DELLBIANCO MAREMMA SHEEPDOGS (AU)
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The Maremma Sheepdog is a result of a very long selection process having its origins in the necessities of the Italian transhumant shepherding of the Central-South Italy, in particular the Abruzzo region.
The agricultural context & the economies of the transhumant shepherding are hence the one & only true cultural & historical niche out to be the perfect hosting place for our white guardians. Years of natural & anthropological selection have made him the noble dog, as we know him nowadays: even-tempered & reliable, full of pride & dignity, majestic & enticing, the dog that only those who don't know him are not keen about.
The beauty of these white guardians I obvious in any circumstance, but often having been seduced by these magnificent animals doing their work in the wild & solitary Apennines Mountains, seeing them walk on leash in town is almost banal. The main task, the "raison d'etre' of the Maremma Sheepdog is to protect the livestock from wolves that have been hunting the domestic herds since immemorial times.
The specific character traits of this breed are braveness, a strong attachment to livestock & the territory & total lack of predatory instinct. The true lovers of this fantastic breed shall appreciate not only its esthetics, but also its ecological & historical background. Those who purchase a Maremma puppy from a breeder shall insist on having the "original" & not an "imitation". Isn't it awesome imagining that the same fluffy white puppy living a happy life in your back garden could have become a ferocious & bribable livestock guardian ?. The point is, that the natural attitude of our dogs shall be preserved & not forgotten.
These ancient dogs that have always been used by the shepherds to protect the livestock have been subject to a tough selection aimed at guaranteeing certain somatic traits:
* big dimensions & strength, in order to offer protection from prey animals or cattle raiding outlaws either on their own or in a pack.
* sobriety, frugality & rusticity to face the hard life of all livestock guardian, subject to continuous wanderings, poor nourishment & bad weather conditions.
* dense semi-long fur with thick undercoat that offers perfect thermal insulation as well as an eaves-effect incase of extended exposure to rain.
* white fur is helpful to camouflage within the heard incase of predatory attacks during the night hours, as well as easy enough to be recognized & not be shot by the shepherd in a fight with wolves or other animals.
A typical working day for the Maremma starts very early in the morning, walking out of the sheep pen together with the sheep, going to a pasture barking in order to communicate his presence. Walks all around the area where in a few moments the sheep will arrive to pasture to detect traces of its main antagonist & enemy: the wolf. Incase he detects something suspicious, the Maremma starts barking. After that he escorts the sheep to pasture, if he detects a strange sound or smell, he starts growling; if on the other hand the day is calm, the Maremma tends to stay at his highest point of the pasture observing the territory & keeping the situation under control.
These wonderful white giants start doing their first steps together with the heard very early, around 2 months old, following their natural instinct & without the need of being taught anything in particular.
During the long afternoons on the pasture grounds, time passes by very slowly. The Maremmas rest in the shadow, amongst invisible to the passers-byes, or if the heard is moving, follow the sheep in a half wake. Only the young ones are full of energy & try to play with some of the more patient elders.
Females are a bit more wakeful than the males & stay seated instead of laying on the side. If the dog is guarding a house rather a moving livestock herd, he will choose very attentively the point from where he can keep under control all the accesses, & will stay there day by day like a white sphinx ready to counter any intruder.
(2015 IL PASTORE TRANSUMANTE DI DARIO ADOLFO CAPOGRASSO)