Maremma Sheepdog Care

The Maremma Sheepdog is a large-sized, thick-coated, independent herding breed that's considered pretty rare around the world. These dogs have strong work ethics and aren't really recommended as family pets--but as working farm dogs, Maremmas are fantastic. Overall Maremma Sheepdog care and maintenance won't take too much work, but will need to include a good bit of exercise and some early training and socialization.

Here you'll find plenty of details on caring for a Maremma Sheepdog, including info about puppy development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more. Consider the following sections your definitive Maremma guide--and read on!

Maremma Sheepdog Breed Development

As a large-sized breed, Maremma Sheepdog puppy development typically spans 21-24 months from birth to full maturity. Since the breed's lifespan averages 12 years, a senior Maremma Sheepdog is one nine years of age or older.

Physical Development: Maremma puppies grow steadily in height and length for the first 10-11 months, then those growth rates slow while the adolescent "fills out" with muscle and fat. And when do Maremma Sheepdogs stop growing? These dogs normally reach their adult height and weight (an average of 27 inches and 85 pounds) at 13-14 months of age.

Social Development: Pups reach adolescence at about seven months, sexual maturity at about 10 months, and full mental maturity by 24 months.

For further details on Maremma Sheepdog development, see the chart below.

(NOTE: Maremmas are independent, intelligent, and strong willed--which means they might be hard to handle as adults if they're not trained from a young age. New Maremma owners are strongly advised to begin obedience training and socialization as early in puppies' lives as possible.)

Maremma Sheepdog Exercise Needs

As an energetic herding breed, Maremma Sheepdog exercise requirements are pretty extensive. Breed members are highly intelligent and task-oriented, so they'll need a variety of activities that both condition them physically (walking, fetch) and stimulate them mentally (games, canine sports). They make good jogging companions as well.

Adult Maremmas will need at least an hour of dedicated exercise per day, and the total amount of activity needed will depend on their age and overall activity levels. You can start exercising your Maremma puppy when it's 3-3½ months old by taking it on short walks, the you can increase the walks' length as the pup grows.

    Precautions with Maremma Sheepdog exercise:
    • Don't exercise puppies too hard before they're 10 months old
    • Strong herding instincts mean a leash is required when exercising in public
    • Leash training during puppyhood is strongly recommended
    • Yards must be securely fenced to keep the dog from running off

    Exercising a Maremma Sheepdog every day is a must. These dogs have naturally strong work ethics--they constantly need a "job" to do, in other words--and without consistent activity they'll become frustrated and disobedient. Regular exercise will be great for the dog's peace of mind! A few exercise ideas:

    • Walking/Jogging: Two 30-minute walks (or 20-minute jogs) per day is a good target
    • Fetch/Frisbee: Maremmas usually love chasing a ball, stick, or Frisbee
    • Tug-of-War: Good rainy-day activity; use a rope or old towel
    • Canine Sports: These dogs can excel at agility, obedience, or herding trials
    • Hiking: Excellent bonding activity

    If your Maremma Sheepdog spends much time indoors, it's good to give the dog access to balls or toys, as these allow the dog to burn excess energy. Another good idea is to have a regular exercise schedule for the dog, such as walks or jogs after breakfast and dinner and playtime in the afternoon.

Maremma Sheepdog Maintenance

In terms of overall maintenance, these dogs will need moderate care. Maremma Sheepdog shedding is seasonal: fair for most of the year, but heavier during the twice-yearly shedding seasons. Drooling is a minor issue.

Maremmas have thick, medium-length, harsh, double-layered coats that shed moderately most of the time--but when they blow their undercoats in the spring and fall, the shedding can be profuse. Owners can brush their Maremmas twice a week with a pin brush to minimize the shedding; if your Maremma spends much time inside, hair cleanup--vacuuming the floors, and lint rollers on clothes and furniture--will be necessary from time to time. (Brushing and cleanup will obviously be required more often during shedding season.)

And a Maremma might drool a bit in anticipation of food, after drinking water, or when especially excited or nervous--but the drooling won't be heavy or frequent like that of a Bloodhound or Saint Bernard. If your Maremma Sheepdog is drooling excessively, that may be a sign of a medical issue, in which case a veterinarian's care is needed.

Maremma Sheepdog Diet

The Maremma Sheepdog diet will need to include animal proteins, healthy carbs, vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids--nutrients every dog needs to maintain its health in the long term. What do Maremma Sheepdogs eat? Probably anything you give them--but the best Maremma food is premium dry kibble, as it has balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients.

These dogs do best with food formulated for active breeds. SportMix and Dr. Tim's are recommended brands of high-energy premium food.

Adult Maremmas, depending on their age, size, and activity levels, will need about four cups of dry food per day, divided into two meals. Maremma puppies will need a bit less: again depending on age, about 2¾ cups per day, divided into three meals (not two) until seven months old.

For more info on feeding a Maremma Sheepdog from puppyhood through maturity, see the following:

*--Around this time, transition to adult food by mixing in adult formula with the puppy formula, in slowly increasing amounts with each meal, for one week.

If possible, try and stick to the above-listed portions. If constantly overfed (and under-exercised), these dogs can become overweight--and a fat Maremma Sheepdog will have numerous health problems and a potentially shortened lifespan. You can help control your Maremma's weight by having consistent feeding and exercise schedules, and by not leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time.

If you're worried your Maremma Sheepdog is overweight, try this test: run a hand along the dog's side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time--which means less food and more exercise!

Living Environment

The Maremma Sheepdog is pretty much an outdoor breed. Though they may enjoy spending some time indoors with their human family members, these active, task-oriented dogs will prefer to live outside, preferably in a space with lots of room to run. And in an apartment, Maremma Sheepdogs won't live comfortably simply because they're too big and energetic for such a confined space.

Another consideration for owners of a Maremma: weather. This large, thick-coated breed might overheat in sweltering temps, but will be fine in other climates. Overall, these dogs are best suited for life in mild or cool climates.