The Lagotto Romagnolo, Italy’s adorable ‘truffle dog,’ sports a curly coat and lavish facial furnishings. Despite their plush-toy looks, Lagotti are durable workers of excellent nose who root out truffles, a dainty and pricey delicacy.
Italians have a word for it: Carino. In English, we say ‘cute.’ In any language, this breed is totally endearing. The Lagotto Romagnolo (plural: Lagotti Romagnoli) is known for wooly curls that cover the body head to tail, crowned by a lavish beard, eyebrows, and whiskers. Lagotti stands under 20 inches and weighs no more than 35 pounds. But don’t be fooled by their teddy-bear looks these are rugged workers of true strength and endurance. The breed’s trademark curls feel and behave more like human hair than fur.
Lagotti goes back to at least Renaissance Italy, where they were bred as waterfowl retrievers working the marshlands of Ravenna. (“Lago” is Italian for “lake.”) For many years, though, Lagotti, blessed with an exceptional nose, has been used in the Italian countryside to sniff out truffles, a tasty and expensive delicacy. Though many breeds can be trained on truffles, the Lagatto is generally considered the world’s finest truffle dog.
Temperament: Keen / Affectionate / Undemanding
Height: 17-19 inches
Weight: 28-35 pounds
Life expectancy: 15-17 years
The breed is generally very healthy, and a responsible breeder screens breeding stock for health conditions such as juvenile epilepsy, storage disease, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia. DNA testing aids breeding decisions aimed at avoiding the occurrence of disease.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy DNA Test
- Lagotto Storage Disease DNA Test
The Lagotto’s rough-looking, waterproof coat forms thick, tight curls that cover the entire body except for the head. They have a double coat of hair rather than fur and shed only minimally, although they may leave little tufts of hair once in a while. The coat needs to be trimmed on a regular basis. Some Lagotto coats mat more than others, and it is important to groom regularly to prevent this. The ears should be checked weekly for the buildup of wax or debris, or any signs of infection.
Lagottos are alert, intelligent, and lively. They love to learn and please their owners and excel in canine events such as agility and obedience, as well as other pursuits like dock diving (they naturally love water). With their excellent nose, they are perfect candidates for scent work, search-and-rescue, and detection of medical conditions. Early socialization and training are vital and help to ensure that the Lagotto grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion.
As with most sporting breeds, the Lagotto requires an active, engaged lifestyle to keep him happy. They are not hyper and do not require a great amount of exercise, but they do need both mental stimulation and physical activity. While a Lagotto will enjoy and benefit from time outside, the breed will not do well if left to live outdoors without family interaction. The Lagotto needs to spend time with his family in order to be well adjusted and content.
The Lagotto should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.