The Lagotto Romagnolo is a rare European breed originating from Romagna, Italy sometime between the late 1500s and early 1600s. Originally a water-retrieving dog for almost 3000 years, as the marshes were drained and reclaimed for farming, a decrease in the work opportunities for water-retrieving and hunting dogs like the Lagotto, eventually caused it to become more specialized as a truffle hunting dog. In fact, the Lagotto breed became the breed used by almost all truffle hunters. This Italian water dog's sharp eyesight and excellent tracking and searching abilities were refined during breeding over the last 100 years so that they are used exclusively for truffle searching now. Truffles are the fruiting part of an underground mushroom, highly prized by gourmet chefs.
The Lagotto Romagnolo dog is a well-proportioned, stocky breed, with a light but sturdy build. The most distinct feature of this small to medium-sized breed is its thick, curly coat, which comes in shades of off-white, white or brown. Some Lagotto may also have brown or orange patches in their coloring, or white markings that will fade as the dog ages. Males generally range in height from 17 – 19 inches, weighing approximately 24-32 pounds. Females are not much smaller, at a height of 16 – 18 inches, weighing in the same range as males.
The large round eyes of the Lagotto can range from dark yellow to dark brown. Lagotto Romagnolo have an exceptionally keen eyesight, highly sensitive to motion rather than detail. Their ears are somewhat triangular in shape, slightly rounded on the top. Their expressive, delightful faces are also covered in curly fur like the rest of their body, making their appearance quite appealing.
This breed is very loving and loyal and makes an excellent family pet. Lagottos are easily trained and if socialized very early, are comfortable with other household pets and children. Lagottos enjoy exercise and outdoor activities; however, their high intelligence makes it equally important to keep them mentally stimulated as well to keep them from being bored. Because this breed is a natural hunter, they absolutely love seeking games and you will be surprised at how good they are at retrieving items you have hidden.
Lagottos are lively, affectionate and very enthusiastic, quickly forming a close bond with their owner and family. Their attentive personality has also earned them the reputation of being known as a good warning or companion dog. This agile breed loves to go for walks with their owner. Initially shy and sometimes a bit reserved as a puppy, once mature, Lagottos are comfortable with friends and not afraid of strangers.
Because of their natural instinct as a water-retrieving breed, most Lagotto are excellent swimmers, although some will only paddle around briefly. Eager to retrieve from lakes, streams and other bodies of water without hesitation, many owners find comfort in their aquatic abilities, especially those who love outdoor activities and spend lots of time near the water.
Because Lagotto Romagnolo are truffles hunters, owners will have to teach them not to dig in yards. Some owners even provide a sandbox or train their dog to dig in designated places, to allow them to satisfy their natural digging urges.
An extremely healthy and sturdy breed, Lagottos live for approximately 16 years with proper diet, exercise and steadfast attention to vaccinations, worming and regular checkups. Unfortunately, owners of exceptionally healthy breeds tend to be more relaxed about preventive measures. Two known health issues are hip dysplasia (abnormal formation of the hip socket which may cause crippling late in life or arthritis of the hip joint), and Benign Juvenile Epilepsy (seizures beginning in puppies at 5 to 9 weeks which usually disappear between 8 to 13 weeks).
Considered to be a hypoallergenic breed (no breed is truly hypoallergenic) because it hardly sheds any hair at all, this is a good choice for someone who is sensitive to dander or suffers mildly from allergies or at least exhibits some allergy-like symptoms. There are conflicting ideas on just what the proper grooming technique should be with the Lagotto Romagnolo. Some believe it is best to let the coat grow naturally, retaining its fluffiness and fullness, while others believe its best to get the coat trimmed short annually, and combed regularly to prevent it from matting and tearing. A compromise on both methods is to keep the coat slightly trimmed to a length of approximately 1-1/2 inches over the main body and a little bit longer on the head area. If the ears show irritation and wax buildup, keep the canal clean and empty. Keep the hair around the eyes clipped periodically to ensure their vision is not inhibited.
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