The Maremma Abruzzo Sheepdog is a strong and impressive breed, bred in Italy over 2000 years ago. Italians are incredibly proud of intelligence, endurance, excellent health and enviable appearance of their shepherd dogs. In Russia, the breed is considered rare, and therefore even more valuable. A purebred maremma can become an excellent guard and at the same time a real companion for any family member.
The history of the breed is directly related to the history of two Italian regions – Maremma and Abruzzi. It is believed that the maremma appeared when the inhabitants of these areas began to seriously engage in sheep breeding. The shepherds needed a brave, faithful helper, capable of protecting herds from wolves for a long time, regardless of weather conditions.
Inhabitants of both regions in the summer grazed herds of sheep in the lowlands of the Maremma, and in cold weather they were taken to the mountainous regions of the Abruzzi Apennines. The dogs roamed back and forth with the shepherds, and therefore it is impossible to say for sure who first made the decision about their working use and breeding.
Disputes over breed ownership did not subside until, in the 60s, Professor Giuseppe Solaro developed the breed standard, in which it still bears the proud double name of the Maremma-Abruzzo Sheepdog to this day.
Abruzzo Shepherd males grow up to 73 cm at the withers and weigh about 43 kg. Bitches are slightly lower – up to 68 cm, their weight ranges from 30-40 kg. The color of the dogs is predominantly snow-white, but the presence of yellowish and beige patches is acceptable.
The maremma’s face is shaped like a white bear’s face. It smoothly passes into a low forehead. The pigmentation of the nose is black, pronounced – the same at the eyelids and lips. The eyes are dark, like tonsils.
The ears of the representatives of the breed are hanging, pointed to the tips, resembling triangles in shape. Usually they are not stopped – the exception is guard dogs employed in the service.
The back is straight – in the lower back it stands out slightly upward, and in front it passes into a wide withers. The chest of the Maremman-Abruzzo Shepherd is massive, down to the level of the elbow of the forelimbs. Paws are round, of impressive size. The tail is lowered in a calm state, and when excited it rises above the ridge line.
The coat is dense, of medium hardness – shorter on the head and ears, but long (up to 10 cm) on the tail, at the withers and on the shoulders. It is covered with a layer of protective fat, thanks to which it is capable of self-cleaning. The presence of a thick undercoat allows the dog to withstand temperature extremes from -35 ° C to + 45 ° C.
Maremma is considered non-standard if one of the following defects is present in her appearance:
• depigmentation of the nose;
• depigmentation of at least one eye or too light eyes;
• undershot (the lower jaw is shorter than the upper);
• the tail is scanty, docked or missing;
• curly hair;
• oblique muzzle;
• departure from the standard color;
• males have the same identity.
The Abruzza Shepherd Dog has excellent protective qualities, it is able to protect the owner, as well as his relatives and their property. In its historical past, the Maremma was left with a herd without a shepherd, so she is genetically predisposed to make independent decisions.
The Maremma cannot be called driven by a person – it is his full partner and does not accept domination. The instincts of the guard are evident even in the smallest things. For example, being on the site during the day, the dog is calm and acts as an observer, but at night it turns into a sensitive watchman.
Thanks to its developed intellect and intuition, the Maremman-Abruzzi Shepherd Dog is able to subtly capture the owner’s attitude towards strangers and events. If she does not feel negative, then she behaves calmly. He willingly approaches the owner’s friends, if he wishes, he can play with them. He is watching unfamiliar guests, looking closely. Undesirable actions are warned by roar or barking.
The maremma has a particular weakness for children – they can do with it as they please. The dog will not only endure any game with children, but also support it with pleasure.
As it was said, the breed was bred to protect herds from wolves. In modern life, it can act as a protector and companion. She is responsible and never loses her vigilance, but at the same time she is always friendly and welcoming.
The breed is not susceptible to disease and is relatively easy to care for. The Abruzzian Shepherd Dog can be kept in an apartment, providing it with walks for a total duration of about 3 hours a day, but a country house with a large aviary will be an ideal habitat.
In adolescence, when the skeleton is forming, the maremma needs more movement. As you grow older, walks can be translated into a more relaxed pace. Take your dog along different routes to keep it interesting. Show her new exercises and games.
The dog is not afraid of rainy and dirty weather, because water does not penetrate through its coat, and the dirt does not linger in it for a long time. After walking on a rainy day, dry your dog with a dry towel is enough.
The Maremma-Abruzzi Shepherd Dog copes with grooming the coat without assistance – it is very clean. Dangling ears of a dog can become a problem area, so it is necessary to check them periodically for the absence of inflammation and pollution.
It is enough to feed the maremma twice a day. It is imperative to add vitamins with calcium to regular food to maintain the bone structures of the body.
In training, the maremma will not tolerate rigidity from the owner and will not mindlessly carry out any command. Her motivation is respect to be won. The dog must understand that it is important to you its responses to commands, – only then will it follow them. If you find an approach to the dog and achieve mutual understanding, she will master not only simple, but also more complex tasks.
Some interesting facts about the Maremma Abruzzo Sheepdog:
The first information about the ancestors of the breed came to us from the 1st century. ad.
According to one theory, the Maremma is a descendant of the white Hungarian dog, and the Italian shepherds only continued pure breeding of the breed.
In the US, farmers continue to use the dog as a guard against predators like wolves or even grizzly bears.