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Bergamasco

Bergamasco

The Bergamasco is a medium sized sheepdog, powerfully constructed with a square profile and a distinctive coat. The coat is abundant and long, greasy to the touch and harsh in texture and should form loose, flat mats (not cords). This intelligent dog gets along well with pretty much everyone, children and cats included, making this dog breed one of the friendliest companions an owner can wish for. 

The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys more than two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breed

The Bergamasco breed can be prone to: 
- Hip dysplasia 
- Gastric dilatation volvulus

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
None but there are several recommended schemes that the Kennel Club recommends which can be found here.

Key Facts

Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
Weight:  32-38kg for males and 26-32kg for females
Height:  58-62cm for males and 54-58cm for females 
Colours:  Solid grey, patched with shades of grey through to black. Black, Isabella (pale/dappled fawn) and light fawn are also seen. White patches may occur.
Size:  Medium
UK Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral

Ratings

Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 3/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 2/5
Bergamasco standing on the grass field

Personality

The Bergamasco remains a working dog in temperament and desires. Naturally inclined to guard and herd, they need early socialisation and on-going training to live as a pet dog. Though there is a strong desire to please, this is not an ideal dog for the first-time owner, particularly as many pet examples are only a few generations away from working stock, happy to nip to herd and bite to protect.  

Two Bergamasco dogs in the field

History and Origins

Country of Origin – Italy 
 
The Bergamasco originates in the mountains around Bergamo, Italy. Thought to be descended from Asian sheepdog ancestors brought from the Middle East by the Phoenicians in pre-Roman times, debates still continue as to whether it is a descendant of the Briard or if in fact the Briard is a descendant of the Bergamasco. Geographically, the latter makes sense, and it is likely the Bergamasco is contributory to many other heavy coated, solid, European sheep herding breeds.  

The distinctive coat likely served two functions, to protect the dog against the weather – the greasy flat mats are remarkably waterproof and wind-proof, and to protect against attack from predators. Becoming increasingly rare in its native mountains since the Second World War, the Bergamasco has found favour with showing and breeding enthusiasts from the UK, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the US and Canada. Though they remain rare, there is now an International Bergamasco Sheepdog Association to protect its interests. 

Did you know?

Did You Know?

  • There is a discrepancy in the breed standard for the Bergamasco surrounding their colour. Genetically, Bergamascos are black or grey with black patches (merle). The breed standards describe the colours ‘isabella’ and ‘light fawn’ but these are not the genetic colours the dog possesses. They are the colours the matted coat will fade to in strong sunlight, with the tips of the mats (or ‘maps’ as they are called in the breed) being made up of older hair that has experienced more bleaching in the sunlight. Natural highlights! Young Bergamascos will be stronger, more solid colours than adults. The coat itself takes over 3 years to fully develop. 
     

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