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Maremma Sheepdog

Maremma Sheepdog

Overview
The Maremma Sheepdog, in Italian Cane da pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese, usually referred to as just Maremmano, is a breed of livestock guardian dog
Livestock guardian dog
A livestock guardian dog is a domesticated canine used to defend livestock against predators. LGDs are commonly referred to as "sheep dogs" since they most often have guarded flocks of sheep, but most are capable of guarding other species of livestock. They are classified as pastoral dogs...

 indigenous to central Italy
Central Italy
Central Italy is one of the five official statistical regions of Italy used by the National Institute of Statistics , a first level NUTS region and a European Parliament constituency...

, particularly to Abruzzo
Abruzzo
Abruzzo is a region in Italy, its western border lying less than due east of Rome. Abruzzo borders the region of Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and south-west, Molise to the south-east, and the Adriatic Sea to the east...

 and the Maremma
Maremma
The Maremma is a vast area in Italy bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea, consisting of part of south-western Tuscany - Maremma Livornese and Maremma Grossetana , and part of northern Lazio - Maremma Laziale .The poet Dante Alighieri in his Divina Commedia places the...

 region of Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

 and Lazio. It has been used for centuries by Italian shepherds to guard sheep from wolves. The English name of the breed derives from that of the Maremma marshlands, where until recently shepherds, dogs and hundreds of thousands of sheep over-wintered, and where the breed is today abundant although sheep-farming has decreased substantially.
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Encyclopedia
The Maremma Sheepdog, in Italian Cane da pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese, usually referred to as just Maremmano, is a breed of livestock guardian dog
Livestock guardian dog
A livestock guardian dog is a domesticated canine used to defend livestock against predators. LGDs are commonly referred to as "sheep dogs" since they most often have guarded flocks of sheep, but most are capable of guarding other species of livestock. They are classified as pastoral dogs...

 indigenous to central Italy
Central Italy
Central Italy is one of the five official statistical regions of Italy used by the National Institute of Statistics , a first level NUTS region and a European Parliament constituency...

, particularly to Abruzzo
Abruzzo
Abruzzo is a region in Italy, its western border lying less than due east of Rome. Abruzzo borders the region of Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and south-west, Molise to the south-east, and the Adriatic Sea to the east...

 and the Maremma
Maremma
The Maremma is a vast area in Italy bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea, consisting of part of south-western Tuscany - Maremma Livornese and Maremma Grossetana , and part of northern Lazio - Maremma Laziale .The poet Dante Alighieri in his Divina Commedia places the...

 region of Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

 and Lazio. It has been used for centuries by Italian shepherds to guard sheep from wolves. The English name of the breed derives from that of the Maremma marshlands, where until recently shepherds, dogs and hundreds of thousands of sheep over-wintered, and where the breed is today abundant although sheep-farming has decreased substantially. The breed is widely employed in Abruzzo
Abruzzo
Abruzzo is a region in Italy, its western border lying less than due east of Rome. Abruzzo borders the region of Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and south-west, Molise to the south-east, and the Adriatic Sea to the east...

, where sheep herding remains vital to the rural economy and the wolf remains an active and protected predator. Similar breeds include the Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Pyrenean Mountain Dog
The Pyrenean Mountain Dog, known as the Great Pyrenees in North America, is a large breed of dog used as a livestock guardian dog.The Great Pyrenees is a very old breed, and has been used for hundreds of years by shepherds, including those of the Basque people, who inhabit parts of the region in...

, the Kuvasz
Kuvasz
The Kuvasz is a dog breed of ancient Hungarian origin. Mention of the breed can be found in old Hungarian texts. It has historically been used to guard livestock, but has been increasingly found in homes as a pet over the last seventy years....

 of Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, the Tatra of Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and the Šarplaninac
Šarplaninac
The Šarplaninac or Šarplaninec , also known as Sharplaninac/Sharplaninec, Illyrian Shepherd Dog or Yugoslav Shepherd Dog-Šarplanina is a dog breed of the livestock guardian type originally from Serbia and Macedonia.- Appearance :The...

 (although not white), with all of which it may share a common ancestor; and the Akbash Dog
Akbash Dog
The Akbash Dog is native to western Turkey in the region known as the Akbaş, and it is primarily used as a livestock guardian dog.-History:...

 of Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. See Mountain dog
Mountain dog
Mountain dog is a generic form of canidae, dog, dog breed or landrace typically from mountain environs.They are often a working dog, particularly a livestock or flock guardian or farm dog. By and large, these dogs tend to have a claimed Molosser dog in their genetic heritage...

 breeds.

