The Bergamasco Sheepdog has a deep-rooted history that dates back over 2000 years. Its origins can be traced back to the Italian Alps near Bergamo, which is where the breed gets its name. These dogs were bred to be working dogs and were primarily used as sheepherders. Their primary purpose was to guide and protect the sheep against predators. As a result, they developed to be intelligent and fiercely protective, traits that are still present in the breed today. The Bergamasco nearly went extinct during the mid-20th century due to the decline in need for sheepherding dogs. However, a dedicated Italian breeder named Dr. Maria Andreoli played a crucial role in the breed's survival and subsequent propagation throughout Italy and eventually to other parts of the world.
The Bergamasco Sheepdog is generally a healthy breed, though may suffer from degenerative myelopathy, progressive rod-cone degeneration, and elbow and hip dysplasia.
Bergamasco Sheepdogs are known for their intelligence and problem-solving capabilities, thanks to their herding background. They are also gentle and protective, making them excellent family dogs. These dogs are known to be patient with children and generally get along well with other animals. However, like all dogs, they need early socialization to expose them to different people, sights, sounds, and experiences.
Despite their independent nature and problem-solving skills, Bergamascos are eager to please and respond well to consistent, positive reinforcement training methods. They are not known for aggressive behavior, but their protective instincts may kick in if they perceive a threat to their family.
The Bergamasco Sheepdog has loose mats of woven together hair, called 'flocks', that cover their body and legs. These flocks were beneficial in their ancestral homeland in the Italian Alps, providing protection from the bitter cold and from predators.