AKC Meet the Breeds: Bergamasco

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

A sheepdog with a strong work ethic, the Bergamasco's most unique characteristic is its coat. His coat contains "dog hair," "goat hair" and "wool" which combine to form black or gray felt-like mats that grow over the course of the dog's life, reaching the ground at approximately 6 years of age. The coat can actually smell like a sweater when it is wet. But despite its formidable appearance, the Bergamasco is really a trim, athletic sheepdog. The breed has been a part of AKC's Foundation Stock Service since 1997 under the Herding designation.

A Look Back
The ancestor of the Bergamasco originated in what is now Iran and worked as a livestock guardian. As shepherds moved in search of new pastures, a number of them settled in the Italian Alps, where the dogs became known as Bergamascos. The breed was in danger of becoming extinct after World War II, when wool production fell off and there was less need for shepherding dogs. Dr. Maria Andreoli, an Italian breeder, was instrumental in saving the breed.

Right Breed for You?
The Bergamasco is a sociable, highly intelligent breed that possesses a deep desire to please its master. However, the breed thinks independently and often sees itself more as an equal partner than as a subordinate to the members of his family. Despite its unique appearance, their coat does not actually take much time to maintain. After the mats "set" at age one, the coat needs only 1-3 baths per year and no brushing. Shedding is minimal.

  • Foundation Stock Service; Herding Group designation
  • Ideal size: 23 1/2 inches tall at the shoulder and between 70 and 84 pounds for males; 22 inches tall and between 57 and 71 pounds for females
  • Sheep herder

AKC Meet the Breeds is a registered trademark of the American Kennel Club, Inc.


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