The Bergamasco Sheepdog—or Bergamasco, as they’re more commonly known—is a herding dog originating from the Mediterranean. They’re recognized by their long, shaggy, dreadlocked fur that protects them from the elements when they herd and guard sheep in the Italian Alps.
While their coat draws attention, these dogs are more than just shaggy softies. They’re loyal and protective companions, with a fierce intelligence and independence that’s won the hearts of many people in the U.S.A. Although they were only admitted to the AKC Stud Book in 2015, these dogs are steadily growing in popularity.
They’re not the cheapest dogs to own, though, despite their minimal grooming needs. Here’s a rundown of their care costs, from the initial expenses to their monthly needs, so you can plan your budget accordingly.
Bringing Home a New Bergamasco: One-Time Costs
Adoption and visiting a breeder are two of the most common ways to bring home a Bergamasco, but you might also find one for free. Depending on your budget and whether you can find these dogs in your area, your initial expenses can range from a few hundred dollars to just over a thousand. There’s also the supplies that you’ll need to care for your new dog.
We hope that this section helps you prepare for your new arrival!
Finding a Bergamasco for free might seem like a blessing or a great way to save money, but sometimes it can be just as costly as buying a puppy from a breeder. You need to carefully consider why the dog is being given away. They might have health issues that need treatment that the previous owners couldn’t afford.
That’s not to say that all free Bergamascos should be avoided. You might be lucky enough to find one for free and save a few dollars. Even if you do need to spend more money, though, your Bergamasco will adore you.
We always recommend adoption over buying dogs, and it’s not just because shelter dogs need loving homes. Adoption is also one of the most cost-effective ways of getting a new dog, even for hard-to-find breeds like the Bergamasco. They might be older than a puppy that you’d get from a breeder, but they’ll be just as affectionate, if not more so, once they have someone of their own to dote on.
The adoption fee will depend on the shelter, but it will cover any initial healthcare that the dog needed when they were surrendered, including spaying or neutering.
Of the three ways to welcome a Bergamasco to your home, a breeder is the most expensive up front. While you might spend a large amount of money making sure a free Bergamasco is healthy and has everything that they need, going to a breeder means paying their fees and veterinary costs for your new puppy.
Unlike adoption fees that cover spaying and neutering, a breeder will charge depending on the breed line, rare colors, and veterinary expenses like first vaccinations. Their charges might also be based on the sex of the dog.
Initial Setup and Supplies
The cost of your new Bergamasco is one thing to consider, but you also need to figure out the cost of the supplies that you’ll need. If you already have a dog or have owned one before, you’ll likely already have things like toys, treats, food and water bowls, and poop bags. You’ll still need to purchase individual items like collars, ID tags, leashes, and a crate and pay for initial vet visits.
List of Bergamasco Care Supplies and Costs
|ID Tag and Collar||$15 – $30|
|Leash||$5 – $50|
|Spay/Neuter||$50 – $500|
|X-ray Cost||$75 – $500|
|Ultrasound Cost||$300 – $500|
|Microchip||$10 – $65|
|Teeth Cleaning||$180 – $900|
|Bed||$15 – $100|
|Nail Clipper/Grinder (optional)||$10 – $45|
|Toys||$7 – $35|
|Crate (optional)||$35 – $300+|
|Food and Water Bowls||$6 – $40|
|Treats||$10 – $60|
|Poop Bags||$10 – $45|
How Much Does a Bergamasco Cost Per Month?
Bergamascos grow up to be big dogs, and even after their initial costs, their ongoing care needs will be hefty. Not only will you have to consider their food and how much they eat, but you’ll also need to keep in mind their health care costs, environmental maintenance, and how to keep them active.
Since most of these expenses are the same every month, this section will give you a better idea of how to plan your budget.
Keeping your Bergamasco healthy is a big commitment, both time-wise and monetarily. It’s not just food and veterinary costs you need to prepare for; there’s also deciding whether you need a professional groomer, pet insurance, etc. and keeping up with any medications that your Bergamasco might require.
Overall, you can expect to pay anywhere up to or more than $1,500 a month to keep your Bergamasco healthy. This will be more or less depending on the food that you buy, vet visits, emergency care, and whether you visit a groomer.
Some expenses can be optional, like pet insurance or professional grooming, but food is one thing that you can’t skip out on. High-quality large-breed dog food that’s tailored to your dog’s age isn’t the cheapest, but the expense is worth it to ensure that your Bergamasco gets the nutrition that they need to stay healthy. You can purchase commercial kibble or wet food for anywhere between $15 and $65, depending on the brand and ingredients.
There are also fresh food subscription services that will tailor the formula to your dog’s individual needs, ship to your door, and require a monthly, ongoing fee.
Despite their long fur, Bergamascos don’t require much grooming. Once they’re over 12 months old and their fur has been separated into their stylish dreads or “mats,” they hardly shed and don’t need to be groomed. You might need to spot clean them sometimes, but typically, these dogs only need a bath once or twice a year, which makes them one of the easiest dogs to care for.
You will still have to brush their teeth, check their ears, and trim their claws. While you can visit a professional groomer, you can handle all your dog’s needs at home.
