Maremma Sheepdog.jpg
Breed Group Group 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds
Sub-group 9-A: 9-A Large Mountain/Pastoral Dogs Shepherding Type
Origin Country Italy
Weight Males: 77-100 pounds. Females: 66-88 pounds.
Height Males: 25-29 inches. Females: 23-27 inches.
Other Name(s) Cane da Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese, Maremma and Abruzzese Sheepdog, Pastore Abruzzese
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD
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Maremma Sheepdog

Breed Group Group 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds
Sub-group 9-A: 9-A Large Mountain/Pastoral Dogs Shepherding Type
Origin Country Italy
Weight Males: 77-100 pounds. Females: 66-88 pounds.
Height Males: 25-29 inches. Females: 23-27 inches.
Other Name(s) Cane da Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese, Maremma and Abruzzese Sheepdog, Pastore Abruzzese
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Origins

It is believed that Maremma Sheepdogs and many of the other large mountain flock guardian breeds, such as the Akbash, Kuvaz, Komondor, and Great Pyrenees, are descendants of large Asian dogs that were originally used to guard nomads, horses, sheep, and goats from predators and thieves.

When the nomadic bands moved from Central Asia to the West, they brought many of their large dogs along and traded some of them with the locals. In their never-ending search for greener pastures, the nomads eventually made their way to the Pyrenees Mountains, where they once again left a number of their prized dogs with the people of the area. There, the dogs worked alongside the local herdsmen for thousands of years, and the populations remained mostly isolated from outside genetic influence.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that the decision to set the type and declare the dogs a breed was reached. It included the denser coat type preferred throughout the Abruzzos regions, as well as the less profusely coated types.

Breed Characteristics

Head: The skull type is mesocephalic and somewhat shaped like a long, blunt wedge tapering from the broad topskull to the muzzle. It is reminiscent of that of a polar bear skull. The skull is proportionate to the size of the body. The topskull is broad, with the length being equal to that of the width (measured across the top in front of the ears). In profile and from the front, the topskull appears slightly rounded, and along with the well-tapered, yet full muzzle, gives the head a conical shape when viewed from above, in profile, or from the front. The brows are somewhat developed. The occiput and sagittal crest are only slightly developed. A very slight median furrow, or ridge, between the eyes at the stop may be present. The skull should appear neither heavy, like that of a mastiff, nor foxy and light.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond to diamond in shape, and medium to dark brown in color. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes. Any signs of entropion or ectropion are incorrect for this breed.
Ears: Small to medium in size, set rather high on the skull, above the level of the zygomatic arches. They are triangular and V-shaped, with pointed tips. The ears lie flat against the head, but may have some lift at the base when the dog is excited or alert. The tips extend no further than to the corner of the mouth when the mouth is held softly open. The ears are never long, fly-away, or overly large. Cropped ears are permissible in working dogs.
Muzzle: The muzzle is well-developed with strong jaws. It is full, deep, and broad. It blends, or tapers, to the blunt end of the muzzle, giving the muzzle a blunt conical shape. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance and are well-developed, never appearing snipy or weak.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black. The nostrils are well-opened. The nose is in-line with the vertical plane of the muzzle, never protruding forward, nor receding back. This gives the muzzle a blunt, somewhat squared or truncated end.
Neck: Moderate length allows for proud head carriage, it is powerfully muscled with a good arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. Overall, the neck is clean-cut and without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap; however, a minimal amount of loose skin at the throat should not be penalized.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows. The forechest is well-developed but not prominent.
Body: Solid and of good substance and depth throughout. The body is never racy or excessively heavy. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set low on the croup, just below the level of the topline. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. Carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, usually slightly above the level of the topline to a neutral position, but never tucked. Tail is of a medium-to-long length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. The tail may be straight, gently curved, “arroundera” (a wheel), saber-shaped, or sickle-shaped. It may have a “shepherd’s crook” at the end. There is no preference in carriage.
Movement: The Maremma Sheepdog moves with surprising grace, agility, efficiency, and energy. Powerful, yet graceful, the characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the centerline of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: This dog comes from centuries of self-sufficient flock guardians, so his very independent and protective nature should come as no surprise. The Maremma Sheepdog is observant and discerning, capable of telling herd from predator and friend from foe. He is developed to strongly bond to flocks and families at a young age. Due to the intensity with which the Maremma Sheepdog bonds, socialization should be employed on individuals that will accompany their families outside of the property; otherwise, they may become overprotective home bodies. They are mostly known as gentle giants unless they have identified a threat. Being a dog with guarding instincts, they demand a certain amount of autonomy, but they are always happy to accompany those that they love. Mature individuals may show an indifference or aloofness toward strangers, which should not be penalized. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds

Proportions: The Maremma Sheepdog is a somewhat off-square to slightly rectangular breed, with the point of the forechest to the point of the rump being slightly greater than the height at the withers. The ideal body-height-to-length ratio is between 1:1 and 10:9. The distance from the point of the shoulder to the point of the rump is approximately 6% greater than the height at the withers. The bone is solid, giving strength to the frame, and the dog is powerfully muscled throughout. Males should appear masculine, being more substantial in size and mass, while females should appear more feminine and slightly less substantial. Neither should lack overall type.

