Bergamasco Sheepdog is an ancient shepherd breed developed for herding and as guardian dogs in the Alp mountains. They are rare, purebred, intelligent, and known for their unique-looking coats. Otherwise called Bergamasco Shepherds and by several other names, they multitask as show dogs, canine friends, and family companions.
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Bergamasco Sheepdogs are happy, robust, and healthy dogs with a unique look. They are large and muscular with a one-of-a-kind coat. The coat looks long and shaggy and makes one stop and stare. The hair comes in three different textures and covers the whole body, including the legs. The coat protects them from severe cold and predators of the Alps. They are naturally independent, loyal, and easily trainable. The Sheepdogs are friendly and loving but wary of strangers.
Bergamasco Sheepdogs Pros and Cons
|Alert, and vigilant
|Wary of strangers
|Compatible with other pets
|Easy to groom
|Have a mind of their own
Bergamasco Sheepdogs Basic Information
- Name: Bergamasco Sheepdogs
- Origin: Italy
- Group: Herding dog
- Size: Medium
- Height: Male: 23.5 inches, Female: 22 inches
- Weight: Male: 70-84 pounds, Female – 57-71 pounds
- Coat: Felted
- Color: Gray, fawn, white, merle, black, or a mix of all colors
- Energy: High
- Activities: Walking, hiking, retrieving.
- Barking Level: Medium
- Shedding Level: Low
- Hypoallergenic: Yes
- Litter Size: 4-6 puppies
- Original Passtime: Herding
- Life Span: 13-15 years
- Other Name: Bergamese Shepherd, Cane da Pastore Bergamasco, Bergamaschi, Bergamasco, Bergamo Shepherd Dog.
Bergamasco Sheepdogs History
The Bergamasco Sheepdogs are believed to be originated in the Middle East around 7000 years ago. These sheepdogs are also believed to come from Briard, the Gallic herder breed. However, they are now the sheepdogs of the Alps and got their name from the Italian city of Bergamo. The thick coat is the unique feature that gives them a standalone look and protects them from the hard cold temperatures of the alps. Like any other purebred, these sheepdogs, too, started to fade during the World Wars, but the efforts of the enthusiasts made the breed stay stable. AKC recognized Bergamasco Sheepdogs in the year 2015 in the herding group.
Bergamasco Sheepdog Highlights
- Bergamasco Sheepdog’s coat is known for its matting and comes in different colors such as black, fawn, merle, cream, white, gray, and a mix of all colors.
- Surprisingly, their coats are low-maintenance, hypoallergenic, and an excellent choice for people with allergies. However, dog lovers with reactions to wool, and lanolin are exempted.
- They are friendly and loving and do great with children and other animals.
- These Sheepdogs are rebellious, independent, and have their way of doing things.
- Although friendly, they are wary of strangers.
- Interestingly, Bergamasco Sheepdogs get along well with other animals and are not aggressive with cats.
- These Sheepdogs do not require much exercise and are good on their own.
Bergamasco Sheepdogs Personality
Bergamasco Sheepdogs are medium-sized dogs with strong, robust, and muscular appearances. They grow up to 20-24 inches and weigh about 55-85 pounds. They have a thick, long, unique-looking coat that covers the body and legs abundantly. The coat is low-maintenance, waterproof, and protects the dog from harsh cold temperatures. The hair on the head is flocked and gives a naturally disheveled and rustic look. Though medium-sized, their thick coats make them look larger than they are. The coat is hypoallergenic and is a delight to dog lovers with allergies. The coat color includes fawn, white, gray, black, or a mix of all colors. However, most of these pups are born in black-colored coats, which lighten over the years due to the “fading black” gene. These dogs are longer than taller. They have a unique skeletal structure that is made for mountainous terrains. The eyes are oval and large and have a chestnut color. The ears are soft and thin and hang down the face. The tail looks natural and is not docked.
|Good for apartment living
|Good for new owners
|Medium to High
|Tolerates being alone
Bergamasco Sheepdogs Physical Features
Head: The head is large and well-proportioned with the body. The skull and muzzle are of the same length. The skull is wide, doomed between the ears, and rounded around the forehead. Eyes are large and oval with an attentive and calm expression. The eye color is dark and varies from hazel to brown. The ears are soft and thin and hang down the face. The teeth are strong with scissors-like bites. The nose is black, large, and with well-opened nostrils.
