This article is a tribute to Franca Simondetti
who was tragically killed January 28, 1998, in a road accident in Italy.
From my personal contacts with Franca in her last few years, I feel this
article is one of her best overviews of these marvellous dogs.
The maremma world will feel her loss for
a long time to come.
Franca was also world famous for her Cocker
The breed is over 2000 years old, and
when I was asked to speak about it I was a little afraid to touch on such
important subject. Many people are surely more knowledgeable than I am
having written a great deal about the origins of this lovely breed. I
will only try to say, in a few lines, that which refers to the most reliable
theories. In fact the opinion on the breeds origins, or rather the origins
of all white sheepdogs, are several and different. Some people believe
they arrived in Europe following the Tartars, others that they followed
the Phoenicians. or followed the Greek colonisers in the Mediterranean,
and another that they followed the Romans returning from expeditions in
Asia. What is certain is that several breeds such as our Maremmas, the
Kuvasz from Hungary, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog in France, the Tartra in
Poland and the Slovian Chuak in Czechoslovakia, had common origins and
characteristics. They are all white and similar in size. All have 'closed
temperament' and are semi- domestic. The similarities of these dogs obviously
came about because they were used for the same purpose which was guarding
and defence of the herd, this since the most ancient times. The most common
factor however is that they have all come from Asia, following shepherds,
moving from region to region. Finding good grazing for the sheep. The
differences in climate and land situations of these chosen parts gave
to each group of dogs slightly different characteristics. These characteristics
are what distinguishes the different breeds and fixes their type. They
all maintain however, certain characteristics such as colour and the strong
rough physique plus their temperament, all these are absolutely untouched.
Now why white in colour?
Recordings in the first century says that the sheep dog must be white,
the reason being that at dawn the wolf will come to the herd and the dog
will fight the wolf in defence of the sheep, the shepherd will then wish
to help the dog but he must not be misled into harming the dog instead
of the wolf. The dogs are strong and rustic because they live in the cold
and heat, rain or snow, in fact in all types of conditions, but always
with the sheep and the-shepherds. The shepherds do not spend time on any
special feeding for their dogs.
This article has been broken down into sections for your convenience