*** I am a Maremma Sheepdog Club Code of Ethics Breeder ***
My favorite question to ask a potential buyer is “what do you need from your dogs?” This is important information for sure, but what I am really looking for from that potential buyer is their next question of me, which ought to be “what will my dogs need from me?” I want to place my pups in working situations where they are valued partners; where their needs and quality of life are as important to their owner as the protection the dogs are expected to provide.
I look for buyers who I feel have a strong intuitive sense and a willingness to learn from their dogs. I have had LOTS of Maremmas. The most important thing they have taught me is that I have more to learn. I find that if I watch my dogs closely they’ll usually let me know what is working for them, or isn’t, and how I might come at fixing the problem. I don’t think a buyer needs to know everything there is to know about Maremmas to be the perfect buyer. Rather, I think they need to be eager to learn.
Pairs only: I believe LGDs should be allowed to work in pairs. I am committed to that premise to the extent that I will not place my puppies in single working dog situations.
LGDs kept as single working dogs often exhibit these behaviors:
They bark excessively
They “play” with livestock or become aggressive with livestock
They guard resources (people, food bowls, sleeping space, etc.) excessively and inappropriately
They become aggressive towards household pets
They climb fences or dig under and leave their appropriate territory
I want my dogs to have rich, rewarding lives doing the important work they were bred to do. I believe that single dogs do this work at their emotional expense and increased risk of physical harm from predators. If you would like to see more information about how I view this issue please see the “One Dog or Two” blog on the Blogs page.
Livestock: I place puppies in working situations only. There are many, many breeds that are appropriate as companion dogs. In my opinion Maremmas are not one of them. I know that some owners are successful in keeping Maremmas as pets and I mean them no disrespect. I am currently the secretary of the Maremma Sheepdog Club of America. At least weekly I receive phone calls from frustrated and disappointed owners who want to relinquish their dog(s) to our rescue organization or a shelter. Most of the time when I ask enough questions it becomes evident that many of the “problem” behaviors stem from the time the dog was kept at a pet. I don’t want to see any of my dogs in this situation.
To purchase dogs from me you must first own mammals for the puppies to bond with and guard.
Fencing: Woven wire fencing is essential and must be at least 4’ tall, preferably with an electric wire along the top. This fencing must go tightly against the ground in all places. I have not found Maremmas, kept as pairs, to be problematic in terms of staying where I ask them to work but since good fencing can save a dog’s life it is critical that the environment the puppies are asked to work in be well prepared for their arrival PRIOR to their arrival. I do ask for proof of both the presence of livestock and the quality of the fencing. In many cases using Google Earth makes this easy.
I do not ship puppies/dogs: In 2018 several of my shipped puppies were placed in harm’s way. I have lost faith in the airlines and their commitment to the safety of my animals. I also strongly prefer to meet my buyers, in part so that I can share with them what I have taught their puppies and help them begin their relationship with them. Last year I sent pups to Pennsylvania and Colorado, in addition to many other destinations. In the case of the PA pups their owners drove to the ranch to pick them up. With the CO pups my husband and I did some of the driving. It is to a new owner’s advantage to come to the ranch and learn from the many Maremmas working here; that number is currently seventeen dogs.
Age of placement: I place my pups as started adolescent dogs only. They will be at least four months old and have had PennHIP testing completed. Giving my puppies significant training prior to them leaving me increases their likelihood of success and the satisfaction of their new owners. This helps to keep my puppies safe in their new lives. Benson Ranch is now an LGD training facility, so as well as raising livestock and producing outstanding Maremma puppies we offer training on a per month basis. Buyers of my pups have the option of leaving them here with me in training beyond the minimum age at which they can leave. I think placing started pups at five to eight months of age is ideal.
Preference given to visitors of the ranch: I seldom place puppies with buyers I have not met, however I make this decision on a case by case basis. Because the purchase of puppies from me is the beginning of a mutual relationship it is important to me to choose buyers I feel some commonality with and can communicate well with. Getting a feel for this is often much more difficult using only e-mail or phone calls.
Price: $2000, sold with Limited registration
This price is for a pup four to five months of age, with PennHIP testing included. Additional training for pups produced here is $200 per month. Training is also an option for pups purchased elsewhere at $250 per month.