Bergamasco

Height: 22 – 23.5 inches
Weight: 57 – 84 pounds
Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
Colors: Black, Grey
Suitable for: Active families looking for a low-maintenance dog, House or Apartment
Temperament: Patient, Calm, Intelligent, Independent, Loving, Devoted

The Bergamasco is a purebred sheepdog found in the AKC’s Herding Group and is the 187th most popular dog out of 196. That could be attributed to the fact that they aren’t a common breed in North America. They hail from the town of Bergamo, located near Milan, Italy, and were used as sheepdogs for centuries.

The Bergamasco boasts a truly low-maintenance coat that is hypoallergenic and can be black or gray with black patches. They are large dogs with muscular builds and have floppy hair covering their eyes.

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Bergamasco Puppies – Before You Buy…

Bergamasco puppy in the meadow
Image Credit: michelangeloop, Shutterstock
Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

The Bergamasco is moderately energetic and is considered a very healthy breed with a long lifespan. They are highly intelligent and eager to please but have an independent streak, so training is easy but with a few challenges. The Bergamasco is generally friendly with other dogs but is wary of strange people until she is acquainted with them.

What’s the Price of Bergamasco Puppies?

There is a small number of Bergamasco breeders in the United States, so finding a puppy might be somewhat of a challenge. There were no prices posted at the time of this writing, so an estimate could fall in the $2000 to $3500 range.

While looking for your puppy, you need to find a reputable and responsible breeder in order to avoid puppy mills.

Here are some tips when dealing with a breeder:
  • Meet the breeder in person: Meeting the breeder at their kennels will give you a good idea of how the breeder looks after their dogs. Are the kennels well-kept, and do the dogs have a favorable relationship with the breeder? If meeting with the breeder in person isn’t possible, another option is to talk to them through video chat.
  • Medical background: A reputable breeder will be able to provide you with their dog’s medical history.
  • Meet the puppy’s parents: You’ll want to interact with your puppy’s parents in order to determine if they are healthy, happy dogs and it can also give you an idea about how your puppy might turn out when she becomes an adult dog.
  • Ask questions: Come prepared with questions for the breeder. A responsible breeder will be happy to answer all of your questions, even the ones you might think sound dumb. There’s no such thing as a dumb question as long as it’s important to you.

There are also added costs to consider when you take a puppy home.

Some of the daily care for a puppy will include:
  • Food
  • Treats
  • Water and food bowls
  • Puppy training pads
  • Collar, leash, and harness
  • Chew and play toys
  • Crate and bedding
Other expenses to be mindful of include:
  • Veterinarian appointments
  • Spaying or neutering
  • Grooming
  • Training/obedience classes
  • Microchipping

Another option to consider is adopting a dog or puppy through a rescue group, which might cost about $300 to $600. If you rescue a dog, you will be giving the dog a second chance at a better and happier life. Also, many rescue groups will waive the adoption fee if you take a senior or special needs dog home.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Bergamasco

1. The Bergamasco is hypoallergenic unless you’re allergic to wool.

The hair of the Bergamasco more closely resembles wool than the usual dog hair. Therefore, for people sensitive to dog dander and fur, the Bergamasco will make a great fit but not so much for those allergic to wool and lanolin.

2. The Bergamasco can do equally well in cold and hot weather.

The unique coat of the Bergamasco can help keep them warm in cold weather and also helps to regulate their body temperature when it’s hot. Because of this, it is advised to never shave off their coats.

3. The Bergamasco makes the perfect watchdog.

They are only ever aggressive when they are left with no other option. Bergamascos are highly devoted to their families and carefully watch over everyone with calm attentiveness.

Bergamasco dog after having gathered a herd of cows
Image Credit: michelangeloop, Shutterstock

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Bergamasco

Bergamascos are independent dogs that are loyal and loving and want nothing more than to please their family. Ultimately, they are working dogs that are protective of their flock, whether it’s the livestock of the family, and show great patience and calmness.

