The Maremma Sheepdog, often called the Maremma-Abruzzese, is a large dog that is known for it’s teddy bear like qualities! Excellent at protecting sheep from any prey, this pup is a true working dog who likes to feel like they have a purpose.
A rare breed, the Maremma Sheepdog only came to popularity in 2015 after the movie Oddball featured them. Ever since, people have been wondering what there is to know about this fluffy canine and whether they might make a good household pet.
Read on below to find out more about the Maremma Sheepdog and whether you think they are the right doggie for you.
History Of The Maremma Sheepdog
The Maremma Sheepdog is indigenous to central Italy. This is because of the wolves that live in the mountains around central Italy, and so the breed remains popular. They are especially popular among farmers who rely on this pup to keep their sheep safe from the wolves.
While the Maremma Sheepdog is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), they are recognized by the UK Kennel Club and have their own breed club — the Maremma Sheepdog Club of America.
Sheepdogs can be seen as far back at Roman times in early Roman literature. Maremma Sheepdogs have been featured especially in statues, paintings, literature and engravings. They were first popular in Italy because of the wolves in the mountains, as we mentioned above. To this day, farmers still use the Maremma-Abruzzese to keep their flocks safe because no other animals protects as well as this dog.
In 1898, the Italian Kennel Club registered four Maremma Sheepdogs under the breed name “Maremmano”. However, the breed was not popular and by 1940 there were only 40 dogs registered with the Kennel Club Italiano. Luckily, these white dogs are still used in central Italy today.
Characteristics Of The Maremma Sheepdog
The Maremma Sheepdog would, in the past, be brought to meet with the flock of sheep they would be guarding at around 8 weeks old. After they had created a bond, they would be with that flock of sheep for life. The same happens when you bring your Maremma puppy home from the breeders at 8 weeks old — they will bond with you for life, especially with children.
Normally, there are around six to nine puppies in a litter and a Maremma Sheepdog puppy can cost anywhere between $600 and $800. Unfortunately, these pups are very rare outside of Italy and you may need to do some hunting to find one!
The Maremma Sheepdog stands out from the crowd because of their unique teddy bear look. They almost resemble polar bears according to their breed standard! They are stocky dogs and are slightly longer than they are tall. On average, the Maremma will weigh 65 to 90lb for females and 75 to 100lb for males and will stand between 24 to 27 inches for females and 26 to 29 inches for males.
The Maremma Sheepdog coat is one of the features that is the most recognizable. Their coat is a double coat and is long and wavy. It can be rough and wire-haired to the touch. It is also very dense, especially around the neck, but is shorter on the ears and the face. On average, the Maremma Sheepdog coat is about 3 inches in length. We will go into detail about grooming your Maremma further on.
Of course, the color of the Maremma Sheepdog is white. It is very rare to see one of these pups in any color other than white, although may find a dog with lemon shading, pale ivory or even pale orange.
The Maremma Sheepdog is a naturally independent dog who is quite happy to be left on their own. This doesn’t mean they don’t like people, however, and are friendly to those they know and are devoted to their owners. They are not hostile towards those they don’t know, either, and will likely be reserved if not socialized properly.
With a laid-back and calm nature, the Maremma Sheepdog will happily potter around and protect those who they feel need to be protected. They do not make good guard dogs or attack dogs and have no prey drive, but their bark makes them an excellent watch dog and will easily ward off intruders.
Maremma Sheepdogs like to feel needed and will thrive when given a job to do. This can be something simple like a brain game, but they need to feel occupied and not bored. While they aren’t the most affectionate dog, they are not as aggressive as some livestock guardian dogs are and are known for being a much gentler breed.
The Maremma Sheepdog has a life expectancy between 10 to 13 years.
Known Health Issues
Maremma Sheepdogs are very healthy dogs, who live long and happy lives. They are normally only predisposed to a couple of health problems, neither of which are very common.
The first is hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. This is when the elbows and hips weaken and become arthritic. This can be the cause of quick growing and is common in larger breeds. The second are eye problems, mainly cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). PRA is an eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye.
You should always check you are buying from a reputable breeder when purchasing your Abruzzese Sheepdog. If you do so, it is very unlikely they will suffer from any of these conditions, particularly the eye issues.
Now we have looked over what the temperament and traits of a Maremma Sheepdog is, it is time to look at what living and owning one of these pets is like on a day to day basis.
Food And Diet
Due to their high activity level, the Maremma Sheepdog needs good quality food — and quite a lot of it. A dog of this size should be eating around 1500 calories of food a day, which equates to around four and five cups of dry dog food. This should be split into two meals a day; one in the morning and one in the evening.
You should always check the back of the food packet to see how much of a particular food you need to be feeding your dog based on their weight.
