Our Companion Maremma, Titus, and his big brother, Emmett
Here at Prancing Pony Farm we began breeding Maremmas to fill our own need for reliable, safe Livestock Guardian Dogs. We heard from the beginning that "Maremmas don't make good pets" so we dutifully but gently turned down anyone who inquired about buying one of our puppies as a companion dog. Over time we became passionate about this idea, even though it only seemed to be true in the United States. In every other country that Maremmas exist, including their native country of Italy, Maremmas are commonly and successfully kept as pets. But not in America!
What we came to realize over time, is that Maremmas actually are kept successfully as pets in America, the same as many other working breeds. (Herding breeds are some of the most challenging companion dogs, but are kept as pets by the same people who are adamantly opposed to LGD's as pets.) There's nothing magical and exotic about Maremmas. Sure, there are great differences between a Maremma and a boxer, but there are a whole lot of dogs in rescue situations because the breed was not well suited to the family. What matters more when choosing a breed is that the potential owner does a thorough job of researching the breed, has a great understanding of the dogs and how they are wired, is committed to working with the dog's innate temperament instead of against it, and that they have outstanding breeder support, just like LGD owners need.
What really convinced us that this whole idea that "Maremmas don't make good pets" is the very dogs we bred. First we had a few puppies that were sold as LGD's but later became companion dogs when their owners sold their farms. We always keep in contact with our puppy families so we asked these owners how their dogs adjusted to pet life. Not one single person reported problems. We also began to realize that a very large percentage of our puppies were in homes where they were a combination of LGD and pet. Small family farms and suburban homesteads are the most common types of homes we place our puppies in. And while they definitely do guard livestock they also spend as much time interacting with their human family members as any dog. What we discovered was that we were breeding companion Maremmas all along. We just didn't think of our dogs that way.
Eventually we got a little braver. We made an exception here and there and sold an occasional puppy to a pet home. We waited to see if there would be problems. There never were. These dogs thrived beyond our wildest expectations. Their owners did as good a job with their pups as any working dog owner. One of these dogs even became a certified therapy dog at 15 months old. And she is the first dog of any kind that her owners had ever owned! So much for the idea that Maremmas aren't for beginners. All of these dogs and their owners made us very proud. And we realized that knowing that our pups are in loving homes is more important than whether they are guarding livestock or humans.
In 2020 we began a real experiment to see if this companion Maremma thing could work. Our daughter got married and we gave her and her new husband one of our puppies as a wedding gift. We figured if it didn't work out he could come back to us. Titus was raised with our goats and other animals until he was 5 months old, and then he became a companion Maremma. Again, we kept waiting for problems that never materialized. Titus lived at Camp Pendleton Marine housing with Jamie and Joshua, our granddaughter, Everleigh, and their Boxer, Emmett, for nearly 2 years. He went on walks on the base, went to the dog park, went on doggy playdates with other dogs, went to Starbucks for puppicinos. He did what any normal companion dog does and had a wonderful life.
Late in 2022 our daughter and her family learned that they would be transferring out of state. It was decided that Titus would come back to live with us. We also decided that he would live in the house with our three small companion dogs. So now we found ourselves the proud owners of a companion Maremma. Which is pretty ironic considering how adamantly opposed we were to them for so long! Titus is a wonderful companion dog and we couldn't imagine life without him. We call him our other companions dogs' personal guardian dog. He guards them and us, sleeping just inside the backdoor most of the time so he can guard the house and the yard. Other than the shedding (thank goodness for the Roomba!) there really is no downside to having a Maremma in the house. (He does bark but we are used to that from our other dogs.)
Now that we have Titus in our lives we've realized just how ridiculous this "hot topic" of companion Maremmas really is. We are sad that we may have denied some really wonderful families of our puppies for no good reason other than ignorant myths, misinformation and peer pressure from the Maremma community. No more! Now we are NOT saying that Maremmas are for everyone. There are good reasons to own a companion Maremma and there are bad reasons. But the same can be said of working Maremmas or a lot of other breeds of dog. And after seeing a few of our working dogs lose their homes because their owners sold their farms and chose not to keep them, or because the neighbors complained about barking, we decided that focusing on finding the BEST homes for our puppies was all that mattered, regardless of what role that puppy would play.
So if you are curious about Maremmas and are wondering if they might be the breed for you we invite you to fill out our Maremma Contact Form. We will have an open and honest discussion with you and help you decide if a Prancing Pony Maremma is right for your family and lifestyle. If the answer turns out to be no then at least you will understand why, instead of being arbitrarily turned down simply because you don't own farm animals. But if the answer is yes, then you will become the proud owner of one of our wonderful Maremma puppies, and will receive the same lifetime breeder support that all of our puppy families receive, from a breeder that understands how Maremmas fit into either role.
We raise all of our puppies with livestock, regardless of whether they will be LGDs or companions. We also expose our puppies to a variety of people, sights, sounds and novel experiences. We have found that our comprehensive socialization program allows our puppies to thrive as LGDs or companions equally well. (Or a bit of both.)
"Above the arch there was a lamp, and beneath it swung a large signboard: a fat white pony reared up on its hind legs. Over the door was painted in white letters: The Prancing Pony by Barliman Butterbur." ~ from The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings.