Lagotto Romagnolo means “lake dog from Romagna,” which is a good name for this breed, considering these dogs originally helped hunt waterfowl through the wet marshlands of Romagna in Italy.
They’re also known as Italian Water Dogs and Romagna Water Dogs. Today, with many of the marshlands of the breed’s homeland drained, these dogs have found a new purpose in truffle hunting. Humans can easily train them to use their super noses for scent work. Lagottos’ thick coats help them stay warm in fall and winter while protecting them from thorns and debris as they run through forests.
They’re the only dogs bred for the specific purpose of truffle hunting in modern times. Their keen sense of smell and natural tendency to dig make them experts at the task. Lagotto Romagnolos can also make loving, active, easy going household pets with few demands. Their hypoallergenic coats are good for allergy sufferers, though those coats require a good deal of maintenance. So, if you can keep up with grooming and brushing and you want a dedicated, easily-trained companion — or someone to help you hunt for delicious truffles — then this dog may fit right in with your family.
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like this one in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Sporting DogsHeight:14 to 19 inchesWeight:24 to 35 poundsLife Span:14 to 17 years
More About This Breed
When you first look at Lagotto Romagnolos, you’ll probably notice their beautiful, curly coats. Those water resistant coats served the purpose of keeping the Lagotto Romagnolo warm and protected while hunting waterfowl in the wet marshlands of Italy. Their coats are more like human hair than fur, and they come in a variety of colors that can either be solid or patchy with different-colored markings. They don’t shed much, which can be a blessing for allergy sufferers, but they do mat easily and can grow to cover the dogs’ eyes and ears. For these reasons, their coats require a good deal of maintenance. However, if you’re able to keep up with grooming demands, you’ll be rewarded with a loving family companion that can be easily trained to do scent work, obedience training, agility training, and more. The Lagotto Romagnolo is not a very demanding dog. They are usually happy when they get enough exercise and companionship and can even live in apartments if their needs are met; however, they will dig, bark, and engage in other unwanted behavior if they are cooped up for too long without physical and mental stimulation. They are good with children and other pets when they have been properly socialized. Although uncommon in the United States, the Lagotto Romagnolo is growing in popularity around the world. Even canine lovers with a low to moderate level of experience with dog ownership would likely find the Lagotto Romagnolo to be a suitable household pet, and they are known to be affectionate, dedicated, and eager-to please dogs that love their humans.
- The Lagotto Romagnolo is currently the only breed bred specifically for truffle hunting, even though they were originally bred as hunting companions.
- Scientists have studied the genes of Lagotto Romagnolos to better understand juvenile epilepsy and have applied this genetic research to the study of epilepsy in human children.
- Lagotto Romagnolos have a water resistant coat that not only helps them swim, but keeps them warm when searching for truffles in fall and early winter while protecting them from thorns and debris as they run through forests and fields.
- Although no breed is completely allergy-friendly, the Lagotto Romagnolo’s coat is considered to be hypoallergenic and rarely sheds. It does, however, require a good deal of grooming.
- Lagotto Romagnolos can make good watchdogs if they are trained to bark when it is appropriate to do so. Without training, they may end up barking too much.
- As a truffle hunting dog, the Lagotto Romagnolo is good at scent work, but they also have a natural tendency to dig. Some owners give these dogs sandboxes or dedicated digging areas to avoid unwanted behaviors around the home.
- The Lagotto Romagnolo was accepted into the sporting dog category by the American Kennel Club in 2015.
The history of the Lagotto Romagnolo goes back at least as far as the Renaissance in Italy, and probably goes even farther back than that. Dogs of this breed were originally bred as hunting companions to help retrieve waterfowl in the marshlands of Romagna. Their water resistant coats made them well-suited for diving into cold waters. However, towards the late 1800s, much of the marshlands in the region were drained, and these dogs may have been left without a job if it weren’t for the fact that their super noses made them excellent truffle hunters. Lagotto Romagnolos started to be re-purposed for this task, which they excel at to this day. They are the only breed in modern times that is specifically bred for the job of truffle hunting. By the 1970s, interest in the Lagotto Romagnolo breed waned a bit, and these dogs may have disappeared entirely if it weren’t for enthusiasts in the late 1980s who took interest in preserving the breed. Since then, interest in Lagotto Romagnolos has spread to countries around the world, and in July 2015, the Lagotto Romagnolo was accepted into the sporting dog category by the American Kennel Club. Lagotto Romagnolos are still used to hunt truffles, but they are also valued as loyal family companions, and their hypoallergenic coats may put them in higher demand among allergy sufferers.
Male Lagotto Romagnolos are larger on average than females. Males tend to be 17 to 19 inches in height and weigh 28 to 35 pounds. Females are usually 14 to 18 inches in height and weigh 24 to 32 pounds. Individuals of the breed may be smaller or larger.
