(aka: Begamasco Shepherd Dog, Bergemaschi, Cane da Pastore)
The Bergamasco is a muscular, heavy-boned herding dog with a large head and a thick tail that hangs down to the hock and curves slightly upward at the end. The Bergamasco is well proportioned and harmonious having a rustic appearance. It is a solidly compact dog with a strong, powerful build that gives it great resistance without taking away any of its agility and speed of movement.
The Bergamasco's characteristic feature is its unique coat, made up of three types of hair. The coat forms flocks (strands of hair woven together creating flat layers of felted hair) or loose mats, which cover the dog's body and legs, and protect the dog from weather and predators. The hair on the head is typically long and hangs over the eyes.
The Bergamasco is not recommended for inexperienced or first time dog owners. The Bergamasco is loyal, gentle, and highly protective of their family, home, and territory. They will do okay with other dogs that they do not perceive as a threat, and other pets they have been raised with. Bergamasco's are tolerant and patient with children. This breed is wary, distrustful, and disliking of strangers. They are always alert, attentive, sensible, dignified, and well-balanced. The Bergamasco was never intended to be solely a pet.
The Bergamasco coat consists of three different texture types of hair: wool, goat, and dog. These three combine into felt like matting that "cord" and grow to reach the ground; completely covering this breed like a curtain. The coat serves as protection from predators and weather.
The Bergamasco breed requires occasional brushing. The "cords" of the coat must be separated by hand and lightly brushed individually. Bathing should only be done when absolutely necessary as the Bergamasco takes an extremely long time to dry. Due to the rarity of this breed there are no known health issues or concerns.
The Bergamasco has ancient origins. It comes from that stock of shepherds and cattle dogs that spread from the Orient to the Western world after migrations of the nomad populations and their herds. The exchange of the dogs took place when the sheep were sold. The progenitor of the Bergamasco Shepherd found its most suitable cradle in our country in the territory of the Alpine Arc, where sheep herding was much developed, and in the Po Basin of Piedmont and Lombardy, where they went for wintering. The Bergamasco was selected exclusively for its work aptitudes and for a long time its bloodlines were kept a secret by the shepherds.
Bergamascos began to mongrelize and were in danger of becoming extinct after World War II, when wool production fell off and there was less need for shepherding dogs. Dr. Maria Andreoli, an Italian breeder, was instrumental in saving the breed before it became extinct. As a trained scientist, she was able to study and observe the genetic traits of the breed, and through 40 years of careful breeding has developed many lines of champion dogs. It is largely due to Mrs. Andreoli and her Dell' Albera kennel that good, established reliable bloodlines were developed, and it is through her generous help and sharing of her knowledge and expertise that the Bergmasco has been able to be so successfully introduced and developed in the US.
Independent, intelligent, and free-thinking, the Bergamasco is not submissive. They were bred to solve problems on their own, and must know the "why's and wherefore's" of the commands they are given. Bergamasco's do not submit because of obedience, rather, they submit to display affection. This breed does not respond to harsh or heavy-handed training methods. Training must be done with respect, firmness, fairness, and consistency. Basic socialization and obedience is recommended.
Usually a very healthy breed.