Maremma Sheepdog Vs Great Pyrenees Features & Facts

Some dog breeds look so alike, you’d argue they’re the same.

The Maremma Sheepdog and the Great Pyrenees are examples of twin dog breeds that look alike with many similar features — it can be difficult to tell them apart.

If you’ve ever made the mistake of referring to one as the other, you’re not alone. 

Having said that, no amount of similarities will make them become the same.

The Great Pyrenees and the Maremma Sheepdog are two different breeds, each with their specific behaviors and even physical distinctions.

As you keep reading you’ll get to know these differences, as well as which breed will be more suitable for you.

The Maremma Sheepdog vs Great Pyrenees — Let the games begin!

Maremma Sheepdog vs Great Pyrenees: General Facts

Maremma Sheepdog (left) and Great Pyrenees Side (right) Standing By Side
Maremma Sheepdog (left) and Great Pyrenees (right)
FactsMaremma SheepdogGreat Pyrenees
Height23 to 29 inches25 to 32 inches
Weight66 to 100 pounds85 to 150 pounds
Coat TypeDouble, thickDouble, thick
Coat ColorsWhite, creamWhite with markings
TemperamentAffectionate, protective, loyalAffectionate, stubborn, calm
TrainabilityHighHigh
Life Expectancy11 to 13 years10 to 12 years
Energy LevelLow to MediumMedium
Shedding FactorMedium to highHigh
Barking/HowlingMedium to highMedium to high
Good First-Time DogNoNo
Good Guard GogYesYes
Good For ApartmentsNoNo
Good For FamilyYesYes

Maremma Sheepdog Breed: All You Should Know

Maremma Sheepdog Standing on Snow Looking Aside

Maremma Sheepdog History

The Maremma Sheepdog originated from Italy and has existed for a long time, dating back to 2000 years.

It has close relations with some other European dogs and it is believed to be a descendant of the Tibetan Mastiff

The Maremma Sheepdog was bred as a livestock guardian and protected sheep against wild animals like wolves.

It got so successful in doing this that it was named “wolf slayer”. 

The Second World War dealt a heavy hand on it, but it was able to survive thanks to the demand for guardians.

This breed evolved from protecting only sheep to guarding other animals like llamas, geese, and penguins.

The Maremma Sheepdog is not currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, but the United Kennel Club recognized it in 2006 under the Guardian Dog Group. 

Maremma Sheepdog Appearance

The Maremma Sheepdog is the canine version of a polar bear, and it has a large size. Its grizzly coat and face shape give it that bear-like image.

The coat is double and thick, leaving no doubt that it offered protection from the weather and predators. Its muscular build befits a guardian. 

Maremma’s main color is white, but you might find some cream and yellow in there sometimes.

The hair on its coat is thick and dense, and it has a massive head, strong jaws, and large teeth.

It has a black nose, brown eyes, droopy ears, and a bushy tail. The male and female Maremma are close in height and weight.

Maremma Sheepdog Personality

Maremma has all the behavioral traits you need in a guard dog, and it isn’t surprising that it took on wolves with vigor.

A brave, confident, and protective breed, Maremma takes its job seriously. It stays loyal to its owner, and can defend with its life. 

Don’t confuse its guardian instincts with aggressiveness, though. Maremma wasn’t bred to be aggressive, so any sign of aggressiveness in this breed is undesirable. 

Instead, it takes a more defensive stance and tries to intimidate the predator/intruder. 

It makes a good family dog because of its affectionate nature and love, but it is a poor choice for first-timers.

Guarding gave it an independent streak, and it may not always be willing to obey. You have to start training and socializing early enough.

Great Pyrenees Dog Breed: All You Should Know

Great Pyrenees or Pyrenean Mountain Dog Standing on Grass

Great Pyrenees History

As the name implies, the Great Pyrenees (also Pyrenean Mountain Dog) is a native of the Pyrenees Mountain, a border between France and Spain.

It was developed to play a similar role as the Maremma Sheepdog: guarding livestock. Its ancestry is believed to go as far back as 11,000 years. 

At a point in history, the Great Pyrenees was believed to be the dog of the poor.

That changed in 1675 when this breed became the Royal Dog of France.

aIt first got into the American continent via Canada and from there began to spread into the United States. It was also exported to other countries in Europe. 

Just like the Maremma Sheepdog, World War 2 was a hard time for the Great Pyrenees. Fortunately, it was saved from extinction by breeders.

The AKC recognized the Great Pyrenees in 1933 under the Working Group.

Great Pyrenees Appearance

There’s a reason this breed is called the Great Pyrenees, and it has a lot to do with its size. Pyr is a large dog, weighing over 100 pounds.

The huge size doesn’t stop the Pyr from being strong, though. It is more agile than it looks, and it has a muscular frame that makes guarding easier. 

