Bergamasco Shepherd Dog
Other names: Bergamasco, Cane da pastore Bergamasco, Knut
The forerunner of the Bergamasco breed originated in Persia (yesteryear Iran) and was brought westwards by migrating farmers and societal drift. Since its conception in the mid-1800s the breed has been used for herding and roving. The dog is extremely rare in the UK: ten years ago it was estimated that only 30 such dogs were native to the British Isles.
Key facts about the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog
Origins and history
The ancestor of the Bergamasco came from Persia. According to students of canine heritage such a dog may have existed more than seven millennia ago. It migrated westwards amid centuries of societal shifting to find its more recent home (1850s) in the Italian Alps near the town of Bergamo. Genetic ‘paw-printing’ shows that it was around this time that the first Bergamasco was born.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 1 - Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs)
Section 1 : Sheepdogs
Physical characteristics of the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog
Female : Between 21 and 23 in
Male : Between 23 and 24 in
Female : Between 57 and 71 lb
Male : Between 71 and 84 lb
The Bergamasco is only found of black or grey colours. The black coat tends to bronze in the sun.
Type of coat
The double coat is long and actually consists of three types of fur: the undercoat, the top coat and the goat hair.
Dark brown or chestnut.
A medium-sized dog with an abundant matted coat. The dog is stocky and sturdy; its body is almost square in appearance. The muzzle is rather flat and broad leading to a gradually sloping stop and upwards to a medium-sized and reasonably flat skull. The ears are set high and drop but are not flat against the cheek.
Good to know
The coat of the Bergamasco is self-cleaning. As a result of this, the dog should only be bathed once or twice a year. The exception to this rule would be if the dog needed to be cleaned for some reason. Cutting or over-grooming this dog’s coat can cause the dog to develop skin infections and irritations.
The Bergamasco is a well-tempered dog and forms a very close bond with its owner. The dog will consider itself the guardian of the family.
Some Bergamascos are playful but others can be a little standoffish.
The Bergamasco is not a nervous dog and does not easily scare. It is always alert and is therefore not prone to fright or nervousness.
The Bergamasco’s exceptional intelligence lends itself to excellent obedience but also gives rise to traits of manipulation and stubbornness.
Bergamascos are herding dogs. They do not have an instinct to track prey but they will enjoy herding other animals and people (sometimes with the odd nip).
Fearful / wary of strangers
The Bergamasco is wary of strangers; the dog’s want to protect the family comes to the fore when meeting unfamiliar humans. An owner’s gentle encouragement and patience is required in order to allay the dog’s fears.
This dog is in all respects independent, so much so that it is likely to try to take control of the home if it sees a chance to do so.
Behaviour of the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog
The Bergamasco will tolerate solitude but only in small doses. If left alone for an unduly long time the Bergamasco becomes agitated and upset.
Easy to train / obedience
A strong-willed animal is the Bergamasco and one that is not easy to train. Being independent the Bergamasco will learn when it wants to learn and when. The Bergamasco requires a stronger-willed leader who is confident and consistent.
This dog is not known for its excessive barking.