Maremma Sheepdog

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
fast facts

About Maremma Sheepdog

65-100 lb
11-13 years
UKC Guardian Group
Best Suited For
experienced dog owners, active singles, active families, house with a yard
Hard-working, intelligent, friendly, protective
Comparable Breeds
Kuvasz, Polish Tatra Sheepdog
23.5-28.5 inches

Maremma Sheepdog Basics

Also known as the Cane de Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese or simply the Maremmano, the Maremma Sheepdog is an Italian breed of livestock guarding dog. These dogs are known for their thick white coats, fluffy tails, and their fearlessness. The name for this breed comes from the Maremma marshlands where the breed worked for thousands of years, though sheep-farming has decreased in this area in recent years.

The Maremma Sheepdog is an Italian breed of livestock guarding dog.


The Maremma Sheepdog is a livestock guarding breed native to the mountains of Tuscany. Breeds of this type have existed since ancient Roman times so the exact origins of the Maremma Sheepdog are unknown. The first time the Maremma Sheepdog was registered occurred in 1898 – the breed was known as the Maremmano in the Libro delle Origini Italiano at the time and it was registered with the Kennel Club Italiano. The first standard for the breed was published in 1924.


The exact origins of the Maremma Sheepdog are unknown because sheep-protecting dogs have existed since ancient Roman times. The breed is thought to share some of its heritage with other mountain breeds including the Kuvasz, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, and the Polish Tatra Sheepdog.


As a large-breed dog, the Maremma Sheepdog should be fed a high-quality commercial dog food diet formulated for dogs of its size. Because this breed is a high-energy working breed, however, an active or working breed formula may be more appropriate to meet his needs.

Because the Maremma Sheepdog is an intelligent breed it generally responds well to training.


Because the Maremma Sheepdog is an intelligent breed it generally responds well to training. These dogs can be independent at times, however, so you need to establish yourself as the alpha of the household and maintain a firm and consistent hand in training. If you plan to use your dog, for sheep guarding you should introduce him to the sheep around 7 to 8 weeks in order to begin the bonding process.


The Maremma Sheepdog is a large-breed dog that typically stands 23.5 to 28.5 inches tall and weighs 65 to 100 pounds at maturity.


This fluffy white dog is known to be a friendly and even-tempered breed, though (like most livestock guarding breeds) it does have a bit of an independent streak. These dogs are loyal to their human companions and they are fearless when it comes to protecting those they love. This breed gets along well with other dogs and household pets, though it may be a bit aloof around strangers. Early socialization is recommended to control this breed’s protective instincts and to ensure that he does not become too dominant or willful. Because this breed is smart it also needs plenty of mental stimulation to prevent the development of problem behaviors due to boredom.

Common Health Problems

As an ancient breed, the Maremma Sheepdog is a healthy and hardy breed for the most part. Like all dogs, however, they are prone to certain health problems, many of them related to the breed’s large size. Maremma Sheepdogs are prone to hip dysplasia as well as other musculoskeletal issues. Feeding your Maremma Sheepdog puppy a large-breed puppy formula will help keep him from growing too fast which will also reduce his risk for bone and joint problems later in life.

Life Expectancy

If you are curious about the potential age that your future four legged friend can reach, it’s only natural. After all, you want to know exactly how many years you can spend together, creating those precious and lasting memories. Luckily, the average lifespan for the Maremma Sheepdog breed is 11 to 13 years. This is quite a respectable lifespan for any dog, especially if we consider the fact that the average maximum lifespan for most dog breeds is around 15 years. So the Maremma Sheepdog is somewhere near the top there! This means that you will have a steadfast and loving friend by your side for at least a decade and perhaps even more! Imagine all the memories that can be created along the way.

Of course, you can’t expect that nature will do everything and just magically bestow your pet with longevity. Your help is needed – and a lot of it, too. You are required to always care for your pet, from a proper diet, to plenty of exercise, and regular visits to the vet. Only with all of these aspects fully taken care of, can you expect your pet to reach their senior years.

Exercise Requirements

In the life of virtually every dog breed out there, exercise plays a crucial role. It acts as mental stimulation, contributes to their physique and overall health, and it’s – plain and simple – just a lot of fun. Because the Maremma Sheepdog is a highly intelligent working breed, these dogs need a great deal of daily exercise. They are smart, athletic, and very enduring, which means that they need tasks or jobs to be occupied, or if they are brought up as pets – a lot of physical activity to keep them happy and healthy. In other words, exercise is a must, and can’t be neglected. This breed requires a long daily walk or brisk jog and will also appreciate having time to itself in a fenced yard. The Maremma Sheepdog also requires plenty of mental stimulation. Due to its high needs for exercise, this breed is not recommended for apartment life. Make sure that your daily routine can accommodate this need, as neglecting it definitely won’t reflect well on your dog. 

The Maremma Sheepdog is a friendly and even-tempered breed.


A somewhat rare breed, The Maremma Sheepdog is not currently recognized by the AKC but it is classified in the Guardian Dog group for the United Kennel Club and the Pastoral Group by the UK Kennel Club. Such a modest recognition does not mean that this is not an accepted breed by common standards. It is on a great way to wider recognition, as more and more people are realizing its true potential and its great character as a pet dog. So keep an eye out – in just a couple of years, the Maremma Sheepdog is bound to be on many more official recognition lists. 


The Maremma Sheepdog is a large breed dog with a muscular build and a thick white coat. This breed’s coat is long and thick with a rough texture – the hair is generally thicker around the neck. Solid white is the only color for the breed, though some minor yellowing might be tolerated. Needless to say, regular brushing and maintenance will be needed in order to keep this coat nice and soft, as well as looking tidy.


Ah, that innocent puppy stage. You will love it, and it will pass so quickly. The average litter size for the Maremma Sheepdog breed is 6 to 9 puppies. Because these dogs are so intelligent, they need plenty of training from an early age to prevent the development of problem behaviors due to boredom. It is also a good idea to choose a large breed puppy food for your dog to prevent him from growing too quickly – growing too fast will put him at risk for joint problems later in life. Either way, you won’t be able to resist the cuteness of Maremma puppies. They are so tiny and fluffy, that you will have the constant urge for cuddling. But be wary, the puppies can be so fragile in this period: be protective and avoid large crowds and eager visitors. It can put the puppy under a lot of unnecessary stress. 

But, as soon as the fragile period is over, start with socialization. For puppies, this is super important. It lays down the foundations for a healthy and normal adult dog, which will be friendly and sociable with anyone. It also helps iron out any behavioral issues that can develop, such as anxiety or aggression. With proper socializing, your pet will be happy and fun!

Photo credit: Cristina_Annibali_Krinaphoto/Bigstock

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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