The tall, mighty Maremma Sheepdog has dutifully guarded flocks of sheep for centuries in his native Italy and, just like their large size, have equally big hearts full of love for owners here in the UK. Mix high intelligence with loyalty, alertness, and a friendly temperament - what do you get? The Maremma Sheepdog.
This breed was originally bred as a pastoral dog for the central regions of Italy, namely Abruzzo, and still to this day serves this purpose. Many owners around the world have purchased and adopted Maremma Sheepdogs for non-pastoral duties, however.
The Maremma Sheepdog is a large- to giant-sized pastoral breed, easily distinguished by his strong, rustic, and dignified yet majestic stance. Their bodies are muscular and well-balanced in all proportions. Their eyes are small, compared to the size of the breed, showing a lively expression. Likewise, their ears are small in relation to their body size, triangular in shape. Their tails are low set and covered in dense hair.
Their coats are rich and furnished, long and harsh to the touch. It creates a fringe around the collar and hindquarters, which is distinctive. Colour combinations that are permissible include solid white, the default, and sometimes in ivory, pale orange, or lemon in moderation.
This breed most closely resembles other pastoral breeds such as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, the Hungarian Kuvasz, the Slovakian Slovenský Cuvac, or the Polish Tatra Sheepdog.
How big do Maremma Sheepdog dogs get?
Height: males 65-73 cm; females 60-68 cm
Weight: males 35-45 kg; females 30-40 kg
As a longstanding pastoral breed, Maremma Sheepdogs are highly adapted to their natural environment which is safeguarding their territory and flocks of sheep. Even if they are not always used for this purpose today, it is part and parcel of who they are.
This breed thrives in an environment whereby he can exercise his natural instincts, which means that he is not adaptable to urban apartment dwellings, not least because of his large size. Thus, Maremma Sheepdogs should only be adopted or purchased into homes with large outdoor spaces, preferably in rural communities.
They are a high energy breed with above-average intelligence, which makes them ideal for watchdog duties and, unlike many other pastoral breeds, suitable for guard duties as well.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs intelligent? Yes.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs affectionate? Somewhat.
Do Maremma Sheepdog dogs have high or low energy levels? High energy.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs loyal? Yes, very.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs playful? Somewhat.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs aggressive? Yes, they can show signs of aggression towards intruders or strangers.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs easy to train? Somewhat.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs good guard dogs? Yes, unlike other pastoral breeds, Maremma Sheepdogs are excellent guard dogs and watchdogs as well.
Maremma Sheepdogs are not very easy to train or socialise, and much effort will be required by owners. They are not an ideal choice for first-time owners for these reasons.
For owners with skill and patience, raising a Maremma Sheepdog will likely be a challenge, but one that pays off in dividends as your puppy grows into a loyal, obedient, and well-socialised adult.
Normally, Maremma Sheepdogs will get along well with other dogs and perhaps smaller pets too, but they are prone to showing dominance and must be socialised gradually. Around children and owners, Maremma Sheepdogs are friendly and affectionate, although care should be exercised when playing around small children simply due to the large size of Maremma Sheepdogs.
Around strangers, Maremma Sheepdogs can show signs of aggression at first, simply because they are trained to guard and protect their flocks of sheep. This in turn makes them excellent guard dogs to have in your home.
Do Maremma Sheepdog dogs get along with other pets? Somewhat.
Do Maremma Sheepdog dogs get along with other dogs? Yes, but they may try to become dominant.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs good with kids? Yes.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs good with strangers? No, they can show aggression towards strangers.
This breed is only suitable for prospective owners who lead an outdoors, active lifestyle on a large estate, preferably with an equally large yard. Maremma Sheepdogs are not adaptable to small, enclosed environments, nor are they suitable in hot climates. In the cold, however, they fare quite well thanks to their thick coats.
First-time owners should strongly consider another breed. Maremma Sheepdogs require intensive training and socialisation, and their temperament may be undesirable for prospective owners simply looking for a companion pet.
In public spaces, they should always be walked on a lead, but off-lead time in private spaces is essential.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs good for first-time owners? No.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs hypoallergenic? No.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs prone to drooling? Yes, but not too much.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs a good breed for apartment living? Not at all.
Do Maremma Sheepdog dogs shed a lot? Yes, very much.
Do Maremma Sheepdog dogs bark a lot? Not much.
Can Maremma Sheepdog dogs be left alone at home? Yes, for prolonged periods of time.
Can Maremma Sheepdog dogs handle the heat? Not too well.
Can Maremma Sheepdog dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes, very well.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs sensitive to loud noises? Yes, as puppies.
Maremma Sheepdogs have an average health rating when compared to other breeds. They tend to suffer from many common ailments and have a few that stand out more than others. For these reasons, it is important to ensure that your Maremma Sheepdog is taken to the veterinarian often for health checkups.
