Stoneybrook is dedicated to preserving the inherent qualities of the Maremma Sheepdog. The Maremma Sheepdog was developed over 2000 years ago as a means of protection for nomadic shepherds and their large flocks of free ranging sheep in the rugged Abruzzi mountains of Italy. In 1974, the Maremma was introduced to the United States, as part of a study comparing the various breeds of livestock guardian dogs. The Maremma Sheepdog quickly earned it’s title as livestock protection dog, and has since become one of the most popular breeds here in the U.S. Although the Maremma historically had been used to protect sheep and goats from becoming an easy target for predators, their role has become more diversified over the past several years. As new ideas are being explored, exciting uses have unfolded for these dogs. From protecting an endangered species of Penguins on a tiny coastal island, to guarding a small flock of backyard poultry. The Maremma has become a vital component in many small family farms, being used to protect not only livestock and poultry, but children as well. The Maremma can be imprinted on most any type of livestock providing it is given the proper foundation.
The ideal livestock guardian dog should demonstrate a calm and gentle temperament, be tolerant of juvenile curiosity and behavior, trustworthy and capable of working independently. Above all, they must exhibit a strong bond with the livestock. This nature is completely inherent in the Maremma Sheepdog and cannot be trained into any dog. Just as the Labrador was bred for it’s keen hunting and retrieving ability, the Maremma Sheepdog has been developed for it’s strong pack instinct, independent and protective nature. As a first resort, the Maremma will often attempt non-confrontational strategies to ward off predators. This might include urine marking, body blocking, (planting himself between the perpetrator and the stock) and possibly charging at the perpetrator. Very rarely is the Maremma provoked to an all out physical attack, but will do so if all other attempts to fail to ward off the intruder.
There are a few key points to remember when investing in a livestock guardian dog: first and foremost, choose the right pup. Genetics play a key role in the success of your future livestock guardian. Contact several breeders, visit the farm if possible and ask questions! Can the breeder provide a five generation pedigree? What is the temperament of the parents? Are the pups being raised in a working environment? Is the breeder performing any health testing on the parents of pups, for example OFA, PennHIP, etc? These are vital questions and you have the right to ask! Second, it is essential to introduce the pup at a young and impressionable age in order to develop its full potential as a livestock guardian dog. Research tells us that the most critical time for a pups imprinting and socialization takes place between 8 and 20 weeks of age. It is possible for an older dog to adapt to new stock, or even a different species of livestock, but this does take some time and effort on the owners part. And lastly, it is equally important to avoid spending too much time pampering and fussing over your Maremma if he or she is to be used exclusively for guarding livestock. I typically tell new owners to interact with their pup only within the boundaries of his or her territory. Cardinal rule, no petting over the fence! This will help ensure bonding with the livestock rather than seeking human affection.
Maremma can also make wonderful family pets, but they do not thrive well in an urban environment. An apartment or small fenced in back yard is not a suitable home for a Maremma Sheepdog. Maremma are large breed dogs which need a routine and a reasonable amount of space to exercise. They are very affectionate and protective by nature; a quality that makes them the ideal candidate for a livestock guardian. However, they can and will become equally protective of family members, especially children, so it is imperative to educate yourself before you consider adding a livestock guardian dog as a family companion.
At Stoneybrook, we strive to raise only sound, healthy, and structurally correct puppies. We offer a one year health guarantee on all puppies as well as a spay/neuter incentive