Maremma Sheepdog

A complete breed guide for Maremma Sheepdogs

2 AUGUST 2022

This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarian, Dr Lacey Kelly BVSc (Hons)

Once heralded the 'wolf-slayer', these large white fluffy dogs are an exceptional livestock guardian breed. Having been bred to protect their flock they are capable of thinking independently, which can get them into a little trouble with inexperienced fur parents. They are fiercely loyal to their flock and are extremely loving with their immediate family unit. If you have a large property, and are willing to dedicate time, energy, and persistence then this dog could be the right fit for you.

Maremma Facts
Top Toy Recommendations
Nutrition Recommendations
Health Concerns
Related Breeds
Further reading

Maremma Sheepdog Facts


Breed size:

Place of origin:




Extremely Intelligent

Breed group:

Energy level:

Weight range:

Working, Guardian



Life expectancy:

Tendency to bark:

Height range:

11-12 years


60-73cm at withers

Drool factor:

Ease of training:

Coat length:



Long and thick with a dense undercoat.

Shedding factor:

Overall grooming needs:



Thick coat that requires regular brushing

Solid white only.
Shades of ivory around the ears and tail is accepted.

How big do Maremmas get?

The average adult weight of a Maremma Sheepdog is from 30-45kg. Their height ranges from 60-73cm at shoulder. Males tend to be a little taller and heavier than females. The best way to estimate your dog's expected adult weight is to have a look at their mother and father.

Do Maremmas shed?

Maremma Sheepdogs definitely shed. They are a double-coated breed with long thick fur that forms a rich collar around their neck. Varying levels of feathering is seen through their tail and along their hindquarters.

Maremmas have a dense undercoat that sheds heavily during Spring and Autumn. Moderate shedding occurs throughout the remainder of the year, and you can expect brushing to become a daily task if you bring a Maremma into your home.

Many Maremma owners chose to use a deshedding comb like a Furminator to remove the undercoat and loose hair. If you are thinking of having your Maremma inside a Robovac will soon become your best life investment.

How long do Maremmas live?

The Maremma Sheepdog lifespan is 11-12 years on average. As with any breed, they will live much longer if you take good care of them, never let them become overweight, and keep their joints in good health.

How do I choose a Maremma breeder?

It is important to choose a puppy from a reputable breeder who actively aims to improve the health of the breed by selectively breeding healthy traits and good temperaments. This dog is going to be in your life for the next decade at least so you want to put time into researching a reputable breeder. Never purchase a puppy without inspecting the breeder's premises, seeing their dogs, and asking the 10 Breeder Checklist Questions first. Good breeders socialise their animals, house them humanely and allow you to inspect their premises. Read our Guide to Finding a Good Breeder for more tips.

How much does a Maremma cost in Australia?

Maremma Sheepdog pups in Australia may cost anywhere from $600-$2500. As with any breed, it is cheaper to adopt an adult dog from a rescue.

Are Maremmas good pets?

Maremma Sheepdogs are incredibly intelligent, loyal dogs that are a working breed first and foremost. Provided you can provide them with the intense level of exercise and mental stimulation they need, Maremma Sheepdogs can make great pets! Early and ongoing training and socialisation are imperative for these sometimes-stubborn smarties. They are best suited to large properties and farms where they have room to roam and put their livestock guarding skills to good use.

Do Maremmas bark a lot?

Yes, Maremmas bark a lot. They will not bark without reason but as a guardian breed they are wary of strangers and will bark at anything they perceive to be unusual. Whilst this is excellent in rural settings to protect livestock it can be a problem in suburban areas where they are known to become nuisance barkers. It is a difficult thing to control as barking is a significant component of their livestock guarding instincts.

Are Maremmas good with kids?

Despite their size and stature, Maremmas are known to be wonderful with babies and kids from their own family unit. They can have trouble with other children as they can be particularly protective over their family's children and can perceive the unknown children as a threat.

