The Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo

This curly haired Italian water dog was officially recognized as a separate breed with the name Lagotto Romagnolo only at the FCI meeting in 1995. Similar dogs with curly coats, however, have appeared as a motif in painting dating as far back as 15th century. There have been attempts to trace this breed, which seems to have avoided mixing with any other breeds for centuries, all the way back to the Peat Dog, but such efforts have yielded no confirmed results. These dogs originally served as retrievers, but have been recently trained to work as truffle finders. Having a thick coat, they are perfect for this job as they can manage in a humid and thorny environment.

Characteristics of the Lagotto point to its similarity to the Poodle. There are some writings found that say that the Poodle was better at finding truffles than any other breed of dog. In Italy, Spain, France, and certain areas of Germany (Thuringia, Baden, and Hanover), the Poodle was used for finding truffles in the fall and during mild winters. Also there are some records of purebred Poodles being bred at the main ranger station in Lödderitz on the Elbe that were used only for truffle hunting, though these were small in size. Even back then, the same training method was used with Lagottos as is today.

They start their training quite early. When they are only three months old, these dogs are introduced to scent of truffle for the first time. Bits of truffle wrapped in cloth stimulate their locating abilities and they learn very quickly to find them. After they locate the truffle successfully, there are rewarded with a piece of bread and a praising. This way, searching for truffles becomes an enjoyable experience for them. They are also taught only to point to the place where they locate truffles, and are not to eat their findings under any circumstances. Breeders are also now working to minimize the dog’s hunting instincts, as this helps the dogs to concentrate on their work in the woods without being distracted.

The Lagotto comes in all the warm colors such as brown, orange, or cream, and may be solid or speckled, though a brown mask is also allowed. Black, solid white, or grey are undesirable. This dog’s coat tends to mat, which is why it should be completely clipped down at least once a year. As the coat is water-repellant, it would be no difficulty for the dog to enter cold water.

Its size varies from 43 to 48cm, with a weight of 11 to 16kg. Its undocked tail is not to be carried curled over the back.