Bergamasco Shepherd: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health

The Bergamasco sheepdog breed is characterized by being strong and harmonious . They are extraordinary guardians and have a great predisposition for work. Its adult hair sports long and spectacular dreadlocks. Has a calm , peaceful and reserved demeanor . At Curio Sfera , we explain the characteristics and character of the Bergamasco shepherd.

Character of the breed Bergamasco Shepherd

Thanks to its character, the Bergamasco shepherd has a great capacity for vigilance, concentration and psychological balance. It is an easy learner, has strong determination, and is moderate and patient. Establish a close relationship with the man.

The Bergamasco Shepherd is a dog with a calm, analytical, observant, agile, fast, resistant behaviour and, above all, very brave .

The qualities of this breed emerge already in the puppy stage in which its temperament is forged. As a child, it is an extraordinarily playful and sociable dog, who spends hours seeking the company of its human family and other animals to play with.

It is basically peaceful and reserved, but even when it appears to be sleeping, it is aware of everything that is happening around them, and it loves to participate in any activity. You always want to know where everyone in your group is.

These characteristics define it as a great guard dog, although it is not an aggressive animal by nature, the truth is that it does not like to see anything or anyone that is strange within what it considers its domains, that is , the area that has been entrusted to you and for which you feel responsible so that nothing unusual happens.

Thus, when faced with a Bergamasco, one must not forget its bravery and its natural guardian instinct: any stranger who tries to enter the house will be received as an intruder and treated accordingly, unless it does so in the company of family members and, Even then, it will be difficult for you to grant your affection and stop treating them with a certain distrust.

  • Energy: high level. Like all sheepdogs, it needs regular vigorous exercise.
  • Temperament: vigilant, with a great capacity for concentration, is psychologically balanced, learns quickly and easily, and is usually moderate, patient and sweet.
  • Adaptability: medium / high. It can live in an urban environment, but it does not adapt well to closed spaces, so it is preferable to keep it in a rural environment.
  • Sociability: medium / high. Be very suspicious of strangers, even if they arrive accompanied by members of the family you live with.
  • Health: very good. No trace of hereditary diseases.
  • Longevity: high. It can reach 15 years of life if it is well cared for.
  • Utility: very versatile. Due to its extraordinary character it can be used as a herding and guard dog, but it is also successfully trained as a companion and therapy dog.
  • Use: grazing, guarding and service.

How does it behave with other animals?

The Bergamasco shepherd does not usually have problems with other dogs, as long as they do not try to question their territory or their status within the family. Likewise, it easily coexists with other animals if it has been used to living with them since it was a puppy.

Can you live in the city?

This is not the most suitable breed for life in the city, as it is a shepherd dog used to living in open spaces and, above all, a reserved animal that does not readily admit the presence of strangers or extraordinary events. that disturb their normality.

Only if you could guarantee your own space and the possibility of exercising daily in the open field could this adaptation somewhat facilitate, but in any case it would never be complete.

Is it good with children?

The Bergamasco shepherd shows with the children a very special behaviour. It brings out a whole series of archaic attitudes and gestures that are even reminiscent of the way wolves deal with their young.

Above all, it is protective, patient and tolerant with children, and supports and participates in their games, thus establishing a relationship of trust and friendship with the smallest of the house, much closer, sincere and disinterested than it can. get to have with its master.

This behaviour towards children has made them one of the most suitable breeds for dog therapy programs.

Despite not being very well known and, therefore, not very widespread outside of Italy, both in this country and elsewhere, for example in Canada, Australia or the United States, it is being used with great success in assisting children physically disabled and in integration therapies for autistic children.

The way the Bergamasco behaves with this type of children exudes such sensitivity that those who witness it are amazed at the incredible relationship that is established between children and dogs almost from the moment of their first contact.

Is it a beginner dog?

It is also not the ideal dog for a new owner, since it is a working animal with a strong and independent character. Being a shepherd dog, it willingly accepts its position in the pack and blindly obeys whoever stands above them.

But only when such leadership is exercised naturally, without forcing situations and without trying to impose orders abruptly.

And it is that this dog likes to have a strong master, a solid leader who is clear about what is wanted from them and who does not hesitate to let them know what its mission is, for which it will work faithfully and unwaveringly.

Characteristics of the Bergamasco Shepherd

The general appearance of the Bergamasco Shepherd is large in size and rustic in appearance, it is strong, harmonious and well proportioned. It shows abundant fur over the whole body.

How is the Bergamasco Shepherd breed physically?

Its body is harmonious and well proportioned, the Bergamasco Shepherd is a dog with a square and strong body structure that is hidden by an abundant coat of hair. This, in the form of tangled plates or tufts, covers the entire body.

The head is large, square, with a wide skull and a short muzzle that tapers towards the tip. The nasal bridge is straight and the stop is accentuated by the hard modelling of the facial bones.

Its eyes have a sweet, calm and attentive expression. They are large, quite dark brown in color, and are located almost on the same frontal plane.

The ears are set high, they are semi-drooping, but the dog perches them a little at the base when it is attentive. They are shaped like a triangle and are well covered with hair.

It has oval shaped feet and the toes, which are close together and curved, are endowed with strong, curved and well pigmented nails. They have dark footpads.

Its tail is well covered with coarse, long and somewhat wavy hair, it is thick and strong at the base, but tapers to its end. At rest, the dog wears it down, with a slight final curve,


The coat is very abundant, long and of rough texture (goat hair), especially on the front part of the trunk. It is very similar to the puli dog breed.

