Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog (Cane da pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese)
The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog is a livestock guardian native to Italy. For centuries the main responsibility of this dog was to repulse attacks of wolves on its subordinate flock. It’s still mostly treated as a working dog in its homeland but its gentle and biddable demeanour makes it suitable for the role of a companion animal.
The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog was developed more than 2 000 thousands years ago by Italian shepherds. Actually it’s regarded as one of the oldest existing breeds. Resembling canines were widely depicted in ancient Roman works of art including paintings and sculptures. For example, the picture of the dog, which bears evident similarity to the modern Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog, can be found in the Church of Santa Maria in Rome.
It is assumed that the breed descended from the white eastern sheepdogs that were spread throughout various parts of Europe. These early dogs were probably direct offspring of the Tibetan mastiff. It’s also generally accepted that the dog shares common ancestry with such breeds as the Akbash and Karabash of Turkey, the Kuvasz and the Komondor of Hungary, the Tatra Sheepdog of Poland, and France’s Pyrenean Mountain Dog. These breeds not only look very alike but also discharge similar functions in their native countries.
The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog has guarded Italian livestock since time immemorial. It demonstrated the outmost fearlessness when fighting off wolves but remained careful and gentle with lambs. With its long and dense coat the dog was perfectly adapted for all adversaries of mountainous climate. It was characterised with a well-developed protective instinct, which made it useful in guarding both the flock and the shepherd’s property. Actually it was so valuable that it was oftentimes considered as a full-fledged family member.
The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog was previously divided in two subtypes with rather insignificant difference in appearance. The first type, which originated in the Maremmano, was distinguishable for its longer coat while the other variety bred in the Abruzzo had more elongated body and was reckoned more of a mountain dog. These dogs looked so similar that in 1958 they were eventually united in one single breed, which was granted the name Cane da Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese. As the result the Maremmano subtype in its initial form went extinct but the Pastore Abruzzese still traverses treacherous terrains of the Abruzzi Mountains.
The breed was accepted by the Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) in 1956. Up to this day the Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog is widely used by Italian sheep farmers to ward off predators from the livestock. The breed’s reputation of an outstanding flock guardian spread to other countries and today it has impressive following in Australia, the United States, and Canada.
The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog is a working dog to its core and should be treated as such. This breed usually establishes tight and intimate relationships with all family members. It prefers to be beside its master at all times and likes to display its affection openly and vigorously. Nonetheless it’s ill-suited for the role of a family pet and requires thorough training and heavy early socialisation to become a reasonable companion dog. In this case it will be gentle and careful with children though it’s probably too big and lively for a toddler.
The breed is extremely wary of strangers because of its strong natural protectiveness. It’s also inclined to be highly possessive so an untrained specimen can pose serious danger for every person who trespasses the boundaries of its territory, accidently or not. The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog usually becomes a very reliable guard, which will defend your property and you whatever it takes. Although its formidable appearance is commonly quite enough to make any intruder to revise its vicious intentions. This vigilant and observant breed is also a highly effective watchdog.
The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog gets on well with other dogs and will be glad to have one or several canine companions on a constant basis. Its strong inclination to domination can turn out to be an issue especially when it concerns two unneutered males. This breed is virtually deprived of a hunting drive and therefore it’s quite polite and friendly with familiar none-canine animals. It will perceive a household cat as a part of its family if it has been introduced to it since the puppyhood.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· canine hip dysplasia;
· sensitivity to anaesthesia;
· rapid weight gain.
The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog is very easy-to-groom breed. It lacks unpleasant doggie smell and its dense double coat is virtually dirt-repelling. Actually some working specimens go without grooming their entire lifetime with little problem for their wellbeing but the dog’s coat will definitely benefit from regular brushing.
The Maremmas’ hair repels water as well as grime so it should be washed rather rarely. The breed sheds its thick under coat twice a year in the spring and the fall. To speed up the shedding process its master should apply to more frequent and thorough brushing in these periods.
The training of the Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog is a complicated task because of its independent character. It tends to do what it wants to do rather than to follow any commands. The training sessions should start as early as possible and should be short, fun and regular.
This dog will never oblige to passive or meek handler since it should always acknowledge his unshakable authority. It’s better to approach its training with essential firmness but without unnecessary harshness. The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog will be much more biddable if it’s motivated to work by encouraging words or its favourite treats.
The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog demands considerable amount of intensive exercise in order to stay healthy physically as well as mentally. This breed won’t be satisfied with simple walking on a leash and should always have a large but securely fenced area where it could show its cheerful and playful demeanour.
Be mindful that frustrated or bored specimen will channel its unused energy into destructive actions, which can bring major damage to your possession due to the impressive size of this dog. The Maremma and the Abruzzes Sheepdog won’t be fully happy living in a big city since it’s in place only in rural surroundings where it has plentiful opportunities to run and play.