Maremma Sheepdog & Great Pyrenees: Differences & Similarities

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees

Some dog breeds look so alike that you’d argue they are the same.

One great example is the Maremma Sheepdog and the Great Pyrenees – both are originally farm dogs and look the nearly identical with their large bodies and thick white coats.

Are Maremma and Great Pyrenees the same? The Maremma Sheepdog is an entirely different breed than the Great Pyrenees. Maremmas were developed in Italy and are not yet recognized by the AKC. They are slightly smaller that Pyrenees Mountain Dogs and have a rougher coat, but appearance, temperament and instincts are quite similar.

Trying to decide whether to get a Maremma Sheepdog or a Great Pyrenees? Let’s dive deeper into their similarities and key differences to find out which pup is perfect for you and your lifestyle.

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees

At first glance, without a trained eye, it can be difficult to tell the Great Pyrenees and Maremma Sheepdog apart. Both are large dogs sporting white, thick, fluffy coats.

They could nearly be twins side by side. 

But comparing the two, you’re bound to find out that while they have many similarities, there are interesting distinctions and differences between these two dog breeds. 

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: At a Glance

  Maremma Great Pyrenees
Appearance Fluffy coat, rugged Thick, fluffy coat
Colors White White, cream, white with light tan/gray patches
Size Large Large, giant
Temperament Alert, intelligent, determined, friendly, eager to please Fearless, confident, strong willed, affectionate
Origin Italy France, Spain
Exercise Requirements Average Average
Mental Stimulation Needs Low High, strong wanderlust potential
Grooming Moderate Moderate
Intelligence & Trainability Low to average intelligence, easy to train Average intelligence, easy to train
Guarding Instinct Good watchdogs One of the best watchdogs
Official Club Recognition Not recognized by AKC Recognized by AKC 
Health Issues Hip dysplasia, obesity Hip dysplasia, bloat
Life Expectancy 11-14 years 10-12 years
Good for Families Yes, kid friendly Yes, kid friendly

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Appearance

Two of the distinct similarities between Maremma and Great Pyrenees are their enormous size and fluffy coats, but they are built differently.

Maremma Appearance

Maremma Sheepdogs have a muscular build with a grizzly coat, giving them a more rugged appearance, almost similar to polar bears.

Their most recognizable physical feature is their long, wavy double coat that provides all-weather protection. 

They have denser and harsher hair around the neck that is shorter around their face and ears and very bushy tails.

Great Pyrenees Appearance

Great Pyrenees have very muscular and surprisingly agile bodies covered with a thick double coat. Their coat is particularly thick around the neck, which provides extra protection against predators.

Their fluffy coat can be either straight or wavy, depending on the dog.  

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Color

Both Maremma Sheepdog and Great Pyrenees have white as their dominant color, although the latter can have differently colored patches in the body. 

Maremma Color

Pure white is very common in Maremma Sheepdogs, although according to the official breed standard, “A little shading of ivory, pale orange, or lemon is acceptable.” 

Great Pyrenees Color

Great Pyrenees are typically solid white, but many can also have a pure cream coloring or a dominant white color with light tan, gray, badger, or reddish brown markings. 

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Size

Chances are, you’re not likely to tell whether a Maremma Sheepdog or Great Pyrenees is bigger unless you place them side by side.

Even then, the difference between the size of these two dog breeds is just mere inches that you might just as well consider them to be the same size. 

Maremma Size

The Maremma is a large dog breed. On average, Maremma Sheepdogs are 23 to 29 inches tall at the shoulder with a weight ranging from 66 to 100 pounds.

Naturally, male Maremma dogs are a few inches taller and a few pounds heavier than their female counterparts.

An adult Maremma sheepdog standing in a natural setting with a lake in the background.

Great Pyrenees Size

Generally, an average Great Pyrenees outsizes an average Maremma Sheepdog by an inch or two, growing between 25 and 32 inches in height.

The heaviest Great Pyrenees can be around 150 pounds. but most will weigh between 85 and 100 pounds.

A large Great Pyrenees dog standing in a natural outdoor setting.

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Temperament

Both dog breeds have pretty similar temperaments – gentle when needed, affectionate with family members, intelligent, protective, and fiercely loyal. 

Maremma Temperament

Maremma sheepdogs are eager to please their people and are incredibly friendly dogs. They are naturally protective and will require a good deal of socialization and training.

Maremma Sheepdogs have a strong pack instinct that makes them very careful and caring around kids and other animals. 

Great Pyrenees Temperament

This dog breed is a bit more strong willed and fearless, always ready for an adventure and exploring.

They are also generally well mannered, calm, and rarely aggressive, which is why they are often used as therapy dogs. 

Training may be challenging, especially for first-time dog owners, as the breed was purposely developed to be independent and capable of thinking for themselves.

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Origin

Both dog breeds have a European origin, although they are from different parts of Europe. 

Maremma Origin

The Maremma is an ancient Italian dog breed whose origins trace as far back as 2,000 years.

Maremma Sheepdogs were originally developed around central Italian regions to protect livestock against wild dogs, wolves, and bears. They were once known as the “wolf slayer.”

Great Pyrenees Origin

Great Pyrenees dogs are originally from the Pyrenees Mountains, naturally bordering between France and Spain, so they could be from either country and have been livestock caretakers for centuries.

Their ancestry is believed to go as far as 11,000 years back, and at some point, the Great Pyrenees was known to be the dog of the poor.

Around 1675, the dog breed enjoyed immense popularity after becoming the Royal Dog of France. 

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Both dog breeds are fairly laid back and don’t require excessive exercise. A nice brisk walk daily is often enough. However, that doesn’t mean you can leave them alone and unattended for long. 

