We consider dogs to be animals that naturally are used to living in packs. This means that the maremma is a social creature who will benefit from having other maremmas to interact with and work together with. The livestock guardian situation is no exception to this rule, and although it is common in some countries with small holdings and hobby farms to people to want to purchase just one puppy to be the sole guardian, it is not how these dogs were originally bred to work and it is not truly a practical situation.
Consider that if you have packs of predators in your area, how is a single guardian going to stand a chance?
Hunting packs are known to show some initiative by sending some scouts to lure a single livestock guardian away from the flock, so that whilst the guardian attempts to attend to these predators, the pack can move in for a kill with no guardian dog to contend with at all.
If you have a pack of guardians, then one dog can certainly leave the pack to investigate scouting predators, but the flock remains guarded whilst this possible threat is checked.
Another important point is that not every dog is the same, and a pack of dogs can allow your dogs to cover a lot of tasks that fall the to role of 'livestock guardian'. This topic is discussed in more detail in the temperament section articles.
A huge benefit of having a pack of maremmas (any more than 2 maremmas becomes a small pack) is that you have dogs that can correct behaviour in pups and teach pups or new young dogs what is or isn't allowed. Having excellent temperament adults already guarding your livestock makes introducing a new pup or dog to the flock so much easier as there is 24 hour surveillance already in place.
How many maremmas do you need?
You will have to do the math on this question for yourself, but a good way of working this out is:
- what is the size of your property?
- how many paddocks is this divided into?
- how many paddocks are used for livestock at any one time?
- how many livestock do you have?
- how many are in each paddock at a time if you have multiple paddocks?
- what is the predator threat?
Answering these questions is the first step as these all work together to get your ideal number of guardians.
For example, a small 50 acre property with 50 sheep whose main predator threat is lone dingoes or eagles would probably be well covered with 2 or 3 maremmas.
A 500 acre property with 2 paddocks of livestock of approximately 200-300 in each, with packs of wild dogs and pigs in the area might need 4 or 5 maremmas per paddock.
Another consideration is if you only have 2 guardians, what would happen if one were to be lost suddenly, would the remaining dog cope alone until you can find a new dog?
This article is broken into topics for your convenience: