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Bergamasco… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Okay, get ready because we’re about to talk about one of our all-time favorite dogs in the world, so please understand that while we’re going to try and be as “objective” as possible, chances are we’re going to fail miserably! Because the truth is, these dogs are fantastic! And provided you know what you’re in for when adopting a Bergamasco, chances are you’re going to be happy with your decision and all of your neighbors! Yes, these dogs are that cool!

But the last thing…

We want it to happen for someone to run out and adopt a Bergamasco only to regret their decision six months from now because their Bergamasco is behaving precisely as they should be. This is why, in this article, we’re going to try to discuss some of the pros and cons of owning a Bergamasco so that at the end of the day, you’ll be able to determine if adopting a Bergamasco is going to be a good “fit” for you and your family. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Bergamasco Dog Breed Fast Facts

Country of Origin:  Italy

Original Purpose: Herding Dog, Companion Dog

Height:  22 to 23.5 inches tall

Weight:  55 to 85 pounds

Life Span: 13 to 15 years

Dog Breed Classification:  Herding Dogs

The Origins of the Bergamasco

There are currently several competing theories as to the original ancestry of the Bergamasco sheepdog. Some believe it’s a descendant of several Middle-Eastern breeds, while others think it may be a Gallic breed. However, if you ask any native Italian, they’re sure to tell you that the Bergamasco is 100% Italian, and these “other” dogs originated from him!

And who are we…

To say what’s right or wrong, all we know is that today, the Bergamasco is a prevalent breed in Italy; it seems ideally adapted to living in the Italian Alps, where it is said to have originated in and around Bergamo. Like many other strong, brave, and loyal dog breeds throughout Europe, the Bergamasco solidified his role in history by proving his “merit” time and time again during both World War I and World War II.


Despite the courage they showed, the breed was nearly forgotten and almost extinct until a famous Italian breeder named Dr. Maria Andreoli made a conscious effort to save the Bergamasco Sheepdog and bring it back into the public consciousness. And while the breed is now quite popular throughout Europe, it remains a relatively “rare” breed in the United States. That said, however, we here at IndulgeYourPet feel that it is only a matter of time until this too changes, particularly after the American Kennel Club (AKC) finally got its act together and officially recognized the breed in 2015 and eventually created a “breed standard”!

Physical Characteristics

The Bergamasco Sheepdog is a big, muscular dog with a rectangular body shape and a large head. But that’s not the first thing you’ll notice about him…. The first thing you’ll see about a Bergamasco Sheepdog is his fur or hair! His thick, matted coat is a twisted mess of three different “types” of hair that will be the first thing you and everyone else will notice.

When this fur is…

Completely grown out and in “full” effect, you’re Bergamasco is either going to look like a walking “mop” or an actual “Rastafarian,” depending on what generation you come from! And while you might think…

“Oh my Goodness, what a mess that fur must make.”

Grooming a Bergamasoally isn’t a big deal because you need to leave their fur alone. Sure, you may need to take a pair of scissors to areas around their eyes and mouth, but once you get a few tips from your local groomer, owning a Bergamaso isn’t all that difficult, at least regarding his grooming needs.

Now, one thing that you want to avoid is letting his somewhat “laid back” look fool you. Just because his hair tends to hang over his eyes, and just because his coat can sometimes make him look a little like a “lump,” But don’t get fooled by that because underneath all of that fur lies a powerful and athletic dog that is just ready to run and chase down anything that moves. And if you thought that a Bergamasco dog looks cool just standing there, wait till you see them move!

Similar in appearance…

To the Spanish Water Dog, but it is much more prominent. The Bergamasco is much closer in size to an English Mastiff, except that he has a lot of hair on him, and the Mastiff doesn’t.

People also confuse this breed with the:

So, if you are looking for a dog with this type of appearance, you may also want to consider these dog breeds.

So, if other dogs look like Bergamasco, what’s so special about the big guy?

The Bergamasco Shepherd dog is more than just a companion dog or show dog – he is very devoted to his flock, in this case, his human family. He is always alert and will warn you in time about a stranger or trespasser entering your property. But don’t expect him to help with things like fetching the newspaper. That’s not their style. You see, they’re more of the kind of dog that will be there when you need him but not one that will be constantly at your feet begging for attention.

The problem is…

Sometimes, they also think they are in charge and don’t understand his relationship with his human family! He can be so protective, fearful of anything different, and suspicious of any new person you meet that it can sometimes be irritating!

This “tendency” is often referred to as a trait associated with “flock-guarding” breeds.

Unless trained otherwise, your Bergamasco can become overzealous in his need to protect his family and, at times, fail to listen to their owners. Training and socializing the Bergamasco puppy as early as possible is essential.

Early socialization is critical…

So, be sure to take your Bergamasco puppy to obedience classes right away so that he can meet other puppies in his age group. The more he interacts with other people and dogs, the better he will behave as he grows older.

How are Bergamasco’s with children?

In general, the Bergamasco Shepherd is GREAT with kids. Because this breed tends to be kind and protective of all its family members, it only makes sense that they will extend this devotion to the children in the household. Plus, kids love these guys too! But remember, because Bergamasco’s are such a large dog, you should supervise your children when playing with him. To make sure they don’t do anything to irritate him, like pulling his tail or pinching his ears – we all know how kids are sometimes (especially the neighbor’s kid, right!).

 Keep him active…

Bergamasco puppies can get bored quickly when they don’t get enough exercise. Don’t allow them to move around as they please; they can chew almost anything – shoes, clothes, cushions, etc. An older, well-trained Bergamasco doesn’t do that as long as he gets enough exercise. The exercise can be a long walk or a visit to the local dog park where he can “Steal” the show! The good news is that the Bergamasco breed responds well to obedience, agility, and rally training methods. You should notice positive results immediately if you put in the time and effort.

Potential Health Concerns

The Bergamasco is a robust and healthy dog, but even he can develop specific health issues. Most of the severe health problems a Bergamasco can have are hereditary. For this reason, ask the breeder for a CHIC certification before buying the Bergamasco puppy from him. This is very important. This certification proves that the puppy has healthy parents and is healthy. The Bergamasco is also prone to many common health problems that affect most large dog breeds, such as…

This is why if you decide that a Bergamasco is suitable for you, take a few moments and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for him as well. If your puppy develops any medical issues or is injured in an accident, you won’t be on the “hook” for all the expensive veterinarian bills that will likely follow.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

Probably not. But until you know what they “will” and “won’t” provide coverage for and what that coverage will cost monthly, can you see if it’s not the right choice for you?

We don’t think so…

This is why we’ve also taken the time to write our Best Pet Insurance article. We outline some of the pros and cons of buying a pet insurance policy and provide links for you to see what it might cost should you decide to purchase a policy.

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