


Set perfectly in the vertical line of the hind leg, turns neither in nor out. The angle of the femur and tibia is rather open and varies between 135 and 140 degrees.

Hock Joint

Quite thick, with broad lateral faces. The angle varies between 140 and 150 degrees.

Rear Pastern (metatarsal)

Strong, lean and broad. Its length is 31% of the height at the withers. Dewclaws must be removed.



Large of roundish shape, well closed toes, covered with short, thick hair; nails preferably black; chestnut colour is tolerated.


Like the front feet but more oval.


Low set due to the sloping rump, in normal stance reaching below the level of the hock. Hanging down when the dog is stationary; carried level with back line with a rather strongly hooked tip when the dog is moving. Well furnished with dense hair without fringes.

The tail is set low, and when excited, carried straight out with onlly a slight curve at the end. Very cheerful dogs carry their tails in a slight upwards curl. A very bad fault is the so-called "spitz tail", which is generally caused by an incorrect croup.

The first third of the tail, starting from its insertion in the rump, should never be carried above the level of the back, even if the last part may be waving gayly during movement.

maremmas may raise their tails when excited or agitated but the tail should never curl over the rump and certainly not over the back this yound dog has poor pelvic development affecting the carriage of his tail various types of incorrect tails this tail is classed as a spitz tail - this tail never drops down straight behind the dog but is permanently up over the rump
examples of correct tails this dog displays a beautiful strong back - her hind leg angulation does not look as good as it could as she is standing on a slight incline and the long grass hides part o the view - notice the lovely depth of thorax visible here also correct insertion and carriage of the tail in a mature maremma sheepdog again this photos displays a dog with good insertion of the tail into a rump with correctly sloping angles



Walk and extended trot.

Movement is very free, but not like the German Shepherd as it si less angulated behind. maremmas are fast and as agile as any cat. They are strong dogs but they must maintain agility to be typical of the breed. This fact must be strongly emphasised as if the dogs become too heavy and too large they will lose their agility. On the other hand they must maintain their excellent bone, strength and size, also without losing their agility.

Correct maremma gait this young pup already shows great promise in her movement that even at this age is strong, purposeful and balanced lovely st riding movement displayed by this dog, movement is even and long




Tight on all parts of the body; rather thick. Black pigmentation of the mucous membranes, eyelids and the central and toe pads.

Nature of Coat

Very well furnished. Hair long, rather harsh to the touch, closer to straight horse hair; flat to the body; slight wave is tolerated. The coat forms a rich collar around the neck and feathering of limited length on the edge of the hindquarters. It is short on the muzzle, skull, ears and front edge of the limbs. On the body it reaches 8 cm (3 ins). The undercoat is only abundant in winter.


Solid white. Shades of ivory, pale orange or lemon are tolerated but only if not excessive.

The dogs spend a lot of time cleaning their coats, like cats, and, although the coat is white, it does not need any special care. It sheds its coat twice a year after losing all the dead hair, which becomes yellowish, just like wool. When it rains and the dogs are wet, the coat becomes the colour of the earth, but as soon as it dries it becomse whiter than it was before


MALES: 77 - 99lbs, 35 - 45kg's
FEMALES: 66 - 88lbs, 30 - 40kg's
MALES: 65 - 73 cm 25.5 - 29 inches
FEMALES : 60 - 68 cm 23.5 - 26.5 inches
this drawing of the outline of a maremma with the direction for measuring and working out angle will greatly help you develop an 'eye' for correctness when looking at maremmas

This drawing illustrates how to measure the lengths described in the standards, and how to measure the angles. Body length is measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the hip. Height is measured at the foreleg to the top of the shoulder. Angulation of the legs is demonstrated here well, as are the needed proportions.

Compare this drawing now with the various photos shown throughout the standards to see how many of the dogs photographed vary from the ideal.

You can download a printable version of this drawing then measure your dog and do the math! You will find once you have actually measured a number of dogs you will develop an 'eye' for this and won't always need to do exact measuring. It is probably easiest to start with to measure your dog directly but you can use a good photo to measure on also.

VIDEO explaining the dog's anatomical structure

This video will walk you through the diagram above explaining the dog's anatomy.

notice when you look at the measuring lengths and angles image how the angles on this dog differ from the ideal in both the hip and shoulder areaVery incorrect leg angles, & toplinenow compare the angles in this photo to the measuring length and angles image and you get a good picture of what this really looks like on a real dogCorrect leg angles

the incorrect angulation in the shoulders of this dog is causing the shoulder to be too straight and therefore not bearing the load wellIncorrect angles giving a straight shoulder
now it is easy to see the difference in the stance of this dog who displays excellent shoulder angulation - this dogs legs are well under the centre of his chest allowing for correct support of a large heavy bodyCorrect shoulder angles



Any departure from the foregoing constitutes a fault which when judging must be penalised according to its seriousness and its extent. The same conditions apply to dogs which pace very often and dogs whose dewclaws have not been removed.

Eliminating Faults

Head: The axes of the skull and foreface are convergent

Mouth: Serious and disfiguring prognathism (undershot if it harms the general appearance of the muzzle; overshot if the result of bad direction of the teeth).

Tail: Rolled over the back.

Gait: Continual pacing.

Size: Above or below the limits fixed by the Standard.

Disqualifying Faults

Nose: Completely depigmented.

Muzzle: Definitely convex or concave.

Eyes: Moderate or bilateral depigmentation of the eyelids. Wall-eyed. Cross-eyed.

Mouth: Overshot (when caused by lack of length of the underjaw).

Tail: Tailless or short tail, whether congenital or docked.

Coat: Curly. Colour: Isabella coat; well defined patches of Isabella or ivory colour. Black shadings.

NOTE: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Please use the submit an article link below if you have an electronic copy of the maremma breed standard for your country so that it can be included on this site as we would love to include the standards for every country.

Italian Breed Standard

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

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