Biocolli: Future Flocks

By now, veteran readers of NPDD know that a Bergamasco is not a corded breed, it is flocked.  Flocks are the large, irregularly dense “mats” of felted hair on the dog’s coat that can be anywhere from one and a half inches wide to three inches wide. This unique coat is composed of three types of hair: Undercoat,  goat hair, and woolly hair. To our knowledge, this is the only breed in the world with a coat comprised of three types of hair. From the breed’s AKC standard (updated just a few months ago):

The undercoat is short, dense, and of fine texture adhering to the skin forming a protective, waterproof layer. The “goat hair” is strong and rough in texture, as in goats, which stays smooth without tufting together with itself. The third type of hair is woolly hair. This type is somewhat finer in texture and grows together in tufts. The “goat hair” and the woolly hair naturally weave together over time and form the flocks, which have a tight consistency akin to boiled wool.”

Around the time the youngster is nine or ten months old,  one can feel little clumps of hair forming. According to Donn De Falcis Andreoli, author of the Comprehensive Owner’s Guide to the Bergamasco, and Bergamasco breeders, Jutta & Robert Ammann,  these are future flocks or “maps” in the making, from the Italian word, “biocolli.”

In time (and often with some human help), the informal bundles become almost “stubby” in appearance, but it will be a few years (approximately five or six years,  depending upon the genetics of their line) before the flocks are long enough to reach the ground.  Like corded breeds, the flocks continue to grow throughout the dog’s life. Functionally, this type of coat offers a Bergamasco protection from the bites of a predator as well as cold and wet weather. A light separation of flocks is all that’s needed to maintain the coat for the life of the dog, but we’re not going to finesse the truth, establishing the coat takes patience. It is well worth the effort. Nothing looks like a show stopping Bergamasco.

Image: Bergamasco/Deposit Stock photo

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