Neck: The neck is arched, medium-sized, strong, and shorter than the head.
Topline: The topline is level and firm while moving.
Body: The body is medium-sized and compact. They have heart-shaped, deep, and muscular chests. The rib cage is well-sprung with a straight back.
Tail: The tail is not docked, thick at the end with a tapered tip.
Forequarters: The shoulders are tightly knit, strong and muscular, with strong upper arms. Forelegs are strong, straight, long, and well-muscled.
Hindquarters: The hindquarters are well-balanced and powerful. The legs on the rear are strong, parallel, straight, and muscular. The thigh is well-muscled with a developed buttock.
Feet: The feet are oval and tight with well-arched toes and well-flocked with hair. The pads are thick and pigmented in black with tight skin.
Coat: The coat is unique and thick. The hair of the coat is of three types:
- Goat hair
- Wooly hair
The undercoat is thick, dense, and waterproof, with a fine texture. The goat hair is strong and rough, while the wooly hair has a fine texture and grows in tufts. The goat hair and wooly hair grow together in time and form flocks. The flocks can be wooly, flat, and irregular.
Colors: Black, fawn, white, gray, or a mix of all colors.
Gait: The front and hind legs have perfect coordination. The movement is smooth, balanced, and effortless.
Disqualification (AKC Standards)
- More than one-fifth of the coat in the body is white.
- Dogs with a height under 21 inches.
- Lack of pigmentation in the eye rims.
- One or both of the eyes are blue.
Bergamasco Sheepdogs Temperament
Bergamasco Sheepdogs are medium-sized, hard-working dogs bred for herding. They were primarily bred to herd livestock and guard them. They are natural guardians. They are known to be protective, vigilant, and have a high concentration level. They are quick learners, determined, calm, and patient, making their training easy. However, their rebellious and independent nature makes early socialization and puppy training classes necessary. They are friendly and get along well with children and other animals. They are not aggressive with cats and other pets in the household. They are highly intelligent, watchful, and self-possessed. Their eagerness- to please nature creates a close bond with their humans.
Their overall temperament includes
- Companion dogs
Bergamasco Sheepdog Training
Bergamasco Sheepdogs are intelligent, quick learners but can be stubborn at times due to their independent and rebellious nature. But their learning ability and eager-to-please nature make training easy. However, like other dogs, they need early socialization, obedience training, and puppy training classes and are trainable pets because of their confident and obedient nature. These dogs are excellent therapy dogs, rescue, and companion dogs. Bergamasco Sheepdogs are active and vigilant, and activities like playing fetch and frisbee help in training regarding behavioral corrections.
Bergamasco Sheepdog’s workout session requires patience and consistency. They are sensitive to any adverse reactions and need positive reinforcement while training. They do not respond to harsh commands; hence lots of praise, cuddles, and treats can help during the training.
Their activity can include the following:
- Early Socialization
- Crate Training
- Positive Reinforcement
- Teach bite inhibition
- Walk with a harness
- Leash Training
- Obedience training
- Potty training
Here are a few dogs interactive toys and products that you can use while training:
|Easy to train
|Medium to High
|Barking and Howling tendencies
Bergamasco Sheepdogs Exercise Needs
Bergamasco Sheepdogs only need a moderate amount of exercise. A daily exercise routine of 30-60 minutes is ideal for keeping the dog’s mental and physical stimulation intact. Walking 2-3 times daily with running and play keeps the dog happy and healthy. They excel in activities like agility, retrieving, and flyball. In addition, they are calm and patient and enjoy running, walking, hiking, and running around the fields. They bond closely with their humans and exercise helps to bring them together.
