We choose the Maremma for our homestead because this breed does well on smaller farms and stick with their flocks and assigned animals. Their guarding range is about one mile when compared to the larger breed The Great Pyrenees that will guard ranges of about 5 miles. Maremma will wander if not trained properly at an early age on a fenced property. We have two guardians for an active homestead with 30-50 animals on 12.5 acres. We have utilized an underwire fence at the front of the property in the past. We changed to an above ground electric fence due to hunting dogs causing our Maremma to expand their territory outside the underground fence. The Maremma instinct to guard causes them to expand their territory when needed and they will cross the underwire or unfenced property to do so. Once trained our dogs have been very respectful of the homestead boundaries. There are 7 separated pastures or yard areas on our farm. The dogs travel throughout the area freely and never enter the human dwelling unless there is a medical concern.
MAREMMA SHEEPDOG DOG BREED
The Maremma Sheepdog is a working breed, originally from central Italy. This breed was designed to be a livestock guardian dog and will protect herds and flocks alike. They can become excellent guardians of poultry with the owners close monitoring during puppy age and some extra training or retraining around adolescence while they mature. Young Maremma seem to find poultry quite amusing during their adolescence (10 months-18 months depending on dog and environment). During this time they need extra attention around poultry and re-training much like human teenagers. Our Maremma have killed a few chickens during this time of growth. They may be playing chase and are too big to not injure the poultry during the game. Some seem to want to mother the chicken and lick and hold them for way too long. Once over this teen time they treat poultry like any other stock. Cable training is great for Maremma’s and poultry.
Height: 24-29 inches Weight: 65-100 pounds Lifespan: 11-13 years
The Maremma Sheepdog is considered a large dog breed. This breed is very self-conscious and has a striking appearance. Comparable Breed: Great Pyrenees, Kuvasz and Akbash. The Maremma appears quite large but is actually a tall thin and light majestic creature. They run with great speed and agility as a team taking down predators.
Maremma Sheepdogs are strictly working dogs, they are not suitable to be family pets. Over recent years they have been used as companion dogs. Maremma need two years of training to become independant companion dogs. Their coat is not house friendly and was made for the outdoors and harsh weather. They also need daily running exercise to stay healthy. These dogs do not play like most dogs with balls and simple commands. Their play time mostly consist of practice predator defense trials with another Maremma or LGD. Smart and independent, this breed is extremely adept at protecting farms, herds, flocks and people. They will show you what they need and want to please their owner as long as they are able to protect their stock. The Maremma Sheepdog gets along well with non LGD dogs and other pets on the property they guard. Also, they are very attentive and affectionate to children.
This dog is extremely vigilant and prone to excessive barking as it is their primary defense over their territory. Ultimately, the Maremma Sheepdog is authentic, loyal and devoted.
Coat & Grooming:
They have a two-layered coat. While the outer layer is long, thick, coarse and slightly wavy, the undercoat is soft and dense. I have heard you can use the undercoat for a natural fiber to spin and use as a yarn like cashmere. The Maremma Sheepdog’s coat perfectly protects against adverse weather conditions. The dog sheds profusely in the spring and some in the fall. The dog appreciates grooming thoroughly during the shedding season though it is not always necessary. Matting is possible if the environment does not have regular wind and weather changes. Our Maremma occasionally get mats behind the ear during shedding times. Maremma Sheepdogs do not tolerate too hot climates without some shelter and water to cool themselves during summer heat. They also prefer to claim their own shelter. Many elaborate shelters may be turned down by a Maremma trying to meet their personal guarding requirements. As landscapes and roles change their shelter locations change. When our female is whelping and nursing guardian roles and shelter areas change almost daily on our farm.
