The Bergamasco Sheepdog is a gentle giant with a heart of gold. Skipping the scales at over 70 pounds, these dreadlocked dogs are an ancient herding breed dating back nearly 2,000 years. A strong, smart, and extremely devoted canine companion, the Bergamasco gets along well with small children and other pets. Despite his massive size, the Bergamasco Sheepdog is actually a big mush and loves to cuddle up on the couch.
22 – 25 inches
70 – 85 pounds
13 – 15 years
Black, white, gray, brown
Active families, families with children, active singles, rural areas and farm dwellers
Smart, patient, gentle, vigilant, loyal & loving
If you’re looking for the perfect family pet that can spend as much time playing as he can relaxing, the Bergamasco Sheepdog might be great for your household. Here’s everything you need to know about this fantastic breed.
Bergamasco Sheepdog Characteristics
Bergamasco Sheepdog Puppies
Hailing from Persia, the Bergamasco Sheepdog is a shaggy, spirited pooch who always wants to please. Well-suited for colder climates, this breed almost neared the brink of extinction after World War II, when the need for sheepdogs and wool vastly declined. The breed was brought back to healthy numbers during the 1960s and was introduced to Americans in the 1990s. Today, the Bergamasco Sheepdog is a popular breed among those seeking a gentle yet intimidating guardian.
A generally peaceful breed, the Bergamasco Sheepdog does best with an experienced dog owner. Because of his sheer size, this dog can be tough to handle while out and about on a walk. Continuous training and socialization are critical for a well-behaved dog. If you do not have the time to properly train your Bergamasco, this breed may not be ideal for you. Moreover, if you don’t have the strength to control a large dog, a smaller breed may be a better option.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Bergamasco
The Bergamasco Sheepdog is a calm, loving dog. However, this breed does require boundaries in addition to attention and love. Without a lack of leadership, Bergamasco can quickly establish himself as the alpha and see his human pack members as subordinates. Because of his large size, it’s imperative to establish yourself as a “top dog.”
Though not aggressive, the Bergamasco is suspicious of strangers. Socialization from an early age is key to making your Bergamasco cool, calm, and confident around new faces.
This dog is extremely independent. If you’re looking for a smart, self-sufficient dog, the Bergamasco could be perfect for you.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
Absolutely! The Bergamasco Sheepdog is amazing with children. Because of his patient nature, this dog doesn’t get easily annoyed by tiny tots. However, it’s always important to keep a close eye on your dog whenever he is interacting with your kids. Socializing your Bergamasco from the time he is a puppy will ensure he treats your children with love and respect.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
Yes, the good-natured Bergamasco Sheepdog will get along perfectly with your other dogs. He even tolerates cats. However, due to his intrinsic desire to herd, the Bergamasco may try and chase and coral smaller animals. Never leave him alone with small dogs, cats, or other tiny animals without supervision.
Things to Know When Owning a Bergamasco:
Now that you know a bit more about your new Bergamasco’s personality, here’s everything you should be doing to ensure he’s happy and healthy.
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
The Bergamasco is a large-sized dog that needs a high-quality, protein-packed kibble that accommodates his size and activity levels. His dietary needs will change as he ages. Always consult with your vet about the proper formula for your dog. Your Bergamasco will need two to three cups of kibble divided into two meals every day. If your Bergamasco grows to weigh over 85 pounds, ask your vet about a weight-control diet plan. This breed is prone to obesity, which can cause other health issues such as heart problems.
As a herding dog, the Bergamasco Sheepdog needs adequate amounts of daily activity. They love living on large farms where they’re free to run and roam. This dog is not well suited for apartment living. Walk your dog twice a day and ensure he’s getting at least an hour of daily exercise.
The Bergamasco is a highly intelligent canine that can easily learn tricks and commands. He responds best to consistent, positive reinforcement training methods. Never hit your dog or be too harsh with him. Establish your alpha status when your Bergamasco is still a puppy. Never allow this dog to overstep his boundaries. Due to his large size, you must maintain control over him with ongoing training.
This breed has unique grooming needs. The Bergamasco Sheepdog has a thick, three-layered coat that is oily, dense, and waterproof. The wooly, dread-like locks don’t need to be brushed regularly unless you plan on showing your dog. Bathe your dog only twice a year. Clip his nails as needed. Routinely clean his ears and eyes.
This breed makes an excellent pet for people with severe pet allergies, except those who are allergic to wool or lanolin.
Health and Conditions 🏥
The Bergamasco is a generally healthy breed that can live to be up to 15 years old. However, as with all dog breeds, the Bergamasco can develop health issues later in life. While their rarity has discouraged overbreeding, it is still crucial to buy your Bergamasco from a responsible breeder to avoid potential health concerns.
Male vs Female
The male Bergamasco will weigh several more pounds than the female. Both genders are gentle, intelligent, and eager to please.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Bergamasco Sheepdog
1. They are Very, Very Smart
A natural herder, the Bergamasco can easily learn how to herd a flock of sheep without any training or directions. A keen problem solver, this smart pooch can learn basic commands and tricks with ease.
2. They Almost Became Extinct
After the end of WWII, the Bergamasco Sheepdog almost became extinct. This was because the demand for wool and herding dogs was greatly reduced because of the Great Depression. Thankfully, an Italian breeder named Dr. Maria Andreoli saved the breed in the 1960s.
3. They Make Excellent Guard Dogs
Because of his massive size, the Bergamasco Sheepdog can be easily confused with a fierce fighter. However, quite the opposite is true. This breed is typically well-balanced and very, very gentle and affectionate.
If you want to add a loving and loyal dog to your family, the Bergamasco Sheepdog may be a great choice. Smart, calm, and patient, the Bergamasco does well with other dogs and young children. Early training and socialization are important because of this breed’s large size. Additionally, the Bergamasco needs regular exercise and affection. If you’re looking for a wonderful dog to add to your household, consider getting a Bergamasco!
Featured Image Credit: volofin, Shutterstock