Lagotto Romagnolo's Italian name "Lagota" is derived from "lago," meaning a lake, while Romagnolo refers to the northern Italian district where he originated. This small scruffy, off-white, curly-coated dog that looks like a poodle has never been bred for his looks. All that matters with that dog is his ability to detect the hidden truffles and his willingness to forgo distractions in the form of any game animals that might cross his path. His task is not an easy one, for the truffles he seeks usually lie 12 inches below the surface.
Photo courtesy of Cry Out kennel
Today, there are several organizations which protect the breed: the Club Italiano Lagotto which now has 300 members all over the world, and the Worldwide Association of the Clubs of the Romagna water Dogs (Unione Mondiale dei Club Lagotto Romagnolo). In order to maintain the original working capacity of the Lagotto Romagnolo, the "Quintino Toschi" Italian Lagotto Club has, for some years now, organised truffle-finding (working) aptittude tests and trials throughout Italy to evaluate the dogs' natural search capability, concentration, stamina and capacity to receive and retain training. Truffles dogs are known to be active not only in Italy, but also in France, Spain, Norway and Sweden.
Lagotto Romagnolo Breed Outline
Other Names: Romagna Water Dog; Lagota or Lagotto Romagnolo (in Italy), Truffleur (in France); Wasserhund der Romagna (in Germany)
Country of Origin: Italy
Utilization: Truffle Dog
FCI Classification: Group 8 Retrievers, Flushing Dogs and Water Dogs; Section 3 - Water Dogs (without working trial); AKC Classification: FSS
Size: Small/Medium (16-19 inches at shoulders)
Colors and Coat: Off-white solid color, white with brown or orange patches, brown roan, brown solid color (in different shades), or orange solid color. A brown to dark brown mask is acceptable. The topcoat is rough, curly, of woolly texture. On the head, curls form well-furnished eyebrows, whiskers and beard. The topcoat and specially the undercoat are waterproof.
Litter Size: 4-6
Life Span: 11-12 years
Grooming Requirements: A complete clipping must be performed at least once a year. Felted topcoat and undercoat must be removed periodically. Lagotto is ready for his first clipping at 5 months of age. The development of the desirable curls can be greatly increased by frequent clipping in the first two years of a dog's life. Heads are not clipped. The Lagotto also needs regular bathing, particularly his beard, and he must also be allowed to dry naturally. The coat must never be combed or brushed while it is wet.
Personality: Intelligent, docile, alert, affectionate, athletic, serious worker, very attached to his owner and easy to train, good family companion and an excellent watchdog.
Social skills: Gets along well with other dogs and pets in the household.
Suitability for Children: Playful, cheerful, affectionate and very devoted to his family, the Lagotto is a wonderful companion for children.
Exercise Needs: Does best in homes where they can run free. As an alternative, long daily walks will keep them in good mental and physical condition.
Train Ability: Easy to train and have a true passion for work. They work closely with their handlers, and, despite being independent showing great initiative in the search, the dogs are always attentive to the handler's commands even when they are some distance away.
Health & Behavioral Issues: Hip dysplasia and hereditary eye diseases are very rare in this breed. Recently, there have been several cases of cerebellar anomaly (a diseases affecting cerebellum, a region of the brain that plays an important role in the integration of sensory perception and motor output).