About the breed
The Lagotto Romagnolo (water dog) is a very old breed dating back to Roman and medieval times. A picture of this dog can be seen in an Italian Fresco by Andrea Mantegna dating back to 1456. This small to medium breed was used for centuries as a water retrieving dog by the Valloroli in the Marshlands of Comacchio and Romagna in Italy. With their owners, the Lagotto were used to beat the hunting grounds of Ravenna diving for hours in to the water retrieving game. With the gradual reclamation of the Marshlands in this part of Italy the breed gradually lost its’ function as a waterdog and evolved as a truffle dog with its unbeatable sense of smell and it’s sharp aptitude for searching.
By the 1970s the breed was risking extinction and thanks to a small group of Lagotto enthusiasts this fantastic breed was saved. ‘ The Club Italiano Lagotto’ was finally formed in 1988.
Today the Lagotto is unique as it is the only pure bred dog in the world recognised as a specialised truffle searcher although they have certainly not lost their ability to retrieve on both land and water.
These dogs may look cute and cuddly and they are, but first and foremost they have had years of breeding to form functional working dogs and can be quite a demanding breed. They are small to medium size and are very clever with an abundance of energy (you can however get the odd couch potato). Agility, heel work to music and gundog work are just a few of the things they are well suited to. This is not I breed I would recommend for the first time dog owner. They are extremely clever and manipulative. They learn very quickly and you need to be continually one step ahead of them .They can learn bad habbits’ as quickly as they learn good ones! Like most dogs they like routine and consistency. The breed is late in maturing and because of its independence and quickness to learn they can make up their own mind about things which can be quite challenging for their owners.
If you are thinking about getting a Lagotto and have had no experience it is essential you attend dog training classes immediately to understand training and behavioural requirements of this breed. Consistency and calmness is extremely important when living with a Lagotto due to its sensitivity. Ongoing training is necessary with this breed and if not followed through problems will occur. They are very affectionate and loyal dogs.They can be reserved with strangers which is a trait of the breed but once known to them they won’t forget you and you will receive an extremely enthusiastic greeting. They can be quite vocal, and make good warning dogs. They are gentle and sensitive dogs as a breed and extremely loyal to their humans. If you are precious about your garden then this breed is perhaps not for you however if you would enjoy some help in the garden then they are ideal! Being truffle hunters they like to dig but they like to dig for anything! They love to swim and you will have your own personal water dowser. Unfortunately this can also include mud!
Lagotto come in different colours. Generally there is off white, orange, brown, brown roan and brown and white and sometimes with some tan colouring.
The Lagotto require clipping around 3-4 times a year coat if you require low maintenance. As they are a non-moulting breed the coat matts really close to the skin aka felting, so the clip can appear quite extreme. I clip my own dogs approximately once or twice a year as I regularly scissor which keeps the coat neat and tidy. The coat texture can vary from dog to dog and is not due to it colour.
Many puppy people are reluctant to clip the lovely fluffy coats off their babies but it really does improve the texture of the adult coat therefore making it easier to manage. Getting youngsters habituated to clipping early also makes for a dog content to be clipped rather than it being stressful for all! If you intend to use a professional groomer rather than DIY get recommendations, word of mouth and get the pup there at about 14weeks when everything should be fun!
Generally the Lagotto are a healthy and robust breed. If breeding from Lagotto eye testing and hip scoring is advisable. Although we seem fortunate to have only had one case in the UK, hereditary cataract is found in mainland Europe. BVA and JE testing is required before mating.
I have been grooming Lagotto for the show ring ever since I entered the dog show world in 2005. As well as grooming my own dogs for the past 15 years I also groom other Lagottos for individuals who show or who want to learn how to groom a Lagotto correctly. Having shown abroad I have had the opportunity to learn different methods of grooming from other successful European Lagotto breeders.
I hold grooming workshops for the Lagotto Romagnolo Association for people who want to know how to groom their own Lagottos or inform their own groomers on how best to trim and care for the Lagotto coat.
If you are interested in attending one of these workshops please contact the Lagotto Romagnolo Association club secretary to attend one of the workshops. If numbers permit workshops can be held in different locations throughout the UK.
Professional groomers are welcome.