Bergamascos are highly intelligent, loving, and trainable. They are a shepherding breed with an origin back thousands of years from Persia (in the area that is now Iran). These hardy shepherding dogs worked with their nomadic masters, tending and herding flocks of sheep in the harsh mountain climates from Persia west to Europe. Certain of these nomads ultimately settled in the Italian Alps and remained there; their dogs becoming what is now known as the Bergamasco.
In the years after WWII, Bergamasco numbers declined. The breed’s American devotees earned a victory in 2015, when the Bergamasco Sheepdog was admitted to the AKC Stud Book.
Bergamasco Sheepdog Appearance
The Bergamasco is a large, muscular herding dog. Their height ranges from 22 to 23.5 inches. They are slightly longer than their height and they weigh 57 to 84 pounds.
The Bergamasco’s coat is its defining characteristic. The hair has three different textures that form naturally occurring loose mats, or “flocks” (strands of hair woven together, creating flat layers of felted hair), covering the body and legs.
Adult Bergamasco’s coat is basically maintenance free. A Bergamasco doesn’t shed, doesn’t need to be brushed, and doesn’t need to be bathed more than two or three times a year. It’s made up of three types of hair, called “dog,” “goat,” and “wool.” Goat and wool hairs start to appear when the dog is a year old. When they do, the coat must be ripped into mats—a process that can take a few hours or a few evenings. But once it’s done, it’s done.
Bergamasco’s life expectancy is 13 to 15 years. They are attentive, intelligent, and patient. They are excellent companions and devoted to family, especially children, but they have their own ideas on just about everything. Bergamascos are courageous guards, with a strong protective instinct, but is never aggressive. He will look for guidance and is eager to please, but probably won’t follow with blind obedience. His breed standard describes him as “naturally stubborn” but in a good way, working until a task is done.
The Bergamasco has a particular empathy for children and chooses himself to be their watcher. He is also an ideal dog for therapy visits to children who are in the hospital or have disabilities. They are gentle with family, and, in the absence of a flock, his primary job is to protect them. He is alert, always ready to bark an alarm. He may not tolerate other dogs who misbehave or humans who act threatening in his home. The Bergamasco accepts strangers once they have been introduced to him. If raised together, he gets along well with other pets.
The Bergamasco is highly athletic, so plenty of exercise is important for his physical and mental health. He also requires a lot of space for activity and is not a good choice for apartment or condo living. Bergamascos are devoted to their people and prefer to be in the home with them. They should have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is inside, the Bergamasco wants to be with them.
Caring for a Bergamasco Sheepdog
Next, we’ll go into how you should care for a Bergamasco Sheepdog.
Bergamascos need high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured with meat listed as the first ingredient or home-prepared (with veterinarian’s supervision and approval). All diets need to be appropriate for the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). To avoid an overweight Bergamasco, calorie consumption and weight level needs to be regularly monitored.
Not all human foods are safe for dogs, so take caution and research first. Although helpful in aiding training, giving too many treats will cause obesity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Of course, a veterinarian is the best resource when there are questions regarding diet.
The Bergamasco Sheepdog requires only a moderate amount of exercise every day. Because they bond closely with their owners, exercise should include some sort of shared activity rather than the dog being left alone in the backyard. While they are generally calm, Bergamascos have a good amount of energy and are happy to join their owners in almost any sort of activity, whether that includes retrieving a ball or going on a brisk walk or hike. He can be a good competitor in dog sports such as agility, obedience, and rally and is a natural at hiking in the mountains.
Gently exposing the Bergamasco puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations will help him develop into a well-adjusted, well-mannered adult. It’s essential to teach him from puppyhood when it’s okay to exercise his protective nature and when to let the owner take charge.
Early socialization and training are a necessary part of his upbringing to prevent him from becoming overly suspicious or fearful of anything new or different. Bergamascos respond well to consistent positive training. A light hand is all that’s needed for this smart breed. He will respond to kind, firm, consistent training, but he can be independent and self-sufficient.
There is almost no health information on Bergamascos because they are generally a healthy breed living well into their teen years. Some dogs may be faced with health challenges in their lives, but the majority of Bergamascos are healthy dogs. They are at risk of experiencing the following conditions:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: The ball and socket of the joints do not fit properly
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A degeneration of the retina causing vision loss
- Entropion: The inversion, or turning inwards, of the eyelids of the dog
- Ectropion: The eyelid folds outwards usually affecting the lower lid
- Skin Allergies: Hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system include eczema, hives
- Heat Related Conditions: Overheating and dying of heat exhaustion quicker and at lower temperatures than other breeds
Teeth should be cleaned a couple of times a week. Gum disease can lead to heart, liver, and kidney problems. Nails need to be trimmed at least every six weeks. Nails that aren’t trimmed can splinter and infect the quick or grow and curl into the flesh. This can be painful for your dog to walk on. Nails should never touch the ground. Trimming is past due if nails are clicking on the kitchen floor.
- Polish Lowland Sheepdog
- Portuguese Sheepdog
- Old English Sheepdog
Best Dog Food For Bergamasco Sheepdogs
For the healthy growth of Bergamasco Sheepdogs, the Purina ONE SmartBlend Lamb & Rice Adult Formula Dry Dog Food is appropriate. Its protein-enriched ingredients help in strengthening the muscles along with a healthy cardiac system. Antioxidants and essential vitamins ensure a strong immune system and a shiny and well-maintained coat.
