Bergamasco: Getty Images
This sheepdog and member of the Herding Group originated in the area that is now present-day Iran. Originally, these sheepdogs worked as guardians. When the shepherds emigrated from the Iraq-Iran area and settled in the Italian Alps, the breed earned its current name, the Bergamasco.
During World War II, the breed found itself in danger of extinction; with wool production falling off after the war, there became less of an inherent need for shepherding dogs, including the Bergamasco.
The Bergamasco endured, however, thanks in large part to the efforts of an Italian breeder named Dr. Maria Andreoli, and resembles the Bergamasco that we know and love today.
That Bergamasco has a thick and rugged appearance; they are medium to large-sized dogs known especially for their wooly coat consisting of felt-like mats. Their colors range from any shade of grey all the way to solid black.
In terms of temperament, the Bergamasco still carries the strong protective instinct that it harbored from its origins as a guard dog. As a result, it has a strong desire to please its owner.
While they are intelligent and cordial, it's important to note that the Bergamasco, more often than not, views itself as equal rather than subordinate to other family members.
As for care, the Bergamasco doesn't require too much maintenance. Despite the appearance of its trademark coat, the breed doesn't require much grooming. The coat may need 1-3 baths per year, but after the mats "set" after their first year the dog needs no brushing. Also, the dog sheds surprisingly little.