A Maremma’s fur is developed according to genetics, health and environmental needs. I have noticed through photographs that Dogs in very cold regions seem to have heavier coats while those in warmer regions tend to have lighter coats during the same months. I am not sure if this is scientifically backed it is just something I have noticed over the years. All Maremma have a winter and summer coat. It is imperative that appropriate care (water, shelter, fans etc.) is given during hot months due to their long haired coats. If a maremma’s coat looks dull the dog might need a supplement. Raw eggs have done well for our Maremma”s coat issues. There are products like vitamin E and Coconut oil that are recommended. Always consider modifying diet if a dog has health issues even just a dull coat.
The Maremma Sheepdog has a life expectancy of 11 to 13 years. They are a large breed and may develop arthritic symptoms in their latter years. Many people have concerns that fixing the pup before two years could complicate their growth process because they are a large breed. Some people are turning to tubal ligations for females to allow the hormones to facilitate their growth but prevent pregnancy. Finding a Veterinarian to do this procedure can be difficult. I found an article that explains a veterinarian’s perspective on the issue:
Another concern is Mammary gland tumors. These are primarily a concern for Poodles, Spaniels, and German Shepherds but I have included a link to a study regarding this concern:
Maremma are-not prone to the same congenital defects that many of the large breed dogs face. Change in the color of their noses is normal as the dog ages. There are a couple of problems that can be attributed to the guardian lifestyle :
Hip and joint problems usually occur because of weight gain. We believe our Maremma do best on a low calorie, low grain diet to keep from putting too much stress on the connective tissues. Raw meat and bones are excellent for them and cooked bones should be avoided. We feed our Maremma bones from bone broth that have become soft. We monitor what we give them to avoid overfeeding. We offer an expensive non-grain formula from Pro-Pac. Our dogs hunt rodents and birds of flight as well as eat from the compost pile daily. Because of their independent dieting practices in the yard we do not feed as much as is recommended on the bag unless they seem to be losing weight. When we are in plenty on the farm we also give raw eggs and milk products. Some people feel the Maremma an all grain diet and I have herd they were bred for grain diets because they may be left in the fields with the stock and not have access to meat for long periods of time. I am not clear about this and I know my dogs hunt so I believe they need meat.
Bloat could be a concern. I have never known anyone with a Maremma that suffered from bloat but it can happen because they are a large breed. They should be fed in two small meals during the day to avoid this twisting of the stomach. I moisten dry food to help with digestion. Bloat occurs when the dog eats too much, too fast. We feed in the morning and the evening with occasional snacks.
Weight / Height
The male Maremma Sheepdog’s height is around 24 – 29 inches and weighs around 65 and 100 pounds. Female Maremma’s can reach a size from 24 – 27 inches and weigh between 65 and 100 pounds. Their appearance is that of a heavy dog but they are surprising light and this helps them to be quite fast when they need to maneuver through obstacles to protect their stock. They are very intelligent and their instinct to guard gives them a drive to escape enclosures. Our Maremma can scale 6 foot fencing and gates when necessary. They also could easily scale our gates with no climb fence and leave the property but they do not.
The Maremma Sheepdog requires early socialization and obedience/guardian training to meet the needs of their individual farm duties. These dogs see their owner as an equal friend and work best with the same attitude from the owner. Maremma Sheepdogs will not tolerate rudeness and disrespect, but they do need firm and consistent training to understand their jobs. They want to please their owner as long as it does not interfere with what their instincts tell them regarding guarding their livestock. Boundary training is required consistently on the farm for two years in order to be able to incorporate new jobs and boundary introductions throughout they’re working life. If the farm they are on does not require changes in job duties or poultry, training will be minimal. Click link for puppy training tips.
The Maremma Sheepdog is not usually suitable for living indoors and must have acres and something to guard for proper exercise and mental well being. This breed does best on a farm setting to get the required amount of physical and mental work. Without the proper environment the dogs will destroy property, become easily overheated (if indoors) and may become depressed if left alone often. The Maremma enjoys independent activities in a spacious farm/yard area. They work best in pairs for the best protection of livestock.