With origins in the Italian Alps, the Bergamasco was used primarily as a herding dog. The breed's unusual coat is actually made up of three types of hair, according to the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America. The dog's felted hair will form loose mats that continue to grow throughout the dog's life, eventually reaching the ground by the time the dog is about 5 years old.
The dreadlock-ish mats keep the breed warm in winter and cool in summer and protect the dog's skin from insect bites. Although it would seem that dirt and leaves and all sorts of things would end up tangled in those unusual locks, apparently all the dog needs to do is give a really good shake to get the debris off. Bergamascos don't need brushing and only need baths a couple of times a year, says the Bergamasco Club.