5 Things to Know About the Lagotto Romagnolo

This is an active working dog who sheds little to no hair and can live 15 years or more.

1. Key Characteristics of a Lagotto Romagnolo

  • AKC Group: Sporting
  • Height: 16–19 inches
  • Weight: 24–35 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 15 years

The Lagotto Romagnolo is a small to medium-sized, muscular water retriever and truffle hunter with curly hair and a great disposition. The triangular ears have rounded tips, and the large, round eyes are dark yellow or brown depending on the coat color.

The waterproof double coat has thick, curly hair and hardly sheds. Many consider the breed to be hypoallergenic. Coat colors can include more than one color of brown, roan, off white, white or orange.

2. Where the Lagotto Romagnolo Came From

This ancient dog breed has depictions in literary history in books dating to 1591 and 1630, and some literary references to the breed date to the 1400s. The location of the breed was determined to be Romagna, Italy, based on evidence from 1600.

The breed was used as a water retrieval dog in the marshes of Romagna. The marshes were drained in the 1800s, and the Lagotto lost its main job.

The dogs were retrained to find truffles and became popular for the job. Almost all truffle hunters used the breed for this purpose between World War I and World War II. The breed is said to be the ancestor of all water dogs and several other breeds.

The American Kennel Club added the breed to its Foundation Stock Service in 2001, and the Lagotto was later reclassified into the Sporting Group.

Lagotto Romagnolo
These water retrieval dogs now hunt truffles. By: Alberto Ziveri (Top: Zlatko Nečevski)

The Lagotto was previously a water retrieval dog and is now used as a truffle hunter in Italy. This is the only purebred dog breed currently used for searching for the edible fungi in Italy.

They are excellent companion pets and may participate in conformation, rally, agility and tracking. They are also used as therapy dogs for people with autism or disabilities.

3. How Friendly Is a Lagotto Romagnolo?

These dogs are agile, adaptable and intelligent, making them easy to train even though they are naturally obedient. As working dogs, they have the desire to track and do enjoy digging — so beware flower beds!

These affectionate dogs can be reserved with strangers but are close to their family members. They may suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for too long.

Lagotto Romagnolos love spending time with children. They get along with dogs and other pets if properly socialized.

Lagotto Romagnolo
Lagotto Romagnolos are energetic and love to play. By: Bonzami Emmanuelle

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

High

HIGH: This energetic and active breed loves to play, spend time outdoors and swim. The dogs do best with active families so they can stay exercised and stimulated.

Working dogs with high energy drives and a desire to have a task to do can become defiant or destructive without sufficient exercise or when ignored. They need a job to do or some kind of brain stimulation. When they are working, these dogs are not easily distracted.

Daily walks are necessary, although extra play time and outdoor excursions are recommended. This breed can do well in apartments with an active family and adequate exercise.

Grooming Needs

Low

LOW: The Lagotto sheds little to no hair, which helps keep the coat low-maintenance. You’ll need to trim your Lagotto’s tight curls but won’t have to brush too often. These dogs can be combed occasionally to prevent matting. Periodic combing and bathing will maintain the coat.

If your Lagotto is being shown in dog shows, the hair should not be matted or brushed out but should show the natural, tight curls the breed is known for having.

Trim the hair on the ears, and pluck the hair inside the ear to prevent irritation and dirt and wax buildup. Regular maintenance also includes brushing the teeth and keeping the nails at a comfortable length.

Health Problems

Low

LOW: Relatively few problems that appear in this breed include:

This video shows several Lagotto dogs and puppies and explains more of their abilities:

5. Where to Adopt a Lagotto Romagnolo?

If you are looking for an active, affectionate dog who will be with your family for a long time, consider the Lagotto Romagnolo as your next pet.

Purebred dogs end up in adoptable situations, so check shelters and rescues first. Use our adoptable dog search to get started.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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