A proper exercise routine helps the dog with the following benefits:
- Social interaction
- Weight Control
- Stress Relief
- Behavioral Corrections like excessive chewing and persistent barking
- Brain stimulation
- Strengthening Muscles
- Routine Toileting
- Mental health, and happiness
Here are a few puzzles and dog toys to keep your pet engaged:
Exercise Needs Overview
Bergamasco Sheepdogs Grooming
Bergamasco Sheepdogs have a thick, unique coat with three types of hair – dog hair, goat hair, and wool. They are low-maintenance dogs, shed less, and require less grooming and brushing. However, to keep the dog clean, it must be brushed 2-3 times per week. Brushing helps remove matted hair and pull out loose fur.
One of the essential parts of grooming is bathing which keeps the dog clean. You can bathe your canine once a week using pH-balanced shampoos; pet wipes keep your coat fresh, clean, and shiny. Frequent bathing may cause dry skin and itches. However, daily brushing helps to keep the fur from knots and tangles
They are prone to collect ear wax quickly. Hence, ears should be cleaned and regularly checked as they are prone to ear problems. Brush their teeth daily to prevent plaque and other dental problems. Never brush their teeth with a stiff brush, as it will harm the gums and teeth. Also, make sure to use dog-friendly toothpaste.
Also, clean their eyes and trim their nails as a part of everyday grooming needs. Their toenails must be checked once a week as longer nails may harm and injure the dog. You can trim the toenails with a commercial dog nail trimmer or with the help of a vet or professional groomer.
|Easy to groom
|Amount of shedding
Bergamasco Sheepdogs Health
Bergamasco Sheepdogs are healthy and active dogs. Yet, it’s always wise to be aware of their health conditions.
|Weight gain tendencies
|High to Medium
Deafness: While some dogs are born deaf, others may develop it with age. While hereditary deafness is due to genetic defects, acquired deafness results from decreased blood supply to the cochlea of the inner ear, which results in the loss of hair cells necessary for sound transmission. Deafness may affect unilaterally (deafness in one ear) or bilaterally (deafness in both ears). Bilaterally deaf dogs require some special considerations. To get to know your pet better, you can adopt a reliable scientific test called the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response), which helps you detect deafness in dogs.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which a dog’s metabolism is slowed due to the lack of thyroid hormone production. Symptoms are
- Gaining weight
- Reluctance to work out
- Hair Loss
Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Many eye infections involve the retina’s slow deterioration. In the initial phases, puppies become night-blind. As it progresses, they lose their eyesight during the daytime as well. However, most canines slowly adapt to their slight or complete sight loss as long as their home surroundings remain the same.
Cataract: As in humans, canine cataracts are characterized by cloudy spots on the eye lens that can grow gradually. Cataracts may develop at any age and often don’t damage vision, although in some cases cause vision loss. A board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist certifies the breeding dogs after testing them free of hereditary eye disease before breeding. Usually, cataracts are removed surgically with good results.
Bloat: Sometimes, dogs suffer from bloat. It is a condition where the stomach is filled with air and twists. The gas in the gut leads to bloat. This can be life-threatening and need immediate vet care.
Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is outwardly a painful disease that occurs when the bones of the back legs do not fit properly in the joints. While some dogs will exhibit symptoms, the majority of canines will not. Hip dysplasia is primarily genetic, although other causes, such as accidents, excessive weight gain, and inappropriate training, can also cause it. Even though this disease is fatal, therapies range from medicine to hip replacement surgery. This condition causes defects or damage to the hip bones and joints and worsens without treatment. To avoid this problem, avoid breeding dogs with hip dysplasia parentage and get annual examinations.