The food you choose to feed your Maremma is up to you. For puppies, it is often recommended that you feed them brand name kibble, tailored to sheepdogs. However, as an adult, they can live on bones and a raw diet. Take a look below for a kibble we recommend in their adult stage.
Best Dog Food For The Maremma SheepdogBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural dry dog food for the Maremma Sheepdog. This food is formulated for large breeds and therefore contains all the nutrients your pup will need to stay strong and healthy. With real chicken, your Maremma Sheepdog will get the protein they require to keep their muscles lean, while also giving them the energy for their high activity levels.
There is also a blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in this recipe to support immune system health, life stage requirements, and a healthy oxidative balance, as well as omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for skin and coat health. With no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, this mix provides your Maremma with a healthy, balanced diet.
It is no surprise that the Maremma Sheepdog has high exercise needs. This pup should be exercising for around 60 minutes each day and, because they are used to being outside all the time, this is better split up into a few shorter walks rather than one long one.
They have high energy levels and make the perfect hiking or running companion. They also love to swim, so having access to a swimming pool or lake is a bonus. Keep in mind that you and your family will need to be able to keep up with the Maremma and they won’t want to “play” but instead join you while you’re out and about exercising.
The Maremma-Abruzzese will thrive in a home where there is a garden so they can exercise whenever they want to as well.
The Maremma Sheepdog can make an excellent family pet. When brought up with a family, this breed of dog is utterly devoted to them and can be quite affectionate towards those that they love. This particularly includes children, who they get on very well with and will try to protect from harm.
Maremma’s also get on with other pets as they were raised to co-exist with other animals. This includes other dogs and cats and you may often find your Maremma Sheepdog cuddled up with another pet!
The Maremma Sheepdog does have quite high exercise needs, so this is something to consider when purchasing one of these pups. While they are happily independent and don’t need to be around you all the time, you do need to be able to devote at least an hour of your day to taking them for a walk. They also need to be kept entertained, especially if they are at home alone.
Training a Maremma Sheepdog can be difficult and this is why they are often not recommended as a first pet. You need to be very patient with them because they are used to being an independent breed. We are not saying that this is impossible, but it is certainly not an easy task or for the faint-hearted!
The Maremma Sheepdog is not an easy dog to train, and thats why they are not often recommended for first-time dog owners. As a sheepdog, they are used to being out in the field with their sheep for hours at a time and far away from their owners, which does mean they can have trouble in picking up commands and listening to humans.
That being said, the Maremma can learn basic obedience skills but they will never have the desire to please their owners as other dogs do. Therefore, training will take a lot of patience and trust from both parties and it may take a while for your pup to understand what you want them to do!
We mentioned above that a Maremma Sheepdog is introduced to the flock of sheep they are guarding at around 8 weeks old, which is the same time they would be brought home to live with you. From this moment, they will learn that they are bonded to you for life!
This shepherd dog doesn’t have much problem with socializing — they will love their family and love other pets, too. They may be a little wary of strangers, but they will never be aggressive towards them.
As the Maremma-Abruzzese is a working dog, they are a breed that are used to going almost their whole life without being bathed. However, if you are keeping them as a household pet, you will probably want to keep them clean and tidy.
They will need to be brushed once a week at minimum to keep their coat in good condition. You should do this with a metal deshedding brush to prevent any matting and remove loose hairs. Unfortunately, the Maremma Sheepdog is not hypoallergenic as they do shed a lot, which means they are not suitable for those with allergies.
Their white coat does not need to be clipped as it stays the same length all year round. It does also not need to be washed, but some owners choose to wash their pup a couple of times a year.
Try to keep your dog’s teeth clean with dental sticks if possible. This will help with dental decay. You can always take them to the groomers to clip their nails, too.
Maremma Sheepdog FAQ’s
How can I find a Maremma Sheepdog?
Maremma Sheepdogs are a very rare breed and are often not seen in the United States or outside of their native country of Italy. If you are looking to buy one in the US, you can search online for possible breeders near to you. Remember, always buy from a reputable breeder and go and visit the breeder and the dogs before you buy.
If you can’t find a breeder, you can check your local shelter. Even if the dog you want is not there, there are always lots of pups who need a loving home!
How much are Maremma Sheepdogs?
Maremma Sheepdogs can cost anywhere between $600 and $800. This is not as expensive as some dog breeds, although they are rare to find. If this out of your price range, you can always check your local shelter for a dog that needs a forever home.
The Maremma Sheepdog is a rare breed of dog that is indigenous to central Italy. Bred to protect sheep from wolves, these pups have a natural safeguarding instinct that they will carry with them even when living in a household with a family. The Maremma gets on particularly well with children and other pets, and bonds to family members even with their independent streak. Although not particularly affectionate, if you show this kind-hearted dog love, they will certainly show it back.