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In the Magazine

Maremma Sheepdog

Pet Road Tests > Dogs

Maremma Sheepdog

Breed: Maremma
Temperament: Friendly with family, wary of strangers
Lifespan: 10-14 years
Maintenance: Low
Recommended for: Flock protection

 

These large white dogs are bred to protect flocks, they are friendly to their family but aloof and wary of strangers.

Appearance: This is a large, strongly-built white dog weighing up to 45kg (100lb) and standing to 73cm (28"). It has a heavy double coat, thick neck ruff and a thickly-plumed tail held curled over its back.

Temperament: The Maremma is said to be aloof, independent and protective of its family and territory. The breed was developed to protect herds of sheep and most will bond quickly with the designated flock be it angoras, chickens or sheep and defend it against all-comers. Breeders report a high proportion of animals are sold for flock protection. They say potential owners buying the dogs as pets for city living should be aware of the dogs tendency to bark which might disturb neighbours.

Health:

Large breed apparently without hereditary bone diseases; Temperament in early strains is "touchy". It is important to meet the parents before selecting a pup and to socialise the pup.

Uses: Maremmas are shepherd dogs which bond with their flock and protect it. Breeders say they are not herding dogs as the flock would need to be scared of the dog to achieve this function, which is not the case. They can be bonded to almost any vulnerable flock animal, sheep, angoras, chickens, and more recently, alpacas. One breeder reported foxes took up to 30% of new lambs before he introduced Maremmas to his flock. He has not lost a lamb to predators since.

Training: This is not a breed known for its submissive attitude to humans. Breeders say it is an independent thinker and will be aloof to most people. Basic leash training is recommended because the Maremma will need to be controlled or separated when the flock is mustered. Most breeders find their dog will bond easily with their human family. The dog's working career begins when the pup is penned with its flock until it is three months old, then it is allowed into the paddock with the flock.

Ideal owner: Generally this is a working dog used by farmers. Individual Maremmas sold as pets in highly urbanised situation have not always succeeded. As pets they need about 30 minutes exercise a day. Owners also report once off the leash Maremmas don't always return promptly. However, most working Maremmas are good family dogs.

Grooming: Even working Maremmas should be groomed occasionally to remove burrs and grass seeds which can irritate the skin if neglected. Bath when necessary.

Popularity: In the past decade Maremmas have jumped from just 10 registered with the Australian National Kennel Council in 1986 to 288 in 1996.

History: The Maremma is essentially an Italian sheepdog, and is named after the region where it was developed.

National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.


Dogs NSW
http://www.dogsnsw.org.au/breeders-directory
Email: info@dogsnsw.org.au
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
http://www.vca.org.au
Email: office@dogsvictoria.org.au
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
http://www.actca.asn.au
Email: info@dogsact.org.au
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 - Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
http://www.cawa.asn.au
Email: k9@dogswest.com
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
http://dogssa.com.au
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
http://www.cccq.org.au
Email: dogsqld@powerup.com.au
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
http://www.tasdogs.com
Email: tca@iprimus.com.au
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
http://www.territorydogworld.com
Email: naca3@bigpond.com
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409

Copyright CTC Productions 2006


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