The Bergamasco Shepherd
The Bergamasco Shepherd is an ancient, medium size shepherding breed with a rustic appearance, that is believed to be originated in Persia (today that area is Iran). They are also believed to have been brought to the mountains near Milan (Italy) by Phoenician traders before the rise of the Roman Empire. Their main function was to guard the sheep herds.
FUN FACT: The Bergamasco Shepherd breed is at least 2000 years old.
The Bergamasco Shepherd can grow up to 23,5 inches for males, and 22 inches for females. Male Bergamasco Shepherds weigh from 70 to 84 pounds and female ones weigh from 57 to 71 pounds. Their life span is 13 to 15 years. They are muscular, heavy-boned dogs that are entirely covered with an ample coat that forms mats and protect them from weather and predators (the result of adapting these dogs to their work and the climate and geographical locations of the environment in which this was done). The Bergamascos’ coat is the breeds’ most distinctive feature. The coat consists of three types of hair: a dense, oily undercoat, long harsher hair and a top woolly topcoat. These three types of hair gather together and form flat mats or flocks.
FUN FACT: The Bergamasco Shepherd is the only dog whose coat is made of three types of hair.
The color of the coat is usually solid gray, there can be some gradations of gray, or the coat can be solid black. The Bergamascos’ coat does not shed, and it is not difficult to maintain. Brushing is not required. For the first year the Bergamasco puppy has a puppy coat which is very soft and then, after that first year, the dogs’ hair gets fuzzier and the real Bergamasco dog look starts to kick in. At that time, those three types of hair start to weave together and make flocks. Once this flocking starts, the owner needs to help his Bergamasco by pulling apart the strands. The coat must be "ripped" by the owner into the mats which is a process that can take a few hours to be done, but once it is done, it's done for life. The Bergamasco Shepherds’ coat is amazing. That coat protects the dog from overheating, and it also keeps the dog cool during the heat. It is also great for protecting the dog from other dog bites and from insects.
FUN FACT: Many people, who are allergic to other dogs, often are not bothered at all by the Bergamascos’ coat.
Bergamascos 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 and a trained scientist, was instrumental in saving the breed before it became extinct. She studied and observed the genetic traits of the breed. Due to Mrs. Andreoli and her Dell' Albera kennel, good and reliable bloodlines were established, and it is through her generous help and sharing of her knowledge and expertise that the Bergamasco standard has been upheld by a number of enthusiasts in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, United States, Canada and other countries.
The Bergamasco Shepherd is a wonderful dog with great temperament. They are intelligent, loyal, loving, and patient; they have gentle personality that is not aggressive in any way. The Bergamasco establishes close bond with his owner. They are suitable for families and they go along great with children. Their strong herding instinct will guide the Bergamasco to protect each family member. They are alert and excellent watchdogs but be careful when you have visitors coming to your home – the Bergamasco, although is almost never aggressive without a cause, might not be to kind to “intruders” on its premises.
Once the dog is introduced to strangers, it will accept them. If raised together, the Bergamasco gets along well with other pets. The Bergamasco loves open spaces; loves to run; loves to work. This dog is the happiest when it is working and will be frustrated with a routine lifestyle. The Bergamasco is not suitable for apartment or condo living. The Bergamasco is trainable but is not a dog for everyone. This dog needs an owner who can display authority over it. Training should not be harsh but should definitely be firm and consistent.
The Bergamasco Sheepdog faces no serious health complaints and has a reputation for being healthy. Because they are so rare, popularity and overbreeding have yet to take a toll on their health. But, as most breeds, this breed can suffer from hip dysplasia, allergies, arthritis, etc.
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