According to the Osteology, the cooperation between the humans and the dog is dated back to 12000 years BP. At that time, this canid classified as "canis familiaris palustris" that was closely related to the wolves, has started living with humans and taking part in human activities so as to survive. At the beginning, he has been surely used as guardians and hunter, being a hunter by nature. Afterward, because of changing the human circumstances, there was the transition from hunting to pastoralism and the hunt became a secondary way of living. So, for the most part of mankind, pastoralism became the main sustenance's way in terms of quantity, helped by subsistence farming and seasonal hunting. Therefore, there was a wild environment, populated by a plenty of cruel animals (among them we can also include man, cruel against other men); because of this, it was necessary to have a shepherd dog.

As a result of some needs and a particular kind of genetic heritage and also because of the selection based on the use, it got two different kinds of sheepdogs with the same purpose: watchdogs or guardian dogs that were molossian, and herding dogs, also called "italian paratore dog" or "toccatore", defined by wolfish feature.

The Italian word "paratore" is linked with the herding activity; in fact it means "to push forward" or "to stand in front of ", a meaning that comes from the Vulgar Latin of the late Middle Ages, which still remains today in some dialects of North- Eastern Italy.

The bergamasco sheepdog and the Italian paratore dog of Abruzzi both belong to the Italian herding sheepdog family and could share partly the common ancestry. Similarly, the Italian Cane Paratore and Lagotto romagnolo could partly share the same genetic heritage; in fact, they could come from French Barbet dogs imported from France during the 19th century. There is no doubt at all about the fact that the Italian paratore comes from the Volpino Italiano (that has always been used in the pastoralism environments) and from the wolf of Appennini.

From a morphological point of view, they keep similarity to the wolf, medium or small-medium sized (15 kg -25 kg / 33 lb - 55 lb, on average, it depends on the bloodlines); the basic colour is grey with various shades: paint grey, in some cases total black, or black shades turning in yellow. The coat is short or semi- long, and some dogs are rough coated, but all provided with an undercoat of waterproof pile useful during the winter that can transpire during the summer (after the springtime's molt).

Their ears are erected or semi-erected and the shape of the skull often reminds of the head of the wolf.

They are equipped with very strong sparkle, resilience, endurance and nimbleness.

They are exceptionally endowed with the gift of understanding human's motions; this skill, just like their extraordinary mental gymnastics that get instant answer in terms of activity, it is a heritage of their ancient hunting instinct used when their ancestors were pack hunters into the wild and did communicate rapidly each other. These primitive skills, used when they gather the ewes, make them suitable to assist in doing a lot of things: during milking and sheep shearing, they lead sheep towards the milker and the Shearer. Even during the grazing, they keep the sheep away from the farmed fields and are used to keep the flock united during the repositioning and to find some missing ewes.

There is not doubt that because of his lightweight body is easier for him to avoid being attached by big ewes. Besides, considering that he is a touching herding dog, if he has not his proper tact, he will pull out the fleece of the sheep. Instead, he is able to bite fleece as much as needed so as to move the ewes toward the right direction without injure them at all. It is the same thing about hitting: a weighty or without tact dog, can impair the pregnant ewes in case of hittin.

So, we can see the reasons of the Cane Paratore's body structure: lightweight and able to run quickly, but, at the same time, able to move in an elegant and graceful way.

His frugality stands out and his organism has a high-level food absorption; his diet is made of bran, whey, stale bread, and, more generally, the leftover . Beside, his organism can work well whatever the weather: snowing, raining, worming, even when there is no water for a long time, in the mountains and rocky places. These are indeed the natural environments where this breed he has been forged.

This breed is defined by a high-level of heterogeneity. The shepherds have always safeguarded them and taken care of the breed's selection, arranging the mating with good different bloodlines, infusing new blood into the breed and, when it's necessary, discarding dogs that are valuated unsuitable for breeding. Everything else, it's up the Nature. It is certain that only the best dogs can breed.

It is not uncommon for females of Italian paratore dog that are in heat mating with wolves; some morphological acknowledgments and some tales of shepherds bring us to think that sometimes it did happen; that's the reason that he is called “lupino italiano” o “lupino abruzzese”. It is certain that infusing ancient lineage into the breed, occasionally and genuinely, can have nothing but positive results: make them stronger, nimbler, sturdier and more able for working. In fact, as we have just said, sheepdog working takes advantage of predatory activity instinct, which is funneled into working activities and makes dog irreplaceable.

Keep in mind that one dog can work very hard and he is perfectly able being even a watch dog, during the night for example, when men inevitably have to rest.

The ancient sheepdog breeds are magnificent because they have been preserved untouched with all features that could make possible to keep without any human interference. Indeed, while men got through dark moments and in hostile environments, they could rely on these breeds, just like the sailor who goes through a storm can relay on a little, light, but tough boat.

Without these very important friends who had helped us, the humanity would have had a harder path and we would not be here where we are. Most part of human beings did change, got better or worse; these dogs did not. They have always been the same since the ancient friendship with men has started, at the dawn of our progress.

We only need to look at them and at their behaviour. The bitches are used to grow up faster than bitches of all other breeds selected for beauty without considering their history and, about the seventh month, they are used to be in heat for the first time; it can mean that they are precocious even in the mental growing. They have got a very strong maternal instinct and instinct to protect their puppies and often it can see these behaviours within the family environment, particularly towards kids, in a strong devoted and incomparable way; this is because we are talking about real maternal love in all respects. They are used to give birth without difficulties at all and can breastfeed and take care of puppies in a very instinctive way; the mortality rate of puppies is very low and there is no common disease in this breed. Their immune defence system has been proven indeed.

It is not a common custom among shepherd vaccination of dogs. And, tell you the truth, it seems that they can go without, nevertheless they usually live in environments that are anything but sterile, where there are every kind of animal. Puppies are very strong since they are a few weeks old and we could prove that they are not sensitive to the cold, they are used to eat and absorb everything and they are very dynamic and provided with wolfish appetite; Their organisms can absorb everything rapidly; they daily do not need a lot of kcal. They have got a very strong sense of territory and ownership of all things given them as caretakers and guardian dogs.

Their devotion to the chief of the family, viewed by them as pack leader, and their love towards all other members of the family make him an ultimate dog, not only suitable for sheep farmer, but even for everybody who desires a fellow adventurer provided with ancient origins and features now more useful than ever.

Today, as yesterday, except in Abruzzes, where he is very common, bread in pastoral environments, Italian paratore dog is completely unknown; there are so few photographic or written proves that many don't think that he can be seen as a breed.

Thankfully, there are still some photographic proves. Thanks to Doctor Paolo Breber, who is a dog lover and expert in Italian working dog breeds. He has quoted this breed and published some photos in his book published in 1977 regarding the Abruzzese Sheepdogs, where it is possible to admire some typical dogs of the breed of Cane Paratore, that are almost the same to the current Cane Paratore dogs in terms of similarity. This goes to show that has been continuously in terms of type, function and Genetics and this is the reason that it can be seen altogether as a breed .

Maurizio Marziali 2009. All rights reserved

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