The Mirror News

THE MAREEMA – PERFECT BODYGUARDS

• Ian Park with two and a half month old Jasper

IAN Park has owned mareema sheep dogs for around 25 years.

Before he got them, only 180 lambs from 200 ewes would survive.

Now it’s closer to 250 lambs.

Jasper is his latest addition and was introduced to Ian’s sheep as a 9-week-old puppy so that he would develop an in-built protective relationship with them.

“Billy is our older mareema. He got so put out when I brought Jasper home he took himself off to the shed and didn’t come out for 2 weeks,” says Ian.

Another one of Ian’s mareemas used to go across the road at night and look after the neighbour’s cattle then come back and guard his sheep.

“They lie around during the day but move around at night,” says Ian.

The mareema originated in Italy and were recognized officially in the early 20th century. They have been bred there for hundreds if not thousands of years and mostly protected sheep from marauding wolves.

They are large, sturdy white dogs with a rough, thick double coat that protects them from the elements.

They are an impressive looking dog with their large head and floppy ears.

They need wide open space to roam around.

The breed was developed to protect herds of sheep and most will bond quickly with the designated flock be it angoras, chickens or sheep and defend it against all-comers.

They are proud and strong and have even been known to protect a threatened penguin population here in Australia.

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