Lagotto Romagnolo – The Italian water dog

Dogs Human Classroom

The Lagotto Romagnolo dog breed may well be a pet that has been known for many years but it remains as an uncommon companion breed, not because it has a bad reputation, rather they are seen as a very good option for those people who are going for their first dog since they have few requirements in terms of the hair care which turns out to be a hypoallergenic coat thanks to the fact that they don’t usually shed hair, also they are intelligent, easy to train to the point that they are also used as a therapy dog. They usually get along well with children and other pets but they tend to be reserved with strangers despite being very affectionate with the other members of their family, so an early interaction with everything within your reach will help you not have problems in the future because of their shy attitude with everything new or strange to your pet. 

Part of the aspects that you should be careful about is their very active personality so they will need both time and space to drain so much of their accumulated energies. They also tend to suffer from separation anxiety so you must manage the time you will be away or the time your Lagotto Romagnolo will spend alone at home in case no one can keep an eye on him, as well as understand that even though they are very active and will enjoy some time outside the house, they are a breed meant to be alongside his family, in other words, you must treat them as an inside dog breed allowing him to sleep inside the house, you must not leave them out and deny them the time together with what will be their new family. No breed is perfect but that is what makes each dog special, it is the task of their owners to ensure that the pet of their choice is the one that best suits their lifestyle, of course, there will be breeds that can adapt well to almost all living environments but sadly, the vast majority of dogs that end up in shelters is because people don’t respect the nature and abilities of their pets so they solve these type of situations in the simplest way that is to leave them aside. If you are thinking of acquiring this wonderful curly-haired companion, let me teach you what you need to know so that you can make this important decision by choosing one of the hardworking breeds that love to help humans.


 According to the data, this breed has been known since the 1400s where its origin is said to be in Romagna, in the Northeast of Italy, is one of the water dog breeds known for so many years, and its name, Lagotto is translated as “Duck dog”. Thanks to his very athletic body, muscular and water-resistant coat, they were used as water retrievers, but this activity was lost for a long time when the places where they worked with much enthusiasm in the swampy regions of Romagna dried up, leaving them, so to speak, without work, until later they developed such a keen sense of smell, hunting, and tracking that led them to become masters in truffle hunting, which they achieved thanks to several people who devoted themselves to maintain the breed in some way, although their purpose seemed to be lost.

It is believed that the origin of this Italian dog is where water retriever dogs and even other breeds come from, despite being a dog of small to medium height, it has the same characters and skills as a Golden Retriever or a Labrador Retriever, which besides having these qualities, it stands out for his keen sense to track scent’s and for its very peculiar coat. As the years have gone by, this breed has been gaining some popularity thanks to its adaptability, dedication, and devotion to its work, and such a quiet personality, becoming recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) around 5 years ago. 


Curly hair with a double coat where the lower one is soft and works as a protection from water while it remains woolly, soft, and its wavy look, although the owners usually have problems combing it because it is so messy. Its hair can be brown, red, off white, white, or orange. Triangular ears and somewhat long, round dark-colored eyes between a yellow or brown tone, which varies depending on the color of the coat. They reach 15 to 20 inches both male and female and can weigh between 24 and 35 pounds. Their average lifespan is between 15 and 17 years so training at an early age will be good for all the time they will be with you and the rest of your family. 

Dog parks are one of the best options you will have to be able to take your Lagotto to socialize and work on his shyness, rewarding it as long as it does everything you have to teach it to carry out this socialization process by getting to know so many new things together, the ride in the car along with all the sounds that go with it, especially the traffic, the presence of other pets of different sizes as well as people, will help you to work this mental part of him and then take him to any competition that thanks to the great repertoire that the Lagotto Romagnolo has to offer you with its anatomy and conformation so athletic, and innate intelligence will allow you to have more than one activity to share with him and take him to places where you can show off your extraordinary and complete dog, especially in the water, there is nothing to envy to other work pets like Labradors even though they are more popular or are also part of search and rescue like the Saint Bernard that in addition to having a large size as a difference with the Lagotto, they tend to drool and shed hair in quantity. A well-behaved dog that doesn’t shed its hair and when handled properly, you will get one of the best breeds you have available in the market without anything to envy other breeds because despite its negative sides it is still a well-rounded pet.


They are excellent working dogs thanks to their intelligence and their obedient nature that makes them so practical for many things where they can give a paw (hand) to their owners, the best thing will be to exploit this feature and make the most of their sense of smell by mixing some games that stimulate their mind since their athletic body in shape isn’t the only thing you must train, you must give him something to work with to his brain as you would do with a child to keep him agile in all aspects, to satisfy all his needs and you can have a dog that besides being healthy will be more than happy. Some people take advantage of their hunting skills for other purposes such as search and rescue or you can also use them for some contests or competitions such as rally, tracking, obedience, among others. 

Luckily for you, by being a working dog they will maintain good body shape and weight, and they are not as demanding as other similar working breeds which is part of the reason for their increase in popularity. Take advantage of the water so that it can drain its energies since this element is where this truffle dog blends in, being part of the work of its ancestors, although later you can regret it as it may turn to be a little problematic to take it out of these places when it fascinates them to be inside the water. Something you should be careful of is that along with his great sense of smell comes a need to dig that could well bring you problems at some point if you don’t get to control this at an early stage, being the moment you get your Lagotto Romagnolo puppy to train him from day one and he can get used to your lifestyle as well as everything you want to teach him. It could be helpful in these cases to provide him with a sandpit so that you can implement it together with some games that stimulate his mind in addition to smells or scents to work his nose in the same way. 

