Can you recognize the Puli, Komondor and Bergamasco apart? All three share similar appearance due to the heavy matted, flocked or coarded coat. But they are all very different dog breeds, with different temperament, utilization, size and there are even important differences in the coat structure.
All three breeds are used to work with livestock, but they are used for different purposes. The Komondor and Puli are Hungarian breeds that most likely came to the area of todays Hungary with migrating Turkic speaking tribe, known as Cumans.
Most often, they worked as partners, where the large, strong and serious minded Komondor was guarding the livestock and it was protecting it from wolves or strangers and the lively, independent and alert Puli was used to herd the livestock. They most often worked with sheeps. So the Komondor is described as guard dog, while the Puli as herding dog.
Than we have the Italian Bergamasco. It is a breed developed in Italian Alps. They probably have ancestry in ancient Persia and they came to the Alps with nomadic people and their herds. Unlike the Puli and Komondor, who worked together and had separated roles in their job, the Bergamasco was doing everything on its own. It is both – herding and guarding dog breed.
Another difference in their utilization is the environement. While the Komondor and Puli most often work on vast plains, the Bergamasco is used to work in harsh mountainous environemnt of the Alps.
Now you know what is the brief history and utilizitaion of all three breeds. Now lets compare them based on their appearance and we will mainly focus on two areas – size and coat. Lets start with the size.
All three breeds were bred for their utilization, so it is only logical, that the herding dog Puli is the smallest, guardian Komondor is largest and Bergamasco, which is both – herder and protector – has size in between them.
The Puli needs to be quick and agile, so it has smaller size. The Komondor must be strong to deter any intruders and predators, so it the largest. Bergamasco is combination of both. But, the Bergamasco is heavier boned and lets say little bit more muscular than the Komondor.
What is connecting these breeds is their unique coat. It is definitely the most distinctive part of their appearance. The Komondor and Puli has the same coat type with the same cording style, but the Bergamascos coat is different. As you can see on this picture, all three breeds are born with soft coat that is not matted yet and they develop the corded coat later in life.
The Komondor and Puli has rope – like corded coat, which can reach the ground when they are few years old. The coat is formed naturally from the soft undercoat and the coarser outer coat combining to form tassels or cords.
The Bergamasco coat is not formed by rope like cords, but it is formed from long matted locks of hair. The Bergamasco coat is unique, as they not only have the wooly undercoat and coarse outercoat like the other two breeds, but they also have something called „goat hair“. The distribution of various hair types over the body is not homogenous. Some areas might be completely without any flocks, while others, especially the rear, will form mats or cords with maturity. The coat is formed by flocks and clumps, rather than cords.
The final form and look of Bergamasco is not as predictable as with Puli and Komondor, because of the variable presence of the goat hair. The Bergamasco has more unkept and unorganized appearance.
The coat of all three breeds have the same purpose. It is providing excellent protection against nature elements like bad weather and also against attacking predators.
Another difference is the color. The Komondor is always white. Puli comes in white, shades of gray, black and rusty black. And the Bergamasco can be gray, merle or black.
So now you know what is the difference in appearance, but there are also important differences in temperament of these breeds.
It is true that all three are independent, reliable, loyal and intelligent dogs. They need to be extremely independent, but also loyal, so they take instruction from its owner, but they must also be able to take action on their own.
The Puli is the most active and is always ready to herd something or someone. Just like majority of herding dogs, they excell at obedience or agility trials. They are always ready for any action, very active and lively.
The Komondor is much more laid back. They are also more territorial and you can see their natural guarding instincts. They are extremely loyal, protecting, but also loving.
And just like with the appearance, the Bergamasco is once again somewhere in the middle. Definitely not so active as Puli, but also not so laid back as Komondor, even though it is very relaxed breed. They also have protective instincts and may wary of strangers, but they accept the stranger faster and easier than the Komondor.