Head

General Appearance: The skull type is mesocephalic and somewhat shaped like a long, blunt wedge tapering from the broad topskull to the muzzle. It is reminiscent of that of a polar bear skull. The skull is proportionate to the size of the body. The topskull is broad, with the length being equal to that of the width (measured across the top in front of the ears). In profile and from the front, the topskull appears slightly rounded, and along with the well-tapered, yet full muzzle, gives the head a conical shape when viewed from above, in profile, or from the front. The brows are somewhat developed. The occiput and sagittal crest are only slightly developed. A very slight median furrow, or ridge, between the eyes at the stop may be present. The skull should appear neither heavy, like that of a mastiff, nor foxy and light.
Expression: Soft, melting, self-composed, watchful, and reflective.
Stop: Gently sloped, never abrupt or pronounced.
Skull: The ideal skull-to-muzzle ratio is 1:1, or 10:9 with the topskull being equal in length to, or just slightly greater in length than the muzzle.
The convex planes of the skull are slightly divergent from the straight or gently tapered plane of the muzzle.
Muzzle: The muzzle is well-developed with strong jaws. It is full, deep, and broad. It blends, or tapers, to the blunt end of the muzzle, giving the muzzle a blunt conical shape. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance and are well-developed, never appearing snipy or weak.
Lips or Flews: Lips are clean and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws. They should never appear loose, droopy, or pendulous. The edge of the lips gives the muzzle a blunt, slightly rounded end. They are darkly pigmented.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black. The nostrils are well-opened. The nose is in-line with the vertical plane of the muzzle, never protruding forward, nor receding back. This gives the muzzle a blunt, somewhat squared or truncated end.
Cheeks: The cheeks can range from smoothly muscled to slightly padded. The area below the eyes is well-filled and never completely chiseled.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level, scissor, or reverse-scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Missing or broken teeth as a result of routine work is not to be penalized.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond to diamond in shape, and medium to dark brown in color. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes. Any signs of entropion or ectropion are incorrect for this breed.
Ears: Small to medium in size, set rather high on the skull, above the level of the zygomatic arches. They are triangular and V-shaped, with pointed tips. The ears lie flat against the head, but may have some lift at the base when the dog is excited or alert. The tips extend no further than to the corner of the mouth when the mouth is held softly open. The ears are never long, fly-away, or overly large. Cropped ears are permissible in working dogs.

Body and Tail

General Description: Solid and of good substance and depth throughout. The body is never racy or excessively heavy. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: Moderate length allows for proud head carriage, it is powerfully muscled with a good arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. Overall, the neck is clean-cut and without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap; however, a minimal amount of loose skin at the throat should not be penalized.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows. The forechest is well-developed but not prominent.
Topline: Level from prominent withers to croup. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut and slightly arched, yet supportive. The back is never swayed or roached.
Croup: Broad and gently sloped.
Underline: Slight tuck-up present, or the underline may run parallel to the topline. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, and oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set low on the croup, just below the level of the topline. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. Carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, usually slightly above the level of the topline to a neutral position, but never tucked. Tail is of a medium-to-long length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. The tail may be straight, gently curved, “arroundera” (a wheel), saber-shaped, or sickle-shaped. It may have a “shepherd’s crook” at the end. There is no preference in carriage.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are fairly long, and approximately equal in length to the forearm, and slightly longer than the upper arm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The distance from the withers to the point of the elbows is slightly less than the distance from the ground to the elbows.
Forelegs: Slightly longer than the upper arm.
Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle, of solid bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are fairly long, equal in length, strong, sturdy, of solid bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.

NOTE: Each hind leg should carry well-formed double dewclaws. Absence of these dewclaws is a disqualification.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: Well furnished with a dense, flat, long, supple, weather-proof outer coat, especially on shoulders and back. Hair on the face, ears, topskull, and front of the legs is shorter. Hair is longer on the neck, rump, and tail, forming a dense and abundant crest, frill, trousers, and a plumed tail, all of which may have slight wave. Thick undercoat.
Coat Color or Pattern: Solid white or predominantly white some markings of the following colors and patterns: various shades of ivory, tan to red, including red, reddish brown, orange, yellow, cream, or biscuit.

Movement

The Maremma Sheepdog moves with surprising grace, agility, efficiency, and energy. Powerful, yet graceful, the characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the centerline of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

This dog comes from centuries of self-sufficient flock guardians, so his very independent and protective nature should come as no surprise. The Maremma Sheepdog is observant and discerning, capable of telling herd from predator and friend from foe. He is developed to strongly bond to flocks and families at a young age. Due to the intensity with which the Maremma Sheepdog bonds, socialization should be employed on individuals that will accompany their families outside of the property; otherwise, they may become overprotective home bodies. They are mostly known as gentle giants unless they have identified a threat. Being a dog with guarding instincts, they demand a certain amount of autonomy, but they are always happy to accompany those that they love. Mature individuals may show an indifference or aloofness toward strangers, which should not be penalized. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.