The Bergamasco, with its large matted coat, may seem rather imposing. However, it is a quiet and eager-to-please companion. Intelligent as it is versatile, the breed was developed from Asian sheepdogs brought to the Italian Alps.
The Bergamasco is a muscular yet compact herding dog with a large head and long tail that curves slightly upward at the end. The Bergamasco’s feature characteristic, however, is its shaggy coat. In fact, some would argue that it is the shaggiest dog in the world.
Its coat is made up of three kinds of hair, which combine to form dense, flat, felt-like mats that cover the dog’s body and legs.
Personality and Temperament
Though stubborn, the Bergamasco is a very intelligent dog. It has a strong protective instinct but is not aggressive without cause.
Contrary to what many think, the Bergamasco’s coat is not too difficult to maintain. For the first year, the dog will have a soft puppy coat. The coat will gradually become coarser and fuzzy “wool” will begin to appear. Around the age of one, the coat must be “ripped” into mats. This process can take a few hours, but once it is done, it is done for life. A weekly checkup to make sure the mats have not grown back together is all that is required for the next months. After that, the mats will become dense enough that few things will get caught in them.
The Bergamasco has an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years. It is considered a healthy breed with no specific genetic illnesses.