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History of the maremma sheepdog

ITALY - Cani di pastore maremma abruzzese

The history of the Maremma is in many ways quite a simple subject for Italy and yet at the same time is complex.

The breed is over 2000 years old.

This is quite astounding when you compare this to the average age of most dog breeds.
There are several schools of thought on the exact origins of the maremma we know today.

There are some that claim that there are 2 separate breeds: The Abruzzese and the Maremmano, being distinct by a heavier Abruzzese dog and also distinct by the regions the names imply them coming from. There will always be some contention on this point I think, and it is not the purpose of this page to provoke the subject. My opinion is that, since breeders such as the Prince Corsini, breed the two together, as do many others in Italy, the breed should be regarded as one, "Maremmano Abruzzese". I do acknowledge that there can be seen, in areas, two "types", one almost Mastiff like in appearance and stature, and the other, finer, more 'pretty', in appearance and stature. However, in the light of careful reading of the Breed Standards, it would seem that the most correct 'type' is somewhere midway of these extremes. For this reason it will always be very important to select breeding pairs by comparing the animals to the standards. If the dog is becoming too fine, then choosing the heavier 'Abruzzo' type will correct this, if the dog is becoming too heavy, then select the finer 'Maremmano' type will correct this also.

Catone - a very typical maremmano abruzzese or maremma sheepdog in Italy displaying everything that the breed standard describes in this breed of dog

In Italy, the dogs are still worked in the same manner as they have been for centuries, though there are not as many 'wild' regions, and agriculture has dropped there as it has in many other countries of the world since the industrial revolution. The transhumance is not the same today as it was thousands of years ago, however shepherds do still have to travel with their animals at certain times of the year.

Shepherds still prize their dogs highly and select for very robust dogs. Many shepherds today show their dogs with great success, and their dogs are brought into the show kennels to keep the bloodlines wide and full of vitality. Shepherds still crop their dogs ears for protection, as this gives little for the predators to grab in a fight, and they wear heavy collars with spikes to protect their throats.

In Italy some shepherds are showing their working dogs successfully and displaying wonderful conformation to the standards, and demonstrating their excellent conformation to temperament!

As long as this continues in Italy, it will serve as a fine example to the rest of the world that the Maremmano Abruzzese must be a working dog.

Read on for the Australian maremma history


male maremma playing with his pups displaying the loving nature of these livestock guardian dogs

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