Maremma's are loyal and affectionate, overly so toward whoever they deem family - furry or otherwise. They are independent thinkers and will rightly choose their duty over your beck and call. They are never outright disobedient but make no mistake - responsibility will always come first!
If introduced early, they readily accept all members of the family, including pets, as they are calm and laid-back when not working. They are not prone to separation anxiety and can be moved from one pasture to another if familiar and loyal to the animals that inhabit them. With children, the mature dog tends to call on this laid-back, gentle temperament when approaching or socializing. In my experience, pups (a dog under 18 months of age) can be a bit too rambunctious in this meeting. Do not forget just a sharp turn can knock a small child down with a wallop.
When it comes to strangers, our dogs look to us for direction. They observe, following our lead. We've never had a problem in this area. I would always use caution until your sure this is their approach. They DO regard you as part of their family and will respond accordingly.
The Maremma not only needs work; they require it. They are not Housepets! When they feel there is an approaching threat, they bark and do so until the threat is gone. Keep in mind, the predators they historically and instinctively protect against are nocturnal. Our dogs have cornered, even killed raccoons, possums, rats, and snakes. We have a prolific coyote population, commonly howling in the distance; warning barks begin around dusk as a reminder of the Maremma's borders.
These dogs are natural protectors, but pups DO require training. I've trained older dogs and of course our pups - puppies are ALWAYS more natural, eager learners. With that being said, they can be a bit boisterous when young. This needs to be considered with both large and small companions. Larger livestock, such as goats, cattle, sheep, and horses, can easily injure a little dog and the opposite applies when dealing with small animals like lambs, kids, chickens, and ducks. They must be taught early! This is why we personalize our training to meet your, as well as, the dog's needs.
The instincts inherent to the breed mature with them. The presence of an eight-month-old male is precisely that. I might trust their bark to keep nighttime predators at bay, but they really hone their protection skills as they grow into both their property and their developing bodies. Each dog is very different. When reading about our pack, you will learn some of these distinct differences, but here I will say when choosing a pup, physical appearance shouldn't mean everything - temperament should! This is again why we customize our training.
When walking into a guardian's territory, there are a few things to remember. First and foremost, you are stepping into his/her territory! They will always know you belong there; however, they view themselves as guardians first and pets second. Don't expect them to come when called. However, they will always be happy you are there! When approaching them in their duties, I pet the dog first, then the livestock. Ennio, our male, will often nudge my hand as I pet our lead goat. He is never rough or adamant I not continue, but he must be involved and have a say. It is a relationship - one that you both contribute to - and one you will forever want to be a part of!