Bergamasco Shepherd: A Unique and Intelligent Dog Breed

The Bergamasco Shepherd, also known as the Bergamasco Sheepdog, is a remarkable and intelligent dog breed originating from Italy. With its long history in herding sheep and cattle in the Alpi e Prealpi Bergamasche region, the Bergamasco Shepherd has earned a reputation as a reliable and hardworking herding dog. Recognized by various kennel clubs, this breed has captured the hearts of many dog lovers around the world.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Bergamasco Shepherd is a unique and intelligent dog breed originating from Italy.
  • It has a long history of herding sheep and cattle in the Alpi e Prealpi Bergamasche region.
  • Recognized by various kennel clubs, the Bergamasco Shepherd is highly regarded for its hardworking nature.
  • This breed has a distinct appearance, highlighted by its matted coat.
  • The Bergamasco Shepherd is known for its loyalty, intelligence, and problem-solving abilities.

Origin of the Bergamasco Shepherd

The Bergamasco Shepherd is an Italian breed of sheepdog that originated in the Alpi e Prealpi Bergamasche region of Italy. This unique and intelligent dog breed was primarily used for herding sheep and cattle in the rugged mountainous terrain of the region. The exact origins of the Bergamasco Shepherd are unknown, but genetic studies have shown similarities with other European breeds such as the Berger Picard, the Bernese Mountain Dog, and the Briard.

The Bergamasco Shepherd’s origins can be traced back centuries, when it was developed by the local shepherds to meet their specific needs in herding and protecting their livestock. The breed’s ability to adapt and thrive in the challenging environment of the Alpi e Prealpi Bergamasche region is a testament to its strength and resilience.

Today, the Bergamasco Shepherd is recognized as a distinct breed and is cherished for its unique appearance, intelligence, and working abilities. It has gained popularity not only in its country of origin but also in other parts of the world, where it is valued for its versatility and loyalty as a companion and working dog.

Origin of the Bergamasco Shepherd

History of the Bergamasco Shepherd

Bergamasco Shepherd History

The history of the Bergamasco Shepherd is deeply rooted in Italy, where it has been a beloved breed for many years. Its journey began in 1881 when it made its first appearance at the Italian dog show in Milan. This was a significant milestone for the breed, as it marked the beginning of its recognition and popularity in the dog show world. Inspired by its unique features and capabilities, the breed was officially registered in the Libro Origini Italiano, the Italian national stud-book for dogs, in 1891.

Recognizing the need for an organized association dedicated to the breed, the Associazione Amatori del Cane da Pastore Bergamasco was established in 1949. This association served as a platform for breed enthusiasts to come together, exchange knowledge, and promote the breed. Their efforts paid off, as the Bergamasco Shepherd gained official recognition from the Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana in 1956 and was accepted by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in the same year.

“The Bergamasco Shepherd has a rich history in Italy, with its origins dating back centuries. It has been a part of our cultural heritage and has played a vital role in our agricultural traditions. The breed’s journey from being a humble working dog to a recognized and respected breed is a testament to its remarkable qualities and the dedication of breed enthusiasts.”

Today, the Bergamasco Shepherd continues to captivate dog lovers around the world with its distinctive appearance and intelligent nature. It stands as a testament to the rich history and heritage of Italy, and its journey from humble beginnings to international recognition is a testament to the breed’s enduring popularity and significance.

Italian dog show and breed association

Year Event
1881 First appearance at the Italian dog show in Milan
1891 Registration in the Libro Origini Italiano
1949 Establishment of the Associazione Amatori del Cane da Pastore Bergamasco
1956 Official recognition by the Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana
1956 Acceptance by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale

Characteristics of the Bergamasco Shepherd

The Bergamasco Shepherd is a medium-sized dog breed known for its robust and rustic appearance. Males typically stand at around 58-62 cm (23-24 inches) tall at the withers, while females are slightly smaller at 54-58 cm (21-23 inches) tall. In terms of weight, males weigh approximately 32-38 kg (71-84 lb), while females weigh around 26-32 kg (57-71 lb). These measurements contribute to the breed’s strong and sturdy build.

