The unique coat is an integral part of the breed. The coat of the Bergamo Shepherd is formed into flat and long tangles (not cords, since the hair does not get tangled in a spiral). The formation process takes place in three stages, after which throughout life the coat remains so, only slightly undergoing changes.
The coat consists of a soft and dense undercoat with moisture-repelling properties. The undercoat is greasy (oily) to the touch, dense. Goat hair is straight, long, and coarse. The top hair is curly and finer than goat hair. Top hair and goat hair tangle and form a dense, protective layer. Such a cover provides the animal with protection from cold, moisture, wind.
At the puppy age of up to 6-9 months, the wool of the Bergamo Shepherd is fluffy and wavy, at the next stage, coarse hair (goat) appears, which contributes to rolling. Goat hair is most noticeable at the base of the tail, then it begins to grow along the back and on the body. This process lasts up to 2.5-3 years, and at the third stage, mats are formed, which are a distinctive feature of the Bergamo Shepherd Dog. The size of the mats is usually 2.5-7.5 cm (width). In adult animals, they are irregular in shape, different in width at the base and at the end. At 5-6 years of age, the hair reaches such a length that it touches the ground.
Adult dogs have a very dense layer of rolled hair, and on the body, it is more pronounced, and on the legs, from the chest to the back of the body, there are tangled stripes, the length of which depends on the age of the dog. But they are always thinner and shorter than the mats on the body. Therefore, they do not interfere with the movement of animals.
On the face, the hair is less coarse, it does not fall into dense strands, falls over the eyes, hiding them. However, long hair does not prevent the dog from looking, it protects the animal from the sun and annoying insects.
Bergamasco Shepherd Coat Color
The standard allows colors of all shades of gray, interspersed with black, white, fawn, and solid black (no gloss). Pure white is not allowed, but white spots may be present in the color, covering no more than 20% of the trunk area.
Puppies are born dark, but the hair becomes lighter with age. Matted hair takes on a fawn, isabella shade, which is especially noticeable at the ends of the strands. This phenomenon is quite natural.
Caring for the Coat of the Bergamo Shepherd
Puppies are born with a soft and fluffy coat, which is combed out with a pin brush a couple of times a month. At the age of 9-12 months, puppies begin to develop small matted strands that can be felt with their fingers.
Until that time, it allows puppies to be bathed as needed, but when most of the hair begins to roll off, then bathing should be refrained from, even if the natural formation of mats does not matter to the owner. After getting wet, the wool shrinks closer to the base, the strands begin to adhere closely to each other, as a result, the skin stretches, and air circulation worsens. By the way, constant brushing of the coat is not required either.
Despite the impressive appearance of the coat, caring for the coat of the Bergamasco shepherd is no more difficult than for any other dog. Particular attention is paid to dogs during the formation of tangles, which, if necessary, need to be divided by hands into strands 3-7 cm wide (from base to tip). Scissors should only be used as a last resort. During this period (up to 2 years), the dogs do not look very attractive. After all, the resulting tangles stick out randomly in all directions, giving the impression of sloppiness.
Mats should not start from the very base of the hair and tighten the skin, the skin should breathe, and natural essential oils should be evenly distributed, otherwise the risk of developing skin diseases increases. Regularly, you need to monitor the formation of tangles in the armpits, behind the ears and on the chest, unravel them in a timely manner so that the skin does not tighten. If the strips become too wide, they also need to be torn with your hands into strands of the optimal width. On the body, the mats should be about 2-3 fingers wide, on the tailless than 1 finger, on the head – 1 finger.
You cannot cut the hair of the Bergamasco, but if the pet does not participate in exhibitions, then it is advisable to cut the hair in the genital area, around the anus to maintain cleanliness. On show dogs, hair can be collected in areas prone to contamination with an elastic band.
You can bathe the Bergamo Shepherd Dog only after reaching the age of 5-6 years when the mats have already formed into neat, strong, flat strips. A thorough wash every 2-3 years is enough. Although the coat of the Bergamo Shepherd is matted, it is self-cleaning. More frequent washing of areas prone to contamination, for example, the area under the tail, paws, beard, is permissible.
The shampoo is chosen hypoallergenic and washable well, it is better to make a solution since it is easier to distribute it over the hair. It is important that no residual detergent remains.
Use a large amount of warm water to moisturize and thoroughly rinse all layers of the coat. They wash the dog carefully, trying not to destroy the matted strands. Then the mats are gently wrung out with your hands, removing as much moisture as possible.
It should be remembered that hair dries for a long time (naturally up to three days), and when wet it acquires an unpleasant odor. Therefore, it is recommended to bathe the Bergamasco shepherd dog outdoors on a sunny warm day. In any case, it is not recommended to bathe at night so that the dog does not go to bed wet.
To dry the coat, you can use a hairdryer, setting the minimum power level. The air should not be too hot.
Visible dirt can be removed with a brush, provided that the coat is dry, and do not be afraid to comb the hair on the head.