A Bergamasco, also called the Bergamasco Shepherd, is a large dog breed originating from Italy. It was developed in the Italian mountainous Alps region near the part called Bergamasco, from which it draws its name.
The dog was originally developed to a herding dog, but now it is used as a family dog as well. It is a very lively, loyal, gentler, bright and highly trainable dog, but one which also has a bit of a mountain dog independence. You will recognize the Bergamasco for its long a hair which covers its entire body.
History & Origins
The Bergamasco was developed in Italy in the region called Bergamasco, in the Italian Alps. This dog was meant to help the farmers with their livestock and was originally meant to be a herding dog. It lived up to its purpose quite well and earned all the accolades it was given from the start. Due to the harsh weather and temperatures that are established on the Alps, the dog has a long furry coat which protects him from and coldness that it might experience.
Quite recently it was discovered that the Bergamasco actually comes from an ancient European dog breed that is also the forefather of other dogs like the German Shepherd, the French Berger Picard and other similar types of Italian dogs. The Bergamasco is now considered as a very valuable pet and an established dog breed.
Bergamasco Characteristics & Temperament
The Bergamasco is a loyal, balanced and very obedient dog. These dogs are also very smart and highly trainable and have provide this time and time again through their use in herding. They are devoted to their work and seek only to help their masters. Once established, the bond between a Bergamasco and its master is hard to break. They strive to do their utmost just to help and provide comfort to the people close to them. This is also why they can be good household pets. Although you do need more space for them as they do not do well in small spaces. The Bergamasco can be a great guard dog as well as a perfect family dog.
Thanks to its wits, the dog is highly trainable. If an experienced trainer develops the dog you will get a smart and very balanced dog which has all the perfect traits one needs. You do not have to be an expert to train them but you should make sure to provide it with a lot of exercise and socialization. You cannot let the dog become overly aggressive nor too shy as these are considered as faults in their behavior. Walking the dog and playing around with it is necessary and it would be good if you keep it in a yard so they can walk around when they need it.
Appearance, Colors, Size
The Bergamasco is a large, heavy-boned type of a dog. It is mostly characterized by its appearance and its long, heavy coat. It has a large head and a thick tail with combs that hang down behind him. The Bergamasco is entirely coved with a heavy coat which comes in mats. It is actually made up of three types of hair, making it somewhat unique in the dog world. The coat forms flocks and lose mats and they cover the entire body as well as the legs of the dog. Even the hair on its head is long and it covers the dog’s eyes. This top heavy coat helps this dog survive the harsh weather conditions one would encounter in the Italian Alps.
The height of the dog reaches 23 inches, with females being only an inches smaller. Their weight can go up to 70 and 84 lbs for males, while females Bergamasco dogs are between 57 and 71 lbs. The body of the Bergamasco is very muscular and these dogs are very strong.
The color options of the Bergamasco dog are not so plentiful. They are usually solid gray or gradations of gray, like merle, but can come in solid black. Some dogs can also come with shades of isabella and fawn at the lower part of flocks.
The Bergamasco is considered to be a pretty healthy type of a dog. The health issues are few and it helps these dogs live somewhere between 13 and 15 years. This is pretty long for a large dog breed and you don’t get to see too many dog breeds of this size live up to this long. They do not suffer from many specific health issues but the most common cause of death for them is still cancer.
Grooming & Shedding
One of the advantages of a Bergamasco is that it is a low maintenance dog and that it never sheds. Due to the nature of its fur, it actually does not need almost any maintenance at all. Since it has three different layers of fur there are stages in which they develop. The types of fur are referred t as dog, goat and wool. The goat and wool hairs only start to appear once the dog is a year old. But once they appear, you have to rip the fur into mats. This may take a few evenings to do, but once you do it you do not need to do it ever again.
A very important thing is not the shave the fur of a Bergamasco dog. It may be long but it is very important for the dog itself. It helps with thermoregulation and it is something that the dog naturally needs. So this may actually hurt your dog if you do it. But clipping its nails is necessary and you have to do it often. As far as bating goes, two or three times a year is quite enough.
Price and Breeders
A Bergamasco is not only available in Italy any more. There are other breeders in various parts of the world that breed them and are willing to sell them. These dogs are mostly found in mountainous areas and are breed there. The price for a single pup is between 1,000 and 1,200 dollars.
The Bergamasco breed is now already established all over Europe. But rescue organizations have also risen and a network of them has been made just to help people find an adopt one. If you want to learn more about how to rescue a Bergamasco, simply contact AKC Breed Clubs, which have subsidiaries located in several countries.