The Bergamasco breed's coat is the most striking feature of this dog. It is greasy, long, abundant and hangs down in loose mats. Coat colours include grey, black, Isabella (pale/dappled fawn) or light fawn. Large and powerful, male dogs stand at 58-62cm when fully grown and females at 54-58cm. Adult male dogs weigh 32-38kg and females 26-32kg.
An ancient herding and guarding breed, the Bergamasco dog breed is thought to have originated in Persia thousands of years ago where he accompanied nomadic farmers, moving the flocks in often harsh conditions and guarding them against predators. Some nomads settled in the Italian Alps and the dogs took the name of the region where they were found: Bergamasco. The breed almost died out with a decline in post-war wool production in Italy, but was revived by dedicated breeders.
The Bergamasco dog breed's guarding roots are still in evidence today: he is naturally cautious and vigilant and has a strong protective instinct. Early socialisation is therefore crucial, together with experienced handling. Not an ideal breed for the first-time owner, he requires ongoing training and has a strong desire to please.
The Bergamasco appears to be a very healthy breed, with no widely recognised breed specific problems.
Around an hour's exercise is needed daily, although this energetic breed has plenty of stamina and will happily accept more if you can offer it. Remove any debris from the coat when you return home!
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. Some large breeds, such as the Bergamasco, are also prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
This dog has a special coat that requires different amounts of grooming at different stages of its development. Initially, the puppy's coat needs a weekly brush. But from around 10 months to three years, the adult coat begins to replace the soft puppy coat and needs daily attention to help the dreadlocks form. After three years, the mats are all formed and the coat needs very little attention – just brushing twice a month and a once- or twice-yearly bath. It will reach ground level when the dog is around five years of age.