Bergamasco Shepherd Dog - General Features, Temperament, Health problems


FCI # 194, Origin: Italy, Group 1.1 Sheepdogs and Cattle dogs.

Height: 22-23,5 in, Weight: 57-84 pounds

Grooming: Medium, Shedding: Medium, Coat: long, corded.

Color: grey, black (with or without white markings).

Ease of training: Medium, Energy level: Medium, Span of life: 13-15 years.

Breed: The origin of this breed, as well as most of Sheepdogs is almost impossible to ascertain, but the main hypothesis that were already generally accepted to explain the origins of Sheepdogs, of course, can be attributed to this breed also.

Shepherd group of dogs appeared relatively late - in the Bronze Age, when Europe began to develop intensively farming and then the grazing lands were reduced significantly. The number of predators decreased, so the herdsmen no longer had an urgent need to protect their herds against them with the usage of dogs. Another tasks arose before the dogs - they had now to help people to herd their cattle, to keep the cattle away from the crops and to search for the lost animals.

For this goals there was needed a relatively small, active, intelligent and inclined to work in a close contact with the herdsmen four-legged assistant. It is believed that the primary behavioral feature of a Sheepdog - an innate propensity for grazing animals - was inspired by the modification and transformation by man (by the purposeful selection) of the pursuit of hunting instinct, characteristic to all predators. Stringent requirements for the working qualities of herding dogs have formed their endurance, excellent vision, hearing, flair, quick movements and reactions, obedience and devotion to their masters.

Among the Sheepdogs there is no (so far!) any lap dogs - all of them are working. Shepherds are divided into two morphological groups: straight-haired and shaggy. The older group for Europe - the straight-haired Shepherds. The shaggy Sheepdogs inherited this kind of coat supposedly from the dogs of Asia, where the well developed cattle breeding, particularly in the mountainous country of the ancient Tibet, was the prerequisite for the formation of two types of herding dogs. This also applies to the other pastoral areas of Asia and Europe.

Large Mastiff type dogs (like for example Tibetan mastiff) were protecting the herds, and the lighter and smaller dogs with the long shaggy coats were grazing and rounding-up the cattle, also searching for the lost animals and returning them back. It is most likely that from the shaggy Tibetan Sheepdogs (their direct descendants - the Tibetan Terrier, Lhasa Apso), there have been bred the numerous types of shaggy Sheepdogs of Europe (including the South Russian Shepherd Dog). The abundant long shaggy coats, often resembling sheep's fleece, were protecting dogs not only against the cold, but also from the heat and solar radiation.

Bergamasco Shepherd dog breeds

It is assumed that from Tibet to Europe, such dogs could come together with the trade caravans, for example by the Great Silk Road, that existed in the ancient times and Middle Ages and was running from China through Asia to the West - to Syria and Asia Minor. After that the shaggy Sheepdogs could be spread by the nomadic tribes, that were engaged in the cattle breeding across the whole Asia Minor and the steppes and plains in the territories of Hungary and Russia, from where the Sheepdogs reached finally the rest of Europe.

General Features: The Bergamasco Shepherd Dog is of medium size, well proportioned. This dog has a strong bones and powerful muscles. The movements of the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog are fast and free.

The head of the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog looks very solid. The skull is wide and rounded. The superciliary arches are well developed. Well pronounced transition from forehead to the muzzle. Muzzle itself is rather short. The nose is large.

The eyes of the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog are large, oval in shape. Hazel in color, the shade of this color depends on the tone of the general color of the dog. Eye rims are black. Eyes are hidden because of the long hanging strands of wool.

Ears of the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog have a triangular shape. They are soft, hanging.

The body of a Bergamasco Shepherd Dog is of a square format. Without dewlap on the neck. Chest must be broad and deep. The back is straight and muscular. Loins are short and strong. The croup is broad, sloping, well muscled.

The front limbs of a Bergamasco Shepherd Dog are strong. Rear limbs are with the good bones, well muscled. Toes are arched and tight.
The tail of a Bergamasco Shepherd Dog is thick and strong at the base, tapering to the end. A tail of a saber form in the quiescent state hangs down. Covered with slightly wavy shaggy hair.

Coat of a Bergamasco Shepherd Dog is very long and dense (so-called "goat type" of a coat) on the front part of the body. The rest of the body is covered with the hair, twisted into cords. The undercoat is dense and soft. The acceptible colors are - all shades of grey up to the black color, but not white. White markings are allowed by the standard if they do not exceed one fifth part of the body.

Temperament: The Bergamasco Shepherd Dog is without a doubt one of the most unusual breeds of dogs. It is an ancient Italian breed of Sheepdogs from the province of Bergamo.

The breed is common in the Italian Alps, mainly in the valleys, where the sheep breeding is very well developed: in the basin of the river Po - Piedmont and Lombardy, where the shepherds come down with the flocks of sheep for the winter.

The Bergamasco Shepherd Dog looks like a real village dog of medium size with the thick coat covering the entire body and matted in tortillas. This dog is strong and physically balanced, with a good character, strong, but at the same time, careful. The main task of the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog is herding and guarding the flock.

Smartness, well-balanced behavior and patience are the main reason for people to consider this dog very valuable as a security guard and companion. However, like all Shepherds, the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog is a versatile breed, capable of performing many "dog jobs". Despite the fact that this Sheepdog has kept a fairly ferocious temper, Bergamasco obeys his master without any doubts. A shepherd and his Sheepdog are always working smoothly as a one person, they always understand each other perfectly.

Bergamasco Shepherd breed photo

Coat of the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog is not of the same quality and length at the different parts of the dog's body. On the head, upper neck and back until the waist the hair is quite dense, slightly wavy, of medium length and quite thick. Front and rear legs and the entire rear part of the body from the waist - hips, croup, groin - are covered by a soft hair that by the age of one year is getting twisted into a loose cords.

Daily care for the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog - is mainly caring for the muzzle. After each feeding it is desirable to clean the beard and the mustache with a damp cloth. If you do this consistently and carefully, the light wool will not become brownish and there will be no bad smell.

What is also needed (on a regular basis, due to the extent of regrowth) - the trimming of Bergamasco's paws. With the regular scissors, you will have to cut off the hair between the pads. In addition, due to the abundance of the dog's coat, you will need to cut off the hair from around the anus and genitals - for the hygienic reasons.
Cords on the back of the body must never be combed and shortened. They must be corrected by hands and parted if they exceed five centimeters in diameter.
If you are not planning to take your Bergamasco Shepherd Dog to the dog show, then the cords, dragging along the floor, can be shortened.
Particular attention should be paid to the area behind the ears and elbows, where the mats are quickly formed, so they need to be disassembled by hands.

The Bergamasco Shepherd Dogs have a wonderful nature: they are loyal, intelligent, brave, willing to work and also they have have an excellent memory. Sheep breeders argue that this dogs have such a strong sense of smell, that they can easily differ in their flock one sheep from the other.

The Bergamasco Shepherd Dog can easily adapt to the harshest conditions of existence and a very humble diet. Their innate stubbornness can be suppressed by an energetic and confident owner. This breed of Sheepdogs is not exactly well suited to the apartment life.

Even with the minimal training the Bergamasco Shepherd Dog can be a guardian of the house, a bodyguard and even a perfect four-legged assistant for the firefighters and rescue teams.

Health problems: The Bergamasco Shepherd Dog usually does not have any significant health problems.

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