If you’ve ever seen a picture of a Bergamasco Shepherd, you may have mistaken it for a mop — or Bob Marley’s head.
It’s one of the lesser-known dog breeds, but also one of the most distinguishable.
Origins of the Bergamasco Shepherd
As the name suggests, the Bergamasco Shepherd is said by some to have originated in Bergamo, which is in the Italian Alps. Back then, this breed was mainly used to herd sheep and was incredibly skilled at it.
However, historians agree that the Bergamasco Shepherd actually originated from Asia and were eventually brought into Europe.
Here is a dog with dreads, the Bergamasco Shepherd, herding in modern day:
Appearance of the Bergamasco Shepherd
This Bergamasco Shepherd is known for its matted hair, which extends from the spine all the way down their body, sometimes reaching the ground. Their dreads tend to cover their eyes, making only their pink tongues visible. Bergamasco Shepherd’s coat can range from gray to Black and is said to have worked as a camouflage when they lived in the mountains.
Don’t be fooled by their dreads. Underneath their matted coat, Bergamasco Shepherds are muscular and strong. This dog with dreads is usually between 57 and 83 pounds and can grow to 21 to 24 inches tall.
Grooming a Bergamasco Shepherd
We know the number one question you have about Bergamasco Shepherds: With all those dreads, do they require a lot of grooming attention?
Let’s get down to it. The answer is yes — sort of, but not in the traditional sense.
Owners of the Bergamasco Shepherd must untangle flocks by gently pulling them apart. Washing these breeds could also be a lengthy process. However, Bergamasco Shepherd should not be clipped. The grooming required depends on how old your dog is, as layers of flocks develop over time. Basically, you don’t have to trim them regularly like most breeds, but there are other grooming needs you must attend to.
The Bergamasco Shepherd has three different types of hair: An oily undercoat, long hairs and a top wool coat. The dog with dreads developed this type of coat overtime so they could stand weather conditions. Since they lived in the cold mountains, Bergamasco Shepherds needed a thick coat to keep them warm. The hair that covers their eyes protected the dog with dreads from the suns reflection on the snow.
For more information about grooming this breed, check out the video below. An expert groomer shows you how owners must separate clumpy hairpieces. As she says, matted pieces do not need to be cut out.
Fortunately, Bergamasco Shepherds don’t shed a lot, so clean up will be minimal.
Here’s a longer video that describes in detail the grooming process you should take with a dog with dreads:
What Are Bergamasco Shepherds’ Life Span?
On average, Bergamasco Shepherds live 13 to 15 years. This breed is a pretty healthy one and is not known for having any breed-specific health conditions. Many dog breeds have specific health problems an owner has to take into account. For example, small dogs are known to develop eye and ear problems in old age. Big dogs are known to develop arthritis and hip problems. However, the dogs with dreads are lucky; the Bergamasco Shepherd is not predisposed to any specific disease or ailment.
The Personality of Bergamasco Shepherds
Bergamasco Shepherds are good-natured and peaceful dogs. They play well with others, especially children. In fact, they have even been used in therapy for children with disabilities. These dogs with dreads have patience and tolerance will make them good pets for small children, who can tend to poke and prod at dogs.
Bergamasco Shepherds will usually be okay with cats and strangers. However, if that stranger is a predator, the dog with dreads will not joke around — they are excellent watchdogs. For this reason, the breed has a tendency to “sleep with one eye open” as they always want to know what you’re doing and what’s going on.
Training Bergamasco Shepherds
Bergamasco Shepherds used to herd sheep, so obviously they’re pretty smart, which is good news for you — the dog with dreads will be easy to train.
When herding sheep, Bergamasco Shepherds are often had to problem solve by themselves, making them independent. With that being said, this dog responds best to people who are natural leaders.
How Much Does a Dog with Dreads Cost?
A purebred Bergamasco Shepherd can cost you anywhere from $1000 to $1200. The dog with dreads isn’t one you purchase in a pet store or off of a pet website. Since they are a less popular dog, you have to seek out a reputable breeder (which you should actually do anyways with any breed if you’re not adopting. Good breeders won’t have a Bergamasco Shepherd available at the snap of your fingers. They will likely have to put you on a waiting list. Since they don’t want to overbreed dogs, the dog with dreads won’t have an unlimited amount of puppies per year. It’s likely that you’ll have to wait some time to pick up your dog with dreads.