Pyr is a big white fluffy dog with a thick double coat, especially at the neck. Just like the Maremma, Pyr’s coat protects it both from the weather and predators.

The coat’s hair is long, coarse, and can be either straight or wavy. Besides white, Pyr can be creamy or have some markings. 

Completing its appearance are brown eyes with floppy ears. There are some gender differences in sizes as male Great Pyrenees are bigger than the females. 

Great Pyrenees Personality

The Great Pyrenees is a gentle giant in the dog world, but that doesn’t make it a good fit for new pet parents.

They has an independent streak and would want to do things their way.

This trait has its advantages as you don’t have to deal with separation anxiety, but independent behavior can become a challenge during training. 

And you need to train the Pyr. It is huge and can become uncontrollable if you don’t give it adequate training and socialization.

That said, a well-mannered Pyr is a good source of comfort, and the devotion of this breed is legendary. 

Maremma Sheepdog vs Great Pyrenees: A Comparison

Close Up Maremma Sheepdog (left) and Great Pyrenees (right)
The main difference between the Maremma Sheepdog and the Great Pyrenees is in size and lifespan.

One can already trace the similarities between the Maremma Sheepdog and the Great Pyrenees from the previous sections.

Both breeds were developed to be livestock guardians and they have similar coats. In modern times, they act as guardians for their homes.

They make good family dogs but are best left in the hands of experienced owners. 

There are some differences between Great Pyrenees and Maremma Sheepdog in size, temperament, shedding factor, and lifespan.

Most of them are not overt—hence the frequent misconceptions—but they are worth highlighting.

Size

For starters, the Great Pyrenees is larger than the Maremma Sheepdog. The difference in height and weight isn’t much, however.

If you were to see both breeds from a distance, you may not notice it. 

The Maremma Sheepdog often grows up to 29 inches tall while the Great Pyrenees reaches 32 inches.

The weight difference is a lot more noticeable as the Great Pyrenees tend to be 50 pounds bigger. 

Energy

Both the Great Pyrenees and the Maremma Sheepdog have a moderate energy level.

They don’t need a very intensive exercise plan, but they should be exercised regularly.

That said, the Maremma Sheepdog usually needs more exercise than the Great Pyrenees as the latter is more laid-back.

The Maremma Sheepdog is also more likely to get bored and destructive. 

Temperament

Again, there are some similarities here. The Maremma Sheepdog and the Great Pyrenees are both gentle and affectionate household dogs.

They’re also both protective, bold and confident. Both Maremma and Pyr reserve their allegiance for their owners and while they are not aggressive, they can be intimidating.

However, the Great Pyrenees is more stubborn than the Maremma Sheepdog and is less willing to do things your way.

It doesn’t feel the need to please and can get uncontrollable.

Trainability

Due to their high intelligence, both breeds are trainable. They can easily learn commands and don’t need excessive repetitions to understand what you would have them.

Nonetheless, new pet parents are not advised to own these breeds. 

If a new pet parent wants to take the risk, he/she would have better chances at succeeding with the Maremma Sheepdog than with the Great Pyrenees.

Maremma is eager to please and co-operative, while the Pyr is more strong-willed. 

Health & Life Expectancy

Good care and regular medical checkups go a long way towards ensuring that a Maremma and a Great Pyrenees live long.

Having said that, when you compare their average life expectancy, the Maremma Sheepdog tends to live longer (11 to 13 years) than the Great Pyrenees (10 to 12 years).

This is mainly because of the specific illnesses Pyrs are prone to. 

As large dogs, both the Maremma and the Great Pyrenees are susceptible to illnesses like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and bloating.

However, there are some eye and hormonal issues that affect only the Great Pyrenees.

Coat and Shedding

Maremma and Pyr have the same double, dense, white coat, but the shedding level differs.

Maremma has seasons when it sheds more, but Pyr is more likely to shed all year round. Both require a high level of grooming. 

Related Questions

Are Maremma Sheepdogs the same as Great Pyrenees?

The Maremma Sheepdog and the Great Pyrenees look similar and can sometimes be confused for the other, but they are not the same. These are distinct breeds.

Are Maremmas aggressive?

Maremmas were not bred to be aggressive, and usually defend more than they attack. They are protective, however, and won’t hesitate to fight if need be.

Are Maremmas rare?

The Maremma Sheepdog is a very rare breed and not easily found in other countries besides Italy, its birth home. It might take a while before you find one.

Is Great Pyrenees a sheepdog?

The Great Pyrenees was developed to be a livestock guardian and protected sheep against predators. In that sense, it can be called a sheepdog.

Maremma Sheepdog vs Great Pyrenees: The Verdict

The Great Pyrenees and Maremma Sheepdog do have a lot in common, and the ideal owner of one can be the ideal owner of the other.

There aren’t many differences between them, but remember they are not the same.

In the United States, it is easier to locate the Great Pyrenees as it is more known than the Maremma but go for the breed you most prefer.

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Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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