Some common problems include:
Anaesthetic sensitivity: Maremma Sheepdogs tend to react poorly to many anaesthetics, so ensure your veterinarian exercises due diligence when treating him;
Achondroplasia: sometimes referred to as ‘dwarfism,’ achondroplasia affects Maremma Sheepdogs on occasion and leads to deformities;
Hip dysplasia: common to many breeds, especially large-sized dogs, hip dysplasia results in discomfort, pain, or lameness due to improper development of the hips;
Ivermectin toxicity: Maremma Sheepdogs have an unusually permeable barrier between the bloodstream and the brain. Deworming treatments such as ivermectin may breach the blood-brain barrier and lead to seizures or comas, and possibly death.
How long do Maremma Sheepdog dogs live? - 10-13 years
This breed is demanding in terms of exercise and playtime. No less than two hours should be dedicated to vigorous outdoor playtime every day, which includes walking and jogging but running and chasing (a ball or a stick, for example) as well. Large, open spaces where he can run off-lead are best, but keep him on a lead in public and around other dogs and owners.
Their energy levels are quite high, and as an intelligent breed they require plenty of mental and physical stimulation every day. A tired dog is a happy dog.
Maremma Sheepdogs were bred over hundreds of years strictly for pastoral duties. Protecting sheep, guarding territory, warding off predators, and chasing away anything or anyone that dares encroach are all built into his DNA, so it’s best to use a Maremma Sheepdog for pastoral duties or at least to simulate this type of environment by allowing him to roam a large estate and to claim it as his territory to protect.
How much exercise does a Maremma Sheepdog dog need? - At least 2 hours per day
Do Maremma Sheepdog dogs like water play? Sometimes, but always maintain supervision.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve got a wolf in the home. Considering how much a Maremma Sheepdog eats, it’s important to remember that meals should be broken into three or four feeding sessions to prevent overeating. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and lean proteins will go a long way towards promoting good development and growth in your puppy.
For any alternative diets, such as cold-pressed or raw dog food, speak with your veterinarian first.
Are Maremma Sheepdog dogs prone to weight gain? Yes, especially as they age.
How much should I feed a Maremma Sheepdog puppy? About 270-600g per day, in 3-4 sessions.
How much should I feed an adult Maremma Sheepdog dog? About 320-540g per day, in total.
Although Maremma Sheepdogs are not too demanding in terms of grooming, regular care should be given to ensure their thick double coats aren’t too soiled and to remove any tangles that may accumulate over time. They tend to shed fairly profusely, especially in the spring and autumn months.
Emotionally, Maremma Sheepdogs are very laissez-faire. They are, after all, a pastoral breed adapted to living on their lonesome in pastures in sunny Italy.
- Grooming: at least twice per week, carefully brush the thick overcoat of your Maremma Sheepdog, removing dead hairs and untangling any knots in the process.
- Emotional care: much like with other pastoral breeds, Maremma Sheepdogs are able to tolerate long periods of isolation. This shouldn’t become a habit, but don’t worry about leaving him to his own devices for the better part of a day.
The Maremma Sheepdog has been dutifully performing shepherding tasks in the Abruzzo region of Italy since the 1860s, at which time the nation was unified under Garibaldi. They still perform this function to this very day, but their origins go far back into antiquity.
Roman authors Columella, Varro, and Palladius have all written vivid descriptions of a particular sheep defence dog thousands of years ago, and they have been illustrated in artwork from the mediaeval period through the Renaissance as well.
Historically, the Maremma Sheepdog was used for pastoral duties in the Tuscan Maremma, from whence it gets its name, as well as in Latium (today’s Lazio) and Abruzzo, which make up the provinces of the northern frontiers of what is colloquially referred to as Southern Italy today.
It was first recognised as a breed by the Italian Kennel Club in 1898. Today, the Maremma Sheepdog is relatively unpopular in the UK, perhaps owing to his strong temperament and narrow utility as a sheepdog in Italy.
Mediaeval depictions of the Maremma Sheepdog are commonplace all across Italy, such as a painting in Florence’s Santa Maria Novella;
The Pastore Maremmano and the Pastore Abruzzese were recognised as two separate breeds in Italy until the mid 20th century;
This breed is relatively unpopular outside of pastoral use in central Italy.
Any prospective owner of a Maremma Sheepdog must thoroughly consider whether to adopt or purchase a puppy very carefully. This breed is fairly demanding in terms of maintenance and is also rare, meaning that it may be difficult to acquire one. We strongly consider you review our buying guide before committing to a new puppy. If you would like to purchase a Maremma Sheepdog, you can rest assured that we only deal with reputable breeders.
How much does a Maremma Sheepdog cost to buy? - Over £500.
How much does a Maremma Sheepdog cost to feed? - An adult Maremma Sheepdog costs about £1.50-£2.00 per day to feed.
How much does insurance for a Maremma Sheepdog cost? - About £30-£85 per month.
Sensible alternatives to purchasing a new Maremma Sheepdog puppy include rescue and adoption.
Additional resources can be found via Maremma Sheepdog registries and associations such as: