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We are currently taking orders for our fall 2011 litter.  Our pups have been in great demand since we started breeding 8 years ago.  The dogs have wonderful dispositions, good stocky bone and a keen sense for livestock protection.  Vinny, our stud male, has a unaminous excellent OFA hip rating.  We have kept a pup, Bellina, from our fall 2009 litter out of Vincenzo and Gordina as a future breeding dog to help preserve our lines that have provided fabulous LS guardian dogs for many people.  We will be posting pictures of this nice female soon.
 
Bella Vita Ranch is the home of 4 Maremma Italian Livestock Guardian dogs:
Guido di  Bella Vita (1st generation from 2 Italian import parents)
Vincenco di Bella Vita  (Italian import)
Gordina di Bella Vita (1st generation from 2 Italian import parents)
Maria di Bella Vita (Italian import)
 
I cannot say enough about these wonderful dogs and the peace of mind they provide while guarding our alpacas.  Watching them interact with the alpacas and crias is a site to see.  Once I heard Guido barking and one of our alpaca females alarm and came out from the barn to see a coyote, who had been sitting 100 yards from the fence line, turn and trot away.  The most spectacular part of the whole scene was to see all the other alpacas run to the fence and line up with Guido as he ferociosly  barked and carried on, causing the coyote to decide to find an easier meal somewhere else.  
 
Guido is the senior Maremma at Bella Vita, born 5/2003.  He came from a litter of two Italian import dogs who worked a goat and sheep ranch in Fort Lupton, Colorado, which has since relocated to Kansas.  He has become a fine guardian dog in his own right.  Gentle with the crias, he is with our females and their babies 24/7. 
 
Vinny, born in 2/2004,  was imported as a puppy from Italy in May 2004.  He now lives 24/7 with our males.  Vinny and the male alpacas play together often, which is a site to see.  The wonderful side benefit of Vinny is that he referees alpaca male tussles, which then become very short-lived and save me the task of having to run out with a broom to separate the quarrel.  Vinny is our reproductive male Maremma and has sired multiple litters.  He has received an Excellent hip rating from the OFA organization, and unanimous from all three radiologists who examined the x-ray films.  Receiving an excellent hip rating from OFA is rare in such large breed dogs.  For those purchasing Maremma pups, it is wise to ask about the hip rating of the parents to reduce the risk that your puppy will develop hip dysplasia which may end his or her guardian career prematurely.
 
Gordina is a female pup born to two Italian import parents who guard on a goat farm in Virginia.  She was born in 5/2004 and now lives with and guards our yearlings and juveniles.  Gordina has had several litters of beautiful pups who have gone on to other guarding duties around the country, including Alaska. 
 
Maria is our newest Maremma female.  She was imported from Italy in the fall of 2006 and had her first litter in September 2007. 
 
Please contact us if you are interested in a puppy from a future litter.  Most of our puppies are sold before they are born, so if you have an interest in one of our Maremma puppies, best to get on the list early.  We do take reservations for the puppies in advance; please contact us for details.  If you do not purchase a puppy from us, please be sure you deal with a reputable breeder who is a member of the Maremma Sheepdog Club of America and adheres to its ethics.. Buy only registered dogs or from registered litters to protect the integrity of this noble breed in our country. 
 
I have added a recent artical at the end of this page after the pictures of our dogs.  This article speaks about a Maremma dog used guard an almost extinct group of penguins.  The number of these penguins has quadrupled since the arrival of the Maremma who guards against the penguin predators, foxes and other dogs.  The trial of the Maremma with the penguins has been so successful that there is thought of using the Maremmas with other types of endangered species. 
 
For more information on the Maremma Livestock Guardian Dogs, please visit the Maremma Sheepdog Club of America website.
 

