A crowdfunding campaign is now underway to find and train two maremma to serve as guard dogs and protect colonies of penguins on Middle Island, just off the coastal town of Warrnambool in Victoria, from fox attacks, the Guardian reports.
Maremmas are working dogs that are usually used to protect livestock but they were introduced to Middle Island back in 2006, after which no penguins were lost to foxes. At one time, there were just four birds left but the population has now grown to 150.
There are currently two guard dogs in place – Eudy and Tula – but they’re approaching their retirement so a crowdfunding campaign has now been launched to buy and train their replacements… with $25,000 needing to be raised.
Peter Abbott, manager of tourism services at the council, told Guardian Australia: “The dogs protect the penguins and allow their numbers to naturally rebound. They’ve worked very well but it’s run on the smell of an oily rag. We don’t get state or federal funding.”
The maremma sheepdog is indigenous to central Italy and is typically used as a protection dog to protect sheep against wolf attacks. Other similar breeds include the Akbash dog of Turkey, the Tatra of Poland and the Pyrenean mountain dog.
Not only do maremmas make great guard dogs, they’re also brilliant as companion dogs as well – as long as they have enough space to run around. They’re very gentle but protective when needed and while they may bond well with their owners, it’s likely that they may well show hostility towards other people so if you do decide to go for this breed as a potential security dog, make sure you’re aware and prepared for this.