The Bergamasco is native to northern Italy where they were originally bred to herd and guard livestock, a job they are highly skilled at doing. The Bergamasco is a distinct looking dog with an extraordinary coat that forms loose mats and cords all of which hang down from a dog's topline.
They are powerful looking dogs and they are not the ideal choice for first time owners because they need to be well trained and handled correctly from a young age to be truly well-rounded confident dogs, but even then they are known to be quite cautious characters by nature. However, for people who are familiar with this type of dog and who spend lots of time in the great outdoors, the Bergamasco would be a perfect pet and companion dog.
In their native Italy, the Bergamasco was highly prized by shepherds for their herding and guarding abilities. The breed can trace its origins back seven thousand years to a country that is now known as Iran. Shepherds formed strong bonds with their dogs and they worked closely together on a one-to-one basis in challenging climates and mountainous terrains. Unlike other shepherding dogs, the Bergamasco was bred to be an independent thinker which in short, meant they were more than capable of working flocks on their own without the need of being given commands from their shepherds. These dogs are real problem solvers and quite independent characters which is why they need to be trained and given the right direction from a young age and then throughout their lives.
Shepherds wanted to develop a robust dog and the result is an extremely distinctive looking working dog that boasts a felted coat. The dense cords offer these dogs a tremendous amount of protection from the elements, but they also offered a lot of protection from attacks from bears, wolves and other predators that attacked livestock these dogs were herding and guarding.
For many years, the breed was protected by local shepherds which meant that bloodlines remained pure. However, as time passed and with the demise of sheepherding in northern Italy, shepherds and breeders started selling dogs to people outside of the country who were more than eager to own one of these magnificent and curious looking characters.
The Bergamasco was crossed with other herding dogs and this led to a decline in the number of "true" bloodlines which resulted in the breed almost vanishing off the face of the earth. Luckily, enthusiasts of the breed in their native Italy pulled the Bergamasco back from the brink of extinction and over the years the number of extraordinary dogs has risen not only in Italy but in other countries of the world including here in the UK.