Appearance


The Maremma Sheepdog has a solid, muscular build, a thick white coat, a large head and a black nose. According to the breed standard, males should weigh 35 to 45 kg (77.2 to 99.2 ) and stand 65 to 73 cm (25.6 to 28.7 in) at the shoulder, while females weigh 30 to 40 kg (66.1 to 88.2 ) and stand 60 to 68 cm (23.6 to 26.8 in). Some dogs may be considerably larger. The coat is long and thick; it is rough to the touch, and forms a thick collar around the neck. It should be solid white; some minor yellowing may be tolerated.

Some divide the breed into various subtypes, largely based on small differences in physical attributes and with subtype names based on village and provincial names where the dogs may be found, e.g. the Maremmano, the Marsicano, the Aquilano, the Pescocostanzo, the Maiella, and the Peligno. However, biologist
Biologist
A biologist is a scientist devoted to and producing results in biology through the study of life. Typically biologists study organisms and their relationship to their environment. Biologists involved in basic research attempt to discover underlying mechanisms that govern how organisms work...

s dispute this division, as well as over reliance on minor physical differences, as the dogs were bred over the centuries for their behavioral characteristics as flock guardians.

Temperament


Despite their large size, Maremma Sheepdogs can be good companion dog
Companion dog
Companion dog usually describes a dog that does not work, providing only companionship as a pet, rather than usefulness by doing specific tasks. Many of the toy dog breeds are used only for the pleasure of their company, not as workers...

s in areas with adequate open space. Centuries of breeding the dogs to be gentle with lambs but fiercely protective of their flock has created a breed that will bond to families and show a calm, intelligent disposition. However, the dogs may display hostility towards outsiders and they are not suitable companion dogs for urban areas due to their large size and need for open space. A ranch type environment works best, away from neighbor's property lines and road traffic. In this environment, a dog house is not necessary because the dogs prefer to sleep with livestock.

History



Ancient history and iconography


Descriptions of white sheep defence dogs are found in ancient Roman literature, in works such as those of Columella
Columella
Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella is the most important writer on agriculture of the Roman empire. Little is known of his life. He was probably born in Gades , possibly of Roman parents. After a career in the army , he took up farming...

, Varro
Varro
Varro was a Roman cognomen carried by:*Marcus Terentius Varro, sometimes known as Varro Reatinus, the scholar*Publius Terentius Varro or Varro Atacinus, the poet*Gaius Terentius Varro, the consul defeated at the battle of Cannae...

 and Palladius
Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus Palladius
Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus Palladius, also known as Palladius Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus or just Palladius, was a Roman writer of the 4th century AD. He is principally known for his book on agriculture, Opus agriculturae, sometimes known as De re rustica.-Opus agriculturae:The Opus agriculturae is...

. Similar dogs are depicted in numerous sculptures and paintings from Roman times to the present. Among the earliest is the series of large statues (two in Rome, one in Florence, one – the Duncombe Dog – in England) copied from a Hellenistic bronze from Pergamon
Pergamon
Pergamon , or Pergamum, was an ancient Greek city in modern-day Turkey, in Mysia, today located from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus , that became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC...

.
Iconographic sources that have been identified as relevant to the history of the Maremmano include:
  • A Hellenistic bas-relief, of which a drawing was published by Max von Stephanitz
    Max von Stephanitz
    Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz was a German dog breeder who is credited with having developed the German Shepherd Dog breed as it is currently known, set guidelines for the breed standard, and was the first president of the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde .-Early years:Born in Dresden, Kingdom...

     in 1901
  • A votive statuette in the Museo Archeologico of Capua
    Capua
    Capua is a city and comune in the province of Caserta, Campania, southern Italy, situated 25 km north of Naples, on the northeastern edge of the Campanian plain. Ancient Capua was situated where Santa Maria Capua Vetere is now...

  • A 14th century mediaeval fresco
    Fresco
    Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

     in the church of San Francesco in Amatrice
    Amatrice
    Amatrice is a town and comune in the province of Rieti, in northern Lazio . The city is seat of the food-agricultural base of "Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park".-History:...

    , at the foot of the Monti della Laga
    Monti della Laga
    Monti della Laga is a mountain range in the central Apennines, Italy. Their ruggedness and inaccessibility makes them one of the lesser known areas of the Italian peninsula.-Geography:...

    , in the comune
    Comune
    In Italy, the comune is the basic administrative division, and may be properly approximated in casual speech by the English word township or municipality.-Importance and function:...

     of Rieti
    Rieti
    Rieti is a city and comune in Lazio, central Italy, with a population of c. 47,700. It is the capital of province of Rieti.The town centre rests on a small hilltop, commanding a wide plain at the southern edge of an ancient lake. The area is now the fertile basin of the Velino River...

