Vol. 8 No. 1 (2022)

Behavioral responses to aptitudinal tests and GPS radio-collar monitoring in livestock mixed-breed dogs derived from crossbreeding with Maremma-Abruzzese Shepherd guardian dogs

Virginia Bellini
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa
Gabriele Stagi
Wildlife technician; cultore della materia itagr UNIFI.
Duccio Berzi
President of Canis Lupus Italia
Silvia Dalmasso
Veterinary/ethologist, expert in LGDs
Fabio Macchioni
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa
Angelo Gazzano
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa
Francesca Cecchi
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa

Published 2022-08-22


  • Maremma-Abruzzese Shepherd mixed dog,
  • LDG,
  • behavior test,
  • GPS radio-collars


The Maremma-Abruzzese Shepherd dog (MSD) is one of the breeds belonging to the livestock guardian dogs (LDG), whose task is to protect farms from predators. In this study we considered a total of eight mixed-breed (Mixed-MSD) adult dogs derived from crossbreeding with the Maremma-Abruzzese Shepherd livestock dogs to evaluate their aptitude as guardian dogs through behavioral tests and GPS radio-collar monitoring. The Mixed-MSD dogs included in the study belonged to three farms located in the province of Florence (Tuscany) and were selected because they are in areas with a high risk of predation.

The results of this research highlighted how the Mixed-MSD dogs worked in different ways and how they implemented defence and space management behaviors that were very different from each other. Out of the eight dogs analysed, five obtained positive results in both types of tests. Three dogs however did not exhibit fully suitable behaviors for pastoral use as guardian dogs. Of these, one male dog (1/8) exhibited overly aggressive behavior towards strangers.

These results could be due to the decision to use mixed breed dogs based only on their phenotypic characteristics, and to a lack of a genetic selection, which results in a lack of uniformity and typicality of the work of MSD dog breeds. Further studies are needed to extend the research including more animals knowing the crossing breed.  Despite the lack of fully optimal results, the farm owner interviews showed that the use of the of Mixed-AMS dogs led to a decrease in predation on the farms.