Now widespread in Italy as a shepherd dog, the ancestors of the Maremma-Abruzzo Shepherd were probably introduced there by the Magyars coming from Asia.
The breed as we know it today comes from the Abruzzo Sheepdogs, still used today in this region where sheep farming remains prosperous, and Sheepdogs from the Tuscan Maremma and Lazio.
Other names: Cane da pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese, Maremma Sheepdog
History of the breed
The breed of the Shepherd of Maremma and Abruzzo is very old since its existence is attested for more than 2 millennia. Descendant of sheepdogs from the historic regions of Maremma (from Tuscany to Lazio) and Abruzzo (central-eastern Italy), it is most likely the result of crosses with mastiffs originating in Asia brought by the Mongol warriors thanks to their European conquests.
Contributions from Anatolian Shepherd (Kangal), Slovak Shepherd, and Pyrenean Shepherd Dog (Patou) have helped to give it the current characteristics. Previously, a distinction was made between the long-haired Abruzzo Shepherd and the short-haired Maremma Shepherd.
From the beginning of the 1950s, the 2 breeds were merged into one due to the virtual disappearance of the Maremma Shepherd. The Shepherd of Maremma and Abruzzo was definitively recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) on March 13, 1956.
The Maremma and Abruzzo Shepherd Dog is a large dog with a rustic appearance, strongly built and well proportioned. A little longer than high, it displays a certain nobility in its silhouette and its attitudes.
- Its hair: long (up to 3.5 Inches), very thick, rough to the touch, lying flat on the body, forming an important collar, shorter on the muzzle, the skull, and the ears. Slight ripple is tolerated. In winter, the undercoat is abundant.
- Its color: completely white. Shades of ivory, pale orange, and lemon are only tolerated within certain limits.
- Its head : rather tall, broad, and flat, reminiscent of a polar bear. The stop is not very pronounced, the muzzle a little shorter than the skull, the jaws powerful and the cheeks moderately visible.
- Its ears: set very high above the zygomatic arch, drooping, triangular in shape, ending in unrounded tips, small in size compared to those of the body.
- Its eyes: not very large for the size of the dog. The iris is ocher to chestnut in color. The look is at the same time soft, lively, and attentive.
- Its body :of solid construction. The withers are slightly above the top line and wide between the shoulders. The back is straight, the croup wide and muscular, the chest ample and well let down to the elbows, and the sternal line raised.
- Its tail: set low, covered with a dense and bushy hair, hanging down at rest.
Behavior With Others
The Maremma and Abruzzo Shepherd Dog is an intelligent, courageous, independent dog, endowed with a very strong sense of territory which gives It a natural ease for guarding. Loyal and affectionate, It’s very attached to Its family and to Its master whom It will protect against any form of threat. It’s also independent and stubborn.
Rather strong-headed and rebellious, the Shepherd of Maremma and Abruzzo requires a firm and precocious education. It must be socialized very early, which in particular promotes Its understanding with children.
The Shepherd of Maremma and Abruzzo is made to live in an environment close to nature, with large spaces. It will always prefer to move to a large walled garden than to a small house. It needs to enjoy great freedom of movement and to express Its guardian instinct.
Health & Maintenance
The Maremma and Abruzzo Shepherd is a robust and resistant dog. Thanks to its double coat, it tolerates cold and humidity quite well. The breed does not show any particular predisposition to any disease, but its large size means that it is not immune to possible hip dysplasia.
The Maremma and Abruzzo Shepherd Dog remains subject to seasonal moulting , which does not cause dramatic hair loss. Its maintenance is easy, unlike what might leave the appearance of its thick coat, long and white.
It needs exercise and freedom to be happy and balanced. It appreciates long walks without a leash in places where it is possible and as long as It has learned the recall well, which is not easy.
It is recommended to brush the dog every week to maintain its rustic coat. During the moulting period, it is advisable to brush it 2 to 3 times a week to remove the dead hair. Its coat and the inside of Its ears should be examined systematically after outings to prevent deposits of debris that could lead to infections.