The Bergamasco is highly intelligent and has the ability to act independently and can be almost intuitive. They are gentle, alert, and social dogs that, while independent, should not be left alone while the family is at home.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Bergamascos are amazing family dogs as they are devoted and watch over everyone carefully. They get along very well with children, but all children should be taught to respect dogs as pulling tails and riding them as horses should always be discouraged. Their herding instincts and deep attachment to their people have created the perfect family pet.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Provided the Bergamasco has been socialized as a puppy and trained well, she will get along very well with other pets. She will even get along with the family cat as long as they were raised together.

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Things to Know When Owning a Bergamasco:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

How often and how much you feed your Bergamasco will depend on her age, activity level, and size. Find high-quality dry dog food (like this one) and follow the guidelines on the back of the food bag, which will help you to figure out the amount of food she needs. You can also consult your veterinarian if there are any concerns regarding your dog’s weight and health.

Bergamasco dog in the snow
Image Credit: michelangeloop, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

The Bergamasco is a moderately energetic dog that will need a moderate amount of exercise. Having a house with a yard for your dog to run around in would be ideal, but an apartment should also work as long as you give her enough exercise and playtime as needed. It is recommended that all of your Bergamasco’s exercise should be accomplished together rather than leaving her alone in the backyard.

Training 🎾

Training the Bergamasco is somewhat of a challenge due to her independent nature. She will want to please her owner but will also consider herself as an equal rather than a subordinate. You can train a stubborn dog using patience and rewards. In particular, the Bergamasco will respond more if you make her understand what is expected of her and why she should do it, and she might just consent.

Grooming ✂️

Bergamasco dog stands on the green grass
Image Credit: volofin, Shutterstock

Grooming is a unique and easy event when you own a Bergamasco. As previously mentioned, they have coats made up of wool rather than fur. The coat has three kinds of hair; goat hair, dog hair, and wool, but the wool and goat hair don’t develop until the dog is about a year old. At this point, over a few days, the coat needs to be ripped to form mats. These mats continue to grow and will reach the ground when she’s about 6 years old.

This is where the grooming comes in, which is practically non-existent. The Bergamasco does not shed, does not need brushing, and only requires a bath (with a dog shampoo like this) 2 or 3 times a year. They are also not considered to be a particularly smelly dog unless you don’t enjoy the scent of a wet wool sweater.

The Bergamasco’s ears should be cleaned about once a month, trim her nails every 3 to 4 weeks, and brush her teeth about 2 or 3 times a week.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Minor Conditions
  • Non
Serious Conditions
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Bloat

There are no known minor conditions associated with the Bergamasco, but it’s always safe to talk to your vet about any issues with eyes, skin, and ears.

The Bergamasco is a very healthy breed that does not have any associated health conditions at this point. However, the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America recommends that breeders need to run the tests for both elbow and hip dysplasia on their dogs before breeding them. You should also ask your breeder about their dog’s history with bloat.

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Male vs. Female

The male Bergamasco is usually a little bigger and heavier than the female. Males tend to be approximately 23.5 inches in height, and 70 to 84 pounds in weight, whereas females are 22 inches in height and 57 to 71 pounds in weight.

Another difference is whether or not you decide to have surgery for your Bergamasco. Neutering the male is not as expensive, and it doesn’t take as long for him to recover from as spaying the female, so that is one aspect to consider. A significant advantage of having your dog spayed or neutered is that it can potentially give your dog a longer life by preventing future health conditions.

The final difference is that some say male dogs are more aggressive and not as easy to train as females, but there are debates about this. The training and socialization of a puppy and the overall treatment of an adult dog really is the primary determinate for any dog’s personality and behavior.

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Final Thoughts

The Bergamasco is a unique dog, both in personality and appearance. Their combination of independence and the need to spend time with their family makes them incomparable as a pet.

Finding a Bergamasco breeder shouldn’t be too difficult, but because there are not many breeders in North America, finding a puppy might be challenging. You could speak to local and national dog clubs, attend dog shows, and post your intention to find a Bergamasco puppy on social media. Another option is to go to a breed-specific rescue group like the rescue at the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America or the Bergamasco Rescue in Canada through the Bergamasco Shepherd Association of Canada.

The calm and patient Bergamasco makes a wonderful family pet for the right family. Be prepared for lots of attention when you walk this one-of-a-kind dog!


Featured Image: michelangeloop, Shutterstock