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Maremma Sheepdog

Although commonly confused with the fairly recent creation known as the Maremanno-Abruzzese Sheepdog, the original Pastore di Maremma is a much older breed, presently believed to be extinct in its pure form. Unlike the heavy mastiffs of the Abruzzo mountains, this agile working breed belongs to the lighter sheepdog type, lupoid in head features and posessing a softer temperament than both the Abruzzese Shepherd Dog and the Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog. Once a common livestock herder and protector in Tuscany, the Maremma Sheepdog is believed to be at least 1500 years old. This resilient Italian breed has been a valued watchdog and guardian in its homeland for many years, but by the end of the 19th century, the number of these rugged working dogs has declined drastically and after the 2nd World War, the leftover specimens were crossed with the Abruzzese Mastiff with hopes of reviving the breed. However, the salvation effort wasn't a success, seing how it resulted in much larger and sharper dogs, bearing little resemblance to the original Maremma variety. This new group of dogs was given the name Cane di Pastore Maremanno-Abruzzese and quickly became very popular in Italy, as well as the rest of Europe.

Most serious canine authorities don't condone the use of the "Maremma" and "Maremma Sheepdog" names for the Maremanno-Abruzzese Sheepdog, seing how it simultaneously suggests that this new breed is in fact the same thing as the old Maremma Dog of Tuscany and ignores its Abruzzo heritage, without which it wouldn't even exist. Both the fanciers of the original Maremma and the Abruzzese Mastiff enthusiasts are quick to point out the erroneous claims made by many breeders of the Maremanno-Abruzzese Sheepdog and false information found in some encyclopedias, but unfortunately these complaints are routinely ignored and the myths concerning the true history of these breeds are still commonly found in most literature. Although it is unlikely to still exist in its pure form, the old-type Maremma Dog can reportedly still be encountered in certain parts of Tuscany. The original Maremma was a slender dog, with long legs, a straight back and a deep chest. The head is rounded and narrow, with a fairly long muzzle and well-developed jaws. The drop-ears were sometimes cropped and the tail was oftentimes docked, but the majority of Tuscan sheepdogs were left unaltered.

The coat is dense and hard, much shorter than the rich coat of the modern Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog. Usually white in colour, the coat of the old Maremma Dog was also common in cream and light fawn shades. Average height is around 25 inches.

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