Referenced in ancient Roman literature, the Maremma Sheepdog is an old working dog, traditionally observed in the Apennines region of central Italy where it was widely utilised as a dependable livestock guardian. Thought to be a descendent of various comparable breeds, including the Hungarian Komondor and Kuvasz, and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog native to France, these dogs became prevalent over 2,000 years ago when they spread across Europe with nomadic tribes. Remaining relatively rare outside its homeland of Italy, the Maremma Sheepdog, or Maremmano-Abruzzese, is still found amongst herds, guarding them from predators and rustlers.
A breed of heavy-build, the Maremma Sheepdog boasts powerful legs, a deep chest, a broad skull with a rounded forehead, a low-set tail and dark, inseted eyes. The Maremma is similar in appearance to the Abruzzese, although typically bears a shorter coat. The coat of the Maremma is dense and wavy, commonly observed in white with lemon, ivory or pale orange markings. Coat thickness would have been instrumental in protecting the breed from fierce winter colds and rough, difficult terrain of the Maremma marshlands, whilst reducing the chances of fatal injury sustained from confrontation with a wolf.
A dog of impressive size and stature, the Maremma Sheepdog weighs a healthy average of 30-45 kg with discrepancies across gender. The life expectancy of the breed is approximately 10-12 years, although there are great variations and this figure is entirely dependent on care shown. A great breed choice for compatibility with children, the Maremma Sheepdog is gentle, obedient to instruction, companionable and playful, whilst being inherently protective of its family. Due to its natural intelligence and curiosity, the breed requires both physical and mental stimulation on a regular basis, helping to discourage destructive behaviours around the home.
Generally a healthy and resilient breed, the Maremma Sheepdog is susceptible to a number of breed-specific health complaints, including cancer, mast-cell tumours, hip and elbow dysplasia and eyelid problems. Gastric tortion and bloat, potentially fatal conditions if left untreated for too long, as well as cardiac and orthopedic problems are commonly associated with the large breeds.