As with any breed, proper socialisation is essential to ensure your dog forms positive associations from a young age. Always supervise interactions between children and dogs and give your dog some space if they seem fearful or stressed.

How much exercise do Maremmas need?

Maremma Sheepdogs need space and frequent opportunities to run free. If you live in the suburbs with a small yard this breed is probably not the best fit. If they are not working as a flock guardian they will need to be taken on brisk walks multiple times a day. Alternating routes is a good idea to keep them not just physically stimulated but mentally as well.

Maremma Sheepdog History

Maremma sheepdogs date back to ancient Roman times with descriptions, sculptures and paintings depicting the white flock guardian dogs. Originating in Italy, Maremma's were bred with the express purpose of livestock guardianship. For thousands of years they have been responsible for the protection of their herds from predators, like wolves. They are extremely good at what they do and have earned themselves the nickname of 'wolf-slayers'.

In Australia, the breed can be found on outback and rural properties protecting all sorts of livestock, ranging from sheep and alpacas to geese and free-range chickens.

In recent history Maremma Sheepdogs have been placed on Middle Island to protect penguins after fox predation saw a sharp decline in the island's penguin population. This project to save the little penguin colony inspired the 2015 movie Oddball. If you haven't seen it already I would definitely recommend checking out Oddball to see firsthand just how special these guardian dogs are!

Maremma Sheepdog Personality

Maremma Sheepdogs are extremely loyal, both to their family and their livestock. They bond very closely with their family unit and do not like to be apart from them. They can on the other hand be quite wary of new people and situations and can come off as aloof or overly protective. To limit their possessiveness, it is important to have your Maremma pup interacting with many friendly strangers when they are young.

Maremmas were bred to be independent thinkers and capable of problem solving on their own and while this is good for guardianship it can prove challenging with training. They may not respond to your command, not because they don't know it, but because they think they should decide for themselves what they do and when they do it.

Maremmas live to work and need a job to do to keep them out of trouble. In the right environment Maremmas thrive but without sufficient physical and mental stimulation they can develop destructive and nuisance behaviours. In addition to a large property, Maremmas require a high level of daily exercise and mental challenges. Interactive toys such as KONG, puzzle feeders , and problem-solving toys are perfect for Maremmas. See our section below for the best toys for Maremma Sheepdogs. Similarly, long lasting treats are great to keep your Maremma's mind active when they are not physically exercising.

Top Toy Recommendations for Maremmas

Maremma Sheepdogs are solid, intelligent dogs with a strong jaw so opt for larger sized toys. They are excellent problem solvers and do well when their minds are kept busy. For more tips, take a look at Boredom Busters for Dogs,.

Maremma Sheepdog Nutrition

Maremma Puppies

It is important to feed your Maremma puppy a diet that is formulated specifically for large breed puppies. They require a diet that is less energy dense than a standard puppy food as overfeeding and an overweight body condition are important risk factors for the development of orthopaedic disease. They also contain an appropriate balance of calcium and phosphorous with a lower overall calcium content than a regular puppy food.

Dogs that are expected to have an adult weight over 25kg should continue on a puppy diet until they have reached full maturity (15-18 months).

As mentioned, Maremma Sheepdogs require a confident owner and consistent training in order to thrive and keep out of mischief. Training treats are a must to have on hand for obedience training, toilet training, crate training and clicker training..

Want to learn more about caring for your new Maremma puppy? Check out our other articles:

  • New Puppy Guide
  • What is the best puppy food?
  • 10 Frequently Asked Puppy Questions
  • Common Mistakes Puppy Owners Make
  • Best Food For Maremma Puppies

    Top food recommendations for adult Maremmas

    With adapted calorie levels to help prevent weight gain in large breed dogs, and beneficial ingredients to support bone and joint health, I recommend the following diets for your adult Maremma Sheepdog.

