Maremmas an effective solution for keeping the herd safe

Western Magazine
By: Denis Howard
Photo: Courtesy of Western Magazine
Photo Caption: The Maremma Sheepdog has been guarding herds for more than 2000 years. Their innate desire to put the herd first makes them an ideal livestock guardian.

With all the predators facing herds on a property, it is no surprise producers are looking at effective ways of protecting their investment.

With more than 2000 years of genetic history behind it, the Maremma Sheepdog takes this role very seriously.

Living between 10 to 14 years, with males growing anywhere between 35 to 45 kilograms and more than 70 centimetres tall, Maremmas cut a very imposing figure.

They have become very popular among livestock guardian dog breeds because of their focus on the safety of their herd or property and are effective under varying farm situations against a wide range of predators.

A Maremma guardian has the ability to bond with a number of livestock species at the same time and once they do, are very loyal to the herd.

A livestock guardian dog looks like many other normal dogs, but have a unique temperament.

They do not display some of the behaviours a normal dog typically will, most importantly the innate will to chase as a good guardian will only chase a predator, not their herd.

Maremmas are generally not as aggressive as other guardian breeds, although they are wary of strangers and may deter them from access to the herd until given an indication otherwise, at which point they can become quite friendly.

Lisa Pontin, of Monon Stud in Harden, has been breeding Maremmas for more than 22 years and said while it is not a simple task to turn the strong-willed dogs into guardians, every minute spent developing them is worth the effort.

“It usually takes around two years for a Maremma to become a good guardian,” Lisa said.

“Maremmas will protect any animal they have been socialised with, making them an ideal guardian.

“Both they and the livestock need a bit of time to get to know each other, but once they are, both parties are very happy together.

“Maremmas prefer to stay close to their herd rather than roam.

“Other livestock guardians are more stringent and want to eliminate a threat whereas the Maremma is happy just to chase it away,” she said.

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