A Guardian Angel

The Italian or Maremma sheepdog is one of the world’s notable flock-guarding dogs and can be traced back in its native Italy to over 2000 years ago. It is known as the guardian angel of sheep and goat flocks and their shepherds in that country. Here, Shell from Pulse Vets Warner takes an in-depth look into this ancient breed.

It’s an ancient and ongoing responsibility to protect our livestock from the dangers of predators. Over the centuries, farmers and herders have tried fencing, shelters, and even “keeping watch over their flock by night.” 

   While you could sit up all night watching your livestock, odds are that you probably have other ways you’d rather spend your time. In that case, why not enlist the assistance of a devoted livestock guardian dog to help you protect your livestock from danger and an ideal breed of choice? Namely the Mareema Sheepdog. 

    Perfect for rural living, Maremma Sheepdogs are large, loyal and protective family pets that needs lots of mental stimulation.

    Affectionately known as gentle giants, Maremma Sheepdogs originated in Italy where their primary job was to guard flocks against wolves, bears and wild dogs. Maremma Sheepdogs are known for their self-reliant, independent and protective temperament. They are loyal, loving and sweet dogs to their family but aloof and reserved with strangers – don’t expect this breed to be best friends with new house guests. Their protective nature makes them great watchdogs, but they aren’t aggressive. Instead, they rely on their size and deep bark as a deterrent. Highly intelligent but strong willed, training can be difficult and will take some time. They generally favour one person and see them as their ‘master’. Early socialisation and training is imperative for a well-behaved dog. They are gentle and sweet with children they consider to be part of their flock. If socialised, they will befriend all other pets – even cats.

    Maremma Sheepdogs are happiest when they have a task to do. Don’t leave them alone for too long or they will quickly become bored and destructive. They are best suited to farm life with open space and livestock to guard. They are not your average household dog. They have moderate energy levels and need to be keep active. Maremma Sheepdogs shed heavily and have a dense, heavy coat that needs lots of upkeep. Brush them every day and trim the hair between their paws regularly. Make regular appointments with your local dog groomer. Maremma Sheepdogs live for approximately 12 years.

     Scheduled health checks and visits to the vet are important to ensure your dog is healthy and happy throughout its life . It’s important that together with your vet, a preventative healthcare plan is formed.Maremma Sheepdogs are a hardy breed but some ailments can be seen. The most common issues are hip dysplasia and skin problems such as matted fur and dermatitis

The Maremma Sheepdog is a wonderful guardian and has watched over all kinds of flocks, including a group of penguins off the coast of Western Australia and the  critically endangered eastern barred bandicoots in western Victoria.


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