Let's talk Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdogs

The steadfast Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog comes straight out of the old world, a traditional guarding dog that has survived centuries with a hardy and upbeat attitude and the support of many who know the talents of this faithful canine. Well-settled into their protective role, the breed isn’t always recommended to keep as a family pet by those who don’t also have other animals needing protection, like sheep or horses. In a family they’re raised with, the Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog is a loyal and devoted dog.

Official name: Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog

Other names: Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog, Maremma Sheepdog, Cane da Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese, Maremmano, Pastore Abruzzese, Pastore Maremmano, Abruzzese Mastiff, Mastino Abruzzese, Abruzzo Sheepdog, Abruzzese Sheepdog, Italian Sheepdog

Origins: Italy

Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog walking towards camera in black and white
 Drooling tendencies:


Warm weather?
 Shedding level: Very high
Suited to apartment living?  Very low
 Physical activity needs (high, low, medium): Moderate Kid-friendly? 

 Compatibility with other pets:
Can stay alone?

We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches.
Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour.
Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.
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Illustration of Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog
66 - 74 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
35 - 45 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
61 - 69 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
30 - 40 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight


 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 15 months
 Adult age  15 months to 5 years
 Mature age  5 to 8 years
 Senior age  from 8 years

Two Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdogs touching noses on grassy field


Get to know the Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog

All you need to know about the breed

The stocky body and profuse coat of the Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog outright announce, “use me as a guard dog.” Bred originally as a livestock guardian, this dignified breed is still a working dog, extremely devoted to their job with loyalty and bravery their most defining characteristics.

Although they’ll bond with the family that raises them, this isn’t a dog recommended to keep in a traditionally domestic setting. The Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog is known as an LGD - a Livestock Guardian Dog, bred to be independent-minded and they perceive themselves as a protector above all. Even in a family, and despite their devotion, they don’t think of themselves as a pet but more as there to serve.

The breed does get along with furry friends, but it’s best to provide praise when with his compatriots. Equal footing is best for the Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog, who likes to feel they’re in control. When it comes to children, they get along fine with those in their own family, once trained, but can be wary of even small newcomers. Having a space to confine your Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog is probably a good idea until this independent thinker is sure that everyone will get along just fine.

Side view of Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog running across grass


2 facts about Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdogs

1. A unique coat

With the exception of very occasional shades of yellow, peach, or orange, the downy, wavy fur of the Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog is exclusively white. And as much as it appears that doing so will help them cool off, shearing them should never be done. It serves as natural protection for the dog during hot and cold weather.

2. A sensitive sort

The Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog can be very sensitive to flea and tick medication. If used, make sure it is sparingly and be sure to wash it off thoroughly after application. The dog’s very thick coats will harbour the medication - especially since baths are not common - and its build-up over time could prove harmful.


History of the breed

A few centuries of breeding will impart instinct in any dog, like the Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog, bred as livestock guardians to look after goats (despite the “Sheepdog” in their name) in the Maremma and Abruzzese regions of Italy, prized for their ability to stand up to the worst predators. Their nickname, “wolf-slayer”, about sums it up.

Originally hailing from the Tibetan Mastiff, records on the breed date back 6,000 years, and to Rome 2,000 years.

Living with herders who slept outside instilled a preference for the outdoors in them, something they prefer to this day.

After World War II, the breed nearly disappeared, as did the breeding efforts for them, but they were revived starting in the 1970s when the Italian government deployed the dog to protect livestock in certain regions.

The Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog was recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1956 and by England’s United Kennel Club in 2006.

Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog looking towards camera in black and white


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdogs

1. Ears

V-shaped ears hanging flat, small compared to head, pointed ends.

2. Body

Large, powerful body, muscular but not heavy.

3. Coat

Profuse coat, thick undercoat, fairly harsh outer coat, slightly wavy.

Close-up of Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog looking over rock towards camera


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog
Two Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdogs looking towards camera


Caring for your Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The thick and slightly coarse hair of the Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog will need to be groomed weekly, even a few times a week, to rid it of loose hair. Their dense undercoat will shed twice a year when it requires more brushing. Bathe them as needed. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is imperative to dental health. Trim nails and clean and dry ears often as well. The Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog is a large dog and needs only moderate exercise, one to two hours a day being sufficient. Training can be a tad tricky for the Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog and should be started very early (and done only with gentle yet firm commands). This is a dog who has been genetically bred to think on their own, and as they age, instinct can take over in their willful ways. The breed does well with those they’re intimate with but as born guardians, they will need introductions otherwise, such are their protective instincts.


All about Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdogs

It is thought that the Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog descended from the Great Pyrénées but they are now two totally distinct breeds of dog. The former hails from Italy and the latter from France. Both are large purebreds and both have been utilised in protecting, their bulk serving well against predators.

The Maremma and the Abruzzese Sheepdog has an instinctive drive to protect, after having done so for centuries alongside shepherd families. Although they’ll bond to their family, they have an equally (very) strong instinct as a working dog and aren’t recommended for families who don’t need a guard dog on site. The breed is though quite affectionate with those in their immediate circle.


1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/