The Bergamasco, also known as the Bergamaschi, Bergamasco Shepherd Dog, Bergamese Shepherd, Bergamashi Herder, Italian Bergama Shepherd or Cane da Pastore Bergamasco, is an ancient herding breed that originated in the Middle East and was brought to the mountains of northern Italy by traders during pre-Roman times. Bergamascos are sturdy, shaggy, fairly large dogs that were bred to guard, move and monitor ranging flocks of sheep. They were prized for their ability to do those tasks independently, without constant reminders from their shepherd owners. The most striking characteristic of this breed is its unique coat, which grows into ground-grazing, flat woven mats that resemble dreadlocks. This heavy coating provides great protection in cold weather, is not well-suited to extremely hot climates and provides an excellent breeding ground for fleas and other parasites. Today’s Bergamascos make friendly family companions. Most are wary around strangers. These are patient animals that like having a job to do. They are an excellent choice for people who appreciate intelligence, loyalty and self-sufficiency in a canine companion.