One of the most distinguishing features of the Bergamasco Shepherd is its unique coat. The coat is matted on the body and forms long locks on the hind part of the body. It comes in various shades of grey, ranging from pale grey to matt black, with some tinges of isabella or fulvous color being allowable. The matted coat not only provides protection against the elements but also gives the breed its distinct and eye-catching appearance.

To provide a visual representation of the Bergamasco Shepherd’s characteristics, below is a table summarizing its average height, weight, coat, and color:

Characteristic Average
Height (at the withers) Males: 58-62 cm (23-24 inches)
Females: 54-58 cm (21-23 inches)
Weight Males: 32-38 kg (71-84 lb)
Females: 26-32 kg (57-71 lb)
Coat Matted on the body, forms long locks on the hind part
Color Various shades of grey (pale grey to matt black), with allowable tinges of isabella or fulvous color

“The Bergamasco Shepherd is a medium-sized dog breed known for its robust and rustic appearance. Its matted coat, unique to the breed, provides both protection and a distinctive appearance.”

The combination of the Bergamasco Shepherd’s physical characteristics, including its height, weight, coat, and color, contribute to its overall charm and appeal. This breed’s strong and sturdy build, coupled with its unique matted coat, make it a standout among other dog breeds.

Care and Grooming of the Bergamasco Shepherd

Bergamasco Shepherd grooming

The Bergamasco Shepherd has a unique coat that requires minimal grooming once the mats have set. The mats form naturally and provide insulation and protection for the dog. It is important not to shave the coat, as it can lead to messy regrowth and affect the dog’s ability to regulate its body temperature. Instead, regular maintenance involves checking the mats and ensuring they have not grown back together.

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Bathing the Bergamasco Shepherd should be done sparingly, with 1-3 times a year being sufficient. The breed’s coat has natural oils that help keep it clean and healthy. Over-bathing can strip these oils and dry out the skin. When bathing, it is important to use a mild shampoo specifically formulated for dogs.

In terms of coat maintenance, the Bergamasco Shepherd does not require regular brushing. The mats should not be combed or brushed, as this can damage the structure of the coat. Instead, occasional checking and separating any mats that have merged together is all that is needed. The breed’s coat is self-cleaning and does not trap dirt or debris like other breeds.

Care and Grooming of the Bergamasco Shepherd
Coat maintenance Minimal grooming once the mats have set
Bathing 1-3 times a year with a mild dog shampoo
Shaving Not recommended to maintain coat structure and temperature regulation

Temperament of the Bergamasco Shepherd

The Bergamasco Shepherd is an intelligent and loyal breed with a unique temperament. Their independent nature and problem-solving abilities make them a fascinating companion. They have a keen intellect and are quick to learn and adapt to new situations. Their loyalty to their owners is unwavering, and they form strong bonds with their families.

This breed is known for their independent thinking, which can be both a blessing and a challenge for their owners. While they are eager to please, they may choose to accomplish tasks in their own way, using their problem-solving skills. This ability makes them versatile working partners and excellent problem solvers in various situations.

The Bergamasco Shepherd is generally friendly and social, which makes them suitable for families and households with multiple people. They enjoy the company of their human companions and thrive in an active and attentive environment. However, proper socialization and training are essential to ensure that their behavior is appropriate around children and other pets.

The combination of intelligence, loyalty, independence, and problem-solving abilities makes the Bergamasco Shepherd a unique and fascinating breed. They are well-suited for families looking for a dog that can think for itself, adapt to various situations, and form a strong bond with their owners.

Traits Description
Intelligent The Bergamasco Shepherd is a highly intelligent breed that can think for itself and problem-solve. Their quick learning ability makes them versatile in various tasks and situations.
Loyal This breed forms strong bonds with their owners and is known for their loyalty. They are dedicated and committed to their families, making them reliable companions.
Independent The Bergamasco Shepherd’s independent nature allows them to accomplish tasks in their own way. They have the ability to think for themselves and find creative solutions to problems.
Problem-solving With their intelligence and independent thinking, the Bergamasco Shepherd excels at problem-solving. They can quickly assess situations and find effective solutions.

