The origin of the Lagotto Romagnolo dog breed is 100 per cent Italian and very old. In fact, it is said that this breed already existed at the time of the Etruscans, but the first certain information is found around 1450. In a fresco in the Ducal Palace in Mantua, a dog is depicted at the feet of Marquis Ludovico Gonzaga that looks very much like the Lagotto Romagnolo.
The place of certain origin, however, is the Comacchio plain, then it spread to what is now Friuli Venezia Giulia and other northern regions. In the Comacchio valley this dog was used for hunting in lagoons, being a skilled water dog. Its thick and rich undercoat facilitated its work in the icy waters. Even on the coldest days, the Lagotto was able to swim for hours, making stretches under water and breaking ice sheets to bring game back to the boat.
Later, when large land reclamation projects were carried out in the 19th century, hunting was abandoned for the lagotto in order to devote itself to what turned out to be its true predisposition: truffle hunting. In fact, the Lagotto Romagnolo is the only dog in the world specialised in searching for truffles on any terrain, even very impervious ones.
Its ancestors are to be sought in the barbet and even earlier in the canis aquaticus, which was already present in Linnero’s classification, the result of crossing hounds with shepherd dogs. It was crossed to obtain a hunting dog specialised in retrieving game, with an abundant coat making it insensitive to the cold, very trainable and with a good instinct for retrieving.
It has been crossed many times with many different breeds, but in the 1970s, thanks to the work of four passionate and expert dog-lovers, the breed returned to its original purity, which had been compromised by much mating.
Today the Lagotto Romagnolo is a very popular dog in Italy and other countries, where it is also much appreciated as a companion dog, for its affectionate personality, for being easily trainable and for its intelligence. As well as obviously being very popular with truffle hunters, who have in this dog the ideal companion.
Character of the Lagotto Romagnolo dog breed
The Lagotto Romagnolo is an expressive, lively and intelligent dog that is easily trainable. In addition to being an excellent truffle hunter, it is also an excellent companion dog; it attaches itself viscerally to its owner, but also loves other family members; it easily gets on well with strangers; it hardly barks; with correct socialisation, starting from a very young age, it will also get along with other animals without any particular difficulty.
It is a very loyal and loving dog, ideal therefore as a companion dog for the whole family. Training him is really very easy, so he is also suitable for those who are new to dog training. He barks very little, but needs a lot of exercise and work. His primary instinct is to dig, it is difficult to train him not to dig in gardens, in fact some owners leave a corner of the garden for him to dig in.
They are ideal for truffle hunting for many reasons besides their fine sense of smell. They are not distracted from their work by the passage of a hare or other game. Compared to guard dogs or herding dogs, they have the advantage of not having any aggression towards their fellows. They do not mark their territory and are therefore not distracted by scent signals left by other dogs. The low propensity to bark is also very positive, as work must be carried out in silence, so as not to reveal to others the area in which one is searching.
He is a docile, undemanding dog, but does not like to be scolded and does not like too loud a tone of voice. He willingly plays as much as is required of him, but becomes calm when he realises it is time to be quiet.
Appearance of the Lagotto Romagnolo dog breed
The Lagotto Romagnolo is a small to medium-sized dog. Its height at withers ranges from 43 to 49 centimetres and its weight from 13 to 16 kilograms. Its build is muscular, but very well proportioned. It is a strong dog, very agile and athletic. The tail is of medium length and is usually carried high. All limbs are well aligned; the musculature is good, especially that of the hind limbs.
The head is almost square, of medium size, with a slightly rounded skull and a rather short muzzle. The ears are pendulous, in the shape of a triangle.
The main and most striking characteristic of the Lagotto Romagnolo is its coat. It is curly and woolly and gives it a very distinctive appearance. It has no undercoat, is water-repellent and can be of different colours, but in most cases has neutral natural tones. The colour is often off-white or brown in various shades. It is evenly distributed over the entire body surface, including the head.
Care and health of the Lagotto Romagnolo dog breed
The Lagotto Romagnolo is a dog that enjoys excellent health and is very long-lived. Its average life span is in fact 16-17 years. The diseases it may suffer from are hip dysplasia, epilepsy, cortical atrophy, autumnal alopecia (especially in females) and otitis. In well-selected bloodlines, these have little incidence.
As far as coat care is concerned, this requires regular brushing to prevent the formation of knots. It is advisable and recommended to shear it twice a year: if uncut, the Lagotto’s coat tends to become matted and knotted.
The Lagotto is an active dog and needs regular exercise to keep fit. And a balanced and nutritious diet to keep him healthy and strong.