Lagotto Romagnolos were originally bred as hunting companions, and they haven’t lost their ability to retrieve, even if it means jumping joyfully into bodies of water to do so. Many Lagotto Romagnolos naturally take to the water, and even if you don’t plan to hunt, they’ll still enjoy chasing down a toy in a good game of fetch. With their high energy levels and active spirits, they’ll certainly appreciate the physical and mental stimulation. It is important that Lagotto Romagnolos get proper exercise or, like many dogs, they may get bored and create their own fun by digging and chewing things they shouldn’t. They have sharp senses, especially when it comes to using their noses to sniff things out. That is why they are bred as truffle hunting dogs today. They are easily trained for nose work, though they can also perform well in other tasks such as agility and obedience training. When it comes to being a family pet, the Lagotto Romagnolo is an affectionate and laid-back dog, so long as exercise is provided in the form of at least one good, long walk per day, and preferably a game of fetch. So long as those needs are met, Lagotto Romagnolos are generally content, even when living in an apartment setting. Most of the maintenance required for a Lagotto Romagnolo will come from taking care of their coat, which needs plenty of grooming. They are loving dogs that are dedicated to their families, even children and other pets, though they do tend to bark at strangers who enter their territory. This can make them good watchdogs, but it is important to redirect and control barking instincts so they know when it is appropriate to do so, otherwise they may bark more frequently than you–or your neighbors–would like. Lagotto Romagnolos need companionship, so it is important not to leave them home alone for too long, and no dog should ever be left outside for the majority of the time. Without human companionship, you can expect to see plenty of unwanted behaviors, as you would with any breed. Overall, the Lagotto Romagnolo is an easy-going yet active dog that is a good choice for families with at least a moderate level of previous experience in dog ownership. Socialization training should begin as early as possible to make sure that they are well-behaved around new people and pets that they may meet.
The Lagotto Romagnolo is a generally healthy breed, though there are a few conditions that they are predisposed to. Breeders tend to test for these issues and avoid breeding animals that are able to pass the condition to their puppies, but it is always important to look out for health complications and maintain regular vet visits to stay vigilant. Some of the health issues that Lagotto Romagnolos face include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, storage disease, juvenile epilepsy, cerebral ataxia, and neuroaxonal dystrophy.
Lagotto Romagnolos’ teeth should be brushed regularly as recommended by a veterinarian. Their ears and paw pads should be checked for signs of infection, parasites, or debris and kept clean. It is especially important to check their ears at least weekly, as their curly hair can grow in and around their ears and provide a haven for debris and parasites. You may need to trim or pluck this hair to keep the ears clean. Keep up with regular vet visits to maintain good health for your Lagotto Romagnolo.
A Lagotto Romagnolo dog diet should be formulated for a small-to-mid-sized breed with average-to-high energy and exercise needs. You should consult your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your individual Lagotto Romagnolo and the correct portion sizes. Their dietary needs will change as they grow from puppyhood to adulthood and senior age. Stay on top of these nutritional requirements.
Coat Color And Grooming
Lagotto Romagnolos have double coats that are water resistant and are made up of hair, rather than fur. This means that their hair grows more slowly, doesn’t shed as much, and tends to hold dander and allergens to the body, rather than dispersing them into the environment. For this reason, Lagotto Romagnolos are often referred to as a hypoallergenic breed. This trait comes at a price, though, as their coats tend to mat more easily. Hair can grow thick around the eyes and ears making it difficult for Lagotto Romagnolos to see when they are not groomed, and they can develop infections or trap debris in the ears. Lagotto Romagnolos must be brushed and groomed very regularly to avoid these problems. It is recommended that the length of the coat be kept to 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches. Grooming needs are higher than average for this breed.
All of that said, the coats of Lagotto Romagnolos are beautiful and come in many colors. They can be cream, brown, orange, or golden, and they can either be solid-colored or have patches and markings of any of these colors in combination. They may also have a brown “mask” marking around the face.
Children And Other Pets
Lagotto Romagnolos are capable of living peacefully with children and other pets so long as they are well-socialized, preferably from a young age. As with dogs of any breed, children should always be supervised during play, and they should be educated on how to properly and gently handle animals. Lagotto Romagnolos are generally playful and have high exercise needs, but it is important to make sure they don’t play with too much excitement or they may risk knocking very small children over. When it comes to other pets, the Lagotto Romagnolo has a somewhat active prey drive, so they may be tempted to chase very small animals. However, socialization training will curb these tendencies, and Lagotto Romagnolos do not tend to have problems when it comes to adapting to multi-pet households.
The Lagotto Romagnolo Club of America is a non-profit group that will rescue and re-home Lagotto Romagnolos when they can, though the breed is still relatively uncommon in the United States, so it is rare for them to have dogs available. As the breed grows in popularity, you may see Lagotto Romagnolos in shelters more often, but for now, they may be hard to come by. Don’t give up if you believe the Lagotto Romagnolo is the perfect dog for you. You can also check out our adoption page to search for available dogs near you.