Breed Health

photo of Snowy

This new section of our website will provide health information that is of importance to Maremma Sheepdog owners and breeders as well as those who might be interested in owning a Maremma.

At the moment, you can find our Code of Ethics, which details best practice for members when considering the health and welfare of their dogs and when planning prospective litters as well as data from the 2004 Kennel Club Health Survey. You can also find links to Kennel Club resources and other initiatives that have been developed to help improve pedigree dog health in general.

This section will continue to be updated as our Breed Health Strategy is developed.

Our Breed Health Co-ordinator is Penny Whatley - telephone number 01271 860 674

You can view and download our MSCGB Voluntary Code of Ethics

Here are the results of the Kennel Club Health Survey 2004

In summary, 77% of living dogs were reported as healthy and 23% had at least one reported condition (35 living dogs in total). Thirteen conditions were reported in all (aural, dermatologic, reproductive, dental, endocrine, immune mediated, musculoskeletal, urologic, behaviour related and one undiagnosed condition). 19 deaths were reported, with median age at death being 10 years. The greastest number of deaths were related to cancer (42%) and heart failure (21%). Almost 60% of dogs in the survey died of a condition at 10 years or older.

Why is Breed Health Important?

In the UK, the Maremma Sheepdog is a rare breed with only 226 dogs registered in the ten years between 2001 and 2010 (mean = 23 registrations per year). Compare this to other breeds such as the Golden Retriever, which saw over 95,000 registrations over the same period.

Over the last few years, both breeders and owners have actively imported dogs from Italy as well as bitches in whelp to increase the breed gene pool and thus contribute genetic diversity into UK litters. One way of measuring a breed's genetic diversity is through its Coefficient of Inbreeding (CoI):

The Kennel Club describes CoI as: "the probability that two copies of the same gene have been inherited from a common founder, that is an ancestor shared by both parents. The lower the inbreeding coefficient, the lower the probability (risk) that this will happen."

For comparison, popular breeds have the following CoIs: Golden Retriever (9.5%), German Shepherd Dog (3.2%), West Highland White Terrier (5.5%) which are relatively low due to much larger genetic populations and thus greater diversity of genes. The more vulnerable UK breeds (with lower registered numbers and thus a lower genetic population) have higher breed CoIs: i.e. Clumber Spaniel (17.7%) and Sussex Spaniel (22.6%).

The Kennel Club lists the Maremma Sheepdog Breed's Coefficient of Inbreeding (CoI) as 1.2%

Here is the link to information on the Kennel Club Mate Select resources

The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme lists two Assured breeders in the UK, although several other Maremma owners have bred litters over the years. You can find the Kennel Club's "Requirements and Recommendations" for Maremma Sheepdog Assured Breeders here, which includes the requirement to Hip Score Sire and Dam under the KC/BVA Hip Dysplasia scheme.

Click on this link for information on Hip Dysplasia

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