Are You thinking of getting a Guardian dog??
As we have evolved into a general 'livestock guardian'* rescue, helping all breeds of guardian dogs which find themselves needing a new home, we hope to help educate potential owners about guardian dogs and encourage the new owners to fully explore guardian dog breeds before purchasing or adopting a dog.
How many people have ever actually met a Guardian dog and/or talked with its' owner?
Generally all of the 'Guardian*' breeds are beautiful in nature and loving to their owners, but wary of strangers: they are very independent minded, they shed, bark (a lot!), are very difficult to train to walk close when off-leash and will roam if not adequately fenced. Our rescued dogs are placed only with suitable, responsible families who are willing to understand the dogs’ different qualities, including their protective nature. Whether re-homed as a companion dog with a loving family or as a livestock guardian on a working farm, we strive to place good dogs into loving homes.
Most dogs are able to read 'body language', how well do you watch your dogs' body language??
These dogs are fantastic dogs, and for anyone who has had any experience with this breed, one thing they should all tell is that these dogs are very capable of reading body language: both yours (as owners) and of those who they come into contact with. They have the ability to 'sense' things well before you realise that there is even an issue eg stress levels, if you're tense or fearful, if you're sad, and even if you're happy.
We wish to emphasise the importance of desexing to reduce the number of unwanted dogs in Australia. This reflects our policy that requires all pups/dogs to be desexed prior to adoption.
We also emphasise the rewards of opening your heart and home to an adolescent or adult rescued dog rather than a puppy. The advantage of a rescued adult is that "what you see is generally what you get", you will know exactly the characteristics of that dog. While puppies are adorable, they do not fully mature (mentally or physically) for 2-3 years and their qualities and true nature are not shown until that time. As our dogs are rescues and come to us from many and varied situations, we can not give any history to lineage or parentage, however, we will support new owners and will take back our dogs, at any time, if the need arises.Do NOT purchase a puppy from pet shops OR back yard breeders (ie, people with unregistered breeding dogs that can't show genetics or parentage). The purchase of puppies from pet stores promotes puppy mills and backyard breeders , and these people are not concerned as to the situations that the dogs may end up in.
'How much is that doggie in the window' has a new meaning for people who have bought pups from stores.
Unfortunately for the breed, the Maremma Sheepdog is being sold by Pet Shops in Australia and this is due to irresponsible owners/breeders cashing in on their looks, with no regard as to where the pups end up. These purchased ‘pet-store’ pups often are more expensive than buying from a reputable registered breeder, they come with no history or knowledge of lines. More often than not, ill-informed store staff are advising people that they are "just like Golden Retrievers", and in reality when they grow up are absolutely nothing like them!!
How can a shop sell goods when they do not know what they are selling?
When whole litters are being sold from stores which sell pups, within any breed of dog there are differences between individual dogs within those litters. The nature of guardian breeds will vary between pretty laid back and casual dogs who make great overall companion dogs, through to those who are overly protective and can be excessive barkers, who tend to make excellent companion/workers on acreage.
For comparison, not every Greyhound is cut out for race work, however both types (racing and non racing) will make great pets, so it is that, not every Maremma is cut out for guarding livestock, and some will be more content and will make awesome family companions and live happily in suburbia, then at the other end of the spectrum, you may end up with a dog that should never have been placed into suburbia and needs a life on acreage, whether that be guarding property or stock. What we have found is that generally the dogs who arrive into our rescue that have been purchased from pet shops are in the percentage that should either
1) never have been sold to suburban situation, or
2) shouldn't have been sold to owners who do not have what it takes to own a guardian breed.
How do petshops decide which dog will suit which owner??
Reputable, registered breeders should know their dogs and be aware of how each will differ to the next! They do NOT (read SHOULD NOT) sell puppies to just anyone: many questions should be asked by both sides to ensure all bases are covered and that the dog will suit the situation and the situation will suit the dog. Be very honest with your situation, as each pup IS DIFFERENT and make sure that the pup has been exposed to whatever stock that you may have on your property before being brought home. For example, if you're looking for a dog for your property that is good with poultry, dont bring home a dog that has only been exposed to goats and sheep. Getting used to the different varieties of stock on acreage is as much a learning curve for the pup or dog, as well as the stock if they arent used to having dogs around them.
By choosing to buy that 'puppy in the window' you are not rescuing that pup, you are encouraging stores to sell more puppies!
If you truly have your heart set on purchasing a pup, choose a ANKC registered breeder: they should be able to give you a written health and temperament guarantee, and allow you to meet and see the parents and grandparents of the puppy.Ask to speak with previous puppy buyers about their dogs and get their opinions of their maremma experience.
Are the adult dogs able to be handled by the owner, if the adult dogs arent well handled the pups wont be either, are you really ready to bring a feral pup onto your property. Warning - when you let them go, they wont be easy to catch!
In addition, purchasing your pup from a good breeder will assure you that the puppy you purchase will never have a need to enter rescue or a shelter in its lifetime, as they will be happy to take the dog back (or help to rehouse) if the need ever arises!
* Popular types of Livestock Guardian Breeds in Australia -
Anatolian Shepherds (Kangals),
Pyrenees Mountain Dog,
Central Asian Ovcharka
** ANKC - Australian National Kennel Council (http://www.ankc.org.au/)