This is a large, sturdy, muscular dog with a coarse white outercoat and dense protective undercoat. The head is wide between the ears and narrows to the muzzle. The ears are small and high set. Adult males stand at 65-73cm and weigh 35-45kg, and adult females are 60-68cm in height and 30-40kg in weight.
Ancient Italian writers have mentioned the Maremma Sheepdog breed, and a 13th century picture in the church of Santa Maria in Florence depicts a Maremma. The original stock came from migrating Eastern shepherd dogs which developed into the individual breeds particular to a region – for example, the French Pyrenean Sheepdog and the Hungarian Kuvasz. In Italy, the shorter coated Maremmano and the longer backed Abruzzese merged into one breed in the 1860s, due to seasonal movement of flocks. Today's Maremma Sheepdog is still the most popular and common sheepdog in Italy. It is said that the courageous Maremma Sheepdog can ward off wolves, bears and human predators.
The Maremma Sheepdog is happiest when at work, tending its flocks. They will be loyal to their master and devoted to their flock but intolerant of intruders. For this reason, the breed is also a good guard dog and has been used as such on many a successful occasion. Early socialisation is essential particularly around children and other pets, as this is a big, strong dog.
The Maremma Sheepdog is generally a healthy breed, but as with many breeds, can suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
This breed of dog needs a huge amount of exercise – two-plus hours daily is right for a fit adult, although some of this can be done as he patrols his domain. The breed is used for herding and has the stamina to continue working all day. It is hard to keep this breed stimulated in the role of a non-working pet as he is never off-duty
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The Maremma Sheepdog is also prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
This heavy, dense coat takes a lot of upkeep and the dog needs a thorough brushing and combing several times a week or the coat will become matted and the dog will develop eczema and hot spots. The pads should be examined and trimmed between them, if necessary.