Maremma Sheepdog

Maremma Sheepdog picture


The Maremma Sheepdog is a rare working breed originating in Central Italy. There, in the High Appenines of the Abruzzi region and on the plains of the Maremma, he has been bred for some two thousand years. His sole function during this time has been to guard the flocks and property of the shepherd; first from wolves and bears and, latterly, from thieves and bands of stray dogs. It is interesting to note that wolves are still present in Abruzzi and even the odd brown, European bear is still found there. The flocks are frequently left by the shepherd and the Maremma remains in sole charge. Over the centuries, therefore, the dog has developed a very strong instinct to protect and care for the flock and a responsibility for taking decisions. Whilst he has a strong sense of loyalty to the shepherd there can be no doubt that the Maremma owes his allegiance to the flock and he will never desert that which has been entrusted to his care. These instincts remain with the breed as we know it in Britain today. He protects his master and master's property naturally and, if he is a family companion, will protect other dogs, cats and the children just as assiduously as his ancestors protected the flocks.

The Maremma Sheepdog is a medium to large dog of imposing presence and majestic bearing. He is strong, active and, for his size, very lithe. He is all white in colour although markings of lemon, fawn or biscuit are frequently seen, particularly on the ears and at the base of the tail. The eye rims, lips, nose and pads should be black.


The Maremma is a loyal and devoted dog who sees his main function in life as being the protector of his family and his family’s property. He is constantly aware of this responsibility and will see a threat in any strange object, being or even footfall. It is unusual for the Maremma to wander for he prefers to stand, or lie, at the property boundary where he will warn strangers away with his bark. He will not attack without provocation but trespassing is not taken lightly and he can be wary of strangers. He is, nonetheless, very affectionate to his owners and family. Old friends are accepted but the Maremma will usually remain on duty during their presence.

Strangers are not welcome and the dog should be under control when irregular callers are admitted. A 'formal' introduction - best made when the caller has been admitted and is seated - usually suffices to satisfy the dog that there is no threat.

The coat of the Maremma Sheepdog is white, thick and heavy. It is double coated. That is to say that there is a soft woolly undercoat, particularly in winter, over which lays a longer, somewhat harsh top coat. This double coat is extremely weather-resistant and, although on a wet day dirt will be attracted to it, especially on the legs and under body, nothing really penetrates. As the dog dries so any dirt, which is normally only on the top coat, falls away. With a coat of this nature grooming can be kept to a minimum for the dog will invariably look in pristine condition. It should be remembered, however, that a dog needs regular grooming to stimulate proper coat growth and skin condition. Bathing may never be necessary but can be done to bring the dog to show condition.

Standard care is needed for eyes, ears, pads and nails.

The Maremma normally moult once per year as winter approaches although central heating can upset this routine of nature and it is not uncommon to see dogs casting their coats in mid-winter. It is common for bitches to cast their coats either just before or after their season usually twice a year and both may shed some of their undercoat in early summer. Moults tend to be rather rapid affairs and owners should not be alarmed by the large quantities of hair loss.Health

The Maremma is usually a very hardy and robust dog who is not prone to illness or disease.

There is a degree of hip dysplasia in the breed and all breeding stock should be KC/BVA scored.