The Bergamasco is a herding dog breed originating in Bergamo near the Italian Alps region. It is a heavily-statured, longish kind muscular breed having a well-proportioned body. Other features include a large head, rounded skull, oval-shaped eyes, dark nose, short ears attaining a triangular shape, thick slightly curved tail hanging down to its hocks as well as a fully matted coat, starting from the spine and descending to the flanks. The Bergamasco’s alert, patient nature along with its guard dog instinct makes it a popular family pet.
|Other Names||Bergamasco Shepherd Dog, Bergamasco Shepherd, Bergamaschi, Bergamo Shepherd Dog, Cane da Pastore Bergamasco|
|Coat||Dense, Rough, Harsh, Long, Fine, Water repellant|
|Color||Solid gray, black, silver, white, coal black|
|Group||Herding dogs, Rare dogs|
|Lifespan||13 to 15 years|
|Height||Male: About 22 inches
Female: About 23.5 inches
|Weight||Male: 70 to 84 pounds
Female: 57 to 71 pounds
|Litter size||6 to 10 puppies ( on an average 8)|
|Temperament||Protective, alert, active, smart and keen|
|Good with Children||Yes|
|Climate Compatibility||Preferably cold climate|
|Barking||Average ( mainly to alert their owners of any threat)|
|Competitive Registration Qualification/ Information||AKC, ACR, APRI, ACA, FCI, DRA, UKC, NAPR|
The Bergamasco seems to be an ancient breed existing as early as 2000 years in Persia where they assisted the nomadic tribes in flocking and protecting their sheep in the harsh mountainous terrain. Some of these wandering nomads eventually settled in the Alpine region of Bergamo, with their pets attaining the name of Bergamasco.
They shared an excellent equation with their masters also learning to identify and solve problems in its way, thereby emerging as an intelligent companion.
However, after the Second World War, these dogs were almost on the verge of extinction, since there was a decrease in the production of wool. It was at this time that an Italian breeder named Dr. Maria Andreoli took the initiative of developing this breed further as well as saving it from becoming instinct.
The Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America founded in the year 1996, seems to be the official club for this breed in the United States, dealing in promoting these dogs as well as looking towards their betterment. They attained eligibility for registration with the AKC and also for competing in the Herding category in the year 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Being a strong and brave dog in nature, they display an increasingly bright and balanced personality.
In fact, one like other herding dogs this one seems to be quite an exception since with many sheep to tend it mostly would attempt in solving the problems that came by its way on its own. This trait, therefore, contributed to its intelligence significantly.
These attentive dogs possess a reserve yet inquisitive nature, loving to participate in everything happening around it. It even shares a deep bond of trust and respect towards its owners.
Though they do not have an aggressive nature, they still make for a remarkable guard and watch dog since they are wary of strangers, not leaving ay stone unturned to protect their territory if intruded.
It gets along well with children, emerging as their perfect playmate. Their patient and protective nature have made them great companion dogs, used for providing therapy to disabled children, also earning them the nickname “Nanny Dogs.”
They may mingle well with other dogs, provided the latter lives with it in peace, while their relation with non-canine pets would be a healthy one especially if brought up with them in the same household.
Then comes the goat hair comprising of long, harsh strands and finally the top coat that has a soft and wooly texture weaving together to form flocks or even loose mats covering its full body, protecting it from the cold weather as well as other predators. The Bergamasco’s goat hair if shaved or clipped would grow to form homogenous mats rather than flocks, being difficult to comb.
The hair it has on its head is long enough, covering its eyes shielding it from the sun’s bright glare. The Bergamasco puppies would have a soft, fluffy coat while flocking starts between 8 months and one year continuing till they are about two and settling in a flocking pattern after they have attained three years of age.
In spite of its matted coat, grooming this breed does not seem to be too difficult a task, though the grooming procedure might vary at different stages. Brushing a puppy’s coat using a pin brush will help to remove the dirt and tangles. As the flocking phase begins, try grooming its hair manually by gently running your fingers through its coat. If the soft hair forms mats close to your pet’s skin, then try separating them using your hand. However, once its thick wooly coat develops then brushing it once a while would be helpful in removing dirt. Bathe it only when required since the hair sticks to the skin, even more, when wet making it difficult to separate.
Other grooming needs include nail trimming, cleaning its ears and brushing its teeth.
The Bergamasco is an intelligent breed, making the training procedure an easy and fulfilling one. However, keeping its independent and strong-willed nature in mind, this breed would be suited for owners who can handle them in a firm and tactful way rather than timid people or even first-timers. Bergamasco puppies as young as eight weeks are capable of absorbing whatever they are taught. Positive reinforcement methods would suit them better, while harsh ways may lead to stubborn behavior.
Their feeding requirements include three to four cups dry dog food on a regular basis.