    Maremma Sheepdog Health Concerns

    In general Maremma Sheepdogs are quite healthy however they can be prone to a number of different diseases, especially those seen frequently in larger breed dogs.

    Skin Cancer

    Normally Maremmas have completely pigmented noses however if they are lacking pigmentation, they have been known to develop skin cancer.

    Hip Dysplasia

    Hip dysplasia is the abnormal growth and development of the hips. A healthy hip joint operates as a smooth gliding 'ball and socket' joint. Hips that are dysplastic typically have a flattening of the 'socket', resulting in a shallow joint that the 'ball' cannot sit in securely. This leads to instability of the joint; causing pain, inflammation, and the development of osteoarthritis.

    The condition is primarily genetic in origin with varying degrees of disease seen between dogs due to a combination of factors such as body weight, exercise, nutrition, and hormonal factors. Rapid growth due to incorrect diet can worsen the dysplasia of the hip joint in affected puppies making correct nutrition so vital at this important stage of growth and development.

    To learn more, check out our article on Hip Dysplasia

    Gastric Torsion/Bloat

    Bloat is a life-threatening condition whereby the stomach expands many times its normal size and in many cases twists and rotates, cutting off its own blood supply. The spleen is usually an innocent bystander that gets pulled into the rotation, also compromising its blood supply. While this condition typically affects deep chested dogs such as the German Shepherd and Great Dane , it can affect any breed and size, even Chihuahuas and Dachshunds. How do you know if your dog has bloat? The main signs to look out for are sudden onset of abdominal distension, distress, anxiety, pain (such as panting, guarding the belly), drooling and multiple unproductive attempts to vomit. What should you do in this situation? Transport them to a veterinary hospital or emergency clinic immediately where urgent treatment and surgery is required. Do not attempt to give anything by mouth.

    In breeds with a high risk of bloat, a preventative surgery called a prophylactic gastropexy can be performed at the same time as desexing. The surgery involves securing the stomach to the inside of the abdomen to prevent it rotating. For more information about bloat and preventative surgery, we recommend speaking with your regular veterinarian.

    Eye Disease

    Maremmas can be born with the genetic predisposition to developing several eye conditions. Entropion and Ectropion are conditions in which the eyelids roll inwards or outwards, respectively. Distichiasis is when the eyelashes either grow in the wrong location or sit incorrectly and actually touch the dog's eye. If you've ever experienced an eyelash in your eye, you can appreciate how painful and irritating this would be to deal with 24/7.

    Dogs with any of these conditions often present with red eyes, excessive tearing, blinking, squinting, pawing at the eye and general discomfort. Without treatment they will likely develop corneal ulcers, scarring and the abnormal growth of blood vessels across the eye (corneal neovascularisation).

    Top Health and Supplement Recommendations for Maremma Sheepdogs

    Given their propensity to develop orthopaedic conditions and GDV the following joint supplements and products are recommended to support the health of your Maremma.

    Related Breeds

    Maremma Sheepdogs are part of the livestock guardian group, alongside The Great Pyreness, Anatolian Shepherd, and Komondor.

    Anatolian Shepherd

    Native to Turkey, the Anatolian Shepherd was bred firstly as a hunting dog and then as a shepherd's companion and livestock guardian. These fiercely loyal but stubborn dogs are not for the novice pet parent.

    Great Pyreness

    The breed declared the 'Royal Dog of France' by Louis The Great, is another white, fluffy giant bred to protect livestock and their family unit. With their strong build, beautiful thick coat, and aura of majesty you can be forgiven for confusing this breed with a white lion.


    Affectionately labelled the 'mop dog', the Komondor is a long-established livestock guardian breed. This intelligent Hungarian breed boasts a long, corded coat, making it tricky to differentiate from your household mop.

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    Further Reading

    New Puppy Guide

    Premium Pet Food: Is it Worth it?

    Should You Feed Your Pet A Raw Meat Diet?

    The Benefits of a Slow Feeding Bowl

    Arthritis in Dogs