Pastore Maremmano – Maremma Sheepdog

Maremma Sheepdog puppy in dog pound

 The official breed name in Italian for these majestic dogs is the pastore maremmano abbruzzese or pastore abbruzzese and they originate from the mountains of Abruzzo in central Italy. Abruzzo, which hit the headlines in 2009 because of its terrible earthquake, is located below Umbria and Marche between the calf and the ankle of Italy’s ‘boot’.

 Maremma sheepdogHistory

The dogs were first used by shepherds of the region thousands of years ago to help them protect their flocks from predators and that is still their principal use today. Maremma sheepdogs love protecting things. This is worth bearing in mind if you decide to get one, as they will first establish their territory (whether a hundred hectares or a back garden), their family (the shepherd and his sheep or you, your children, cats and chickens) and then take the protection of
everything very seriously indeed. 

Physical characteristics 

The Maremma is a cute fluffy puppy but a large adult dog. They weigh between 40 – 55 kilos depending on whether they are male or female and the height is between 63 and 73 cm. Their full mature size is reached about two and a half years old.

They are white and long haired with black muzzle and very dark eyes. Some say the white colour was maintained by the shepherds to differentiate them from wolves in case of an attack, some say it was to help them blend in with the flock of sheep and give the predators a shock.

A beautifully poetic description on an Italian  Maremma website says:  “Bianco è bello. – Bianco è mistico, e i montanari abruzzesi hanno uno spirito religioso molto profondo. – Bianco è pratico facilita il controllo della razza; è lo stesso colore della lana delle nostre pecore.”(White is beautiful, white is mystical and the Abruzzo mountain people have a very deep religious spirit. White is practical, it helps control breed standards and it is the same colour as our sheep’s wool.)

 Sheepdog Training

When used as a sheepdog, the puppy is traditionally placed in the middle of the sheep as soon as possible in order for him to quickly learn his job. He has to keep calm and avoid frightening his precious charges, for panic spells disaster in a flock. He learns to be cunning and self confident and to hide from the sheep any tension he feels. He would ultimately sacrifice his life to protect them.
He licks the lambs, literally lies down with them, eats and sleeps with them. A Maremma is part of the flock as well as its protector and stays close to them, never moving more than a few hundred metres away.

Is a Maremma for You? 

The Maremma sheepdog was created with a sole role in mind – to guard a flock – and that must be uppermost in your thoughts if you decide to get one. They are not like other dogs. The Maremma Sheepdog Association of America states clearly on its website ‘the Maremma is not recommended for use as a pet.’ This is because the dog is bred to be independent, use his initiative and be self sufficient and so does not respond to orders in the way other dogs (for example German Shepherds) do.

He is obedient to a certain extent on his own terms. He will view you and your family as his sheep and may become noisy and territorial as he tries to protect you. He is not a subservient dog and does not go overboard on demonstrations of overt adoration, yet he would die for you.

They are gentle with other pets, particularly vulnerable ones, but distrustful of anything they see as a threat. This can range from bears and wolves (they can kill a wolf) to the postino (postman). They are not guards dogs in the sense that German Shepherds or Dobermans are, but will try to outwit or scare off aggressors first. Remember their origins – they were used to protect the shepherd’s only asset – his sheep – and would do so regardless of cold, heat, hunger or thirst. 

Maybe it is because of the disparity between the appearance of the cuddly bundle and the size and character of the adult that so many Pastori Maremmani end up in dog pounds or abandoned. 

Maremma Sheepdog Products

Love your Maremma? Then show the world with these cool products to buy for yourself or a friend.




Comments

  1. hi, mio nome beatrice adesso risiedo i florida orlando,mi sono portata il mio cane pastore maremmano di qui ,purtroppo mi lo hanno rubato nell 2008 e no lo ho trovato ,ha il microschip un tatoo sulla gamba,che li hanno fatto i italia,i miei figli tutto ora soffrono per il cane,per favore dove posso trovare un cane di questa razza in orlando florida o negli stati uniti per piace aiutatemi mio num 0014075912616 grazie mille oppure su mio email adressgrazie mille.

  2. Such a sad story. Sargent sounds like a wonderful dog. I am sorry you had to leave him. I have a Maremma named Bella and she is an amazing loving dog. It would be nice for you to be able to visit someone who has a Maremma. I hope you get a chance to spend some time with these amazing dogs

  3. What an amazing story and Sargent sounds exactly like a Pastore Maremmano.Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Fiona

  4. afalcione@carlow.edu says:

    I was born in Abruzzi Italy in 1947 in the region of Campobasso San Pietro Avelana. We had a dog named Sargent who took care of the livestock and everyone else in our little farm community which was made up of mostly family and some good friends and neighbors. He was a very intelligent dog. I was 6 years old when we immigrated to America in 1954. We had to leave Sargent with other family members. One of the saddest times of my life. I cried to go back to him…it is 57 years later and I still miss him as if it was yesterday. You never forget a dog like Sargent. He guarded all of us. It seems he knew when you needed him because he alway seemed to show up. My uncle Leo recalls working out in the field one day, and he forgot his jacket, lo and behold Sargent sat there by his jacket until my uncle retrieved it the next day.I was scouting the internet looking for a dog that looked just like Sargent and was happy to see him again in the Maremma dog who is a definite likeness of Sargent. I showed my aunt Rose who is now 82 years of age (as she was one of Sargent’s chosen few) a printout of a maremma dog and she for a moment thought that it was Sargent. You see, Sargent chose who he wanted to be around, you did not choose him. I would love to adopt a maremma dog, but I live in the city and not much space for a dog like Sargent. I remember that Sargent was a free sprit who loved to guard and be outdoors to roam free and feel like he was in charge of the area and everyone who lived in it. Fifty seven years later and I still miss him terribly. At family get togethers the family always mentioned Sargent and the impact he had on their lives. I have five grown children and they know about Sargent. My family wanted to keep his memory alive so they passed it down to my children. They now talk about Sargent as if they experienced his love,loyalty, affection and protection. Sargent lasted about 3 months after we immigrated to America before he died. We were told by family members that they found him dead of a broken heart in his favorite spot in front of our home. You see although Sargent loved to be around other people and help them if they needed him, he chose my father as his partner. He did not do anything without my father not telling him but suggesting to him to go visit uncle Leo and aunt Rose or any of the other family members or neighbors. Sargent missed his partner. We who experienced Sargent’s love and loyalty are better people because of him.
    WHAT A GREAT DOG! WHAT GREAT MEMORIES! SARGENT IS STILL HELPING US TO COPE WITH OUR LIVES TODAY!

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