More About Maremma Sheepdogs
Are maremma livestock guard dogs right for you?
Learn more about them to decide:
Don't wait until you have a problem to purchase livestock guarding dogs. Part of the protection of your herd should include some type of guardian animals, whether it be a donkey, llama or livestock guard dogs.
Livestock guardian dog bloodlines are kept pure in order to maintain their behavioral traits and make the dogs predictable. Some people will cross-breed the dogs, but they should be crossed with other livestock guardian dogs. If you cross a livestock guard dog with a herding dog, you might bring out aggressive tendencies in these very large, strong dogs and that would not be good.
The behavior of herding dogs is polar opposite to the behavior of livestock guardian dogs. Herding dogs exhibit controlled predatory behaviors: enough to make the herd alert and move them, but controlled enough that they don't hurt the animals. Livestock guardian dogs are completely non-predatory. The best livestock guardian dogs can calmly walk through the flock without disturbing it at all, because they are not sending any predatory signals.
These dogs are smart and don't bark unnecessarily. If they are barking during the night, they either hear, smell or see something. The dogs, being intelligent, know what is a threat and not a threat to their family and herd.
Maremmas never try to escape from their fenced area. They accept it as their territory and whatever animals are in the area, they consider to be their flock. They stay with the flock. Maremmas can protect poultry, but need to be socialized to accept them. The dogs should be exposed to livestock and exposed to people when being raised.
Maremmas do NOT make suitable pets. Keep them with the animals, with their flock or herd, 100% of the time. They will live all the time with their herd or flock, and usually sharing whatever shelter you have provided for the herd or flock. They have thick coats and are accustomed to living outside.
You'll usually want to have at least two dogs because sometimes a single dog can be worked to exhaustion and overcome by a coyote pack or dog pack. Two dogs can work together to protect your herd. The dogs will act as a deterrent to keep threats outside the perimeter. If you have wolves or grizzly bears in your area, you might consider three or four dogs.
It might surprise you to learn that one of the most common threats to your livestock are neighbor's dogs. And those can be found everywhere.
Ideally take a male and female, because with two of the same sex, there will be an alpha or boss. Usually they can go out into the field with the alpacas at about 4 months of age. Customizing the dogs to their herd, is a slow process, but it does work. Be patient. You can't be discouraged because you told them one time not to chase the chickens.
Find out what others in your area are finding to be the most helpful in terms of protecting their livestock. Do you need a llama, donkey or guarding dogs? What is working? Think about the needs of the animals you choose? Is it suited to your situation? Talk the breeders of dogs in your area. Find someone who can explain the strengths and weaknesses of each breed. Do you want dogs that bark more or less? How much acreage do you have? Owning a livestock dog is a ten-year commitment. If you have a bad experience for a year and a half and then decide to get rid of the dog, the dog will have a bad experience for the rest of its life. So be sure that you are ready for the long haul.
When raising maremmas, in a subtle way, you assert your dominance as they are a puppy. You want to make sure that you are their boss. Up to two years of age, keep an eye on them and make sure they don't play too rough with the livestock.
If maremmas are suitable for your situation, these working dogs will be a wonderful investment to protect your livestock for the next 10 years.
Watch this YouTube video of Jimmy with our maremmas to learn more.