*** I am a Maremma Sheepdog Club Code of Ethics Breeder***
There are currently only ten breeders in the Maremma Sheepdog Club of America that have signed this pledge. We adhere to a high standard with our breeding dogs. All are registered Maremmas who excel as working guardian dogs. Their conformation is as close to the breed standard as possible and their temperament is solid and trustworthy. Our breeding dogs are OFA or PennHIP certified. Here at Benson Ranch we certify hips, elbows, and eyes.
I only place my puppies in pairs.
I sometimes place single pups if the buyer already has a LGD of an acceptable age.
The pups will be at least sixteen weeks old before they leave here, will be microchipped, de-wormed, and will have had age appropriate vaccinations and a health exam by my veterinarian. They will be taught extensive early foundation training. I am no longer willing to ship puppies due to recent health risks to my pups due to airline handling.
***Working Homes Only***
Maremmas were bred to guard livestock. They know this and begin to show guardian behaviors at as early as three weeks of age. They guard whatever animal lives within their perimeter, which is defined for them by the fence line. The livestock serves as an anchor. A content Maremma is unlikely to dig under a fence or try to climb over it, in part because to do so would be to neglect his livestock. Maremmas work best as pairs. If they have each other to play with and trade off guardian duties with they have rich and satisfying lives. This is especially true if they are spayed or neutered.
There is a window of opportunity to encourage your pup’s natural guardian tendencies; taking advantage of this is critical to his success and is the responsibility of the owner. For instance, if you take your new and oh so cute puppy home and raise him in the house, and then put him in the pasture when he becomes a large not quite a house pet dog this dog will be very unhappy. He will not bond with the livestock. He may dig under fences, climb out of fences and wander the neighborhood, and he may bark incessantly. If you took this same new puppy home and raised him in the area you want him to guard ultimately, spent time with him and snuggled with him in this environment, and let him live with or at least be near livestock that will not hurt him he will mature into a content and productive guardian. Maremmas are a big investment, both in time spent with them and financially. It makes good sense to take the time to raise them appropriately. If you do this they will more than earn their keep!
I am committed to doing my best for my dogs and that includes seeing that they have contented and productive lives. I absolutely know that the quality of life for a Maremma allowed to work with a partner is hugely improved from that of a single dog. Maremmas allowed to work as pairs bark less, climb or dig under fences less, and play with livestock less. Predators are much less likely to take on a formidable pair of dogs, and if attacked two dogs are much more likely to survive the encounter. Livestock are better protected by a pair of dogs because they are never left alone. Maremmas know they are to stay with their livestock AND do perimeter checks. A single dog cannot do both and must chose which to do. Patrolling perimeter fencing deters predators, but when a single dog does this the livestock are left unprotected. Predators know this. When Maremmas work in pairs one dog stays with the livestock while the other does patrols; if there is a problem the patrolling dog will sound the alarm and his partner will rush to his aid. It’s a wonderful system; for the owner, the livestock, and for the dogs. Maremmas live their lives in service and are prepared to give their lives to this end. I see it as a minimum requirement of an owner of any of my dogs to do their very best to create an OPTIMAL living situation for my dogs. One of those elements is allowing the dogs to work as pairs. I am fine with placing a single dog in a home that already has a working guardian dog. I can also help a potential buyer locate a suitable partner for one of my dogs if I don’t have a bonded pair of dogs available. I will not place any of my dogs in a living situation where they will be asked to work alone.
Stoneybrook’s Hannah x Watermark Farm Centurion
Hannah had nine healthy puppies September 8, 2018
When You Bring Your Puppies Home
Puppies bond best with mammals. They can learn to guard chickens, turkeys, etc., as more mature dogs, but I think having a warm fuzzy mammal to sleep with and be near as a pup fosters the bonding process that is so important. Raising puppies is all about building their confidence and creating an early environment that they can be successful in. As an example, if you took two eight to twelve week old pups home and put them in with the chickens they are likely to play with them, which is very bad! These behaviors are difficult to change once they are established. In this case the fault lies with the owner and not the pups, because the living situation was inappropriate for their age. If you give young puppies a couple of steady and friendly sheep or goats to live with these same pups are much more likely to be successful. Here at the ranch I keep sheep for specifically this job. You can’t put young pups in with large livestock without running the risk of the pups becoming hurt or scared. Even if you ultimately aren’t interested in owning sheep or goats I think they are a wise investment for raising puppies in the short term.
Upon arrival your new pups may be frightened by their changed circumstance. They will appreciate a place in the barn that is warm and dry and all their own. This will be similar to how they lived with me here at the ranch. My puppies are raised across the fence from my sheep, the mini cows, and mini donkeys, from the time they are about three weeks old. By the time they are six weeks old they are spending increasing amounts of time directly in with the sheep. This is all done with my close supervision. I want to encourage the pups to like and trust the sheep while being sure they aren’t hurt or overwhelmed, so the age of the pups and timing varies with every litter. Maremmas love straw for bedding; that is what the pups are used to here. When you take your new pups home place them directly in the barn in an area near the livestock but not in with them. Do this until the pups appear confident in this new environment and become inquisitive. At this point you can begin to introduce them to the small livestock directly, with your supervision, and increase that contact over time as your pups let you know they are ready for more. If the two pups together show interest in play behavior with the sheep introduce them one at a time. If needed, I use a 20′-30′ piece of parachute cord attached to the collar. That will allow me to bump the pup and distract him if I need to without having to yell at him or chase him, both of which won’t work, by the way. I am happy to answer endless questions so please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will do everything I can to ensure that you are happy with your pups and that they have the wonderful lives they deserve.
If you would like to be considered for a Benson Ranch pup please let me know. I will send you a Puppy Questionnaire, which will help me understand your needs and expectations, and I am happy to talk with you on the phone.