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Bergamasco Breed of Dog:

The Bergamasco, or rather the Bergamasco Sheepdog as it is properly called, is an ancient breed of sheepdog that originated near the town of Bergamo in the Italian Alps.

It was developed by nomadic shepherds who spread the dog across much of Europe and Asia, but for years it was primarily used in the Italian Alps as a herding dog. The most striking feature of the dog’s appearance is its coat. The rather unusual coat is thick and long, and made up of three different types of hair that are heavily matted.

Bergamasco puppies are born with rather normal fur that is short and smooth. Only as the dog grows does the fur get longer and begin to mat – this usually starts at around 10 months, and can continue till the dog is two years old. The fur grows almost continuously, reaching almost to the ground when the dog reaches maturity.

The color ranges from silver to black, and may also be brown. The dog itself is medium sized and compact, but muscular, although it is difficult to really make out its body structure through the thick coat.

The Bergamasco dog is calm and good natured, but due to the purpose it was bred for, is at the same time rather protective and territorial. However, if well trained and socialized, these dogs are harmless and in fact quite affectionate. Bergamascos are intelligent dogs, and learn well when they are motivated. They are very observant and pick up things very quickly. Since it is essentially a working dog, it needs proper handling, and this includes the right training and socialization, as well as adequate exercise and stimulation. Some owners teach their dogs to herd, even if there is no real need for this, as it allows the dog to exercise its natural instinct. These dogs are happiest in households where they have ready access to the outdoors. They also require an owner who is confident and firm, but kind.

Bergamasco Sheepdogs are healthy and have no known hereditary health problems. However, these dogs have not yet been studied enough, so there may be problems that are as yet undiscovered. The one known consideration is the coat, which actually does not require as much grooming as one would expect. However, owners should note that the coat should not be cut or shaved, as this changes the way it grows and can lead to rashes and infections – at the most, a couple of inches may be trimmed. Due to its coat, this dog is not suitable for warm climates.

  Submitted on January 27, 2010  

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