    ; the dog wears a roccale
  • A 14th century fresco in Santa Maria Novella, in Florence
    Florence
    Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

  • A 'Nativity' of Mariotto di Nardo
    Mariotto di Nardo
    Mariotto di Nardo was an Italian painter. He was the son of the sculptor Nardo di Cione.His style belongs to the Florentine Gothic, and shows the influence of Spinello Aretino and Lorenzo Monaco....

     (active 1394–1424); the dog wears a spiked collar, photograph
  • Abraham and Lot on their way into Canaan by Bartolo Battiloro
    Bartolo di Fredi
    Bartolo di Fredi , sometimes called Bartolo Battiloro, was an Italian painter, born in Siena, classified as a member of the Sienese School....

    , in the Collegiata
    Collegiata di San Gimignano
    thumb|300px|View of the Collegiata.The Collegiata is the main church of San Gimignano, Tuscany, central Italy, situated in the Piazza del Duomo at the town's heart. It was once the Duomo , but since San Gimignano no longer has a bishop it has reverted to the status of a collegiate church.The first...

     of San Gimignano
    San Gimignano
    San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometres outside the town....


    Jean-Baptiste Oudry
    Jean-Baptiste Oudry
    Jean-Baptiste Oudry was a French Rococo painter, engraver, and tapestry designer. He is particularly well known for his naturalistic pictures of animals and his hunt pieces depicting game.-Biography:...

    , Hunting the Wolf, 1746,
    in the Musée du Louvre
  • A detail of the Journey of the Magi to Bethlehem
    Magi Chapel
    The Magi Chapel is a chapel in Palazzo Medici Riccardi of Florence, Italy. It includes a famous cycle of frescoes by the Renaissance master Benozzo Gozzoli, painted in 1459-1461....

    by Benozzo Gozzoli
    Benozzo Gozzoli
    Benozzo Gozzoli was an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence. He is best known for a series of murals in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi depicting festive, vibrant processions with wonderful attention to detail and a pronounced International Gothic influence.-Apprenticeship:He was born Benozzo di...

    , c.1460
  • Rough ink drawings on the maps of the pasture-lands of the Tavoliere di Foggia
    Tavoliere delle Puglie
    thumb|300px|The Tavoliere seen from the [[Gargano]] promontory.The Tavoliere delle Puglie is a plain in northern Apulia, southern Italy, occupying nearly a half of the Capitanata traditional region. It covers a surface of c...

     published in 1686 by Antonio and Nunzio Michele di Rovere
  • A seventeenth century engraving of the Roman campagna by Joannes van den Hecke
  • An eighteenth century maiolica
    Maiolica
    Maiolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance. It is decorated in bright colours on a white background, frequently depicting historical and legendary scenes.-Name:...

     of a bear-hunt by Candeloro Cappelletti (1689-1772) of Castelli, Abruzzo
  • Hunting the Wolf by Jean-Baptiste Oudry
    Jean-Baptiste Oudry
    Jean-Baptiste Oudry was a French Rococo painter, engraver, and tapestry designer. He is particularly well known for his naturalistic pictures of animals and his hunt pieces depicting game.-Biography:...

    , 1746, from the collection of Louis XV; the dogs to the left and right of the wolf are described in a catalogue of the museum as "large dog[s] with long hair". Wolf dogs from the Abruzzo were imported into France at about this time. They were used by François Antoine, "Antoine de Beauterne
    Antoine de Beauterne
    M. François Antoine, Officer of the Royal Bedchamber, Knight Equerry of the Royal Military Order of Saint Louis, served as Gun-Bearer to the King and Lieutenant of the Hunt under Louis XV of France, and is most notable as having pursued and slain the Beast of Gévaudan, its mate, and its whelps...

    ", in his successful hunt for the Beast of Gévaudan
    Beast of Gévaudan
    The Beast of Gévaudan is a name given to man-eating wolf-like animals alleged to have terrorized the former province of Gévaudan , in the Margeride Mountains in south-central France from 1764 to 1767 over an area stretching . The beasts were consistently described by eyewitnesses as having...

     in 1765; according to Gobin, under Louis XV (r.1715–1774) the Venerie Royale or Royal Hunt was composed in large part of Abruzzese wolf-dogs and Sicilian mastiff
    Cane Corso
    The Cane Corso is an Italian breed of dog, for years valued highly in Italy as a companion, guardian and hunter.- Description :-Appearance:...

    s.
  • The cane da lupo or wolf-dog used by Vincenzo Dandolo to defend Spanish sheep on the mountains above Varese
    Varese
    Varese is a town and comune in north-western Lombardy, northern Italy, 55 km north of Milan.It is the capital of the Province of Varese. The hinterland or urban part of the city is called Varesotto.- Geography :...

