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Meet the breed: Bergamasco Shepherd

Anna is a lifestyle writer who spends way too much time with her two dogs. When she is not writing, she is probably gardening, reading, tripping over dog toys, or trying to acquire more farm animals than she really needs.

One of Italy's oldest herding breeds could be the perfect pet for you

The Bergamasco Shepherd, also known as the Bergamasco Sheepdog and the Cane da Pastore Bergamasco, is a large herding dog with incredibly long eyelashes. Here is what you need to know about these shaggy pooches.

Bergamasco Shepherd at a glance

  • Independent
  • Brave
  • Loyal
  • Intelligent
  • Large (50 to 75 pounds)
  • AKC Herding classification
  • Low-shedding

History of the Bergamasco Shepherd

The Bergamasco traces its roots back 7,000 years to Iran and Italy, where the dogs worked alongside shepherds in isolated mountain valleys to herd large flocks of sheep. As a result, Bergamascos think and work independently of their owners, unlike other herding dogs.

More: 10 dog breeds that love the snow

Bergamasco Shepherd appearance

The distinctive mop of hair that covers their eyes is more than just a fashion statement. It protected the Bergamasco Shepherd from snow blindness during the winter while they herded sheep, which led to the development of their exceptionally long upper eyelashes, and their long, matted coats shielded them from the elements.

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The breed comes in color shades ranging from solid black to solid gray. Underneath those long mats is a large, muscular, athletic dog, with males weighing between 70 and 84 pounds and females weighing between 57 and 71 pounds.

One of Italy's oldest herding breeds could be the perfect pet for you
Image: Rosmarie Wirz/Getty Images

Bergamasco Shepherd temperament

Bergamasco Shepherds are independent herding dogs with a protective nature. Their independence and decision-making capacity was vital to early shepherds, and today these qualities allow the Bergamasco to form individual relationships with every member of its family. They are highly intelligent dogs and will challenge their owners during training, but their loyalty and infectious good nature makes the effort of training a Bergamasco worthwhile.

Bergamasco Shepherd grooming

Despite its shaggy appearance, the Bergamasco Shepherd is surprisingly easy to maintain. Its coat is composed of three types of hair, similar to dog hair, goat hair and wool. The "goat hair" and "wool" felt into long mats that only require attention during formation around 1 year of age, and eventually grow to reach the ground by age 6. The mats don't require brushing and the breed sheds very little.

More: Top 10 non-shedding dog breeds

As if that wasn't convenient enough, Bergamasco Shepherds only need a bath one to three times a year, which makes this hairy sheepdog a very low-maintenance pet. (Fun fact: These dogs are known to smell like a sweater when wet.)

Bergamasco Shepherd health

This active large dog breed is generally very healthy. As it is a large dog breed, keeping the Bergamasco at a healthy weight is important for joint health and to avoid hip problems and other diseases. Their ears should be checked regularly for cleanliness and infection, and regular visits to the veterinarian, combined with parasite prevention, exercise and a high-quality diet will help them get the most out of their 13 to 15-year life expectancy.

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Exercise requirements

Bergamascos require daily exercise and space to roam. These are not apartment dwellers and do best in homes with large yards for them to explore.

More: 11 amazing dog breeds for first-time owners

Is the Bergamasco right for you?

If you love spending time outside, enjoy working with an intelligent dog, want a low-maintenance grooming routine and have experience with herding breeds, then the Bergamasco could be the perfect dog breed for you.

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