Guido (left) and Vinny (right)
Vinny and Kenya - best buds

Vinny at 1 year

 
 
 
 
 
 
Gordina

Gordina' s beautiful face and head
 
Maria di Bella Vita at a little over 1 year of age, imported from Italy 9/06
EMAIL FROM A SATISFIED CLIENT, DATED 5/6/07
 
Dear Deb,
 
Hi It's Nancy.  I got a male puppy from you in Dec of 05. He was born 10/6/05.  He has grown into a great dog for us!  I had meant to keep you a little bit up to date on him as he grew up but ......
Anyway when we first got Uni he just hung out in the barn and didn't seem to care about the goats one way or another. After a couple of weeks went by I was starting to get a little nervous that he might not be able to bond to the goats.  Then one morning I moved the goats out of the pen he was in and started working with them  in another   room when Universal just started whimpering and scratching on the door. He wanted to get back with "his " goats! So I stopped worrying! 
When Uni was about 6 months old I decided it was time to put him out with the goats on their range. We live with no fences and no neighbors.  We  have radio collars on several of the goats to track them if they don't come home. I put a radio collar on Uni and let him go. He was sooooo! excited to get to run off with the goats and the other dogs we have. He had been watching them go each day and  jumping up to lick goat faces when the herd come home.
Well, wouldn't you know it, that night about 15 of the goats didn't come home and two of the dogs. One of those dogs was Uni!  Oh my gosh, I was scared for him. What if a predator had run off part of the herd, or hurt him?   We went looking for the herd. It was almost dark when we got a good reading showing the animals were across a deep canyon. And from cliff high up on the other side from us we could hear Uni baying!  It would soon be  too dark to traverse the distance to where the goats and dogs were  in such rough country. We could see the goats were bedded down and since they  had two dogs with them  we went home to come back for them the next morning. 
The next morning the dogs and goats were back in the yard by the time it got light! Thank goodness! And poor Uni was fine but a very sobered young dog and not a puppy any more!
I don't think he has had to stay out with his goats again since then but I feel confident in him now with all his free range experience!
Thanks again for such a fine dog and for help getting his paper work together!
Nancy
E-mail fron amother satisfied client, December 2010. 
 
Merry Christmas Deb & Chuck!!
 
Haven't talked to you for some time.
 
We were just talking this morning around breakfast on how much we like our two Maremma's from you. They have been spectacular.
 
We are going to be expanding our pastures this spring, and want to put a working pair male/female into the new pasture as permanent residents with the Alpaca. Although we know of other breeders, your line is our very first choice because of their wonderful temperament and guard skills. So we would like to put our names on your list for spring or summer pups. We would be happy to put down a deposit, just let us know how much.
 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
 
Airell Nygaard
Maremmas are the cutest pups.
Guido at 2 months.

The Maremma Karaoke Club.

Class of 2006

ARTICLE ON THE MAREMMA GUARDIAN DOG SAVING ENDANGERED SPECIES
 
'Oddball' idea protects island penguin population
Oddball the maremma and Allan "Swampy" Marsh at Middle Island in Warrnambool. The chicken-loving dog spent last month guarding the island's penguin colony, with great success.
 
AdvertisementLorna Edwards
January 22, 2007
 
A SOUTH-WEST Victorian chicken farmer known as Swampy and his dog Oddball may have found a way to save some of Australia's endangered wildlife from predators.
 
After Warrnambool's once-flourishing penguin population was decimated by foxes and dogs until only 27 remained, Allan "Swampy" Marsh hatched a radical plan to save the birds.
 
His four maremma sheepdogs had been protecting his chickens against predators for a decade. He figured they could do the same for the penguins.
 
"The difficulty was trying to convince all the wildlife wallies to think outside the square," Mr Marsh said. "It's not an altruistic view of penguins or chooks but an ingrained sense of territory that makes maremma dogs work, and it is far stronger in these dogs than any other domesticated breed."
 
Oddball's stint as guardian of Middle Island's colony last month was a success.
 
At the end of the month, 70 pairs of happy feet were counted returning to the island. About 2000 penguins inhabited the island in the 1990s.
 
"The poor little buggers have copped such a hiding," Mr Marsh said. "Oddy is really protective of the chooks, so to her the penguins were only chooks in dinner suits."
 
Highly territorial dogs, maremmas have been bred in Italy to guard livestock for 2000 years. They instinctively ward off intruders such as foxes and dogs.
 
The trial's success has generated interest from overseas. The use of guard animals such as maremmas — and even alpacas, which also deter foxes — is now being considered to save other endangered species such as the eastern barred bandicoot.
 
Oddball's first encounter with a penguin resulted in a peck on the nose.
 