  • An illustration in the Penny Magazine
    Penny Magazine
    The Penny Magazine, published every Saturday from 31 March 1832 to 31 October 1845, was an illustrated British magazine aimed at the working class. Charles Knight created it for the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in response to Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, which started two months...

     of 1833
  • An engraving by Arthur John Strutt
    Arthur John Strutt
    Arthur John Strutt , was an English painter, engraver, writer, traveller and archeologist. He was the son of the landscape painter Jacob George Strutt and the writer and traveller Elizabeth Strutt....

     of a shepherd and his dog in the Roman campagna in 1843
  • Several engravings by Charles Coleman in his collection A Series of Subjects peculiar to the Campagna of Rome and Pontine Marshes

Recent history



Until 1958 the Pastore Maremmano ("Shepherd Dog of the Maremma") and the Pastore Abruzzese ("Shepherd Dog of the Abruzzi") were regarded as separate breeds. A breeder's society for the Pastore Abruzese was formed in 1950, and one for the Maremmano in 1953. On 1 January 1958 the breeds were unified by the ENCI, the Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiano, the national dog association of Italy. The explanation given is that a "natural fusion" of the two types had occurred as a result of movement of the dogs due to transhumance
Transhumance
Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and to lower valleys in winter. Herders have a permanent home, typically in valleys. Only the herds travel, with...

 of sheep flocks from one region to another, particularly after the unification of Italy
Italian unification
Italian unification was the political and social movement that agglomerated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century...

. Until 1860, the mountains of the Abruzzo and the plains of the Maremma lay in different countries.

As sheep farming developed into an annual trek or transhumance
Transhumance
Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and to lower valleys in winter. Herders have a permanent home, typically in valleys. Only the herds travel, with...

 from mountain grasslands of Abruzzo and Molise (and other parts of central Italy) south to lower pasture land in Puglia where sheep were over-wintered, the dogs came to play a central role in the centuries-old migration, an annual event vital to Abruzzese culture. Maremmano dogs continue to be widely used by Italian sheep farmers in areas where predation is common, such as the Apennines of central Italy and the open range land of national parks in Abruzzo. Besides their wide use in Italy, Maremma Sheepdogs are extensively used as Livestock guardian dog
Livestock guardian dog
A livestock guardian dog is a domesticated canine used to defend livestock against predators. LGDs are commonly referred to as "sheep dogs" since they most often have guarded flocks of sheep, but most are capable of guarding other species of livestock. They are classified as pastoral dogs...

s in Australia, the United States, and Canada.

Use


A roccale of a different type

The roccale or vreccale, a spiked iron collar

The traditional use of the Maremmano dog is as a guardian for the protection of sheep flocks against wolves. Columella
Columella
Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella is the most important writer on agriculture of the Roman empire. Little is known of his life. He was probably born in Gades , possibly of Roman parents. After a career in the army , he took up farming...

, writing in the first century AD, recommends white dogs for this purpose, as the shepherd can easily distinguish them from the wolf, while Varro
Varro
Varro was a Roman cognomen carried by:*Marcus Terentius Varro, sometimes known as Varro Reatinus, the scholar*Publius Terentius Varro or Varro Atacinus, the poet*Gaius Terentius Varro, the consul defeated at the battle of Cannae...

 suggests that white dogs have a "lion-like aspect" in the dark. The dogs work in groups; three or four dogs are an adequate defence against wolves and stray dogs. Their function is mostly one of dissuasion, actual physical combat with the predator being relatively rare. Nevertheless, working dogs may be fitted with a roccale (or vreccale), a spiked iron collar which protects the neck in combat. The ears of working dogs are normally cropped.

Training


Maremma used as LGDs are introduced to sheep flocks as puppies so they bond to the sheep. Some ranchers place Maremma puppies as young as 3–4 weeks old with young lambs though beginning this bonding process at 7–8 weeks is more typical. Although it is easiest to bond Maremma to sheep and goats, cattle ranchers have found that the dogs bond with cows and Maremma are increasingly used to protect range cattle. Some ranchers have found success training Maremmas to protect free-range fowl like chickens from predation from both ground threats such as coyotes, stray dogs and foxes as well as aerial threats such as raptors (hawks, eagles, owls, etc.).

Recently in Warrnambool, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, the world's first trial utilized a Maremma to guard the dwindling penguin
Penguin
Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere, especially in Antarctica. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have become flippers...

population of Middle Island. This project won the 2010 Australian Government Coastcare Award. While using Maremma to guard an endangered species is rare, Maremma along with other breeds of livestock guarding dogs are appreciated by environmentalists because they make it possible for livestock to coexist with endangered predators such as wolves and coyotes, reducing their predation by 70% to 80% or more. National park authorities in Italy, the United States and Canada have promoted use of the Maremma Sheepdog, as well as other types of LGDs, to minimize conflict between endangered predator species and ranchers.

External links