Some owners have come to say that they can be a bit vocal and very alert, another aspect that you will have to touch up while they are still young, that besides these personality aspects they tend to be a bit shy with strangers and it could well be one of the reasons why they can start making a fuss by barking every time someone they don’t trust approaches or makes them uncomfortable, so adding early socialization to the whole training topic will be one more task to add to the list. Remember to always keep a firm hand, not a hard one, during this stage of your dog’s life, positive reinforcement is something you should always apply with any pet you may have and thus help prevent any prejudice some people may take about this breed, as well as you will be doing the veterinarian a favor by getting involved in this type of activities so that your little Lagotto feels comfortable during his visits and check-ups so that they are not a traumatic experience throughout his life and can make the job easier for both the doctor and the rest of the clinic’s staff. 

Following this idea, you must be able to give him all the time to socialize with his family to create a better bond between everyone in the house. This is something you can’t avoid since it’s in his genes, it’s his nature. If your family has the habit of going out frequently to do certain activities, make sure you take your Lagotto with you so that it can create new memories and maintain that unique and special bond that can exist between an owner and their dog. Even if you live in a small apartment, that’s no reason to limit yourself and assume that you won’t be able to do everything this pet will demand of you. 

This is something you should always bear in mind, because with the Lagotto Romagnolo if you don’t comply with these aspects, however small and vague they may seem, your pet may become disobedient, destructive, or even aggressive, regardless of what you may read or have been told about this truffle hunter. If you don’t treat it as you should, you will not experience the true temperament and quality of a dog that the Lagotto Romagnolo breed can be. Remember that as a puppy he is just like a baby, where everything you present to him will be something new, and even though they are so well known and named for their relaxed and affectionate personality it may change because of their shyness or fear of everything they don’t know or may take as dangerous. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with any tips that can help you work on these types of things regarding the management of your new pet, but always look for people that you can trust since some might take advantage of your needs. 


The Lagotto dog is usually seen as a very healthy and long-lived breed, but this doesn’t exclude them from certain pathologies, especially an inherited disease that you can well control or be aware of, like hip dysplasia, thanks to a reputable breeder or one you can trust that can help you with this type of aspect on your new curly pet.

Another pathology you should be aware of is the Benign familial juvenile epilepsy (BFJE), part of the reason why a reputable breeder is so recommended and mentioned in these types of articles in general because thanks to their care and dedication to their pets or pack you will have information at hand and confident about this and other possible diseases that may affect your Lagotto puppy. Lagotto storage disease (LSD) is a specific disease of this breed, which is neurodegenerative and is considered to be a fulminating pathology. To detect any of these diseases in time, it’s important and valuable to spend as much time as possible with your Lagotto dog, so that you can learn all the skills and habits of your furry pet so that as soon as there is even the slightest change on his behavior, you can discuss it at your next visit to the vet and rule out any of these or other conditions that could affect your new companion’s health. There are some diseases that you can avoid by providing the best dog food on the market that’s recommended from his vet as well as the quantity to avoid any overweight or diabetic complication. 

As for its curly coat, the Lagotto sheds almost no hair, you could say nothing really, but you’ll still need to cut its hair from time to time, as long as it’s kept in a good condition that won’t cause any skin problems, besides bathing him from time to time and brushing him to reduce the risk of his hair becoming matted, tangled and uncomfortable for him, so his little shedding of hair doesn’t mean that you avoid the cares concerning his coat, which is considered as hypoallergenic, something that gives another plus to this wonderful dog breed in case the are some family members that might be sensitive to these type of things. Part of the regular maintenance takes also the cleaning of his ears, cutting off his nails, and oral hygiene to prevent any dental disease. As for the ears, they usually have more hair than other dog breeds and this is because it helps them avoid problems while they are in the water but they can grow in an uncontrolled way and can bring them some problems or discomfort in the future. 


With his quiet personality and total dedication to his owners and loved ones for his devotion and affection is part of the reasons that make the Lagotto an all-around working breed. The exercise needs of the Lagotto Romagnolo breed may be one of the most mentioned things but it’s not something they will require in excess, just like everything else but if you must assure him of good handling and adequate teachers who know how to guide the both of you along the way, he will enjoy it so much since it brings together several of the things this dog breed loves so much. His beautiful and peculiar curly hair works for more than just protection against water, it also helps them in cold environments to keep them warm and also to be able to adapt in warm environments as they don’t have such long but soft hair which is another plus to his beautiful appearance. 

This is a breed that has many things to offer to its family as long as they understand it and give it good care along with their daily doses of love that all pets appreciate. Remember to work and cover as much as possible of their social aspect with the help and authorization of your vet doctor as there will be activities that your Lagotto Romagnolo puppy will not be ready for or will be a potential risk. The popularity of this breed will surely continue to increase thanks to all it has to offer and its appearance that makes anyone fall in love. As well as being playful and energetic, he is a dog that keeps his wits about him so you can be sure he will be a good guardian in the same way. 

I hope this article about the Lagotto Romagnolo breed has been useful to you and helps you in the acquisition of your new dog to add to your family. If you think I left something out or if you have any questions please let me know in the comment section below.

Professor Whiskers
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