Last Updated on August 21, 2022 by Pets Feed
The Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog is an Italian breed of large white dogs, bred specifically for the protection and herding of sheep. All individuals are distinguished by an innate distrust of strangers, as well as the ability to independently analyze the situation and make decisions.
Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog photos
Description of the breed
The Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog is a large and very handsome dog, giving the impression of quiet strength. A kind of polar bear with benevolent eyes. The head is proportional to the size of the body, the muzzle is of medium length, the eyes are small, with a calm attentive gaze. Nose and lips are always black. The ears are small hanging, tightly pressed to the head. The back is straight, the legs are powerful and the general silhouette is rectangular – the length of the body exceeds the height at the withers. The chest is wide. With a general impression of strength, the dog should not appear loose. The tail is saber-shaped, with a curved end, usually carried to the hocks, but in a good mood the dog raises it.
The coat is thick, coarse, with a dense undercoat that allows the dog to calmly endure the low temperatures of the highlands. The color is a solid white, lemon and cream tones are acceptable in the ear area.
Character and temperament
The Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog is independent, proud and reluctant to live in symbiosis with his family. For this reason, he does not need constant attention to be peaceful, and prefers to devote himself to the protection of the house (or animals) and the outdoor life. However, precisely because of his autonomy of character, he can become disobedient in the face of an owner who is not very solid or who imposes his will on him without respecting it. If given the utmost respect, he in turn will be abundantly respected, especially if he is consistent and sensible.
Affection for the family
The shepherds who have selected this dog over the millennia had no interest in the guardian of their flocks being playful and affectionate, preferring other characteristics: protective instinct, autonomy, intelligence, judgment, absence of instinct of predator. This breed has an independent disposition and although they bond deeply with their family, they are not very gentle and loving.
Friendly with children
He is an intelligent dog, but with a character that can present a certain harshness. Throughout its very long history, the Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog has never been completely domestic, in the sense of being tied to the house. Instead, it was tied to herds, work, and mountain life. That is why it is not a very gentle and gentle dog, not even in relations with human beings. He may have little patience with children, although there are exceptions in which the Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog interprets the child as a little lamb to be cared for.
Relationship with foreigners
This breed has a very strong protective instinct, which is why it earned the nickname “White Guardian”. As a result, he is very intolerant of strangers, who indeed tend to greet them by barking and growling. It’s an instinct developed through human selection, to protect livestock from bears, wolves and bandits, making it perfect today for protecting your home.
Social with other dogs
Although he is wary of people he does not know, this dog is generally sociable towards other dogs. Generally, he has no problems socializing with other four-legged friends, as long as he is placed in an open environment in which he can move around, a fundamental condition for his physical and mental well-being. Obviously, good socialization will be marked from an early age in order to allow good cohabitation with other dogs.
Health and disease
With proper care, Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog dogs live up to 12 years and are distinguished by good health. At the same time, the breed has an increased sensitivity to anesthetics, which complicates many veterinary procedures, including operations. Like most large breeds, Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdogs also have joint problems. In particular, animals may develop hip dysplasia, diaphyseal aplasia and patella luxation.
The Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog is an outdoor cage dog. It is also possible to meet representatives of the breed who have managed to get used to living in a city apartment, but it is important to understand that in such cases the animals simply adapt to the situation. There is no question of a full-fledged life in cramped conditions.
Ideal when the animal can move freely from house to yard and back. These dogs are also not created for life on a chain: such restrictions break the psyche of a sheepdog, turning it into an embittered and uncontrollable creature. The breed does not need intense physical activity, but twice a day an adult dog should unload on walks. The Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog is meant to be walked for 1.5 to 2 hours, and in all weathers, so for inactive owners, an Abruzzo Shepherd Dog is not the most suitable option.
The coat of the Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog is considered self-cleaning. This means that the dog is capable of getting dirty, but this condition will not drastically affect its exterior. Dirt sticks to Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog dogs in rainy weather, while only the dog gets wet and the undercoat remains dry and clean in any case. The breed’s coat also does not stray into mats, if the dog is in good health and at least minimally groomed.
Shepherd males molt once a year, in females such transformations can occur more often, especially during gestation and the birth of puppies. Many breeders recommend bathing the Maremma-Abruzzese Shepherd at the very beginning of molting – this speeds up the process of coat change. In other cases, it is better to replace bathing with systematic dry or wet brushing – in the period between moults, the hair of Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog dogs almost does not fall out.
Puppies should be brushed more frequently, ideally daily. In order for junior wool to be replaced by adult wool faster, you need to purchase a slicker. Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog puppies do not like this device, but with regular use they quickly get used to putting up with it. Claws for puppies are cut every two weeks, for adults – once a month. Systematic hygiene of the ears and eyes is also required. No special skills are required for this. From the corners of the eyelids, clumps of dust should be removed daily with a damp cloth, and the ears should be cleaned once a week with a napkin moistened with a special lotion.