Popularity and Registrations of the Bergamasco Shepherd

The Bergamasco Shepherd, while not as popular as some other dog breeds, has a dedicated following and is admired for its unique appearance and intelligence. The annual registrations of the Bergamasco Shepherd in Italy, tracked by the Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana (Italian kennel club), have averaged around 97 per year from 2011 to 2019. The highest number of registrations in a single year was 149, while the lowest was 48. These numbers reflect the breed’s steady but relatively moderate popularity among dog enthusiasts.

Despite its popularity, the Bergamasco Shepherd has gained recognition and appreciation from dog lovers around the world. Its distinctive matted coat and versatile working abilities have captivated the hearts of many. While the breed may not be widely seen in mainstream media or dog shows, it has carved a niche for itself among those who appreciate its unique qualities and heritage.

Registrations of the Bergamasco Shepherd in Italy (2011-2019)

Year Number of Registrations
2011 110
2012 97
2013 103
2014 76
2015 92
2016 78
2017 123
2018 149
2019 48

Table: Registrations of the Bergamasco Shepherd in Italy from 2011 to 2019.

While the breed may not have a large number of annual registrations, the dedicated enthusiasts and breeders of the Bergamasco Shepherd continue to preserve and promote this unique Italian breed. The love and passion for the Bergamasco Shepherd extend beyond numbers, as its admirers value the breed for its remarkable temperament and distinct appearance.

Bergamasco Shepherd as a Family Dog

Bergamasco Shepherd as a Family Dog Image

The Bergamasco Shepherd is a friendly and social breed, making it well-suited for families. Its gentle nature and calm demeanor make it a great choice for households with children. This breed loves to bond with multiple family members and forms strong attachments. The Bergamasco Shepherd is known for its loyalty and eagerness to please, making it a wonderful addition to any family.

With proper socialization and training, the Bergamasco Shepherd can coexist harmoniously with children and other pets. Its intelligence and problem-solving abilities allow it to adapt easily to different family dynamics. Whether it’s playing in the backyard, going for walks, or simply lounging at home, the Bergamasco Shepherd thrives in an active and attentive environment.

The Friendly and Social Nature of the Bergamasco Shepherd

The Bergamasco Shepherd’s friendly and social nature is one of its defining characteristics. This breed enjoys being around people and forming close bonds with its family. Its calm and gentle temperament make it an ideal companion for families with children.

Additionally, the Bergamasco Shepherd’s intelligence allows it to understand and adapt to the needs of its family members. Whether it’s playing with children, providing comfort to those in distress, or simply being a loyal presence, this breed excels in its role as a family dog.

Pros Cons
  • Friendly and gentle
  • Social and bonds well with family members
  • Intelligent and adaptable
  • Requires regular exercise and mental stimulation
  • May exhibit herding instincts with small children
  • Coat maintenance can be time-consuming

The Bergamasco Shepherd’s friendly and social nature, combined with its intelligence and adaptability, make it a suitable choice for families seeking a loyal and affectionate companion. With proper care, training, and socialization, this breed can bring joy and companionship to any household.

Health and Lifespan of the Bergamasco Shepherd

The Bergamasco Shepherd is generally considered a healthy breed with no specific breed-related health issues. However, like all dogs, they can be prone to certain health problems such as hip dysplasia and eye issues. Regular vet check-ups, proper nutrition, exercise, and grooming can help ensure the overall health and well-being of the dog.

One common health issue that the Bergamasco Shepherd may face is hip dysplasia, which is a condition where the hip joint does not develop properly. This can lead to discomfort and mobility issues. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent or manage hip dysplasia in this breed.

Another potential health concern for the Bergamasco Shepherd is eye issues, such as cataracts or progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian can help detect and address any eye problems early on.

The average lifespan of the Bergamasco Shepherd is around 12 to 15 years. However, with proper care and a healthy lifestyle, some individuals may live even longer. Providing a nutritious diet, regular exercise, mental stimulation, and regular veterinary care can contribute to a longer and healthier life for the Bergamasco Shepherd.

