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Bergamasco

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Is the Bergamasco right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): Bergamasco Shepherd Dog; Bergamese Shepherd; Bergermaschi; Cane da Pastore Bergamasco

The basics:
Despite only being recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2015, the Bergamasco is an ancient Italian breed developed to withstand the rugged terrain of the Italian Alps. Like other similar sheepdogs, it needed to be independent and intelligent, capable of drawing its own conclusions about what it needed to do to defend its flock.

According to the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America, "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."

These intelligent dogs will likely do best with an involved owner who can provide them with both mental and physical exercise.

Appearance / health:
The Bergamasco is a muscular, heavily coated, medium-sized dog with a large head. The coat hair almost covers the eyes. The head has a broad skull and the muzzle is blunt. The soft ears are set high, and hang down on either side of the face. The neck is strong, moderately long, and covered with a thick coat. The feet are strong, oval in shape, and covered by long, straight, dense hair. The tail is long, reaching the hocks. When alert or excited, the tail is carried erect and at other times, it droops with a curve at the tip.

The breed is an average shedder but the heavy coat needs considerable care. In the puppies' first year, brushing with a steel brush is sufficient. However, as it grows up, the coat has a tendency to become very felt-like and bunches of hair may have to be pulled out by hand. The matted coat is an important characteristic of the breed. Once the coat is matted, grooming the Bergamasco is easy. Daily baths are required and it should be bathed during the summer as it can take a whole day for their fluffy coats to dry out.

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.

The Bergamasco is considered a healthy breed, but may be prone to hip dysplasia (a hereditary disease that affects the hip joints of the dog causing limping and crippling) and eye disorders.

Behavior / temperament:
The Bergamasco is an independent-minded dog that behaves differently with each member of the family, forming strong bonds with all of them. They are not a one-person dog as many other breeds, but they love the company of their owners. Their protective instincts are strong, and their formidable appearance and bark is likely to deter most intruders. The Bergamasco's awareness of their environment is acute, making an excellent guard dog and watchdog.

The Bergamasco is an intelligent dog that requires patient, consistent training from an early age. Socialization and obedient training must be started early.

Bergamascos are not noisy. They bark to announce the presence of an intruder.

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