General Breed info:

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The Bergamasco is a medium size dog, well proportioned and harmonious having a rustic appearance. He is a solidly compact dog with a strong, powerful build that gives him great resistance without taking away any of his agility and speed of movement.

His imposing aspect is increased by the thick coat which is one of his typical characteristics and makes him different from any other dog.

The Bergamascos coat is characterized by three types of hair which is abundant and forms mats or flocks which is the distinguishing characteristic of this breed. The mats start from the spine and go down the flanks, growing every year to reach the ground. The color of the coat can be anything from gray or silver gray to anthracite (coal color). This color served as a camouflage when working in the mountains. The entire hereditary pattern is deeply ingrained in the breed. Even in our modern times, the Bergamasco remains the same.

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Anatomy and Locomotion:

The Bergamasco is a muscular, heavy-boned herding dog with a large head and a thick tail that hangs down to the hock and curves slightly upward at the end. The entire dog is covered with an abundant coat that forms mats.

The Bergamasco is compact in profile but is just slightly longer than tall, with the length of body measured from point of shoulder to point of buttocks about 5 to 6 percent longer than the height measured at the withers. The ribs are well-sprung and let down to the elbows. The depth of the rib cage is equal to half the dog's height at the withers. The line of the back inclines very slightly downward from prominent withers to a strong, broad back with a straight upper line. The loin is well-muscled and broad. The croup is slightly sloping, about 30 degrees downward from the horizontal. Tuck-up is nearly absent.

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The Bergamasco is a very old breed which carries ancient and original characteristics which have been modified with evolution as the result of historical and environmental changes. Descendant of a group which defines various breeds, the Bergamascos is clearly distinguishable from other sheepdogs. As a result of their ancient roots and the geographical locations where they have been found, they must be seen as mountain Sheepdogs.

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They are built for strength and resistance with a type of herding traditionally associated with nomadic. The dogs had to adapt to various ways of moving the flocks, sometimes covering long distances every day to get to the grazing grounds, while at other times they would only cover short distances within specific areas.
- Sheep are timid in nature and tend to bolt when scared, the dogs job is to keep the upper hand without provoking panic.
- When the flocks moves, it is slowly with a tendency to disperse, the dogs had to walk along side the flock, moving back and forth with no specific need for great speed. On the contrary, the gait has to be slow and even requiring great resistance.
- When the grazing area are reach, the dogs had to keep an eye on the flock, seethe the sheep did not wander too far or run into danger by getting to close to ravines and cliffs. When intervention is indispensable, the dogs needed to avoid brusque movements to avoid the sheep to panic with a full stomach.

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The best suitable gait for the Bergamascos to achieve a calm and balance movement while preserving energy is the trot, a flowing ad regular gait which can be maintained over long period of times without exhausting the dogs.

A very important structural characteristic, affecting the Bergamasco Sheepdog locomotion for optimum efficiency while performing their tasks, is the importance of the length of the body.Many dog fanciers would like the dog to be square, meaning that the body length to be equal to the height at the withers.In trotters, it is mechanically necessary for the body to be longer than the height at the withers. A typical galloper (i/e Pointer) would have an equal proportion of the lumbar tract (1/5 of the height at the withers).

If the square dog’s (galloper) proportions were to be applied to a trotter, the body would be squeezed into unnatural proportions and a shortening of the croup.This would create an insufficient length of fallaway and, in consequence, hind limbs which are too straight and a tail inserted too high up.

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To fit into a square two body parts can be shorter:- if the lumbar region, it would not be an advantage to a trotter, provided that the gait remains flowing.- if the croup with insufficient fallaway, it would be a serious fault because it would alter the entire build of the dog.Dog built with either shortening could never develop a flowing gait. Their paws would hit the ground hard and they would take short steps with rigid limbs, covering very little ground. In addition, when trotting, the front paws would start lifting from the ground when already passed the middle of the body, so that the back paws would bump into the front ones when lifted. To avoid this, the dog would either have to alter the set-down rhythm, and forfeiting the typical synchronism of the trot, or loose the possibility of utilizing the rear hand drive which would shorten the step. None of which would be suitable for a long day of work.

It is essential for the loin to be sufficiently long so as not to encumber the advance of the rear limbs and alter the rhythm sequence of support and suspension.

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In the case of wild trotting canids, such as wolfs, coyotes and jackals for which efficient locomotion is an essential factor for survivor, the body length is 10-20% above their height at the withers.

The Bergamascos who always carried out its work in mountainous regions needs a solid and compact build. The loin is the suspended track of the spine, if excessively long; it would not be suitable for rapid ascent and for downhill leaping required for Alpine dogs, while less pernicious for sheepdog breeds which work in plains.

In order to be most efficient in its environment which requires work on steep hill, the Bergamasco is best built with a difference of 5-6% between the two measurements (body length and height at the withers) without making the dog any less compact.

Because a herding dog is required to be in constant motion while the flock is being driven, correct efficient movement is essential. The natural and preferred gait for the Bergamasco is a free, extended, elastic trot with both front and rear feet remaining close to the ground. Pasterns are supple and flex freely. When moving, the dog's head moves forward so that the head is nearly even with the back line.

Note on Tail carriage: if the tail is carried too high and the croup is the right length with correct fall away, it should be considered as a result of an exuberant character or just a bad habit. If on the contrary the croup is too short and incorrectly angulated, bad tail carriage will be a result of faulty insertion when the dog’s built is too compact.

 
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Limb articulations of the Bergamasco Sheepdog:

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* Height at the withers: 60 cm +/- 2 cm for males 56 cm +/- 2 cm for bitches
* Body length: 5-6'% above the height at the withers = 63 cm
* Distance from withers to elbow = distance from elbow to ground
* Croup (pelvis): 31-32'% of the height at withers = 18-19 cm
* Neck: longer than head =19-20 cm

 

* Shoulder blade: 55°-60° from horizontal
* Humerus: 60 from horizontal
* Angle between humerus & shoulder blade: 115°-120°
* Angle of metacarpal from vertical: 10°
* Pelvis fallway from horizontal: 35°-40°

* Coxo-femoral angle: 95°-100°
* Tibia: 40°-45° from horizontal
* Femuro-tarsal angle: 105°-110°
* Tibio-tarsa angle: 130°-135°

* Shoulder blade: more than 1/4 of height at withers = 16~17 cm
* Humerus: same length or slightly longer than shoulder blade = 19 cm
* Radius: same length or slightly longer than humreus = 19-20 cm
* Metacarpus: short, distance from ground = 10 cm.

* Femur: 10% longer than coxal = 20-21 cm
* Tibia: same or slightly longer than femur'" 20-22 m
* Hock: from hock to ground 25% of height at withers' =15 cm