AKC group: Sporting
UKC group: Gun Dog
Average lifespan: 14 to 16 years
Average size: 24 to 35 pounds
Coat appearance: Long and Water-Repellent
Coloration: Solid colors including: off-white, golden or brown
Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles, houses with yards, farms and rural areas
Temperament: Loyal, loving, active, eager to please
It’s thought the Lagotto Romagnolo has been around for centuries having been bred in Italy as a water dog and retriever. The breed has been well-documented throughout history with paintings depicting similar looking, handsome dogs dating as far back as the 1400’s. As such, the Lagotto is considered to be one of the most ancient breeds with many other more recent water dog breeds being descendants of the Lagotto.
The origins of the breed can be narrowed down to the lowlands and marshlands of Comacchio and Ravenna where they were highly prized retrievers and gundogs throughout the ages. Today, the Lagotto remains popular in their native Italy both as working dogs and family pets thanks to their charming looks and loyal, affectionate natures.
The Lagotto Romagnolo was recognised as a breed in its own right by the Italian Kennel Club in 1991 and their popularity elsewhere in the world has led to more breeders producing good examples of the Lagotto in many countries which includes here in the UK. However, very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year which means that anyone who wants to share their home with a Lagotto would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list.
Althougth the Lagotto is first and foremost a working dog, they do make wonderful family pets as long as they are given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them busy and happy both physically and mentally. They are known to be exceptionally good natured around children and love nothing more than to be part of a family.
They are best suited to people who lead active, outdoor lives and who would like to have an energetic, intelligent canine companion at their side. They are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be handled and trained by people who are familiar with this type of dog’s specific needs. The Lagotto does boast having quite a high prey drive having extremely good hearing as well as a very keen sense of smell. They can also spot their prey in the distance which means that when they are being trained, particular attention has to be paid to the “recall” command right from the word go.
They love being in and around water which means care has to be taken as to where and when they are allowed to run off their leads just in case a dog decides to jump in any of the more dangerous water courses. They also love to dig which can become a problem if dogs are allowed to roam around a garden which often sees a Lagotto happily digging up flower beds and lawns.
Lagottos form very strong bonds with their owners and as such they like to be with them and are never happy when left to their own devices for any length of time which could see a dog developing some unwanted and destructive behaviours as a way of relieving their stress. They often suffer separation anxiety when they are left alone for long periods of time.
Lagottos are a generally healthy breed and do not suffer from any major hereditary health issues. Some breeding lines are known to have problems with hip dysplasia and epilepsy.
As with any other breed, Lagottos need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Thanks to its small size, the Lagotto would do fine in an apartment if properly exercised. Where you live doesn’t matter, as long as you can walk the dog and keep it active, at least 3-4 times a day. If you do have a yard, and like your flowers…well, then you have to fence in your flowers. In the Lagotto’s nature lies a desire to dig. It loves to dig big holes and then stick its head in the hole. These dogs can dig a big hole in matter of seconds!
The Lagotto is an intelligent dog and one that thrives on being around people loving nothing more than to please. As such, in the right hands and environment, they are easy to train and thoroughly enjoy the one-to-one attention they are given during a training session.
It’s important to teach puppies the “basics” as soon as they arrive home and to start their training in earnest once they have had all their jabs. Socialising puppies early in their lives helps them grow up to be more outgoing, confident characters and enrolling them into puppy classes is the best way to get their training off to a good start in a safe and controlled environment.
The key to successfully training a Lagotto is to make their training sessions as interesting and as diverse as possible and to indulge their natural retrieving instincts rather than to try and curb them. Younger dogs find it hard to stay focussed if there is too much repetition in a training session and the same can be said if the session lasts for too long. As such, shorter more interesting training sessions are much better than longer and more repetitive ones.
Lagottos are born to work hard and require rigorous, daily exercise. They make excellent hiking and jogging partners. Lagottos also love to swim and often take to the water naturally given the opportunity. It is also important to remember that as a working breed, Lagottos require a “meaningful” and mentally stimulating task that they can engage in each day to live happy and fulfilled lives. This can be something as simple as a game of fetch or a session of hide and seek.
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 to a naturally fluffy coat. The lagotti coat gets matted easily, and the mats should be carefully pulled apart without tearing the coat. It is recommended that the coat be cut down at least once every year.
If the coat is kept trimmed to approximately 1.5 inches all over the body and slightly longer on the head, it will be easier to maintain. Hair on the ears should be trimmed around the edges to the leather. If the ears show irritation or buildup of dirt and earwax, the hairs from the ear canal should be gently plucked out regularly. Some coats matt more easily than others. If left untended, Lagotti hair will grow to cover the eyes, meaning the hair around their eyes should be clipped periodically to ensure that they can see.
Children and Other Pets
The Lagotto Romagnolo forms very strong bonds with their families and this includes the children in a household. They thrive in a family environment and thoroughly enjoy being involved in everything that goes on around them. They are very gentle and good natured around children although any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not end up getting too boisterous.
When well socialised from a young enough age, the Lagotto generally gets on with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in the home, they usually get on well together. However, if a Lagotto meets any other cats, they would think nothing of chasing them off. As with other breeds, it’s best to be careful when they are around smaller animals and pets just to be on the safe side.
Is the Lagotto Romagnolo the Right Breed for you?
High Maintenance: Grooming should be performed often to keep the dog’s coat in good shape. Occasional trimming or stripping needed.
Minimal Shedding: Recommended for owners who do not want to deal with hair in their cars and homes.
Easy Training: The Lagotto Romagnolo is known to listen to commands and obey its owner. Expect fewer repetitions when training this breed.
Very Active: It will need daily exercise to maintain its shape. Committed and active owners will enjoy performing fitness activities with this breed.
Good with Kids: This is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful, energetic, and affectionate around them.
Did You Know?
True to his truffle-hunting heritage, the Lagotto loves to dig. Be prepared to have him “help” you with your landscaping efforts.