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Common Health Issues Average Lifespan
Hip Dysplasia 12-15 years
Eye Issues (Cataracts, PRA)

It’s important for prospective owners of the Bergamasco Shepherd to be aware of these common health issues and take proactive steps to ensure the well-being of their pet. Regular veterinary check-ups, a nutritious diet, exercise, and providing a safe and stimulating environment can help promote a long and healthy life for this intelligent and unique breed.

Training and Exercise Needs of the Bergamasco Shepherd

Training and Exercise Needs of the Bergamasco Shepherd

The Bergamasco Shepherd, being an intelligent breed, requires regular training and mental stimulation to keep its active mind engaged. Obedience training is essential to ensure that the dog understands and follows commands. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewards and praise, work best with this breed. Consistency and patience are key when training the Bergamasco Shepherd.

Mental stimulation is equally important for this intelligent breed. Providing puzzle toys, interactive games, and challenging tasks can help keep their minds sharp and prevent boredom. This can include activities such as hide-and-seek, scent games, or teaching them new tricks.

Physical exercise is also crucial for the Bergamasco Shepherd’s well-being. Regular daily walks, playtime in a secure area, or participation in dog sports can help burn off their energy. This breed has a natural herding instinct, so activities that tap into their herding skills, such as agility or rally obedience, can be particularly enjoyable for them.

Obedience Training Tips:

  • Start training the Bergamasco Shepherd from a young age to establish good behavior and manners.
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and rewards to motivate and encourage desired behaviors.
  • Be consistent with commands and expectations, as this breed is highly intelligent and can quickly pick up on inconsistencies.
  • Make training sessions fun and engaging by incorporating games and activities that stimulate their problem-solving abilities.
  • Enroll in obedience classes or seek the help of a professional dog trainer if needed, especially for more advanced training or behavioral issues.

Mental Stimulation Ideas:

  1. Provide puzzle toys that require the dog to work for treats or food, stimulating their problem-solving skills.
  2. Teach the Bergamasco Shepherd new tricks or commands to keep their minds active and engaged.
  3. Engage in scent-based games, such as hiding treats and encouraging the dog to find them using their sense of smell.
  4. Participate in interactive training sessions or enroll in dog sports that challenge their mental abilities, such as agility or obedience trials.
  5. Rotate toys and introduce new ones regularly to prevent boredom and maintain their interest.

Remember that each Bergamasco Shepherd is unique, and their exercise and mental stimulation needs may vary. It’s essential to observe their behavior and adjust their routine accordingly to ensure they remain happy and fulfilled.

Exercise Needs Mental Stimulation Needs
The Bergamasco Shepherd requires at least 1-2 hours of exercise per day. The breed needs mental stimulation through training, interactive games, and puzzle toys.
Physical activities such as daily walks, play sessions, or participating in dog sports are necessary. Rotating toys, teaching new tricks, and engaging in scent-based activities can satisfy their mental stimulation needs.
The breed’s herding instinct can be utilized in activities such as agility or rally obedience. Varying the training routine and challenging their problem-solving abilities keeps their minds sharp.

“Training and exercise are crucial for the well-being of the Bergamasco Shepherd. Their intelligence and energy levels require mental stimulation and physical activities to keep them happy, healthy, and well-adjusted.” – Professional Dog Trainer

Bergamasco Shepherd as a Working Dog

Bergamasco Shepherd herding sheep

The Bergamasco Shepherd is a versatile and capable working dog with strong herding instincts and problem-solving abilities. This intelligent breed has been used for centuries to assist shepherds in their daily tasks of herding and protecting livestock. The Bergamasco’s ability to think independently and adapt to changing circumstances makes it an invaluable asset in herding operations.

With its excellent problem-solving abilities, the Bergamasco Shepherd can assess situations and make decisions that contribute to the success of herding tasks. This breed’s natural instincts allow it to anticipate and respond to the movements of livestock, ensuring efficient herding and minimizing stress on the animals. The Bergamasco’s keen intelligence and ability to problem-solve make it a reliable partner in herding operations.

