However, they are equally adept at guarding any flock they are trained to protect.
Although they bond closely with their families and make excellent pets, they are best kept in rural areas. City Maremmas often strike problems with neighbours for barking, which is an attribute bred into them, ideal for guard duties with flocks of sheep, chickens,or even penguins, but not when it comes to being ideal well behaved city dwelling pets.
Their guard dog heritage means they will be great with their families and other pets, but will be wary of strangers.
They have a heavy, quite long double, white coat, that is surprisingly low maintenance. Maremmas need at least half an hours rigorous exercise a day.
I have friends with two lovely maremmas, that are good with strangers as long as their owners are around. They live on a large rural property. One of their maremmas is a retired flock guard dog who is extremely elderly and likes to laze around in warm spots, making the most of his retirement. The other is now four years old full of energy and has been responsibly socialised with other dogs and humans. He protects the family's chickens from foxes. He is not reliable at following instructions off lead, when his owners go walking and will head for places he believes are exciting, like the neighbour's garden. In fact, the breed has a reputation for being headstrong, independant and unreliable at following basic commands. Maremmas like to think they know best!
Maremmas should only be owned by experienced dog owners in a position to meet their needs and able to utilise their strong flock guarding instincts.
Because I adore Maremmas, I do hope that 'Oddball' does not make Maremmas a fashionable dog to own in cities by people who have limited experience with headstrong individualistic dogs. There are already too many Maremmas who have been abandoned, due to barking, or being hard to train, or causing problems when visitors come to the family home. There is an active Maremma rescue group in Victoria seeking homes for retired, elderly Maremmas and those who have proved too challenging for their owners to handle. This is more a reflection of choosing an inappropriate dog breed for the owner's circumstances, location and lifestyle, than it is of negative qualities of Maremmas. It is the guarding, barking and protective qualities of the breed, that makes Merammas unique and special dogs.
Maremmas were bred for a purpose; to guard flocks. They bark and can be aggressive with anything or anyone that they believe may harm their flock or family. Well socialised and trained Maremmas do make wonderful pets, in rural locations, with owners commited to meeting their dog's unique needs and not frustrated by their dog's headstrong, independent tendencies!
I would not recommend maremmas as pet dogs in urban areas, where their instinct to bark and guard, too often leads to problems for the owners and the dog itself.
The 'Oddball' movie actually shows all the negative sides of Maremmas, as well as their instictive capacity to guard and their ability to bond with the humans that care for them. They are lovely and very often loving dogs, but need experienced handlers, well versed in the needs and instincts of the breed!