Bergamasco Shepherd

Group 5: Working
Male: 60 cm (+- 2 cm OK).
Female: 56 cm (+- 2 cm OK).
Male: 32 – 38 kg
Female: 26 – 32 kg

Energy Level:  Moderate to high
Original Function: Herding, guarding
Lifespan: 13 – 15 yrs

Recommended for: Working homes, Dedicated handlers.

Note: Not many in Australia.

Bergamasco Shepherd Dog

About This Breed

The Bergamasco Sheepdog is an ancient breed which is at least 2000 years old. The ancestors of the Bergamasco spread out along the Alpine chain. Ancient dog lovers speak of a dog of the Alps and some describe a sheepdog in the Vallese region.

The only common element in these vague sources is that the coat is described as long, thick and shabby. Strong, sound and brave, this dog is also very intelligence and has a good equilibrium.

The Bergamasco is a medium size dog, well-proportioned and harmonious having a rustic appearance. He is a solidly compact dog with a strong, powerful build that gives him great resistance without taking away any of his agility and speed of movement.

His imposing aspect is increased by the thick coat which is one of his typical characteristics and makes him different from any other dog.

The Bergamascos coat is characterized by three types of hair which is abundant and forms mats or flocks which is the distinguishing characteristic of this breed. The mats start from the spine and go down the flanks, growing every year to reach the ground.

The thick curtain of hair that covers the eyes has a functional purpose as well. It serves as a visor so as not to be dazzled by the sun reflecting off the snow in the mountains. The colour of the coat can be anything from gray or silver gray to anthracite (coal colour). This colour served as a camouflage when working in the mountains.

The entire hereditary pattern is deeply ingrained in the breed. Even in our modern times, the Bergamasco remains the same.

General Characteristics

Appearance: The Bergamasco Shepherd is a dog of medium size of rustic appearance with an abundant coat covering all parts of the body, of a powerful construction but very well proportioned.

Its general shape is that of a medium proportioned dog, whose body fits into a square.

Temperament: Strong, sound and brave, the Bergamasco is above all very intelligent and balanced.

Characteristics: The function of the Bergamasco Shepherd is to guide and guard the herd, the task for which he shows exemplary disposition thanks to his vigilance, his concentration and psychological balance.

His learning faculty and determination combined with moderation and patience makes him an excellent guard and companion dog, suited to the most diverse uses. He establishes a close relationship with man.

Colour: Solid grey or with patches of all possible shades from a delicate grey to a brighter shade of grey on to black; Isabella and light fawn shades are permitted. An all black coat is allowed providing the black is really opaque (zain). An all white coat is not allowed. White patches are tolerated as long as their surface is not more than a fifth of the total surface of the coat.

Coat: Very abundant, very long and different depending on the regions.

The texture is harsh, (goat hair) particularly on the front of the body.

From halfway of the chest towards the rear, and on all limbs, the coat tends to form strands or loose mats, or is already in strands or loose matts, depending on the subject’s age; these strands or loose mats are not cords and must start from the topline of the back and fall on the sides of the body.

On the head the hair is less harsh and covers the eyes.

On the limbs, the coat must be evenly distributed everywhere in the shape of soft flocks falling towards the ground; forming a kind of vertical column of hair on the front and strands on the hindquarters, without fringes.

The undercoat is so short and dense, it is not easy to see the skin. Must be greasy to the touch.

Grooming: The Bergamasco coat once fully flocked requires very little care, except for the occasional brushing and bathing.

Forever changing, from the adorable, soft, fluffy, puppy coat to the beginning flocking stage which may start as early as 8-9 months to 1 yr.

When the flocking starts, it lasts till the dog is approximately two years old. From 2-3 yrs the coat is settling into a flocking pattern and will continue to grow throughout the dog’s life.

The coat is made up of three types of hair:

  • 1. The Undercoat, fine dense and oily (not greasy) to the touch which forms a waterproof layer.
  • 2. The Goat Hair, long strands of harsh hair similar to the coat of a goat.
  • 3. The Woolly topcoat, which is finer and softer to the touch.

The combination of the woolly hair mixed with the goat hair weave together to create the flock. These flocks continue to grow throughout the dog’s life creating multi layers of flocks that magically appear before your eyes, eventually reaching the ground at about the age of 5 years.

The Bergamasco is a very simple, genuine dog which is reflected in his coat, it is best to let the coat develop as naturally and spontaneously as possible.

The Bergamasco does not shed like other breeds, however, at times, like humans, you will find hair especially during the puppy stage.

Once the coat changes from puppy to adult and the flocks are set. Hair loss is at a minimal.

The Bergamasco coat is considered hair not fur and is considered non-allergic, however, there are extreme cases that a person could still be allergic to the hair, depending on the type of allergy.

Exercise: The Bergamasco enjoys the outdoors and will exercise on their own accord if they live and work on a large farm. A long daily walk, herding the sheep or a romp with the kids is ample exercise that is necessary for a Happy Bergamasco.

Health: See grooming.