In Nature, because of the evolution, every sort of animal develops spontaneously strategies so as to survive: among them, there is the mimicry, typified by the situation when a species try to imitate (in terms of colour and shape) another species in order to discourage the predator or when the predator tries to avoid being seen. This is when insects imitate the colours of poisonous plants, for example. Another kind of mimicry is when the prey imitates the predator's behaviours (this is the case of the Owl butterfly, that has got huge eyespots which resemble owls' eyes and discourage the predators).

There is a glaring example of this about both varieties of shepherd dogs: herding and guardian. This is the reason why the cane toccatore' shape reminds of the wolfish character: in fact, when sheep look at him, they get frightened and used to gather; besides, in case of need moving them, the cane toccatore is used to drive sheep, just like wolves are used to do so as to trap the prey. We are talking about dogs that look like wolves, in terms of movements and way of hunting: they move in a nimble and agile way, just like wolves, and this makes feel sheep just like prey.

Thanks to this kind of mimicry that the herding dogs can summon the sheep and manage to move the flock; otherwise, it would be so hard to achieve it. When we talk about guardian dog, there is a diametrically opposite mimicry: contrary to the activity of the herding dog, that depends on feeling uncomfortable of sheep, he has to be relaxed as much as possible in order to be accepted as a member of the flock without arousing intolerance.

Considering that he is provided with woolly white hair, the ears hanging down on either sides of the head and a slow way of walking, he has got such a strong similarity with sheep that he thinks himself as a member of the flock. As a matter of fact, it could not be any different. Often he was born into the stockyard surrounded by sheep, that are first beings he knows as newborn (in addition to the mother and the shepherd of course) and he is used to feed on cheese, rennet, sheep placenta and he smells just like sheep; he is used to play with them as they were all part of the same species. He loves them, he has got such a strong kind of love and protectiveness towards them that he is ready to die in case of fighting, just like the sheep were members of his family. He is used to mimic the sheep in order to catch the predators off guard.

By the way, I wish to tell a real story happened in the '70s, in the hinterland of the Marche region, near Fermo. At that time, there were still a lot of flocks and there was still the custom to move them trekking, taking advantage of winding country roads. There was a peasant family that lived in poverty in a little village near Fermo. The home was placed in countryside of course, in a very good place so as to have a wide view of the valley. So, the breadwinner did think up a plane in order to fix the infallible plan he thought..As soon as he saw the flock and shepherds were coming near, he used to arrive at one point where the flock was forced to pass; here, near the edge of the country road, there was a rainwater manhole where he did get into, waiting for the flock.

At the right moment, he used to grab hold of a lamb and drag him into the manhole so as to kill him as soon as possible; when the flock had gone, he did back, taking home the product of this “original kind of rustling”.

You can imagine how scared he was when, one day, things were not going as usual ... this time killing the lamb was far from smooth.. actually, the lamb turned into the predator and the thief became the prey ... Perhaps the unlucky thief hasn't got enough time to become aware of misunderstanding. As you have just guessed, the thief did drag into the manhole....a very big Abruzzese Sheepdog, who was so angry that he was trying to kill the thief, who was kept safe thanks to the assertive help of the shepherds. This is a perfect example of shepherd dogs mimicry.