- Primary ingredients include lamb and grains and ensure a nutritional diet.
- Omega 6 fatty acids in the meal promote the natural growth of hair.
- It is easy to digest, and absorption is faster, which enhances energy production.
Best Puppy Food For Bergamasco Sheepdogs
For the complete development of the brain, eyes, muscles, and bones, the Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites Dry Dog Food is apt for young Bergamasco Sheepdogs. Since it results in energizing the body for the entire day, it is light on their delicate stomach and easily digestible. The nutritional content prevents swelling of joints and relieving stress, and enhances muscular strength.
- The ingredients ensure promoting a healthy digestive system while growing.
- Quick absorption of the ingredients helps in easy excretion and bowel movement.
- Regular consumption promotes the formation of a robust skeletal system.
Best Dog Crate For Bergamasco Sheepdogs
When left alone, the Frisco Heavy Duty Fold & Carry Double Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crate & Mat Kit is apt for Bergamasco Sheepdogs. Apart from being spacious and comfortable, this dog crate ensures safety and protection along with minimizing aggression. It has strong wiring all around with a lock of multiple latches to prevent escape and easy breathing.
- It has a removable tray beneath, which is washable and enhances long hours of stay.
- There are no sharp edges in and around the crate, and it helps in easy movement.
- Easy assembling and dismantling make it convenient to carry while traveling.
Best Dog Bed For Bergamasco Sheepdogs
After a long and tiring day, the Frisco Velvet Rectangular Bolster Cat & Dog Bed is suitable for Bergamasco Sheepdogs. The outer velvet layer is comfortable, enables cuddling, and helps in achieving uninterrupted sleep for rejuvenation. Since the bed is quilted and has raised edges on all sides, there are minimal chances of falling.
- Bolsters serve as a headrest while relaxing and supports the body to re-energize.
- Climbing in and out of bed is convenient, and there is enough space for movement.
- The textured bed relieves joint pains and keeps the spine aligned with the head and back.
Best Dog Harness For Bergamasco Sheepdogs
The Chai’s Choice 3M Polyester Reflective Front Clip Dog Harness is best for Bergamasco Sheepdogs for extra security and supervision. A reflective layer shines in the darkness and is useful while in an area with lowlights. With the adjustable straps, it gives a secure fit, and the O-ring enables attachment of a leash, hence securing outdoor walks.
- The chest padding provides utmost comfort and prevents injuries from accidents.
- A strong handle on the top is helpful to direct the way while traveling.
- Enhances the overall look while ensuring a customized fit with the buckles.
Best Dog Collar For Bergamasco Sheepdogs
Although the Blueberry Pet Classic Solid Nylon Dog Collar is simple but enhances the appearance of Bergamasco Sheepdogs on wearing. Its traditional design makes it convenient to wear and remove before and after outdoor activities. The buckles provide a customized and secured fit and are easy to wash and dry when dirty, thus, promoting hygiene maintenance.
- The material is of high quality and is gentle on the skin, and does not cause rashes.
- Buckles are strong, tight, and prevent from escaping when outdoors.
- Long-lasting and large enough to meet the growing needs.
Best Dog Muzzle For Bergamasco Sheepdogs
Whenever your Bergamasco Sheepdog is exhibiting aggression, the Baskerville Ultra Dog Muzzle is ideal for correcting their behavior. It minimizes destructive chewing and extensive barking and also prevents harming others while on outdoor strolls. The straps are gentle on the face and neck but have a secure grip around it, avoiding loosening and falling off.
- Soft material and is not heavy on the face and is ideal for regular use.
- Customization is possible due to the presence of a rubberized strap for a secure grip.
- There are multiple safety straps and adjustable points for easy wearing and removal.
Best Dog Toys For Bergamasco Sheepdogs
If you often leave your Bergamasco Sheepdog alone at home, provide him the Frisco Flat Plush Squeaking Alligator Dog Toy. Apart from preventing behavior change due to loneliness, it also helps in engaging while not under supervision. It is an easy means of distraction and does not contain any stuffing, which prevents mess around the house.
- The structure in the form of an alligator is attractive and encourages playtime.
- Soft and safe material is ideal for cuddling and providing company while sleeping.
- No sharp edges or attachments that may hurt while playing.
Best Dog Brush For Bergamasco Sheepdogs
The best dog brush for Bergamasco Sheepdogs is Mr. Peanut’s Hand Gloves Dog & Cat Grooming & Deshedding Aid. These gloves are ideal for removing debris that often sticks to the thick coat and extracts ticks and fleas beneath it. They initiate the distribution of natural oil from the body uniformly and are also effortless to clean after the grooming session.
- The bristles on the gloves are soft and gentle on the skin, preventing any cuts.
- It fits into each hand perfectly to enable detangling and removing dirt.
- There are adjustable straps to ensure a firm grip on the wrist.
Best Dog Shampoo For Bergamasco Sheepdogs
The Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo with Colloidal Oat Flour & Honey for Dogs is the best for regular use on Bergamasco Sheepdogs. Its natural ingredients do not cause irritation or itching on the skin after application, instead, they leave the skin refreshed. Without interfering with any other ongoing skin treatment, it washes away all dirt and maintains the coat’s natural health.
- Oats and honey in this shampoo deep cleanse and moisturize the skin, respectively.
- It helps in retaining the water content in the skin and promotes hair growth.
- Being a neutral shampoo, it prevents dryness and does not contain any artificial colors.
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Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America