Life span: 13-15 Years
Height: 58-62cm (Male); 54-58cm (Female)
Weight: 57-71 pounds
Despite what its appearance might make you believe, the Bergamasco is a low maintenance dog. They are not aggressive by nature, but instead happy and gentle, especially with their families. They are willing to please their owners, making them easy to train and even though they are sheepdogs, they do not have as much energy as others.
The most noticeable feature of the Bergamasco are its dreadlocks, although as puppies they don’t have any. They begin with fuzzy and curly hair. At one year of age the dog will acquire goat and wool hair. These three hair types, dog hair, goat hair and wool will need to be entangled to form its dreadlocks. This way, their fur fully protects them from any weather and from the sun. Flocking, which is when the hair begins to blend and come together to form the dreadlocks, can begin as early as at 8 months of age and will stop until they are around 2 years old, when their hair grows long enough to touch the ground. When the flocking begins, the Bergamasco will need a little help from its owner in tangling the hair properly to form its dreadlocks. They also have fur covering their eyes, which protects them from the sun’s glare while still allowing them to see. The coat can be black, grey, light grey or a combination of these. The eyes are brown with a black nose.
Originally from the country of Persia (now known as Iran), these dogs traveled with nomads towards Europe, where they settled in the Italian Alps. Their name comes from the region of Bergamo, therefore naming the breed Bergamasco, their original name is unknown. Despite being a sheepdog, this breed had a close relationship with their owners and did not need to be directed, but instead learned on its own. It had a unique ability to be able to protect and herd its sheep without any direction from its owner, thinking by themselves and solving any problem while still aiming to please its owner. After World War II they became nearly extinct, but were saved by Dr. Maria Andreoli, an italian breeder. Due to the lack of wool production and therefore diminishing need for sheepdog, they became show dogs, working companions and pets! Although now they are developing this breed in the United States they are still considered a rare breed.
This amazing breed has an astounding personality, beginning with its attentiveness towards its family. They are of independent nature, yet keep a close relationship with its owners and even though they aim to please, they will most likely do it in the way they deem best. They are gentle and love children and adults alike, while still being wary of strangers. After being introduce to a stranger properly, the Bergamasco will become its loveable self with them too. Despite being a sheepdog, they do not have as much energy as other sheepdogs, and therefore need much less exercise. They do, however, highly enjoy being with their owners, so any activity or exercise it does should be accompanied by its owner.
This breed usually has no health problems.
Despite what its appearance makes it seem, the Bergamasco is very easy to maintain. When the dog begins the flocking process, as stated before, it will need the owner to help it create its dreadlocks by tangling its hair. This process can be quite long, but after it’s finished, the dog will need little to no coat maintenance. Its hair does not shed, nor does it need to be brushed, and bathing takes place only two or three times a year. They must never be shaved due to the protective nature of its coat. Their nails should, nonetheless, be trimmed regularly. Even though they are sheepdogs, this breed does not have as much energy as other sheepdogs, and therefore only need a normal amount of exercise. They highly enjoy doing activities with its owner and exercise should be done together, whether it is a walk in the park or playing fetch. This breed is naturally sociable, but should still have early socialization. Training can be relatively easy, as they tend to want to please their owners and are very intelligent. They do, however, do things their way, meaning that the owner must make clear what it wants the Bergamasco to do and upon seeing a reason to do it, it will do it its own way. This is especially due to its independent nature and the fact that they see themselves as equal to their owners.