Here’s one Bergamasco Shepherd breeder in America:
What Does a Bergamasco Shepherd Eat?
Like every breed, it’s important to feed a dog with dreads top quality food. This can be quality kibble or moist canned food. Alternatively, some owners choose to make their own dog food to ensure they know what their dog is eating.
If you can, it’s best to feed the Bergamasco Shepherd two times a day: Once in the morning and once at night. Of course, these should be smaller portions than if you were to feed your dog with dreads only once a day.
What do Bergamasco Shepherd Puppies Look Like?
To be honest, very cute! The dog with dreads isn’t a dog with dreads when it’s born. Actually, Bergamasco Shepherd puppies look more like dalmatians!
Will the Bergamasco Shepherd Herd Other Dogs?
Since the dog with dreads used to herd sheep, you may be wondering if those instincts will kick in when they’re playing with other dogs. Well, they just may. In the video below, two Bergamasco Shepherds are seen herding a Chihuahua.
Will the Bergamasco Shepherd Play Fetch Themselves?
Since the dog with dreads is a very lovable breed, you will want to take him out to play regularly. He needs his exercise. However, since the Bergamasco Shepherd is super smart, he may figure out ways to entertain himself. In the video below, you see a young dog with dreads playing fetch by himself by rolling the ball down a bush. Apparently, his mother taught him this trick. Check it out and consider teaching your Bergamasco Shepherd this brilliant trick!
Should I Get a Bergamasco Shepherd?
You’d be a great Bergamasco Shepherd owner if:
- You’d take it for long walks; their favorite form of exercise.
- You live in a large house with a yard. Since they used to herd sheep, this breed is used to having a ton of land to frolic in. You don’t have to live on a farm, but ample play space is best.
- You live in a cooler climate. Bergamasco Shepherds’ thick coats make them best suited for cooler or seasonal climates.
- You’re a natural leader. The Bergamasco Shepherd dog is independent, and wants you to be too.
- You’re looking to make a long-term commitment. Adding any furry friend to your family is a long-term commitment, but especially with Bergamasco Shepherds. Since it’s not uncommon for them to live up to 15 years, you must know that your life and living circumstances will permit you to take care of him for that time.
You wouldn’t be a good Bergamasco Shepherd owner if:
- You live in an apartment or a tiny yard in the city. Bergamasco Shepherds need space to play, which is often found in country landscapes.
- You live in a warm to hot climate. Dogs with dreads will overheat!
- You’re lazy. These dogs need exercise. Taking him out for long walks is necessary.
- You’re passive. A dog with dreads needs a leader who can take charge.
Dog with Dreads Starter Pack
When you first bring home a Bergamasco Shepherd, it’s important that you have all the supplies you need to properly take care of him or her. These supplies include
- Quality dog food
- Food/water bowls
- Training treats
- Collar and leash
- Treats: A dog with dreads loves chew toys, balls and ropes
- Crates: Not to prison your Bergamasco Shepherd, but to train him
- Puppy training pee pads
- Dog bed
- Small grooming scissors
- Pin brush
- Dog shampoo
Bergamasco Shepherd Resources
- Bergamasco Shepherd Breeders
- American Kennel Club- Bergamasco Shepherd Info
- Bergamasco Shepherd Adoption
Cute Bergamasco Shepherds
As mentioned, these dogs love exercise — including fetching! Look at his big dreads bounce in the wind! Even if you go for one long walk a day, Bergamasco Shepherds will enjoy that amount of exercise.
Told you they were intelligent! This dog can almost speak! In the video above, this cutie attemps to say “Coca-Cola” and his owners name, “Laura.” He just about succeeds. Since these dogs used to herd sheep, they needed to become smart and solve problems all on their own. For this reason, training these dogs should be relatively simple, as long as you’re a strong and natural leader.
This little mop doggy loves frolicking in the snow. Because of their thick coat, Bergamasco Shepherds are best suited for cooler climates. Since they were used to cold, snowy weather in the Alps, where they originated, they love these temperatures. Some Bergamasco Shepherds even enjoy sleeping outside.
As with most puppies, Bergamasco Shepherds are even more adorable when they are first born. A female Bergamasco Shepherd can have 6 to 10 puppies in a litter. On average, 8 puppies will be born.
Is there Another Dog with Dreads?
Yes, there are other breeds besides the Bergamasco Shepherd that have dreads. Other dogs with dreads include:
- Hangarian Puli
- The Komodor
- Spanish Water Dog