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page extracted by a writing of Marco Petrella on the Abruzzesi Shepherds Dogs .

Types and Subtypes

The Abruzzese shepherd dog is a breed that has developed different subtypes.
In past years attempts have been made to set a single standard, as with other breeds, whose history has been different from the Abruzzese shepherd.
If, on the one hand, the dog lovers (breeders) attempt to attain a single standard has brought a greater knowledge and management of the breed, it has also resulted in both the disappearance and emergence of several sub types based on the regional needs of the area and the shepherds.
Very marked morphological differences exist, in one or another area of such Abruzzo, to indicate the genotype of the race to each breeder.  However, one can be assured that the most representative types are:

Type Marsicano

The type Marsicano

The imposing head of this type is reminiscent of the lion.  The structure of this dog is large and strong.  The breast is big, but not excessive.  It measures about 70/75 cm. to the withers and weighs between 40-60Kg.  These dogs generally have a set of teeth like shears.  It is located in the area of Marsica.  Currently, this type is often used for breeding.

Esemplare Aquilano di proprietà del sig. Marco Petrella

The type Aquilano

This type has an imposing and large structure.  The head is as large, but longer than the Marsicano.  Those belonging to this type usually measure between 75-83cm to the withers, but in some cases, there have been exceptionally larger animals.  They usually weigh between 60-80kg.
Juvenile Aquilano have a strong elongated form, similar to the small calf.  This aspect disappears at about 3 years of age, when they are fully developed and assume an imposing aspect.  Their teeth are similar to ‘pliers’.
The Aquilano type is common in the regions around the Gran Sasso mountains and in the Peligna Valley.


Pippo: esemplare maschio di Edorado Puglielli, Pratola

The type of Pescocostanzo

This dog remembers the actual present show dogs and is a typical work dog. 
Very smaller than the other types it is busy a wolf head and a very territorial character tha is very appreciate for the job.
Compared to the Marsicano, structurally, this line is not excessively large or strong, with only 68-72cm to the withers. 

Esemplare di Marco Petrella
Pratola P. (AQ)

The type of Maiella

Located primarily in the Pescarese region and in the Maiella Mountains, the Maiella is probably a cross between the Aquilano and the Pescocostanzo.  This line is similar in structure to the Aquilano, with a head similar to the Pescocostanzo.  In some specimens the head is reminiscent of a bear.  In character, the Maiella is very similar to the Aquilano, and was common until the 1950’s.  The disappearance of the wolf, and the decline in the number of sheep and shepherds has brought about a gradual reduction in this line.
One of the characteristics that has made to appreciate a lot these dogs are the presence of a thick collar of hair around the neck and to the tall part of the breast. 
In some subjects the long mane and the breast very developed they confer to the dogs the aspect of a lion.

The type Peligno

Very similar to the Aquilano of which he differentiated more for the character, it was very diffused up to the years '50. 
The disappearance of the wolf and the number of shepherds has brought to one gradual reduction of his.
The Peligno is a dog of imposing structure, which can weigh 100kg.  It has a thick coat and strong black pigmentation on the nose.  This dog has spurs on the hind legs.  The large head is not like the mastiff, but resembles a bear.  These dogs are so devoted to their flock, that they do not even allow sheep from a different flock to approach their charges.

The Satin Hair type: 

Almost extinct, with ‘shaved’ hair, this type was present in the mountains of Maiella and Morrone.  Another line of imposing structure, it had the head of the Marsicano and the body type of the Aquilano.

Praticamente estinto, era presente sulle montagne della Maiella e del Morrone ed aveva il pelo raso.
Di struttura imponente, aveva la testa che ricordava il tipo Marsicano (molossoide) e la struttura simile al tipo Aquilano.
Some sample could still be observed to the strata of the Maiella in the flocks of the present shepherds to Passo S. Leonardo and near the wood of S. Antonio. 

The Type Maremmano.

Despite its name, this dog is also a native of Abruzzo, where it probably had its origin.
Not excessively large, this dog is above all, a veritable weapon against predators, yet gentle with people. 
Very similar to the Pescocostanzo, this dog was derived from some outstanding specimens that the rich Tuscan landowners brought from the Abruzzo. 
In origin, this line was formed from the best of the ‘discarded’ (1) in Abruzzo, with a smaller build and evident ‘stains’ of blond/orange in the hair. 
However, the Maremmanis knew how to turn a ‘defect’ into an advantage, and the Abruzzese shepherds, recognizing the best characteristics of this dog, chose to use it to create a new line. 
The fascination for the Abruzzesis was such, that they couldn’t relinquish the exemplary qualities of the Abruzzo, remixing the lines to create a dog very similar to the native one.
So, in the first years the 50 standards were conformed and the dogs were called Maremmani-Abruzzesi. 
Unfortunately, the majority of those who promoted the drawing up of the standard were not Abruzzesi.  In order not to penalize their own dogs, they defined as the standard, a small dog, with the result that some lines of the dogs present in Abruzzo today are much larger than the standard prescribed.  

(1) Notes: The shepherd’s charmed Abruzzesi has always experienced a remarkable magnetism for the rich land owners of the Maremma region, who used these dogs to guard their farms. 
The extreme jealousy of the shepherds for their dogs was such that they were very reticent to give examples of their breed to people of other regions.  
The wars for the pastures were very frequent and these dogs were the real soldiers that fought for their shepherds.  There was a real fear in the shepherds that the breeding lines of their dogs could be passed on to their enemies. 
 Often, the only way to secure the breeding lines of these dogs was to leave the females in heat near the best male examples of the line.  The result was, that some of the litter would have the Abruzzese characteristics, but often with evident defects. 
It was usual for many shepherds to discard the dogs with evident defects due to wrong breeding, and keep only the best examples. 

Besides these principal types, other subtypes existed, and were selected for various characteristics by the Abruzzesi shepherds.

Without tail:

This line is similar to  the type Pescocostanzo.  It can be recognized by the absence of a tail.

Dappled type:

This type resulted from crossing the Abruzzese with racing or hunting dogs (cane corso).  The Abruzzese was crossed with the large Mastiffs that were used to guard the farms of some families.  The mating of these two breeds resulted in large dogs with black and white coats.  The qualities of this cross breeding was very subtle in the Abruzzo shepherds, as well as in the breeds from other nations like Spain, where the qualities can be recognized in the Pyrenean dogs.


Mustached Type:  

Found in the Castel Del Monte's mountains, this type is recognized by the presence of a thick down on the face.  This is the result of impure bloodlines introduced through dogs which are not from the Abruzzese region.

Pink Nose Type:

This line was formed from completely depigmented specimens.  Their imposing structure was very similar to the Marsicano, except for the lack of pigmentation.  This characteristic is also present, but very rare in other lines.

The Types of coat

Another character of differentiation is tied up to the coat that introduces him in different ways: 
it is a lot of difficulty to classify the various types of hair being also us differences between dog and dog. 
Generally the more communes are those with the Smooth coat, Slightly crinkled or curly. 
The sample to hair satin is practically extinct. 

Ercole Curino: Owner Rocco Di Fiore.
The samples to curly or crinkled hair are defined by some as rustic dogs. 
With this term It is wanted to describe dogs typical of the pastoral environment. 
In reality the characteristic of rusticity is also present in the other types of dogs. 
At times It can happen that in a same litter go out  dogs of the various coat. 

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