Information about the Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo is a breed of dog that comes from the Romagna sub-region of Italy. The name means “lake dog from Romagna,” coming from the Italian word lago, lake. Its traditional function is a gundog, specifically a water retriever. However, it is often used to hunt for truffles.

The Lagotto can have large round eyes in any shade color ranging from dark yellow to dark brown. The wooly coat is very thick and curly. Solid colors include off-white, white, or brown. They can also be found white with brown or orange patches or roan. It is a medium-sized dog that is hypoallergenic. A Lagotto often displays white markings that grow out in adulthood.

Height: 43-48 cm (17-19 in)
Weight: 13-16 kg (29-35 lb)

Height: 41-46 cm (16-18 in)
Weight: 11-14 kg (24-32 lb).

The Lagotto is made to work. They generally have sharp senses, though their eyesight is more sensitive to motion than detail. They are very loyal and loving, making them the perfect family companion. Some are easy to train. Many get along with other animals quite easily if socialized from a young age. Lagotto vary in their need for exercise but should always be given stimulation to keep their intelligent brains occupied. Lagotto have a natural instinct for retrieving. The ENCI (Italian Kennel Club) Country of Origin standard indicates that the game hunting instinct has been bred out and Lagotto do not get distracted by game or other wildlife. This was untrue when it was written and is certainly untrue twenty years later. Lagotto have been hunting dogs for at least three thousand years and truffle dogs for maybe a hundred years if that. The original standard written by those who founded C.I.L. (the Club Italiano Lagotto) in Imola in 1988 were writing a standard to get the Lagotto recognised by ENCI and not necessarily as an absolute true reflection of the breed. It is worth noting that the first pair (Reno & Rosetta) bought to pioneer the Lagotto in the UK in 1996 came from the Mandriole kennels on the edge of the Comaccio where the dogs were still worked from the traditional flat bottomed punts as duck retrievers. Those Lagotto through subsequent exports from the UK which provided the foundation stock for Canada, USA and Australia can be found behind many Lagotto world wide. Visitors to the Lagotto Romagnolo Club of Great Britain breed stand at the world famous Crufts Dog Show in the UK will have seen photographs of GB Lagotto (including Rosetta) retrieving hare, rabbit grouse and various types of wildfowl. It is also worth noting that the photograph on the back of the first official video produced in Italy cica 1996 showed a group of Lagotto going off working – not truffling but duck shooting in a punt. In that punt were the parents and grandparents of Rosetta and Reno. Whilst the instinct to hunt, swim and retrieve is inborn and does not have to be encouraged, Lagotto have to be trained from an early age to look for truffle.

In modern times the Lagotto has been bred primarily as a truffle searching dog and not as a retriever or hunting dog. Their highly developed nose makes them excellent search dogs.

Some Lagotto are excellent swimmers but some will only paddle. Some will retrieve from lakes, streams and other bodies of water without hesitation. They have a waterproof coat. Not all Lagotto are suitable as family companions. Puppies for families with children need to be carefully chosen They can make excellent domestic companions provided they have sufficient exercise.

Lagotto love to dig. Many owners give them a sandbox or have a designated place to allow them satisfy their digging urges.

Lagotto also love to play seeking games and have very active minds.

There are conflicting ideas on how to groom this breed. Some say they should be brushed regularly and others believe their coat should be allowed to grow naturally into a big fluff. The coat will get matted easily and the mats should be carefully pulled apart without tearing the coat. They must be cut down at least once every year.

If the coat is kept trimmed to approximately 1½ inches all over the body and slightly longer on the head, it will be easier to maintain and look neat. Hair on the ears should be trimmed around the edges to the leather. If the ear shows irritation and buildup of dirt and earwax, the hairs from the ear canal should be gently plucked out regularly. Some coats matt more easily than others. Left untended, the Lagotto’s hair will grow to cover the eyes and so the hair around their eyes should be periodically clipped to ensure that they can see.

In the United States, the coat should be shown in a rustic style with no fluffing or blowing out. The coat should match the lines of the dog and the curls should be evident. The dog should have the appearance of the working dog that it is. If clipped down, the coat will need about 3 months of growth to be ready to show. Otherwise, shaping can be performed before the shows.

Lagotto live roughly 16 years. Some health issues are:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Benign Juvenile Epilepsy.
  • Cerebral Anomaly. (Could be the same as BJE above)

Lagotto puppies have been crucial in research into epilepsy. In July 2011, researchers in Finland reported the discovery of a mutation in a gene called Lgi2 that may be a new candidate gene for human benign childhood epilepsy. Lgi2 is the first gene that can be linked directly to the remission that sufferers experience after the age of ten. Lagotto breeders are now using a genetic test to screen for this mutation.

The Lagotto is an ancient breed of water retriever from the lowlands of Comacchio and marshlands of Ravenna, Italy. All modern water retrieving dog breeds are believed to have descended in part from the Lagotto Ramagnolo.