Other Causes of Hip Dysplasia:
- Excessive weight gain
- Wrong exercises
Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include
- Reduced activity and movements
- Reluctance to rise, jump, run, or climb
- Lameness in the hind limbs
- Reducing thigh muscle mass
- Swaying, “bunny hopping” gait
- Grating in the joint during movement
Epilepsy: The often-inherited Idiopathic epilepsy frequently causes seizures and can occur in moderate and extreme levels. The symptoms are unusual actions like running as if chased, stumbling, or hiding. Seizures are alarming, but dogs with idiopathic epilepsy have a favorable long-term prognosis. They may be caused by various reasons other than idiopathic epilepsy, including metabolic conditions, respiratory diseases of the brain, cancers, toxin poisoning, and extreme head trauma.
Heart Disease: Heart Diseases might cause abnormal heart murmurs and heart rhythm. You can diagnose this condition through an X-ray, an ECG, or an echocardiogram. Treatment depends on the cause and ranges from medication to dental care and weight control.
Spay or Neuter: In spay, the ovaries or uterus in females is removed, and in the neuter, the testicles of the male dogs are removed. It is done to eliminate the possibility of pregnancy or fathering unwanted puppies and decrease the likelihood of certain types of cancer.
Recommended Tests for Bergamasco Sheepdogs
- CT Scan
- Hip Evaluation
- Elbow Evaluation
- Degenerative Myelopathy DNA Test
- Vet-certified proof of genetic testing
Bergamasco Sheepdogs Diet and Nutrition
Bergamasco Sheepdogs need high-quality food and should eat 1.5 to 2.5 cups of meals daily. Each puppy is distinctive, and the correct amount and quality of food depend on age, weight, activity level, health, and more. You can split their meals into two 2 cups daily.
They are prone to obesity, and hence overfeeding must be avoided. You can give them dry food, wet food, or a combination of both. Ensure the diet contains omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, chondroitin, and glucosamine with fruits and vegetables that give carbohydrate energy. Please provide them with clean, fresh water at regular intervals. Never hesitate to consult a vet to meet your pup’s dietary requirements to keep them happy and healthy.
Bergamasco Sheepdogs Living Condition
Bergamasco Sheepdogs are friendly, closely bonded, and love their families. They are adaptable and can live in apartments with sufficient exercise or homes with bigger yards. They suit homes with children and elders naturally. They love outdoor activities like walking, running around the fields, playing, hunting, and visiting dog parks. They gel along well with other animals and are not aggressive towards cats. The breed loves agility, hiking, herding, tracking, and outdoor activities with their humans. However, they are sensitive and prone to destructive behavior when left alone. They can tolerate cold temperatures, and during hot weather conditions, they need extra care. You can reduce outdoor activities if the weather is hot to prevent overheating. They enjoy companionship, playtime, training, praise, and cuddles.
Bergamasco Sheepdog Recognition
- ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
- ACR = American Canine Registry
- AKC = American Kennel Club
- APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
- DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
- FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
- NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
- UKC = United Kennel Club
Did You Know?
- Bergamasco Sheepdogs have long upper eyelashes, which helps to keep away the long hair from the forehead from falling into the eyes.
- The long hair protects the breed from snow blindness.
- Bergamasco Sheepdogs are independent and sociable and develop individual relationships with each person in the household.
- Bergamasco Sheepdogs carry different names, and one of them is Cane da Pastore Bergamasco.
- The breed’s origin can be traced back to 7000 years, and the place is in Iran.
Adding Bergamasco Sheepdogs to Your Family
Things to Remember Before Adding Bergamasco Sheepdogs to Your Family
Getting Bergamasco from a reputable breeder is best to prevent unavoidable circumstances like health disorders and provide you with vaccination certificates. It is best to check with the puppy’s parents to ensure her health and happiness. Always remember the following red flags to avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills. We recommend you visit the puppy and his parents and get health clearance and vaccination certificates, to avoid purchasing a weaker puppy.
Cost of a Bergamasco Sheepdogs
A Bergamasco Sheepdogs dog ranges from $1000 to $2000.