Gray Bergamasco

Bergamasco Dog Breed

Other names:
Bergamasco Shepherd Dog
Bergamese Shepherd
Bergamo Dog
Bergamo Shepherd
Bergamo Shepherd Dog
Cane Da Pastore Bergamasco

Pronunciation: [Ber·gah mask·O]

This ancient breed hails from Italy. While this odd-looking yet beautiful dog has been around for a couple millennia, the American Kennel Club (AKC) only recognized them in 2015. Just as the massive, ropey coat suggests, this is a dog to behold. The breed is well-known to be reserved, talented and especially smart. If ever you get the chance to meet and pet a Bergamasco, you will never forget it!

Bergamasco Breed Details

The Bergamasco is a herding dog through and through. (It practically goes without saying that the AKC categorized the breed under the Herding Dog Group.) Bred to herd and drive sheep in the beautiful albeit frigid climes of the Italian Alps, this mountain dog has a very strong protection streak — as well as the mental ability to use it only when needed. Although these beautiful dogs work well as a family companion, experience with the Bergamasco is a must; they are remarkably independent.


  • Hypoallergenic
  • Not aggressive
  • Extremely protective
  • Not prone to drooling
  • Well above-average intelligence
  • Very friendly if properly socialized
  • Highly tolerant of very cold weather
  • Very few general health problems possible
  • Typically moderate in size (despite the massive coat)


  • Highly independent
  • May tend to over-eat
  • Can be difficult to train
  • Not good for apartment living
  • Doesn't do well in hot weather
  • Somewhat expensive in every way
  • Very low on the AKC's popularity list
  • Requires very gentle and constant socialization
  • Requires an extraordinary amount of daily exercise
12 - 15 yrs.
21 - 24 in.
70 - 84 lbs
OverallFamily FriendlyChild FriendlyPet FriendlyStranger Friendly
Easy to GroomEnergy LevelExercise NeedsHealthShedding Amount
Barks / HowlsEasy to TrainGuard DogPlayfulnessWatch Dog
Apartment DogCan be AloneGood for Busy OwnersGood for New OwnersIntelligence

Bergamasco Breed Description

The Bergamasco is an instantly recognizable breed: the huge, corded mats (or flocks) that make up his coat and cover every inch of this ancient Italian shepherd dog is like no other. (If his coat is left untrimmed, these flocks will grow to the ground.) This coat is not merely for show, however, as it serves a practical purpose: protection. He is a great dog in every way: size, personality and ability.

The Bergamasco is a primitive breed that goes back at least 2,000 years but is nonetheless extremely sharp. As these dogs are expected to herd sheep on the fly, in the mountains and on their own, they have developed a keen sense of independence. They may seem unaware of their environment, but make no doubt: they not only see what you think they can't (because of their cords), they are constantly assessing their surroundings and preparing possible responses to any and all threats.

These dogs are not outwardly aggressive, and they don't look for trouble — but they do hold their ground well enough. They may seem aloof most the time, but they do like to keep active enough, and they will enjoy playing and running about.

Bergamasco Temperament

This is a great big shaggy pile of nevertheless carefully bred independence, comprehension and assessment. These sheepdogs can work well on their own, quickly understand new situations and be counted on to keep the peace even as they love to play.

Although they definitely need to be socialized carefully and trained with a very gentle hand, these dogs still need a human alpha lest their independence drives them to become suspicious, solitary and maybe even unmanageable. Their historic duty to protect sheep from predators, weather and whatever else threatened the flock was and is a primitive drive in them. As they were relied upon to think for themselves while fulfilling their duties, not having a large job like herding can be a problem if they are left to their own devices.

Training can be difficult due to the Bergamasco's superb intelligence. You need to have a strong and confident yet calm personality to train one of these dogs. You really should have experience with Bergamascos as well. Consistency is also required.

Bergamasco Health

The Bergamasco may be one of the healthiest dog breeds alive. There was one wee survey of a very small sampling of dogs — exactly 10 specimens in the year 2004 — by the Kennel Club (in the UK). The results were practically ignored due to so few dogs being surveyed. In any case, there are only the typical dog diseases and ailments that may affect the Bergamasco, and even those tend to be limited to a small handful of concerns:

  • Bloat (and IBT)
  • Eye problems
  • Joint dysplasia
  • Skin allergies

These are extremely energetic dogs that, with the diet and exercise that fits their needs, should live to be 12 to 15 years old.

Bergamasco Health Concerns

Below are potential health concerns associated with Bergamascos.

Hip dysplasia
Skin allergies

Related Pages

About this Article

Authored by:Dog-Learn
Updated:April 17, 2017