Maremma Exercise & Mental Stimulation

Maremma Sheepdogs are not extremely active, but an hour or so (minimum) of daily exercise is important for their overall health.

Puppies, of course, will be more active and need more frequent, involved exercise sessions.

Because this is a working breed, providing mind-occupying activities is crucial. Remember, they were bred to think independently, so mental stimulation should not be overlooked. 

Failing to provide sufficient mental exercise will likely lead to destructive or unpleasant behaviors, such as incessant barking.

Great Pyrenees Exercise & Mental Stimulation

Like Maremma dogs, Great Pyrenees don’t require a lot of exercise, but they have a wandering tendency, especially when bored or left unattended for long periods. 

Exercise for the mind is key to keeping pet Great Pyrenees happy as they were bred to perform a job independently. Without anything to do, bad behaviors may arise.

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Grooming

Although both have the same large white coat and will require regular grooming, like their nails, teeth, and ears, their coats are not made equally. It all comes to who sheds more. 

Maremma Grooming

Maremma Sheepdogs are usually not heavy shedders, and they only have large sheds twice a year.

However, regular brushing is still necessary to keep mats at bay and to remove debris trapped in the coat.

Great Pyrenees Grooming

Compared to Maremmas, the Great Pyrenees sheds a bit more and will require plenty of grooming.

Although the coat is resistant to tangles, routine brushing will remove shed hair before it becomes matted or is spread throughout your home.

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Intelligence & Trainability

Both are intelligent dogs, although they can be headstrong at times.

While they are both trainable, training a Maremma Sheepdog or Great Pyrenees will not be an easy feat. They are both known to be indifferent to most training approaches and commands.

Intensive, consistent training early on will make a big difference.

Maremma Intelligence & Trainability

Although not the most intelligent of the two, Maremma Sheepdogs are eager to please and will listen to your commands, but they may not obey them immediately if they are not in the mood.

They need a strong and decisive owner or trainer to be obedient.

Great Pyrenees Intelligence & Trainability

This dog breed is highly intelligent but strong-willed with an independent streak, which can make training a bit challenging.

While they can easily learn commands, that doesn’t mean they will willingly follow them.

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Guarding Instinct

Both these historic dog breeds have been used to guard livestock for centuries, and their duties often include facing dangerous wild animals like bears and wolves. 

Maremma Guarding Instinct

Maremma Sheepdogs have a natural instinct to protect. They rely on their highly developed guarding instinct more than their training. 

Great Pyrenees Guarding Instinct

Great Pyrenees are territorial guards by nature with a strong instinct to bark, but the Great Pyrenees is not just your typical guard dog; they are natural guardians.

They are known to be protective of the members of the “flock,” but besides protecting them, they also care for and nurture them. 

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Official Club Recognition

Between the two dog breeds, only the Great Pyrenees is recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

Maremma Official Club Recognition

Although Maremma Sheepdog is recognized by different clubs worldwide, including the UKC, it’s not yet recognized by the AKC. 

Great Pyrenees Official Club Recognition

The AKC recognized Great Pyrenees as a dog breed under the working group in 1933. 

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Health Issues

Although generally healthy, like most larger breeds, the Maremma Sheepdog and Great Pyrenees are prone to some ailments. 

Maremma Health

Although they are a generally healthy dog breed, Maremma Sheepdogs are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia because of their large size. Bloating can also be a problem for these dogs.

Great Pyrenees Health

Like Maremma dogs, Great Pyrenees are susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia and other hormonal issues and eye problems requiring surgery or leading to blindness when left untreated. 

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Life Expectancy

Great Pyrenees and Maremma Sheepdogs have similar lifespans. The quality of care they receive is a huge factor in terms of their life longevity. 

Maremma Life Expectancy

Maremma Sheepdogs usually live 11 to 14 years, a couple more years than the Great Pyrenees. 

Great Pyrenees Life Expectancy

The Great Pyrenees can live anywhere between 10 to 12 years in peak health. 

Maremma vs. Great Pyrenees: Price

Both are not as expensive as some dog breeds, although they can be somewhat rare to find. 

Maremma Price

Expect to pay anywhere between $600 to $800 for a Maremma Sheepdog puppy.

However, they are not easily found in other countries besides their birth home, Italy, which makes them cost a bit more sometimes.

Maremma Sheepdogs with top breed lines and superior pedigrees can cost anywhere from $2,900 to over $6,000. 

Great Pyrenees Price

A Great Pyrenees is slightly more expensive with a typical price of anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500. Expect a much higher price for dogs with premium bloodlines. 

Related Questions: 

What Is the Best Livestock Guardian Dog?

Not all dogs have a highly developed instinct to become a guard dog. But LGD (livestock guard dog) breeds are perfect for the job.

They are suited for guarding any and all types of livestock, such as chickens, ducks, calves, goats, and sheep. 

This group includes the Great Pyrenees, Maremma Sheepdog, Anatolian Shepherd, and Akbash. 

What Is the Best Dog Breed To Keep Coyotes Away?

Certain livestock guarding dog breeds can help protect homes and properties against animals like coyotes. That includes the Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherds, and Akbash.

Other dog breeds like Sarplaninac, Kangal, Irish Wolfhound, and Mastiff can also scare coyotes away. Even smaller breeds, such as Blue Heelers, can effectively fend off an attacking coyote.

Conclusion

Although Maremma Sheepdogs and Great Pyrenees look very much alike at first glance and both are used as livestock guarding dogs, they have distinctive features to help you tell them apart. 

For one, the Great Pyrenees is a few inches larger and around 50 pounds heavier than the Maremma Sheepdog, but the latter is less high maintenance in terms of grooming.

Both dogs are intelligent, friendly, and loyal, making them good guard dogs and family dogs, though training may not be easy.