Bergamasco Shepherd

 

Other Names

  • Bergamasco Shepherd Dog
  • Bergermaschi
  • Cane da pastore Bergamasco

Country of Origin – Italy

Coat – Felted

Color – Gray or Black

Weight

  • Male – 32–38 kg (71–84 lb)
  • Female – 26–32 kg (57–71 lb)

Height – 54–62 cm (21–24 in)

Life Span – 13 to 15 years

Group: Herding

 

A sheepdog with a strong work ethic, the Bergamasco’s most unique characteristic is its coat, which contains “dog hair,” “goat hair” and “wool” that combine to form black or gray felt-like mats. The mats grow over the course of the dog’s life, reaching the ground at approximately 6 years of age. The coat can actually smell like a sweater when it is wet. But despite its formidable appearance, the Bergamasco is really a trim, athletic sheepdog.

The ancestor of the Bergamasco originated in what is now Iran and worked as a livestock guardian. As shepherds moved in search of new pastures, a number of them settled in the Italian Alps, where the dogs became known as Bergamascos. The breed was in danger of becoming extinct after World War II, when wool production fell off and there was less need for shepherding dogs. Dr. Maria Andreoli, an Italian breeder, was instrumental in saving the breed.

 

Right Breed for You?

The Bergamasco is a sociable, highly intelligent breed that possesses a deep desire to please its master. The breed thinks independently, however, and often sees itself more as an equal partner than as a subordinate to the members of his family. Despite its unique appearance, their coat does not actually take much time to maintain. After the mats “set” at age one, the coat needs only 1-3 baths per year and no brushing. Shedding is minimal.

If you are considering purchasing a Bergamasco puppy, learn more here.

  • Miscellaneous; Herding Group designation.
  • Ideal size: 23½ inches tall at the shoulder and between 70 and 84 pounds for males; 22 inches tall and between 57 and 71 pounds for females.
  • Sheep herder.

 

The Bergamasco is a breed of dog with its origins in the Italian Alps near Bergamo, where it was originally used as a herding dog.

 

Appearance

The Bergamasco is used in herding and guarding sheep and cattle. This ancient dog breed is found in the Italian Alps, especially in the region of Bergamasca valley. The Bergamasco should be a medium size dog, well-proportioned and harmonious, having a rustic appearance. The Bergamasco has a square body. It is a solidly compact dog with a strong, powerful build that gives it great resistance without taking away any of its agility and speed of movement.

Males weigh 32–38 kilograms (71–84 lb) and females weigh 26–32 kilograms (57–71 lb). Their height is around 54–62 centimetres (21–24 in) and the life expectancy is 13–15 years. The rims of the lips are well pigmented. Scissor bite. The skull is broad and the eyes are dark chestnut color, ears are set high. The back is straight, well-muscled. The coat is dense abundant, long and dense, and the texture is harsh. The undercoat is short and dense. Muscles are well developed. In action the dog wags his tail. This breed dog can easily run long distances for a comparatively long time.

 

Coat and Color

The breed’s most distinctive feature is the unusual felted coat, a normal and healthy characteristic of the breed. The coat is characterized by three types of hair: a fine, dense, oily undercoat, long harsher hairs similar to a goat’s and a top woolly outer-coat. The three types of hair weave together as the dog gets older to form flat mats or flocks. The mats start from the spine and go down the flanks, growing every year to reach the ground. The color of the coat can be anything from an appearance of gray or silver gray (in fact a merle) to a mixture of black to coal, with brown shades also intermixed. These colors may have served as a camouflage when working in the mountains.

Bergamascos are born with short, smooth fur, which slowly develops the characteristic mats as the dog grows. The coat is olid grey or with grey patches of all possible shades from a most delicate grey to a brighter shade of grey on to black; Isabel and light fawn shades are permitted. An all-black coat is allowed providing the black is really opaque. An all-white coat is prohibited. White patches are tolerated as long as their surface is not more than a fifth of the total surface of the coat.

 

Temperament

The Bergamasco is an alert, observant and patient dog breed with good self-control and balance. This breed is suited even as a guard and companion dog. The Bergamasco establishes close bond with his owner. Aggressive or overly shy behavior is a fault.

 

Activities

Bergamasco can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Bergamasco exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials. The Bergamasco is still used in the Alps in Italy and in Switzerland to herd cattle. The cattlemen just let the dog go and the dog brings the herd back to the stable without human supervision. Bergamascos are often photographed herding sheep, but they are actually superb cattle dogs, who can perform in a mountain environment.

 

Health

Health information for this breed is sparse. The only health survey appears to be a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey, which had a sample size of 0 deceased dogs and 10 living dogs, far too few dogs from which to draw any conclusions.