The dog breed Bergamo shepherd dog, as its name says, is a breed that was mainly found in the area around Bergamo and since ancient times the breeders of northern Italy used it as a guardian and conductor of flocks and herds during the movements between the Po Valley and the alpine border farms. But its history comes from much further away, both in time and distance. In fact, it is thought that its ancestors arrived in Italy following nomadic populations and their flocks from the East and even that they came from the ancient Tibetan shepherds.
It is since 1300 that we have evidence of the use of this dog as a conductor of the typical Bergamo sheep. And for the following centuries this breed had a good increase thanks also to the expansion of sheep breeding. However, when sheep farming began to decline, this breed experienced moments of crisis. It even came close to extinction during the two world wars. The first selective intervention is due to the Marquis Paolo Cornaggia around 1890. At that time it was still called mountain dog. In the middle of the 1900’s the society of Bergamo shepherd lovers was founded and after a few years the official standard was issued.
Nowadays this dog is very appreciated as a companion dog, as a guard dog, used in Pet-Therapy and in mountain rescue. Beyond Italy it is not a particularly well known specimen.
Character of the dog breed Bergamo Shepherd Dog
The Bergamasque Shepherd is a very balanced dog, with an aptitude for command, but with a lot of patience. In fact, it is obedient and loyal, but it can also take important decisions independently. He is an excellent companion dog, very affectionate without being possessive, and loves to be in contact with his family and especially with children who he considers puppies or subjects to defend. It is an excellent guardian of the house, but it never becomes dangerous, unless there is danger; then it does not give up if it perceives the presence of an intruder or an enemy and has the ability to attack even violently the aggressor, whether it is a person or an animal invading its property.
In short, this is a very diligent and friendly dog, also capable of performing responsible tasks. In fact, in addition to being a good guard dog, it also has great skills as a search dog. In fact, it is endowed with a formidable sense of smell, which is why it has had a certain success as a police dog.
Its greatest aspiration, however, remains that of being part of a group; in fact, more than a lot of space, what it needs most is to be with its family. It is in fact a sociable breed with everyone and is particularly patient and kind with those it considers the weakest in the pack, that is, the elderly and children. It does not like to be alone for long periods of time, it always needs to interact with its pack.
It is an easily trainable dog because it is very intelligent, but it must be socialized from an early age to avoid problems with similar dogs, even if it tends to get along well with other animals. However, it needs daily exercise.
Appearance of the dog breed Bergamo Shepherd Dog
The Bergamasque Shepherd is a medium-large dog, on average a male measures about 60 centimeters at the withers and weighs from 32 to 38 kilograms. It looks like a much bigger dog because of its coat which is very thick, long and particular. However, it is a well-proportioned breed, the trunk is squared, the legs are robust, the tail is big and strong at the base, it gets progressively thinner towards the extremity, the gait is loose and suitable for long distances.
As is typical of shepherd dogs, the eyebrows are very thick and the beard is thick. The length of the muzzle equals that of the skull, which is slightly wide and convex between the ears. The eyes are large brown in various shades, slightly oval in shape. The ears are triangular in shape, inserted high and with the two thirds drooping terminals. The truffle is large and black.
But its main characteristic and what gives it a rather funny and sympathetic air is its coat. This rustic looking dog has an abundant goat hair that covers the entire body including the eyes. The coat is very abundant, long and diverse. In fact, it is goaty on the front half of the trunk, woolly on the remaining half, less coarse on the head. It also has a very thick undercoat which protects it from the cold. This breed does not moult seasonally, but its coat grows with age, forming ringlets called “taccole” which are impenetrable to water and bad weather. The coat is completed from two to three years. It does not fear the cold and in summer, losing the thick undercoat, it is able to bear the summer heat on the pastures.
The colors of the coat of this dog are uniform gray or mottled in all shades from very light gray to black even with shades of light fawn.
Health and Care of the Bergamasque Shepherd Dog Breed
The Bergamasque Shepherd Dog breed is a generally healthy breed that does not create any particular problems. It is a dog with a good resistance to diseases and rather long-lived, in fact the average life span is around 14 years. It could however suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia. It is a rustic dog and requires very little care from the owner.
Looking at a shepherd dog from Bergamo and seeing the considerable mass of hair, it is to be feared that this can become a receptacle of bad smells. It can give out bad smells but only if the dog is confined in limited spaces such as boxes and kennels, if it has the possibility to run around in the open air it will not give out bad smells. The ideal for this dog is a large garden where he can run free.
As far as the care of the coat is concerned, this is certainly simpler than expected. The hair of the muzzle and all the front part should be combed frequently to avoid the formation of felts, and special care should be used for the ano-genital area where organic material can stagnate, which would be a source of bad odors. The peculiarity of the hair of the Bergamasco is that it is formed by ringlets and notches in the back where it must not be combed. It can be washed as needed, letting it dry in the sun without brushing it.
As far as feeding is concerned, the Bergamasco has no tendency to gain weight, as long as it has its daily dose of movement.