learn all of the technical "things" about the breed, where they
originated, how the breed came to be and exactly what the breed standard is
from any number of places, including the Maremma Sheepdog Club of America.
We've found that most of the people interested in getting a Maremma are more interested in learning about the history of the parents of the puppy, how a Maremma might fit into their life, how the puppy learns at our ranch in the first 8 weeks of their life, and what we can do to help new Maremma puppy owners help their new pup become a contributing member of their ranch and family.
How Our Ranch Situation Led Us to the Maremma Livestock Guardian Dog
To help you
understand the environment our working mated pair and our puppies grow up in,
it helps to tell you about our ranch and why we chose the Maremma instead of
one of the many other great Livestock Guardian Dogs out there. You can read about the progression of animals as we added to the ranch, and why that meant we needed a Maremma LGD on the home page of the site. Here are the details of how and why we ended up with the Maremma breed specifically.
We're a small family ranch who was losing sleep at night while listening to the howl of coyotes, hoping the sheep were safe and secure in the barn and hoping the owls weren't going to be picking off a free range chicken or guinea who didn't make it to the coop before dark. During the day, stray dogs, hawks and eagles were a concern. As our flock of sheep grew, we wanted to cut down on our labor of moving animals in and out of barns/pastures trying to make sure they were safe from various predators at various times of the day We simply couldn't be in the ranch 24 hours per day.
We looked at lots of Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) breeds. We read, researched, monitored discussion boards and talked to many different breed's owners.
One big concern we had was that not everything on our ranch "got along." Our "pet dogs" aren't great ranch dogs. Dig the terrier will chase the chickens (and if that happens, it ends poorly for the chicken.) Moose the adopted lab mix has always been a fan of chasing barn cats. So we were concerned that if we brought a LGD on the property, and a pet dog chased an animal that the LGD protected, that we'd end up with a dog fight. An LGD would clean the clock of the pet dog.
What's Unique About the Maremma? (and why we have fallen in love)
In our research, we found the Maremma (pronounced "mare" like the horse and "emma" like the girls name.) That was the first we had heard of it, but it seemed to have a few attractive advantages for our needs:
1. Their take on life (and protection) is to make the choice to intimidate and confuse first, and then be aggressive second, only if their intimidation and confusion tactics don't work. It's as if the dogs have a sense of humor. "Hey coyote, I'm going to run right at you! Then I'm going to turn around and run right back to my sheep." (Yep, that's not typical predator behavior, hence very confusing to a coyote.) Barking and marking are also at the top of the list. Even the female Maremmas mark the border of their territory. They make it clear to predators that "this space is taken", so the Maremma is less likely to ever have to physically engage.
2. A well raised and socialized Maremma is generally less dog aggressive than some other LGD breeds. Our Maremma's understand that our "pet" dogs are just 4 legged extensions of their Alpha-People and we have never had an incident of Maremma/Pet-Dog concern.
3. Maremma's are more likely to "flock" than to roam. They are not as likely to have the "wandering" drive that some breeds have. Yes, they want and need their space, but seem to understand that it's hard to guard their flock/ranch if they've run off to "patrol" way far away from the ranch. Yes, they need secure fencing, but some breeds will take advantage of a foot of snow on the ground gives them in accessing the top of a fence. We haven't found that our Maremma's are that excited about leaving, and have heard similar things from many other Maremma owners. A properly bred and bonded dog shouldn't feel the need to break away from their flock to go look for trouble.
decided this was the breed for us. We wanted to have 2 dogs to work in tandem,
and were lucky enough to find a working breeding pair both imported directly
from Italy. We've used the dogs, Brio and Katrina, for the past two years as guardians of the
whole ranch, and they have been everything we've expected and needed of them,
and more. We aren't aggressive breeders- we're not in this to make a living. We're in in because we have fine specimens of the Maremma breed, and because we want working dogs of a variety of ages on our ranch to help insure the safety of our flock.