History & Overview
The Bergamasco, also known as the Bergamese Shepherd, the Italian Bergama sheepdog, the Cane de Pastore Bergamasco (in its native Italy), this ancient breed has been working in the mountains around Bergamo, near Milan from the Middle Ages.
The function of the Bergamasco Shepherd is to guide and guard the herd, a task for which he shows exemplary disposition thanks to his vigilance, concentration and psychological balance. His learning ability and determination, combined with his patience, make him an excellent guard and companion dog. He bonds very closely with his master.
Bergamasco’s most prominent feature is his extraordinary coat. The hair is naturally matted not in corded curls but in flat strips. When dealing with Bergamasco for the first time, people are generally worried about taking care of its coat.
They ask if it’s true that Bergamasco should never be brushed and what they should do when large bunches of hair start to form. In practice, the Bergamasco’s coat needs little care, but it must be applied at the right moment.
Around 10-12 months, the formation of hair with different texture begins, together with molting of the puppy hair. The first visible sign of this is that the coat seems to rise as if it were blown up due to the growth of the fine, abundant undercoat which blends with the puppy hair that is gradually molting.
Starting at the rear of the body, on the croup and back legs, the woolly hair makes its appearance, while first on the tail and later in the wither’s zone, the “goat hair” starts to form. This is the period during which the coat requires the most careful and concentrated attention. The soft puppy hair while molting, mixes with the undercoat and the woolly and “goat hair” in formation. This creates shapeless clumps, often tangled.
Be very careful not to let the clumps felt, as this makes it much more difficult for the adult coat to grow properly. Great care must be taken not to open the clumps completely because this period coincides with the formation of the typical mats.
After the adjustment period, the coat requires very little care. The saddles always need combing, especially at the end of the spring molting period when the abundant winter undercoat falls out and causes clumps in the “goat hair.”
The mats on the rest of the body need periodic checking to make sure that they do not get too wide. So also in the shedding time, only few hairs will be louse and fall on the ground and are easy to remove from carpet and clothing, even more than the short prickling hairs of the shorter coated breeds, whose coats are erroneously thought to be easier to deal with.
Furthermore, the maps on the Bergamasco grow very slowly so that a shaved dog will have the right coat never again. Anyone who wants to own a Bergamasco should be aware of the characteristics of the breed which cannot be modified at whim without running the danger of destroying a heritage passed down to us over thousands of years of functional selection.
Bergamasco’s relationship to children is something special. Patient, tolerant, attentive and protective, it seeks their company, encouraging their games and treating them with a very particular kind of politeness and delicacy, thus establishing a true friendship with them. Anyone who owns a Bergamasco is also lucky enough to have an excellent nanny, apart from feeling protected, loved and safe at all times.