From the middle of the chest towards the back, and in all the extremities, it tends to form tufts or dreadlocks that come out of the upper part of the dorsal region and fall on the lateral planes of the trunk.

On the head, the hair is less coarse and covers the animal’s eyes. From the back, the coat is evenly distributed on the extremities, forming soft tufts that reach the ground, and the same on the back, although without forming fringes. The underlying hair is so short that the skin is not easily visible, and it is very soft to the touch.


It is uniform grey in color, with grey spots in different shades, ranging from light grey to black. There are Isabela (black and tan) or light reddish-colored specimens, and others are dark brown, or with white spots.


The gait is agile and long, and the trot, the animal’s favorite movement, is quite long and resistant. Thanks to its conformation, it can easily move to a normal canter and then maintain it for a long time.

Bergamasco Shepherd breed standard

  • General appearance: almost square body, it has a rustic, strong and well proportioned aspect, endowed with harmonious lines.
  • Origin: Italy
  • Other names: Bergamasco Shepherd Dog / Berger bergamasque / Bergamasker Hirtenhund / Cane da pastore bergamasco
  • Size: large
  • Height at the withers: 58-62 cm (Males) and 54-58 cm (Females).
  • Weight: 32-38 kg (Males) and 26-32 kg (Females).
  • Head: rather large, with thin skin and applied to the underlying tissues, without forming wrinkles.
  • Skull: broad and slightly convex between the ears, and broad and rounded in the region of the forehead. The superciliary arches are well marked, as are the protrusions on the forehead,
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): well adjusted, although accentuated. Muzzle: Tapers progressively to its extreme and is not pointed, but truncated, with a straight nasal bridge.
  • Nose: black.
  • Jaws: The jaws are powerful and well developed, with strong white teeth and a full scissor bite.
  • Eyes: large, the iris is rather dark brown, according to the color of the coat. They are located almost on the same frontal plane. Its expression is sweet, gentle and attentive.
  • Ears: triangular in shape and set high, they are semi-drooping. When the dog is attentive, they stand up a bit at the base.
  • Neck: harmoniously united to the trunk, it has a somewhat convex upper profile and a little shorter than the head. Without dewlap, it is covered with dense hair.
  • Body: square and compact, with a rectilinear dorsal profile.
  • Back: broad and very muscular. The withers are tall and long, and the croup is broad and robust, with well-developed musculature.
  • Chest: broad and well arched, descending to the level of the elbows
  • Tail: thick and strong at the base and tapering to the end. It is covered with rough and somewhat wavy hair.
  • Forelimbs: aplomados well and proportionate to the size of the dog
  • Shoulders: solid and well built, with well developed musculature
  • Forearms and arms: the first are vertical and of the same length as the arms, which are muscular and endowed with strong bones.
  • Hind limbs: adapt well to the size of the dog. The legs are normal, both seen in profile and from behind.
  • Legs: with strong bones and fine muscles, the leg grooves are well defined. The thighs are long, broad and well muscled, with the rear edge slightly convex.
  • Knees: well plumb at the line of the limb.
  • Hocks: they have very wide lateral faces.
  • Feet: oval in shape (“hare’s foot”), with well connected and arched toes, with strong, curved and pigmented nails. The footpads are dark in color.
  • Hair: long, hard, very abundant, of goat texture and forming locks.
  • Skin: well attached, and is fine and smooth all over the body, but especially on the ears and forelimbs.
  • FCI classification: FCI nº 194. GROUP 1 – Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs). Section 1 – Sheepdogs.

Health and care of the Bergamasco Shepherd

The Bergamo Shepherd is an ancient, rustic breed that has remained quite isolated for many centuries. They have had to adapt to the harshness of their living conditions, which is why they are healthy and strong specimens that do not have serious diseases.

They can easily reach 15 years of life, with their level of activity and their mental clarity at full capacity. Thus, its visits to the vet are occasional, just for its check-ups, which include regular deworming and vaccinations.

The condition of the eyes and ears, generally covered by thick hair, should also be monitored.

Hygiene and maintenance of the Bergamasco Shepherd

Luigi Guidobono Cavalchini (Josephine06), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The maintenance of its characteristic coat must follow a process that begins in the puppy stage and goes through three different phases. Once the technique is mastered, if it is done regularly and consistently, it does not involve a great effort.

As a puppy, the Bergamasco does not have the typical knotted hair of adulthood, but until the first year of life it is much shorter and softer, and to keep it healthy and airy, regular brushing with a metal bristle brush is sufficient. adequate hardness.

During the second year of life, the animal sheds its puppy flock, and the covering hair begins to lengthen and detach from the body, mainly due to the growth of the dense undercoat, this is the most delicate moment in the care of the coat. of this breed.

The coat hair grows and mixes with the undercoat, forming extensive tangled layers that must be guided into locks with the hands to prevent a single layer of knots from forming, which would hinder the normal life of the dog.

The only area where dreadlocks do not form and that should be brushed as usual is the back, where the metal bristle brush is still being used.

The last phase begins at three years of life, when the mantle is in its fullness and has the characteristic shape, texture and length.

The locks should continue to be cared for and trimmed when they impede the mobility or visibility of the dog, but it is not advisable to bathe them a lot.

Although it requires this aesthetic care in its first years of life, it can be said that the Bergamasco shepherd is a perfect choice, since it is an affectionate, playful dog and very useful as a guardian. Although it must be recognized that, due to its appearance, it seems taken from the bottom of a trunk

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