Working Abilities Herding Instincts Problem-Solving Abilities
The Bergamasco Shepherd excels in a wide range of working activities, including herding, obedience, and dog sports. This breed has a strong natural herding instinct that drives its desire to gather and move livestock. The Bergamasco’s problem-solving abilities enable it to adapt to different challenges and make independent decisions to accomplish herding tasks.
Whether it’s herding sheep, cows, or other animals, the Bergamasco Shepherd demonstrates its ability to work with precision and control. Its herding instincts are deeply ingrained, and with proper training, the breed’s natural talent can be honed and refined. This breed’s problem-solving skills allow it to navigate obstacles, anticipate the movement of livestock, and make strategic decisions to guide and control the herd.

The Bergamasco Shepherd’s strong herding instincts and problem-solving abilities also make it a suitable candidate for other working roles, such as search and rescue, therapy work, and assistance tasks. Its intelligence, loyalty, and adaptability make it a versatile and valuable working dog in various fields.

Bergamasco Shepherd in Show Competitions

The Bergamasco Shepherd is a breed that excels in show competitions, captivating judges and audiences with its unique appearance and adherence to breed standards. Recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and the Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana (ENCI), the breed competes alongside other breeds in various dog shows and competitions.

One of the highlights of the Bergamasco Shepherd is its distinctive coat. Show judges evaluate the coat’s texture, density, and formation of mats, which are a defining characteristic of the breed. The quality and maintenance of the coat play a crucial role in the overall assessment of the dog. The FCI and ENCI have established specific breed standards that outline the ideal coat traits, ensuring consistency and fairness in judging.

“The Bergamasco Shepherd is a breed that demands attention and admiration in show competitions. Its unique and matted coat sets it apart from other breeds, making it a truly remarkable sight.”

In addition to the coat, judges assess the Bergamasco Shepherd based on other breed-specific criteria, such as body structure, movement, temperament, and general appearance. The dog’s gait and overall presentation are also taken into consideration. The breed’s intelligence and problem-solving abilities may be showcased in certain competitions designed to test the dog’s working skills and instincts.

Participating in show competitions provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to showcase their Bergamasco Shepherds and receive recognition for their dedication and commitment to the breed. It also allows for the promotion and preservation of the breed’s unique characteristics and heritage.

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Table: Bergamasco Shepherd Breed Standards

Standard Description
Coat Density and formation of mats
Body Structure Proper proportions and balance
Movement Straight, effortless, and coordinated
Temperament Intelligent, loyal, and adaptable
General Appearance Robust, rustic, and noble

As the Bergamasco Shepherd continues to gain recognition and popularity, its participation in show competitions helps highlight the breed’s unique qualities and contributes to its overall preservation for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

Adopting a Bergamasco Shepherd

Adopting a Bergamasco Shepherd

If you’re considering adding a Bergamasco Shepherd to your family, adopting one from a shelter or rescue organization can be a rewarding and compassionate choice. While this unique and intelligent breed is purebred, there are instances where Bergamascos end up in shelters or rescues in need of loving homes.

Adopting a Bergamasco Shepherd from a shelter or rescue usually involves an application process. You may be asked to provide information about your living situation, past experience with dogs, and your plans for caring for the dog. A home visit may also be required to ensure that your home is a safe and suitable environment for the dog.

When you adopt from a shelter or rescue, you not only give a deserving dog a second chance at a happy life but also support the efforts of rescue organizations. These organizations work tirelessly to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome dogs in need. By choosing adoption, you become part of the solution to pet overpopulation and contribute to the well-being of animals in need.

Shelters and Rescues Contact Information
ABC Animal Shelter
Rescue Dogs United
Paws and Tails Rescue

“Adopting a Bergamasco Shepherd is not only a choice of bringing a loving and loyal companion into your life, but it also gives a deserving dog a second chance at happiness.”

When you adopt a Bergamasco Shepherd, you provide them with a forever home and the love and care they deserve. These dogs can form strong bonds with their new families and become loyal and devoted companions. With proper care, training, and socialization, your adopted Bergamasco Shepherd can bring joy and companionship into your life for many years to come.

