The Maremma sheepdog is an ancient breed native to the mountainous region of Tuscany, Italy. The dog has long existed since the historical time of the Romans. Because of this, his true origins are difficult to trace and thus remain unknown.
Around 100 B.C., huge white sheepdogs were first mentioned by a Roman scholar named Marcus Terentius Varro. Later on, he continued to highlight these canines in works of literature, paintings, and sculptures. These depictions that can be traced back to as early as the fourteenth century closely match the features of the modern Maremma sheepdog.
It is believed that the breed’s ancestry is connected to the Pyrenean mountain dog due to their likeness in features and working roles. Other breeds such as the Kuvasz and Komondor of Hungary, the Cuvac of Slovakia, and the Karabash and Akbash sheepdogs of Turkey are also progenitors of the Maremma sheepdog.
The Maremma sheepdogs commonly work in packs composed of about three to four canines. During their puppyhood, they are set free to cohabitate with the sheep. Through this, they can perceive themselves as the flock’s protector. The Maremma sheepdogs are brave and can stand their ground when facing a potential threat. There are historic illustrations of them wearing roccales. It is a dog collar adorned with spikes to protect their neck from any fatal wounds by big predators.
In 1898, it was the first time that the Maremma sheepdog was registered. However, the breed was named Maremmano. According to other accounts, there were two separate breeds namely the Abruzzese and the Maremmano. Each of these dogs came from different regions. The Abruzzese hailed from the mountains, whilst the Maremmano came from the plains. The only distinguishing trait between the two is their physique. The former sports a longer body and the latter possesses a somewhat shorter coat.
In 1924, the first standard for the breed was published. Then, around the late 1950s, the Maremmano and the Abruzzese were officially considered as one breed. Today, there are only a few Maremma sheepdogs registered with the Kennel Club. However, they are quite a popular guard dog breed in the United States, Canada, and Australia as they proved to be excellent protectors of different animals.