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Maremma Sheepdog Temperament Traits: The Gentle Wolf Killer

The Maremma Sheepdog temperament is gentle and calm. However, dog experts don’t agree on whether the Maremma Sheepdog makes a good family dog. These giants may be lovable, but they are livestock guardian dogs (LGD) with an intense protective instinct.

They guard sheep from wolves.

He is an ideal guardian dog who doesn’t always know how to turn it off when he gets home.

The Maremma Sheepdog Temperament

Strong Work Ethic

The Maremma has a very strong work ethic—maybe too strong. This guy doesn’t like to take time off.


The Maremma has one job to do—protect his flock. He does it extremely well, sometimes too well.

Maremmas have a strong pack instinct. They love babies and young children. They will be very protective of them, but they often see a threat where there isn’t one.

Maremmas will be protective of older kids, too. They will react if one of their charges is bullied or teased. They might get upset with friendly roughhousing, thinking “their” child is being attacked.


The Maremma’s job is to guard the flock against predators when there are no humans around. He needs to be able to make decisions on his own when he thinks there is danger. This can be a problem at home if you expect him to obey without questioning.


The Maremma Sheepdogs intelligence temperament is one of his primary traits. It makes him easy to train and a good protector. He also needs it to make those independent decisions at work.


The Maremma Sheepdog will do his best to avoid violence, but he will risk his life to challenge and even kill wolves to protect his livestock.


A livestock guardian needs to be trusted not to harm his flock in order to do his job properly. A good guardian dog will show submissive behaviors around his flock. This is so the livestock know that he is not a predator and can be trusted.

The Maremma Sheepdog shows the same temperament trait around other animals. He doesn’t have a strong prey instinct, so he can be trusted even with small pets, birds, and young children.

He’s a wolf killer you could trust to around your young ones..


This breed is devoted to all members of his “flock,” animals and humans. This makes him a wonderful companion dog.


The Maremma Sheepdog is not aggressive by nature, but he is self-confident. He is aware that he has a job to do and knows exactly how to do it—better than you do.


The natural Maremma Sheepdog temperament is friendly and loving, but they are reserved with strangers.


The alert Maremma Sheepdog temperament is intense. He is always watching for trouble and making sure he knows where all the members of his flock are.

In the field, he may look like he’s sleeping at night. However, he is always aware of what’s going on around him.


The Maremma is gentle at heart. When he thinks one of his “charges” is in danger, though, he will spring to defend them.


The Maremma is a loyal breed. He needs to have a good bond with the “flock” that he protects. He will try nonviolent ways to guard his flock but will protect it with his life if necessary.


This breed is very good at sensing conditions around him and knowing when he needs to act. He’s an expert at reading body language and emotions.


The Maremma Sheepdog temperament is very affectionate. They like to touch and snuggle. They like to know where their charges are at all times, and they like to stay close.


Maremmas bark. It is their first-line protection strategy. They do it whenever they sense something out of the ordinary in their environment. This is one Maremma Sheepdog behavior that is hard to break.


Because of his independent temperament, he believes that he knows best. It can be difficult to teach him otherwise. He is hard to obedience train.

Reserved with Strangers

The Maremma Sheepdog is always alert to strangers and doesn’t easily warm up to them. If he senses that a stranger is unwelcome, he will challenge him or her.

Maremma Sheepdog Training

At work, the Maremma does his job instinctively and doesn’t need much training.

At home, though, you need to be in firm control. The Maremma temperament is not to blindly obey. He needs to see you as a strong, confident pack leader.

In his work, he has learned to trust his own decision-making. He needs to develop a mutual respect in order to allow you to make the decisions.

Most importantly, this dog needs consistency in training. Even then, there will be times when he won’t trust your judgment. He may never learn to accept strangers easily, for example.

The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan a world-class Dog Trainer from New Zealand is worth taking a look at. This online resource has hundreds of fun informative dog training videos that can help you learn the basics and more.

Maremma Sheepdog Appearance

The Maremma is a big, rugged-looking dog. He looks a bit like a bear. He has a large head, a black nose, and fairly small triangular ears. The Maremma also has strong jaws, large teeth, and a scissors-type bite.

Maremma Dog Colors

Maremma Sheepdog colors are white with occasionally some cream or pale yellow. He is nearly always white so he can blend in with his sheep. This helps him launch surprise attacks on predators.

Maremma Dog Size

Maremma Sheepdog size: Weight averages 66 to 100 pounds, but they can be much larger. Average height is 23.5 to 28.5 inches.

Maremma Sheepdog History

The Italian Maremma Sheepdog

The Maremma Sheepdog is one of the oldest known dogs. The breed originated in Italy, and we know that it was in Rome as early as the 1st century. It is sometimes called the Italian Maremma Sheepdog.

The Maremmas descended from ancient sheepdogs from two regions of Italy, Maremma and Abruzzo. They were once called Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdogs because they were so similar. In about 1860, experts began to consider them one breed.

The Marrema’s ancestors were larger breeds of sheepdogs. The Maremma has evolved to be smaller than these early ancestors, but he makes up for it with the Maremma Sheepdog intelligent temperament and agility.

The Modern Maremma Sheepdog

This breed has changed very little over the centuries. Today the Maremma Sheepdog still protects sheep from wolves in Italy and elsewhere. It is also used to guard goats, cows, chickens, alpaca, and even penguins!

It is a rare breed outside of Italy.

