It is said that Phoenician merchants arrived in Europe some two thousand years ago, bringing with them some hairy sheepdogs. First settling in Tuscany and then in Northern Italy, it is here where the development of the Bergamasco began - with the name coming from the province of Bergamo. For centuries it was found high in the Alpine Valleys, then later spread into Spain and France where it became the foundation of many other breeds. After a long period of decline, enthusiasts came together to resurrect the breed, and now, after all their hard work the breed is being seen outside of Italy and shown in many European shows - where it has enjoyed great success.
The Bergamasco is a loyal, intelligent and courageous dog. He possesses a long memory and is friendly and affectionate toward his family but cautious towards strangers. He's a good worker, adaptable and makes an excellent watch dog. Kind and tolerant toward children, he will seek out their company and encourage play, bonding to form true friendships - often being referred to as a 'nanny' dog. As sweet as he might be, being a powerful dog he will need an experienced home to help teach him good manners and set boundaries. He is above all a tireless sheepdog with boundless energy for his herding duties, and being in possession of a hardy coat will see him through rough weather with relative ease. He would be most suited to life in the country, where there will be plenty of things to occupy his curious mind.
The Bergamasco requires at least an hour of daily exercise to keep him physically fit and mentally alert. A good walk and the opportunity to run and play with other dogs is ideal. He is very adaptable and will happily go along with the pursuits of an active family or will be content with a walk and a play and then to relax with you. The most important thing to him is to be included in the family circle, but just ensure he gets at least the minimum hour to stay fit and healthy.
Basic obedience training is necessary to ensure that the Bergamasco learns what is expected of him and how to behave well in a human world. He is a highly intelligent dog with a strong desire to please, but he is also sensitive and harsh physical or verbal training methods are unnecessary and ineffective. His incentive to learn is dependent on mutual affection, trust and respect. Positive reinforcement using praise and/or food rewards will accomplish much more than will rough handling and hard discipline. Socialization should be started early in order that the dog becomes accustomed to as many different people, places, things, and other animals as possible. Lack of appropriate socialization may result in a fearful or aggressive dog, one that is overly suspicious of strangers.
- No known hereditary health problems (insufficient data)
- care needs to be taken with coat - which should not be cut or shaved
- This breed is not suited to warm climates.
Some photographs of the Bergamasco...