The breed is suitable for a natural diet, which should be based on lean meat and organ meats. Heat treatment of meat is not necessary, as raw animal protein is healthier for sheepdogs. You can complete the Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog menu with frozen boneless sea fish, low-fat cottage cheese and yogurt. An egg can be given no more than 1-2 times a week. Be sure to make shavings for your pet from raw fruits and vegetables – apples, pumpkins, carrots, zucchini. Such salads can be seasoned with sour cream, unrefined sunflower oil or fish oil. For cereals with meat, it is better to use buckwheat, rice and oatmeal.
A bowl of water should be available for free, while a bowl with lunch and dinner is given to the animal for a strictly defined time. If the dog does not want to finish eating the portion, the food is removed. This approach allows the animal to be disciplined and quickly accustomed to the diet. From 1.5 to 2 months, Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog puppies are fed six times a day. From 2 to 3 months – five times a day. At 3 months, it is recommended to reduce the number of feedings to four per day. From 4 to 7 months, this dog is fed three times a day. An 8-month-old puppy is considered an adult, so his bowl is only filled with food twice a day.
Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog Adaptability
Adaptability to apartment living
The Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog is a rustic dog, selected over millennia to accompany the herds during the dangerous transhumance, a job that it already carried out in Roman times. He likes the outdoors and adapts very badly to the constraint in an apartment, also because of his independent character. Only choose it if you can guarantee it an open space.
Tolerance of being alone
The Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog shepherd dog has the character of a faithful and diligent dog, very attentive and protective of the house, the family and the flocks. Despite this, however, he is a fiercely independent dog, who maintains his autonomy. He tolerates loneliness, as long as he has an outdoor space to live in and is not locked in an apartment.
Suitable as a first dog
This race has an autonomous character, not strictly dependent on the man, towards whom it is faithful and protective but which does not follow with total submission. He does not tolerate an imposing attitude on the part of the owner, who must have some ability to mediate to convince him to follow orders. This is why the Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog is not ideal as a first dog.
Cold Temperature Tolerance
Perfectly adapted to life in the harsh nature of the Apennine mountains, the Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog is very robust and resistant to low temperatures. Its thick and long coat protects it well from cold periods and makes it suitable for staying outside even during the winter (provided it can have shelter). It can be counted among the cold-loving breeds.
Hot temperature tolerance
The long, thick coat of this dog acts as a thermal insulator and protects it from both cold and intense heat. However, like almost all dogs, even the Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog needs to stay sheltered in times of great heat. In the open space where you will keep it, you will therefore also have to let it find a shady place where it can take refuge during the hottest hours and always leave it with a good supply of fresh water.
History of the Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog
The Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog Dog takes its name from two historical regions of Italy – Maremma and Abruzzo. For a long time, the regions fought among themselves for the right to be considered the cradle of dogs. But as the conflict dragged on and there was no preponderance on either side, the cynologists had to compromise and enter both areas into the breed’s name. As for the first mention of the white-haired shepherd giants, they are easily found in the writings of the ancient Roman authors Rutilius Palladius and Lucius Columella. Describing the peculiarities of agriculture in the territories of the Eternal City, the two researchers noted white dogs, skillfully managing the herd and leading the sheep.
Sculptures and frescoes depicting the first Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdogs also survive. You can appreciate the appearance of the ancestors of today’s sheepdogs at the Archaeological Museum of Capua, the British Museum (look for a figure with the name Jennings Dog / Duncombe Dog), the Church of Santa Maria de Novella in Florence and at the temple of San Francesco in Amatrice. If you happen to visit an exhibition of paintings in the Vatican Pinacoteca, be sure to look for the “Nativity” painting by medieval painter Mariotto di Nardo – the Maremmo-Abruzzo shepherd is depicted there very realistically.
Registration of the breed in herd books began in 1898 – at the time of the procedure, documents were issued only to 4 people. In 1924, animals received their first appearance standard, compiled by Giuseppe Solaro and Luigi Groppi, but later, until 1940, sheepdogs were no longer involved in registration. It should be noted that until the middle of the 20th century, Maremma dogs and Abruzzo dogs were positioned as two independent breeds. This was explained by the fact that historically individuals from these regions contacted each other very rarely, developing in isolation. The mixing of phenotypes only occurred while cattle were driven across the country – sheepdogs would accompany sheep, relate to dogs from other regions, and produce mixed-breed puppies along the way. The unification of the breed clans into a single family called Maremmano Abruzzese Sheepdog took place only in 1958, at the insistence of the same Giuseppe Solaro.