Bergamasco Shepherd as a Therapy or Service Dog

Bergamasco Shepherd as a Therapy or Service Dog

The intelligent, calm, and gentle nature of the Bergamasco Shepherd makes it an ideal candidate for therapy or service dog work. With their innate intelligence and problem-solving abilities, Bergamascos have the capacity to excel in tasks that require focus and attentiveness. Their calm demeanor and gentle temperament also contribute to their suitability for providing comfort and support to individuals in need.

As therapy dogs, Bergamascos can provide emotional support and assistance to those with physical or emotional challenges. They have a natural ability to sense and respond to the needs of others, making them intuitive companions. Their gentle and patient nature allows them to interact with a wide range of individuals, including children, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities.

When trained as service dogs, Bergamascos can perform a variety of tasks to aid individuals with specific needs. Their intelligence and problem-solving abilities make them adaptable and capable of learning complex tasks. They can assist with mobility, alerting to medical conditions, and providing support during daily activities.

Benefits of Bergamascos as Therapy or Service Dogs
1. Intelligent and problem-solving abilities
2. Calm and gentle temperament
3. Ability to bond closely with their owners
4. Capacity to provide emotional support and comfort
5. Adaptability to various situations and environments

Whether providing emotional support as therapy dogs or assisting with specific tasks as service dogs, Bergamascos bring a unique set of qualities that make them valuable assets in the field of therapy and service work. Their intelligence, calmness, and gentle nature make them an exceptional choice for individuals seeking a dedicated and reliable companion.

Bergamasco Shepherd in Different Climates

The Bergamasco Shepherd is known for its adaptability to various climates. Its unique coat provides insulation and protection from both cold and hot weather, allowing the dog to remain comfortable in different environments. The dense mats of the Bergamasco’s coat help regulate its body temperature, keeping it cool in hot climates and warm in cold climates.

When exposed to high temperatures, the Bergamasco’s coat acts as a natural shield against the sun’s rays. The mats create a layer of insulation, protecting the dog from overheating. However, it’s still essential to provide the dog with shade and plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration. Avoiding prolonged exposure to extreme heat is crucial for the Bergamasco’s well-being.

In colder climates, the Bergamasco’s coat offers excellent insulation against the cold. The mats trap air close to the body, providing warmth and protection from icy temperatures. This natural insulation is especially valuable in snowy or windy conditions. However, it’s important to monitor the dog’s exposure to extreme cold and provide appropriate shelter to prevent frostbite or discomfort.

Adaptability and Maintenance

The Bergamasco Shepherd’s adaptability extends beyond climate. This breed is known for its ability to adapt to different living environments, whether in the countryside, suburbs, or city. While the breed historically thrived in rural settings as a herding dog, it can also adapt to urban living with proper exercise and mental stimulation.

Despite its unique coat, the Bergamasco Shepherd requires minimal grooming once the mats have set. However, regular checks to ensure the mats have not grown back together are necessary. The breed’s coat does shed minimally, making it suitable for individuals with allergies.

In conclusion, the Bergamasco Shepherd’s matted coat provides insulation and adaptability in different climates. Its unique coat is not only visually striking but also serves a practical purpose in protecting the dog from extreme temperatures. With its resilience, adaptability, and minimal grooming needs, the Bergamasco Shepherd is a versatile breed suitable for a range of climates and living environments.


In conclusion, the Bergamasco Shepherd is a remarkable and intelligent dog breed with a rich history and distinctive appearance. Originating from the Alpi e Prealpi Bergamasche region of Italy, this breed has been used as a herding dog for centuries.

The Bergamasco Shepherd’s unique coat, which forms matted locks, requires minimal grooming once the mats have set. This low-maintenance characteristic sets it apart from other breeds and adds to its appeal.

With its intelligence, loyalty, and problem-solving abilities, the Bergamasco Shepherd makes an excellent companion and working partner. Whether as a family pet, a therapy or service dog, or even in show competitions, this breed’s adaptability and resilience shine.

In summary, with proper care, training, and socialization, the Bergamasco Shepherd can thrive in various environments and bring joy and companionship to any household.

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