Medications and Vet Visits
When you first bring home your Bergamasco puppy, you’ll find yourself spending a large amount of money on their initial veterinary care. They’ll need to be spayed or neutered, given vaccinations, and checked on to make sure they’re growing well. As they get older, Bergamascos generally stay healthy, though, and they’ll only need to visit the vet a year for routine checkups.
Still, you should always budget for emergencies, which can cost over $1,500, depending on the treatment needed. Routine medication may also be a monthly expense, such as flea-and-tick prevention or prescriptions if your dog gets sick.
Pet insurance is a completely optional addition to your budget, and it can be a hefty expense if you do choose to get a policy. Your monthly rate will depend on how old your dog is when you sign up, along with the deductible, annual coverage, and reimbursement rate for your plan.
Bergamascos are large dogs and will cost more than smaller animals on average. You should also consider the plan itself and whether it’s an accident-and-illness plan or accident only, along with any add-on packages for wellness care.
Keeping your home clean involves costs that vary from month to month depending on how many supplies you use. If you’re potty training a new Bergamasco puppy, you’ll likely go through more enzyme cleaner than you would for an older dog, simply because there will be more accidents to clean up. You may also decide to use puppy pads to help potty train your dog.
Dog waste bags are important too. While you can get multi-packs that will last a while, if you have more than one Bergamasco puppy, you’ll go through poop bags much faster.
|Puppy Pads (optional)||$5 – $35/month|
|Enzyme Cleaner||$5 – $30/month|
|Poop Bags||$5 – $20/month|
A Bergamasco’s favorite pastime is spending time with their family members. Playing games together will strengthen your bond and get you both out of the house. They don’t need much to keep them entertained, but you will have to replace their toys whenever they break. The right toys can last for months, or even years, and you can save money by finding second-hand toys at thrift stores or yard sales.
If you want to spoil your Bergamasco, though, you can sign up for subscription boxes. It’s a monthly expense that can cost up to $45, depending on the brand and the contents. You can choose one with treats or toys or a mixture of both, so you can explore your Bergamasco’s favorites.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Bergamasco
Dogs aren’t cheap, and large breeds like the Bergamasco are typically more expensive than smaller companion breeds. You might not hit the highest end of this price range often or at all, but it’s worth planning for the worst-case scenario just in case.
You can make your own pet fund by setting aside loose change now so it’s there when you need it. Spoil your dog with their favorite treat or keep it aside for emergencies, and you’ll hopefully be prepared for any eventuality, even if you’re on a tight budget.
Additional Costs to Factor In
Bergamascos live between 13 and 15 years, and there will be plenty of extra expenses along with the expected monthly outgoings. You might need to pay for a kennel or a pet sitter if you’re ever hospitalized or want to go on vacation.
Also, remember to consider the cost of household damage due to your puppy chewing the furniture or destructive behavior if your older dog gets bored or suffers from separation anxiety. You’ll also need secure fencing around your yard to keep them safe.
Be sure to consider the cost of professional trainers or obedience classes if you struggle to train your Bergamasco yourself. If you adopt an older dog, there might be behavioral issues that you need to correct that a trainer can help you overcome.
Owning a Bergamasco on a Budget
The costs of a Bergamasco might seem daunting, but if you plan ahead, there’s no reason that a tight budget can’t keep your puppy happy. You might not be able to splurge on that brand-new leather collar and leash set, but your Bergamasco will adore you whether their supplies are new or not.
Planning your budget can also help, and hopefully, this guide gives you an idea of what costs to expect. Before you bring home your Bergamasco, make sure you factor in their costs with your other responsibilities, such as bills, school supplies, food, and fuel costs.
Limited funds don’t mean you can’t own a dog, but you do need to do more prep work before taking on another responsibility.
Saving Money on Bergamasco Care
Bergamascos build powerful bonds with their family members. As long as they can spend time with you, they won’t care if you need to cut costs on a few of their supplies. Research food brands to make sure you get high-quality food for the best value, and check in your local thrift store or yard sales for clean, usable bowls and toys.
The Bergamasco isn’t a breed that’s easy to find in the U.S.A., but they are growing in popularity due to their loyalty, protective nature and unique appearance. They’re a large breed, so they’re not as cheap as smaller animals, but if you can afford to keep one, they’ll reward you with adoration.
Your biggest costs will come up front, when you prepare to bring home your Bergamasco. Adoption fees can cost up to $300, while a breeder can range anywhere between $1,000 and $1,200. Don’t forget that you’ll also need to spend between $15 and $500 or more on supplies to get you started, which includes initial veterinary visits. If you’re lucky enough to find a Bergamasco for free, you’ll still need to make sure they’re healthy.
Once your Bergamasco is settled, the monthly expenses are often cheaper, but they do add up in the long run. For grooming, healthcare, food, environment maintenance, and entertainment, you can expect to pay anywhere between $55 and $1,500. Some months might be cheaper than others, but it’s worth preparing for the worst-case scenario, just in case.
We hope that this guide has helped you plan your budget for a Bergamasco and properly prepare for your new family member.
Featured Image Credit: volofin, Shutterstock