Abruzzese Mastiff

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Abruzzese Mastiff
Cane da pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese.jpg
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Abruzzese Mastiff (in Italian: Mastino Abruzzese; sometimes also called Pastore abruzzese, and known as "cane da Pecora" in the Abruzzi region) is a breed related to, but distinct from the Maremmano-Abruzzese (commonly called Maremma Sheepdogs in America) from the Italian region of the Abruzzi. The Mastino Abruzzese represents the original Abruzzese strain [1] and is characterized by its larger size, some male dogs reportedly exceeding 100 kg (220 lbs) in size. Some of these dogs have been successfully employed as livestock guardian dogs in the United States and in Norway, where reportedly they were effective in deterring predation by bears.[2] Mastini are employed in packs of 4 to 10 (depending on the size of the flock). The pack leader is the one who will engage predators in combat more often and usually wears a spiked iron collar to defend its throat.


The Abruzzese Mastiff is a breed composed by specimens often different one from another, due to the fact that it is a landrace and not a man-made breed. Over the last few years attempts have been made to unify this breed applying just one standard like for other dog breeds. This has led to the disappearance of several breed types of the Mastiff Abruzzese which had been selected for the specific needs of the shepherds of each region of Abruzzo. There are major morphological differences between specimens of different regions in Abruzzo. There are five main subtypes of the Mastino Abruzzese.[3]

The Marsicano type[edit]

This type has big head that resembles the head of a lion. Its structure is robust, the chest deep but they are not too big with its height of 70–75 cm and a weight between 40 and 60 kg. They normally have a scissors bite. These dogs are bred mostly in the Marsica region, one of the few places in Italy where brown bears (Ursus arctos) can still be found.[3]

The Aquilano type[edit]

Specimens of this breed have an impressive structure with a big head which is longer that the Marsicano Type’s head. Its height lies between 75 and 83 cm but some specimens can grow even taller, its weight lies between 60 and 80 kg. This dog is mostly bred in villages around the Gran Sasso and in the Peligna valley. Specimens of this type look long and skinny when they are young but this aspect disappears when they are about three years old and stop developing and gain an imposing appearance. These dogs frequently have a pincher bite.[3]

The Pescocostanzo type[edit]

This dog resembles more the modern dogs which are shown at dog shows (the Maremma Sheepdog) than an actual working dog. This type is much smaller than the other ones. Its head is wolf-like and its temperament is really territorial. Specimens of this type have a height of 68–72 cm and their structure is not particularly robust.[3]

The Maiella type[edit]

This type lies between the Aquilano and the Pescoconstanzo type with a structure similar to the Aquilano and the head resembling the Pescoconstanzo’s one. In some specimens the head resembles that of a bear. One of the most liked characteristics of this type is its thick collar of fur around its neck and upper chest almost similar to a lion’s mane.[3]

The Peligno type[edit]

Physically this dog is really similar to the Aquilano from which it differentiates in temperament. This type was widespread during the 50’s. The disappearance of the wolf brought to a gradual decrease of this type’s population. The specimens of this type are very impressive dogs possibly reaching up to 100 kg and a bear-like head and long, thick fur. These dogs were really dedicated to their work guarding sheep protecting them even from other flocks.[3]


  1. ^ "campane". Agraria.org. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Bioforsk" (PDF). Bioforsk.no. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Tipi e Sottotipi del cane pastore Abruzzese. Da uno studio di Marco Petrella l'elenco dei tipi di cani Maremmani e Abruzzesi e la loro descrizione". Abruzzese.org. Retrieved 11 December 2017.

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