Bagel is a Maremma Sheepdog. I know a lot of you aren’t as familiar with this breed so let me share some information on this incredibly majestic breed of dog.
Taken from www.maremmaclub.com
HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE THE NAME?
Maremma is an American version of the Italian name "Maremmano-Abruzzese". It is pronounced: 'Mare' as it is pronounced for a female horse, and 'Emma' as it is pronounced for a girl's name.
WHAT IS THE DOG LIKE?
A Maremma is a livestock guarding dog, bred in Italy for centuries to guard large flocks of sheep on the plains and in the mountains. Other Old World breeds with similar temperament are the Great Pyrenees in France, the Komondor and the Kuvasz in Hungary, the Tatra in Poland, the Shar Planinetz in Yugoslovia, the Anatolian and Akbash in Turkey, and the Tibetan Mastiff in Nepal and Tibet. The Maremma originally lived day and night with its flock, and its white coat mimics the coat of the sheep in its flock. It was bred to take responsibility for keeping the flock safe from 4-legged predators, primarily the wolf, and from 2-legged thieves; and kept proficient at its job by frequent life-and-death battles with the wolves.
Now obviously the breed has way more complexities that extend beyond this brief description.
Like, for example, what is a “livestock guardian dog”?
A livestock guardian dog is a breed of dog that has been specifically bred with the temperament for livestock protection to reduce predation. Notice the term protection and predation are not one in the same here. These dogs are not meant to be the predator and “kill” opposing prey but rather to protect their livestock or herd usually with their size, bark, demeanor, and intimidation. They could kill a predator, but you must consider that the predator typically would be warned off long before putting themselves in danger. We keep our dogs behind a fence with their livestock so the predator would need to challenge the barrier, something that has yet to happen on our farm. Our predators here in New Hampshire consist of Coyotes, Racoons, Bobcats, Bears, Hawks, Eagles and other large predatory birds. Yes, we have them all!
Bagel’s purpose on this farm is a bit different though. We do have a full-time livestock guardian dog, Cash, (You will hear his story soon) but he needed help and he needed a buddy.
We got Bagel for a few reasons:
1) To keep Cash company. Obviously having a good livestock guardian is important for our farm and Cash is prime at his job but he was lonely. We didn’t want to get a domestic dog and we preferred to have another Maremma but they are quite hard to find. We lucked out when Cash’s breeder happened to have a boy left in his latest litter of puppies and gladly reserved him for us.
2) The coyotes out here are BIG and BOLD! They know we have poultry, rabbits, and pigs and they are tempted regularly to get to them. We have seen them during the day and they approach the fence line often just to tease our dogs. When I called the Fish and Game to discuss the coyote’s behavior their solution was simple: increase your pack.
3) We plan to expand our grazing area for our livestock and felt that it would be too much for poor Cash to manage on his own. Last summer we had dozens of piglets in one field, hundreds of chickens in another, our laying hens at the barn on the other side of the yard and turkeys and ducks kept in another area of the farm. It felt overwhelming to me so I could only imagine it was overwhelming for him.
Ok, so now we know about his purpose but there’s so much more about Bagel beyond his size and super white fluffy coat. Maremma’s are double coated which means they basically have an inner layer to keep their skin warm and dry but that also means they SHED, a lot!! We call it a “blow out” since it happens about twice per year where the under coat will work its way up to the upper layer of hair and slough off in thick chunks. This double coat keeps them warm in the wintertime, cool in the summertime and generally helps to keep them dry and well protected. Even though our maremmas have a large insulated dog house you will often see them lying around in the pouring rain and snow.
Bagel is still very much a puppy so there is much to learn about his personality but, like Cash, he is silly, goofy and very “boy” and “puppy”. It's interesting to watch them grow up. Despite Bagel and Cash not ever being in our house, sleeping on our beds, cuddling by the woodstoves we still have developed a close bond. My husband and I always say how “balanced” they seem. Perhaps it's their stimulating lifestyle outdoors that keeps them relaxed and gentle. We don’t bother worrying ourselves about teaching them to “sit” or “stay” but rather focus our energy on ensuring they are safe to be handled, approached, and groomed. We work with them teach them appropriate handling of our livestock and supervise when necessary. Something I also prioritize is their diet and living standards.
Bagel is far from “trained” when it comes to his job as a livestock guardian dog. His training will take years of consistent work and exposure to his charges. The only thing Bagel needs to concern himself with now is growing up big and strong and healthy.
When I asked Bagel about his favorite parts of his job on this farm his response was perfect:
“My favorite jobs here, my absolute, super duper, to infinity and beyond, smooooshy mushy favorey wavery… I love my job! What was the question?”
“Your job, what's your favorite on the farm?”
“OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…oh my goodness oh my goodness I love my newest fluffy wuffy doggie bed and sleeping in and sleeping late and I sleep a lot and sometimes I play but I sleep too. I love Cash!”
"Since I know people will ask, where did you get your name?"
"My Dad likes Bagels I guess cuz he likes me and he named me."
And there you have it folks. If you want to see more of Bagel and follow his progress on our farm, follow us on Facebook or Instagram for the latest photos and updates.
If you are thinking about getting a livestock guardian dog, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help!