But they soon learnt to live in harmony, with Oddball sleeping metres from the penguins' burrows. "They pretty quickly got used to the fact there was a new smell on the island," said Mr Marsh, who also camped on the island.
 
Warrnambool City Council environment officer Ian Fitzgibbon said the community was excited by the trial's success and its implications for wildlife.
 
"The penguins are part of the Warrnambool community and everyone feels pretty strongly about them," he said.
 
"People see maremmas as a conservation technique that could be used with other animals suffering from predation."
 
The council closed Middle Island to the public during the trial amid concerns that the dog might attack people.
 
Department of Sustainability and Environment regional biodiversity manager Craig Whiteford said the concept could be adapted to protect shearwater, gannet and other penguin colonies along the coast, as well as the eastern barred bandicoot in the Hamilton area. "We've adapted a normal agricultural process into conservation of an animal and we don't know that that has happened before with native species," he said. "There is global interest in this little trial."
 
The council and DSE are now considering a year-long trial at Middle Island, using two maremma puppies recently acquired by Mr Marsh.
 
With Oddball back guarding her chooks and interview requests trickling in from overseas, Mr Marsh said he was chuffed she had become the "Paris Hilton" of the animal world.
 
"From the point of view of having introduced a new idea to the conservation community and opened a lot of closed minds, I feel really proud," he said.
 

Another article about Maremmas guarding Penguins
 
People & Places
Dogs Take Vow: To Serve and Herd Penguins
by John Nielsen
 
Guard dogs are now keeping an eye on endangered fairy penguins on an island off the southern coast of Australia. AFP/Getty Images
 
 
All Things Considered, March 15, 2007 · Farmers have long used dogs to protect sheep, chickens and goats. Now, on an island off the southern coast of Australia, one farmer is using dogs to protect endangered penguins.
 
Every year, a mass of Fairy penguins comes to Middle Island to mate and lay their eggs. Allan Marsh, a farmer from the nearby town of Warrnambool, says these short, flightless birds have been making the trip for a long, long time.
 
"Little Fairy penguins have lived along this coast since penguins were invented, I suppose," he says.
 
Marsh raises free-range chickens on a farm next to a highway. He says that 20 years ago, the penguins on Middle Island made a deafening noise when they were breeding. Then, some foxes found the land bridge that connects the island to the mainland at low tide. Marsh says the foxes, which like to eat his chickens, appeared to love the taste of Fairy penguins.
 
"These are real free-range [birds] and they've got a salty flavor, too," he says, "It's like salt-and-vinegar chips to foxes, I reckon."
 
The foxes started preying on the penguins' eggs and chicks — almost wiping out the colony. Efforts to shoot and poison the foxes failed. It wasn't long before just a few dozen breeding pairs of penguins were left.
 
Then, a few years ago, Marsh — who is called "Swampy" by his friends — came up with a last-ditch solution: take the dogs that guard his chickens — or "chooks" as he calls them — and use them to guard the Fairy penguins.
 
The experts said it was a really stupid idea. They said the dogs would eat the penguins.
 
Then, last November, a local official who had run out of options told Marsh to bring out the dogs. Not long afterward, Marsh took a male guard dog named Oddball out to Middle Island. Within a week, Marsh says, the foxes were nowhere to be seen.
 
"The fox would not go within a mile and a half of the dog," Marsh says. "The dog would bark at foxes that it saw, [and] would also mark its territory to say, 'Hey, this is my place.'"
 
Marsh fed Oddball every day, but after three weeks on the island, the dog got lonely and swam home. Oddball's sister, Mollie, was sent out to replace him, followed by his brother, Ben. While these dogs were on the job, no fox tracks were discovered. When they left, the tracks came back.
 
In the wake of this success, Marsh says some conservationists are taking a look at the idea of using dogs to protect other vulnerable species.
 
"They haven't accepted it with open arms," he says, "but they've had their minds rattled and their eyes opened to the fact that there's another way of doing things."
 
But the penguins don't seem grateful. Marsh says Mollie found that out when she got too close to the sharp, hooked beak of one of the birds she was protecting.
 
"This penguin did a quick U-turn and latched onto her nose," he says.
 
Marsh says his dogs will go back on penguin-protection duty in a few months, when the birds return to Middle Island to breed.
 
 
Pup from 10/05 litter

Puppies from 10/05 litter