Maremma Sheepdog vs Great Pyrenees

These two dogs are hard to tell apart by looking at them. The main difference between the two breeds is size. The Great Pyrenees has an average weight of up to 160 pounds for males and up to 100 pounds for females.

The Great Pyrenees is not quite as intelligent as the Maremma and even more wary of strangers. But he is also a gentle and loving companion dog.

Both breeds are excellent livestock guardian dogs, but the Great Pyrenees is used for other jobs, too.

Like the Maremma, they don’t tolerate heat well. Their coats are even thicker than the Maremma’s. Because of this, they make great snow dogs. They are used as avalanche rescue dogs, sled dogs, and for other cold-weather work.

The Great Pyrenees doesn’t need as much exercise as the Maremma, but he barks more.

Maremma Sheepdog Must-Knows

Maremma Sheepdog Lifespan

The Maremma’s life expectancy is 11 to 13 years.

Stranger Socialization

This is critical with this breed because of his protective instinct.

The Maremma needs stranger socialization from a very young age. Maremma Sheepdog puppies start out friendly and social. As they get older, they become more suspicious of strangers.

If good socialization doesn’t happen early, he may reach a point where he is set in his ways. (Some say this needs to happen by the time he is two years old.)

You should introduce him to as many friendly strangers as possible. Even after he accepts a stranger, he may need another introduction every time that person visits.

Even with proper socializing, you may find that this is an ongoing struggle. Your Maremma may never be comfortable with strangers.


The Maremma Sheepdog has physical and temperament traits perfectly suited to living outdoors. As guardian dogs, they usually live and sleep with their sheep.

This breed should never be kept in an apartment or city environment. They need plenty of room.

The Maremma doesn’t do well in hot weather because of its thick double-coat.

Maremma Sheepdog Health Issues

You should be alert to changes in Maremma Sheepdog temperament that may signal a health problem.

Overall, the Maremma is a healthy breed, but all breeds are susceptible to certain conditions. Most of the Maremma’s health issues are conditions that can affect all giant breeds.

  • Hip Dysplasia A malformation of the hip joint’s ball and socket. This can lead to loss of function and arthritis.
  • Entropion An eye condition where the eyelid folds inward. This often requires surgery and medication.
  • Bloat- A condition where the dog’s stomach fills with gas and puts pressure on the diaphragm. This makes it hard for the dog to breathe and is a medical emergency.
  • Gastric Torsion – A condition where the dog’s stomach fills with fluid or foam and rotates or twists. This is similar to bloat and is also an emergency.

Drug Sensitivities

The Maremma can have serious sensitivities to anesthesia and deworming medications.

Note: if you agree that your health and your dog's health should be a top priority then get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. Your Maremma friend will love you for it. This guide will help save you money, time and most of all help you keep your dog healthy.

Caring for the Maremma Sheepdog

Maremma Sheepdog Grooming

The Maremma has a coarse coat with a dense undercoat. They only need to be brushed occasionally to remove dead hair. They shed twice a year, so they need more frequent brushing then.

This breed doesn’t need to be bathed often, especially if they live outdoors. Cold doesn’t bother the Maremma, and the wind and weather help to keep their coats clean.

Maremma Sheepdog Diet

The Maremma Sheepdog Club of America (MSCA) recommends being careful not to overfeed your Maremma. Overfeeding may cause them to grow too fast, which could cause hip dysplasia and other joint problems.

The MSCA also suggests feeding your dog twice a day (rather than all in one meal). They also suggest paying attention to the calcium and phosphorus content of the food you choose. Both of these precautions will help prevent bloat and torsion.

Maremma Sheepdog Exercise

A powerful work drive is the primary feature of the Maremma Sheepdog temperament. Because of this, they need plenty of exercise.

If you have a Maremma that doesn’t work, he will need a large yard or wide-open spaces to run in. If he gets enough exercise, he should be content when he’s in the house.

Finding a Maremma Sheepdog

First Things First

There is a bit of controversy about whether Maremma Sheepdog traits are suitable to life as a companion dog.

The MSCA “does NOT recommend” keeping a Maremma Sheepdog as a pet because they are primarily working dogs. They don’t know how to “turn it off.”

Other Maremma Sheepdog breeders and handlers disagree. Some feel that if he has enough space to get the exercise he needs, the Maremma can be a wonderful family pet.

Buying Maremma Sheepdog Puppies from a Breeder

If you do feel you’re a good candidate for a Maremma, you can find Maremma Sheepdogs for sale in the breeder directory at the MSCA site.

The Maremma Sheepdog price is usually between $500 and $900.

This is very reasonable because the Maremma is not an AKC-recognized breed. You don’t have to pay for a pedigree. You may need to pay for shipping, though, because there aren’t a lot of breeders outside of Italy.

Maremma Sheepdog Adoption

It is possible to find a Maremma Sheepdog for adoption at a shelter, but this is a rare breed. You will need patience if you choose to go this route.

Maremma Sheepdog Rescue

This is probably your best bet for finding a Maremma. There are some rescue sites online, but you may need to broaden your search to livestock guardian dogs.

Many of the Maremmas found in rescues are older dogs that have retired from their working lives. These are more likely to be good companion dogs. They tend to be calm, less energetic, and more content to live in a home.

Why the Maremma Sheepdog?

If you chose to get a Maremma Sheepdog, there is one thing you will always be able to count on. Yes, he may need a lot of training, socialization, and patience. But he will also have the gentle Maremma Sheepdog temperament that will make him a loving and devoted family member.