The Bergamasco (English - The Bergamese Sheepdog) dates back thousands of years and most likely came form the Orient brought by nomadic shepherds to the Western world. It's herding abilities are second to non and rarely involve human interaction. The shepherd will release the dog and it will bring the sheep in unaided. They are also used to herd cattle and are still used as working dogs in Switzerland and Italy today.
The Bergamasco is an intelligent, loyal and attentive breed that likes to be close to their owners. They form close bonds with their family and aren't too keen on being separated from them. They are excellent with children of all ages and will quickly learn how to play with young ones without doing any damage. They are instinctively drawn to young children and see it as they job to protect them. Most 'Bergs' are ok with all other dogs as long as they don't feel threatened and many do live with cats, but it is best if they are bought up with them. They can be wary of strangers at first, but are rarely aggressive; however they will sit and watch until they feel comfortable that there is no threat to their family. The Bergamasco makes an excellent watchdog. They will always have one eye open and knows what is going on around them. Even when they are asleep!
Training needs to be fair and consistent. These are highly intelligent dogs and they were bred to think and work independently of humans. They are quick to learn and have good memories. They can be a bit stubborn at times, but are generally quite easy to train. They like to be close to you and are affectionate; they like praise, are attentive and patient. They have often been used as therapy dogs due to their calm nature and many do well in agility, herding and obedience competitions.
Like many shepherding breeds, they need a fair amount of exercise and a long daily walk/run is essential to keep them physically stimulated. Their recall is excellent when trained and are usually no threat to other dogs when out walking if properly socialised. Due to their long heavy coat, they dislike hot weather and will usually find the coolest place to sleep.
Their coat is pretty special. It is totally different to most dogs and starts with the soft fluffy puppy coat but then mixes with the coarser, almost goat like hair when the dog reaches around 1 year old. Between the age of 2-3 the hair flocks together to form cords, which grow throughout the dogs life. The result is a heavily corded coat, which provides warmth and protection from the elements. It needs surprisingly little attention as it is 'self cleaning' and rarely moults. Some owners opt for a much shorter cut, but this takes away some of the charm of the breed. a 'sporting' cut is possible where by the cords are trimmed to 5 - 6" instead of being left to grow to the ground.
They rarely suffer any major health issues.
Bergamascos have a strong and brave temperament. They are forever watchful over their territory and although not aggressive they will alert you to anything they deem strange. Bergamascos are great with children and will develop great attachments to any children in their family and be happy to meet any others. Early socialisation will help the Bergamasco be well behaved around other dogs. They are unlikely to start a fight but they certainly will not back down to a challenge. Owners should display authority in training to ensure the Bergamasco doesn't see themselves as head of the family.
Health problems that may affect Bergamascos include canine hip dysplasia (CHD), bloat and eye problems.
- Status: Common
- Life Expectancy: 13 - 15 years
- Weight: 32 - 38 kg
- Height: 21 - 24.5"
- Rare: No
- Coat: Long - Hypoallergenic
- Grooming Requirements: Everyday
- Town or Country: Country
- Minimum Home Size: Large House
- Minimum Garden Size: Small to Medium Garden
- Breed Type: Herding
- Size: Large
- Energy Level: Medium
- Exercise Required: Up to 1 hour