These shaggy, corded sheepdogs were brought into Italy by ancient Phoenician merchants. A large, robust herding dog with flock-guarding ability, he served his masters well over the centuries by developing keen independent problem-solving abilities as well as the ability to work closely with his shepherd.


This old sheepdog breed is rarely seen outside Italy. It comes from the mountains around the city of Bergamo, but it has been used as a herder in several other parts of the country too. It is descended from Asian sheepdogs and it is supposed to have arrived in Italy with tradesmen from Phoenicia. Several of the middle-sized sheepdog breeds in Europe are of similar type – the Puli, Schapendoes, Catalan Sheepdog, Pyrenean Sheepdog and the Polish Owczarek Nizinny. Although the cords or mats in the large herding breed, the Komodor, are very distinct, this breed is usually not mentioned in relation to the Bergamasco. Some historians suggest that the Tibetan Terrier might be the ancestor of them all. However, only the Bergamasco and the Puli have a very heavily matted coat.


The Bergamasco is an independent working dog. It should be rectangular in body, strong and very muscular. The Bergamasco stands about 21-24 inches/54-62 cm at the withers and weighs about 59-82 pounds/27-37 kg. Its head should be big and quite long. The breed’s most significant feature is its coat, which should be soft, wavy and very long. The coat is longest over the loin where, in an adult dog, it can reach the ground. The coat should be naturally matted not in corded curls but in flat stripes, almost 1 inch/2.5 cm wide. The coat does not become fully matted until the dog is about five years old. On the head and lower parts of its legs the coat should be shorter and less matted. The tail has long shaggy hair that is rarely matted.

The color may be all nuances of gray, from very light to grayish black. Solid black is rarely found but this color is also permitted.

Country of Origin: Italy

Height: Males 23-24.5 in (58-62 cm) / females 21-23 in (54-58 cm)

Weight: Males 70-84 lb (31.5-38 kg) / females 57-71 lb (26-32 kg)

Coat: Three types of hair – woolly, very long, very abundant outercoat/long, straight, rough "goat hair"/short, dense, greasy undercoat; various parts of coat form strands or loose mats

Other Names: Bergamaschi; Bergamasco Shepherd Dog; Bergamese Shepherd; Cane da Pastore Bergamasco; Italian Bergama Shepherd

Registries (With Group): AKC (Miscellaneous); ANKC (Working); FCI (Sheepdogs); КС (Pastoral); икс (Herding)


Devoted and loyal, patient and tolerant, the Bergamasco is a great family dog for those who can provide a suitable environment for him. He is happiest when he knows what his job is, and he enjoys time outside.


A day in the outdoors spent watching his flock or his human family is all the exercise the Bergamasco needs. If that's not possible, a few intriguing excursions a day will satisfy him; he doesn't need a lot of exercise, just enough to keep him fit and mentally acute.


The Bergamasco knows his place in the family and settles in with little training. He learns quickly but has an independence that means he will never follow direction blindly.


His corded coat was meant to protect him from the elements and from wild animals – it should be left in its natural state.


There are no reported breed-specific health concerns.

Average life span is 12 to 15 years.

Gallery of Bergamasco