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Maremma Sheepdog Temperament

Understanding Livestock Guardian Behaviour

The maremma sheepdog displays a unique temperament. It is necessary to understand this well, in order to correctly evaluate your dogs behaviour, and know if he is showing correct or incorrect bonding and guarding behaviours. Sometimes I receive enquiries about patterns of behaviour, that are worrying owners, and sometimes these prove to be quite typical, even desirable behaviours.

Understanding the behaviour of the maremma sheepdog is the key to success in raising your puppy to be an effective livestock guardian, or to integrating more maremmas into your farming situation and dealing with issues that can arise with a pup that is maturing.

Please note that whatever you read here on the differences in behaviour traits that have been bred into these dogs THEY ARE STILL DOGS. The instinct to mate is as strong in the maremma as in any breed of dog and they will breed with other breeds of dogs. All responsible dog owners neuter their animals if they are not expressly planning a breeding program for them.

Please note when speaking about dogs in general in this website the terms 'he' and 'him' are used but are used to refer to both males or females unless the context indicates the subject is specifically male.

There are many other big white guardian dogs spread over Europe and whilst there are some differences between the breeds there are more similarities. This video shows some Pyrenees with their flocks in paddocks and helping shepherds move them along roadways.

Behaviour Characteristics of dogs and maremmas

To begin with we all know that different breeds of dogs look different to each other. Studies have shown conclusively that differences in the physical appearance of dogs is related to behaviours. Actually this has always been known, before modern deliberate research, but in a more 'gut feeling' type of way - breeders would choose to keep pups that 'looked' like their best dogs, expecting them to perform in a similar manner.

Maremmas have short thick muzzles, broad heads and floppy ears, giving a large puppy-like appearance that many people find quite endearing. The maremma will regard anything they guard as their 'livestock', be it animals, people or even crops and territories.

In studies at the School of Natural Science in Massachusetts during the 90's, Maremma pups were raised with Border Collie pups as though they were littermates. Time and again, as the pups grew and matured, the Maremma pups became aloof, solitary and clung to the livestock, whilst the Border Collie pups ran around together 'eyeing' the livestock and attempting to herd them. Maremma pups never develop 'the eye'.

These research projects are discussed in more depth in the research section.

These dogs are surely different from any other dogs, particularly different from all the sheepdogs that have been created by man, created to be a robot and receive instruction and training. The way in which these 'white sheepdogs' were and are used have taught him to look after himself, to use his initiative and his brain without waiting for the help of man.

This is one of the traits of the maremma that must be completely understood by anyone considering the maremma as a pet.

The maremma will want to guard and defend his family and his property.

One of the integral part of this guarding behaviour is BARKING.

Learn how to nurture your maremmas natural behaviour whilst raising your puppy

There are 3 critical parts to the behaviour patterns that have been bred into the maremma sheepdog that go together to create a fantastic guardian. Each are important and together form the unique behaviour that characterises all the livestock guardians of the world. Each large white guardian dog breed, and individual dogs within each breed, display some different physical characteristics and therefore have some differences in the guarding behaviour they display, whilst all having a common set of traits. From here you can learn to understand each of these characteristics and apply this knowledge to assisting your pup to grow into an effective livestock guardian for any situation.

This article is broken into topics for your convenience:

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

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