Height: Males: 24 - 25.5 inches. Females: 22 inches

Weight: 57 - 84 lbs.

Life Span: 11 - 15 years

Litter Size: 6 - 10

Country of Origin: Italy

Activity: Medium. Bergamascos like to work, but are not always willing to fulfill commands, as they are more apt to please for affection than to submit.

Watch-dog: Medium. Not instinctively aggressive, the Bergamasco doesn't like strangers invading its world.

Guard-dog: Medium. While the Bergamasco is alert, it is not inherently aggressive.

Description: The Bergamasco originally came from Italy, and still largely resides there to this day. Bergamascos have spread out lightly since their progression northward, but still remain relatively rare outside of Italy. Almost pushed to extinction in the past, they are slightly rare within Italy as well, as the need for herding is slowly dwindling. Ancestors of the Bergamasco spread out along the Alpine chain. Named after the region in which they rose to fame, in the Bergamo area of northern Italy, this breed is a robust herding dog with flock guarding capabilities. They are working dogs with a coat recognizable in any country. Their coats are unique to only a few breeds, in that their fur actually grows into long mats that eventually turn into "cords" that are twisted and rough. Bergamascos largely resemble that of a dirty mop in that their fur is gray or black, with a light coloring of fawn and white. Its flocked coat is considered to be hair, not fur, and thus non-allergenic. Strong, sound and brave, with a distinctive layered coat, the Bergamasco is very intelligent and has good balance. A solidly compact dog with a strong, powerful build, Bergamascos may appear imposing with its thick coat, but the breed tends toward a peaceful nature.

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Other Names: Bergamese Shepherd, Bergermaschi, Cane da Pastore Bergamasco

Colors: Any grays or blacks, including silver, coal and black. Light coloring of fawn and white also appear, although too much white disqualifies.

Coat: Born with short, smooth fur, which develops into thick, strong, rough mats and soft cords (called

Temperament: Strong, hardy, brave and intelligent, the Bergamasco serves as a herding dog with protective tendencies towards its family. They are devoted to their families but do not trust strangers. They are also docile and loyal.

With Children: Good. Patient, tolerant, attentive and protective. Bergamascos are protective of their families, and devoted to children.

With Pets: Okay with other dogs that don't appear as a threat. Good with other pets if raised together. Natural guarding instincts may take place when around other animals.

Special Skills: The Bergamasco was developed to problem-solve on its own, guard, and herd.

Care and Training: Occasional brushing and bathing. Cords should be separated by hand and brushed lightly. Bergamascos will exercise outdoors on their own accord, but daily walks, herding the sheep or play with kids is an ample exercise that will force them to exercise but will not be too harsh. They have a moderate activity level. Bergamascos tend to not be submissive, but obey to demonstrate affection. They will respond to firm and consistent training, but harsh and deterrence training is not suggested.

Learning Rate: Bergamasco will never see you as a master but as a friend. It needs to understand

Special Needs: Positive training and socialization.

Living Environment: With its dense coat, the Bergamasco is best suited for cold climates. This dog is not an apartment dog, but much prefers a house with a yard. Bergamascos best living condition would be a confident, dog-experienced person living in a rural area.

Health Issues: Usually a very healthy breed. There are no known health concerns.

History: Tracing its origins some 7000 years to the ancient Phoenicians, the Bergamasco comes from ancient shepherds and cattle dogs that spread from the Orient to the Western world after migrations of nomad human populations and their herds. Ancestors of the Bergamasco found their place the Italian Alps, and they were selected for work aptitude and intelligence. For a long time, it is said, Bergamasco bloodlines were kept secret by their shepherds. 2000 years ago the Romans recorded this dog as the ideal sheepdog. Bergamascos are most likely related to Briards, the favorite among France, as well as the Polish Owtcharka Nizinny and the Bouvier des Flandres. The dogs were brought to Italy by the Phoenicians, and have remained there to this day. Bergamascos nearly went extinct following World War II, but afterward Bergamasco fanciers revived the breed and have continued to prevent it from extinction. They were used previously in Italy as herding and guarding dogs, and there is even an old story that tells of a shepherd who encouraged his Bergamasco to smell the scent of a sheep who had lost her two young lambs in a storm. The Bergamasco went in search of the smell and came back to the shepherd and successfully guided him back to the two lost lambs who were safe. To this day there are clubs that honor this dog and the Bergamasco can be seen in Continental and International shows to honor skills and valor.

First Registered by the AKC: 1997

AKC Group: Herding

Class: Herding

Registries: AKC, FCI (Group 1), KC (GB), UKC