Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dog Breed Profile: Bergamasco Sheepdog

By Suzanne Alicie

I love watching dog shows on television because I always learn about some breed I’ve never seen before, which then leads to researching the breed. One of my favorite breeds to see has been what I call the “mop dog.” There are actually several dog breeds that have roped or matted coats that to me look like mops when they run – one of these is the Bergamasco Sheepdog. The Bergamasco is an excellent show dog with a nice smooth gait and striking features. The personality of these dogs shines through, although most often what catches my attention first is the coat.

Of course the most distinctive feature of this dog is its appearance; talk about a unique dog! The felted coat looks almost like dreadlocks and is quite long. This coat is made up of three types of hair that forms mats which grow to the ground. What is interesting to me is that Bergamasco pups are born with a smooth, short coat and as they grow the hair grows and mats itself.

The medium sized Bergamasco is compact but solid and powerful with a great deal of stamina and strength. Originating in the Italian Alps, the Bergamasco was originally a herding dog. These days this excellent working dog is bred and raised to compete in agility trials, shows, fly ball, tracking and of course herding exhibits. As a herding dog working in the mountains the felted coat was not only warming but also water resistant and didn’t tangle or get caught in things as loose fur would.

The color of the Bergamasco varies between shades of gray or merle, black and a few shades of brown mixed in. The colors are ideal for camouflage when the dogs worked in the mountains of Italy, guarding and herding the sheep.

The Bergamasco is a highly intelligent breed with an innate desire to please their masters and the ability to problem solve and think for themselves. Many Bergamasco owners feel as if their dog is an equal partner when working with the dog. This unique rare breed is independent and self sufficient as much as possible, but their loyalty and affection make them wonderful pets as well.

When researching this lovely ancient breed I stumbled across the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America’s website and spent more time than I should have reading the journal and enjoying the photos of these unique dogs. I also learned more about the history of the breed. 

I know that we’ve covered many different breeds here on the Responsible Pet Ownership blog, and I’ve learned something about each of them from reading the posts. It can become easy to get settled into a rut of enjoying a specific breed and not learning about any others, but all these little facts can add up and help you choose your next four legged friend.

I’ve always felt bad when I find certain breeds that I know wouldn’t do well here in my humid corner of Virginia, where summertime is around a hundred degrees most days. Because frankly, I think a dog whose hair is supposed to be matted would be a wonderful pet to have – just think of not having to brush your dog every day or deal with shedding!

CANIDAE Natural Pet Food would be a great choice if you have a Bergamasco. Their formulations provide all the nutrition this energetic working dog needs.

Top photo: Sannse
Bottom photo: Bergamasco Sheepdog Club

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie


  1. That is very interesting about that breed of dog. I thought there was only one breed that had all those cords so to speak. It is fun to learn about more breeds.


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