We love dogs and we especially adore dogs having cool corded coats. The Komondor and Puli are two of the popular corded dog breeds but we mustn’t forget the Italian dog having a similar corded coat. Yes, we are talking about the Bergamasco shepherd or the Italian Bergamasco sheepdog. Let us find out all that you need to know about raising Bergamasco puppies, their temperament, exercise and training needs, grooming tips, etc.
Fun facts about the Bergamasco
- The Bergamasco Shepherd (aka Bergamasco sheepdog) originated in Bergamo, in the Italian Alps. This is where the breed got its name. However, in the early days of the breed, they were mainly known as the Alpine Sheepdog or the Northern Italian Sheepdog. In Italian, the breed is referred to as the Pastore Bergamasco.
- Shepherds loved these dogs since they were ideal for herding. Even the sheep seem to respect them and “awaited” their instructions!
- The Bergamasco can be considered as the one-dog-shepherding-system since they are capable of guarding and herding as well.
- While the appeal and popularity of the breed are growing worldwide, they are still considered a rare dog breed in the United States.
- This shaggy dog breed has a square body and thick distinctive coat that forms cords called flocks. That is the main difference between the Komondor and the Bergamasco. The Komondor has a distinctly corded coat while the Bergamasco’s coat forms ‘maps’ or ‘flocks’ which start at the spine and reach the ground.
- Females average 22 inches in height and males are around 24 inches. The average weight of the breed is between 58-84 pounds for males and 51 to 74 pounds for females.
- The thick matted hair covers the eyes for protection against the elements and also regulates the body temperature in all kinds of weather. The Bergamasco is best suited for cold weather.
Difference between Bergamasco and Komondor
- Komondor dogs hail from Hungary whereas the Bergamasco is from Italy.
- Bergamascos are shorter and smaller than Komondor dogs; where the Komondor weighs between 80-130 lb, the Bergamasco weighs about 57-84lb.
- As far as popularity goes, the Komondor dog is a clear winner. The Bergamasco is still a rare breed in the USA and many other parts of the world.
- The Komondor breed was recognized by the AKC in 1937 whereas the Bergamasco was only recognized in 2015.
- The Bergamasco’s lifespan is longer than the Komondor’s; 12-14 years where Komondor dogs the lifespan is 8-12 years.
Bergamasco dogs were bred to guard sheep. These herding and guarding instincts are present in them even today. They are extremely loyal and protective of their family members. Bergamascos are docile dogs with energetic and lively disposition. They get along well with children but are wary of strangers. These agile dogs are patient, learn quickly, tolerant, and attentive. Training a Bergamasco is fairly simple provided you are consistent with it and begin at an early age.
Strong, sound, and brave, the Bergamasco are above all, very intelligent dogs. They are also balanced and stable in temperament. Being alone with sheep in the wilderness of the Alps, these dogs developed patience and the ability to sort difficult and unexpected problems. Bergamascos are averse to unnecessary disputes and aggression and are generally peace-loving dogs.
Both sexes make great family pets. However, they may not see you as masters; rather as friends. They also need to be told why they have to do certain things and their strong decisive characters forbid them from blindly obeying or following orders. Having said so, the Bergamasco makes a great family dog in every sense. Their sensibility helps them behave differently with each family member and they do not attach themselves to one particular person in the house. They adapt their personalities according to different needs and soon make themselves indispensable members of the household.
Where to find a Bergamasco
As always, it is best to adopt rather than shop, when it comes to getting a puppy. Contact animal shelters near you to find out if there are any Bergamasco rescue dogs in need of a good home. If you are insistent on buying, then the first place to visit is the official website of the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America. Here you can find a list of registered breeders.
Shortlist a couple of breeders first and insist on visiting their kennels. Ask to meet all their dogs and especially the parents of your potential puppy. Good temperament in parents can ensure that your puppy will be mild-mannered and temperamentally sound as well. Once the litter arrives, visit the kennels again and meet all of the puppies. Select a puppy that appears curious, alert, and healthy. Good breeders won’t hesitate to show you their medical records and also the records of any genetic tests done to rule out diseases. The average Bergamasco shepherd price is between $1000 and $1300.
Your Bergamasco needs daily exercise not only to stay physically fit but also to remain mentally alert and energetic. A bored dog will always find something destructive to do and that is why you must exercise your pet, twice a day for at least 30 minutes each to help expend that extra energy. Walk or jog with your Bergamasco and also encourage your kids to play a game of fetch with him. Romps around a fenced area are also good.
Bear in mind that an overweight dog should not be over-exercised all of a sudden. Start slow and increase the exercise in increments.
Training your Bergamasco
Bergs need consistent training from a young age. These dogs have a natural herding instinct and you might find them rounding off young kids and even toys! Start with housetraining and teach your pet where to void. Be gentle and firm so your pet knows you are the boss! You can also go for crate training along with house training. Later on, as your pet grows up, progress to commands like sit, fetch, etc. Reward and praise your Berg when he obeys as positive training brings the best results.
Bergamasco puppies are born with fuzzy coats and their grooming needs change as the cords or floats develop. In the first year, bathe your pet once in a while and avoid over-bathing as it can strip natural oils. Even in his puppy years, your dog will need regular brushing to remove mats and tangles. A monthly brushing with a pinbrush can remove tangles and debris. A Bergamasco has three types of hair: undercoat, ‘goat hair’, and outer coat. The undercoat is short, dense, and fine-textured. It is oily to the touch and forms a waterproof layer. By its first birthday, the fuzzy wool-like goat hair appears. Invest in a pin brush and slicker brush so you can brush out the cords and clean them out. Check your pet’s ears and eyes from time to time as well.
The lifespan of a Bergamasco is 12-14 years. Common health issues seen in the breed are skin infections like scabies, hip and elbow dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy.