Maremma sheepdogs have
been in Australia since 1982, when Charles and Sandra Curwen from Government
House in Victoria, imported a bitch and a dog puppy from England - ABRUZZO
ENRIKO DELPHINO and TAVOLIERE ZECCA.
I am told there were a total of 41 pups bred from these 2, however there
were 8 pups bred under the prefix Hollinsdale and most of these
went to family and friends, but some became the foundation stock of the
early kennels in Australia.
In 1987, the trickle of stock importations from England began, with 15
more animals arriving by 1990. Pups have been introduced to all States of Australia
from these and to New Zealand. See the STATISTICS page for more details on the history of Australian registrations.
Victoria has been the main centre for Maremma bloodlines. There are several
reasons for this. There were a few breeders importing animals in close
enough an area to support each other.
There are many large sheep stations in Victoria, and this provided both
the breeders, the farmers, and interested Government bodies with the animals
to carry out some studies of their own.
were 2 main Australian kennels in Victoria working to bring animals in
- Lurgenglare and Sanrowan. Lurgenglare Kennels imported a total
of 7 animals. Out of these were a mother and 2 of her pups - LOLA and
Lurgenglare Bernita and Basilio. Another dog was brought in - Lurgenglare
Danio, but unfortunately he was sterile, so his sister arrived - Lurgenglare
Desma, and pups were successfully bred from her. 2 more maremmas, a dog
and bitch from Maremmano kennels in Sweden came also - Maremmano Eloquent
Guard, and Maremmano Knight Commander (known as KC).
Sanrowan Kennels imported 2 dogs and a bitch - Sonymer Karl, Sonymer
Icestorm at Sunshoo and Sunshoo Devilinherheart - forming only a small
proportion of the breeding stock, but a very important part. Peter was
adamant that the maremma is a working dog only, and worked very hard to
establish the breed as a predator control tool. He advocated neutering
working animals, and so his lines are not so predominate, but are exceptional
working animals nevertheless.
Killawarra Kennels imported a dog - Sunshoo Daytripper who unfortunately
turned out to be sterile, and the owner then used imports from other kennels
to establish his stud.
Maremalee Kennels registered an imported bitch, but can't really
be credited with this import. The prefix assigned is a little strange
as the bitch is another of the pups from LOLA brought in by Lurgenglare,
and a full sister therefore to Lurgenglare Bernita and Basilio. Her registered
name is Lurgens Barissa. This then makes 3 pups out of our total imports
from the one litter.
Melodyn Kennels imported a bitch - Sonymer Joyful, they bred one
litter from her and then sold her to the NSW kennel ThePines.
Rempejek Kennels imported a dog - Charlian Escapade and bred him
to their Australian bitch.
Kennels imported Sonymer Kyber who is
the full brother to Sonymer Karl imported to VIC by Sanrowan Kennels.
Karl and Kyber are also full brothers to Sonymer Kynos, in the UK, a dog
well known to all UK breeders. ThePines kennels had an Angora goat stud,
but were also showing their maremmas, being the first to title a maremma
bitch - Killawarra Jessica. Because they were willing to sell their pups
to show homes and to service outside bitches, Kyber soon became a popular
sire. (See STATISTICS) ThePines kennels purchased
also Sonymer Joyful to add to their breeding program.
It was not possible however,
to bring any animals directly from Italy to Australia, due to Quarantine
restrictions. This is the reason for the bloodlines in Australia coming
from the UK and Sweden.
It is possible to import dogs from Italy to the UK. Therefore, the dogs
ARE Italian bloodlines, but some are the blend of UK breeders choices.
The UK also have restricted bloodlines.
This means for breeders, that whatever genetic limitations they have in
the UK, we have even more of them in Australia.
to changes in the Importation restrictions for Australia, it is NOW possible
to bring animals direct from Italy to Australia. I hope this will see
a much needed trickle again start with much needed new bloodlines. It
will be vital for anyone importing new dogs in the future to study the
bloodlines very carefully and be certain that they bring in animals that
will in fact enlarge our gene pools. Our current animals come mainly from
the well known show kennels in Italy, so selection of new animals should
be directed beyond this base and to new lines.
will always be breeders who have different ideas and opinions on breeding
tools and which are correct. The tools are known as: Inbreeding, Linebreeding
and Outcrossing. Since it is a fact that to date, there have been only
2 tools available in Australia - Inbreeding and Linebreeding, it is imperative
that we add to our situation some outcrossing. Even if outcrossing carries
a certain risk factor - you don't know what genes the outcross will contribute,
nor how they will 'mix' with the current genes, continual generations
of Inbreeding is bringing the Australian maremma to its knees, and may
spell the ruin of the breed entirely. Inbreeding will certainly 'fix'
homozygosity, but if this means the line becomes homozygous for a genetic
fault or disease, then removing it from the gene pool is extremely difficult.
Our lines are so few, that there is now no way to breed a litter without
some degree of at least Linebreeding.
today in Italy, where the genetic base is so much larger, 'show kennels'
still go back to the Abruzzese mountains to find new rustic blood. Many
shepherds register their dogs with ENCI, but not all do, keeping their
own records. However, they are able to register these dogs providing they
meet the breed standard, and so bring them into the 'registered' gene
pool. It is acknowledged that this outcrossing is vital to keeping the
breed alive and healthy.
is some degree of animosity between the shepherds and the show kennels
in places, but for the sake of the gene pool this must be overcome so
that genetic vitality can be maintained as it has for thousands of years.
is also some animosity seen between the show kennels and working dog kennels
in Australia, each foolishly thinking they are somehow different to each
other. It will only be when both recognise we should be working together
to produce sound dogs capable of work, that adhere to the breed standards,
that we will be able to move this breed forward unified. Surely there
should be NO difference between a dog seen working with livestock to the
dog seen in the show ring? Working dog owners should remember that their
stock came from the show kennels in the UK. Show kennels should remember
that these UK kennels produced dogs perfectly capable of working on huge
sheep stations in VIC within the first generation. Surely this should
be the aim of both parties! The working kennels should be proud to see
a pup sold win in the show ring, and the show kennel should be proud to
hear the story of their pup warding off some fierce predator.
adaptablility of the maremma to many varied circumstances never ceases
to amaze me. If we could put aside what is right or wrong for people to
'do' with their maremma, and just share information honestly, we could
achieve far more.
Read the history of the maremma sheepdog in Italy