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Breed Spotlight: Lagotto Romagnoli

Updated: Apr 22

The Lagotto Romagnolo is an increasingly popular breed originating in the marshlands of Italy. There are two popular theories about the naming of the breed, with the most prevalent stating that name is derived from the term “Lagottos” which is the name of the inhabitants of the local town of Lagosanto. The other theory asserts that it comes instead from "Romagnol can lagòt," which translated to "water dog." Its traditional function was as a gun dog, specifically a water retriever (similar to the Poodle). However, large portions of their native wetlands have been drained for development, so the breed has been repurposed and is now primarily used to hunt for truffles! This just goes to show the adaptability of our canine companions.


A solid white adult Lagotto

It has been known since the sixteenth century but did not become widespread until the nineteenth century. It was provisionally accepted by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1995 and received full acceptance in 2005. In 2018 there were a recorded 2,207 new registrations, according to an Italian kennel foundation. In 2015 it was officially recognized in the United States by the American Kennel Club.



The Lagotto is a small to medium breed, rarely over 20 inches tall at the withers (shoulders). When kept in their natural trim, they have a rustic but cute appearance, which can sometimes deceive an onlooker who may think they aren't also rugged and capable of intense sporting. The coat is thick, wool-like and tightly curled into ringlets, all of which protects it from the natural elements. It comes in a wide variety of arrangements consisting of white (technically off white) and orangish brown.


Off-white Lagotto puppy

It goes without saying that the Lagotto bears more than a passing resemblance to your average Doodle. It is worth noting that they are quite similar in other ways, too. In polling done of owners it was found that the Lagotto and the Goldendoodle scored similarly in almost all categories including trainability, general intelligence, playfulness, and watchdog ability. However, the Lagotto scored higher for guardian ability, sociability, and tended to be less sensitive than Goldendoodles.


Concerning health, when you get a well-bred Lagotto you are getting a purposeful lineage that has been guided by knowledgeable breeders who breed for structure and health and are therefore more likely to get a puppy who should experience long-term health. The primary health issues to face Lagottos are epilepsy, elbow dysplasia, and cataracts. In comparison, the primary issues to face doodles are cataracts, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, allergies (mainly allergies that impact the skin), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), Von Willebrand's Disease, bloat, Addison's Disease (a primary conern inherited from Poodles), Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS), hyperthyroism, hypothyroidism, patellar luxation, Sebaceous adenitis, Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), and cancer. The two in highlighted in blue are shared concerns for both doodles and Lagottos. Those highlighted in green are concerns only primary to the doodles and not the Lagotto.


The Lagotto is generally very healthy and usually lives for about fifteen years. Since they are not very common, almost all puppies you will find available are from ethical breeders. As far as finding them associated with backyard breeders or puppy mills, this breed is very low risk (unlike doodles).


The Lagotto puppy should be taught the boundaries of the home immediately upon coming home. They are extremely smart - they will find weaknesses in your training protocol if weaknesses exist. Consistency is key and giving them plenty of exercise greatly helps. Once they are fully vaccinated, consider taking them on hiking and camping trips. They are generally fantastic with travel, and they absolutely love outdoor activities with the family. They can also come in handy on hiking trips; a dog show acquaintance of mine who shows Lagottos gifted one to her daughter who took it hiking in the North Carolina mountains, the Lagotto saving her life from an advancing bear by not backing down and eventually chasing the bear off. You read that right, a 20-inch-tall dog that was only 10 months old at the time fended off an adult bear. Don't underestimate the Lagotto!



If you decide to look into acquiring your own little Lagotto, check out the AKC Marketplace link at the bottom of this post. Remember to ask if the parents have been health tested! Health testing of breeding dogs help prevent and/or eliminate health issues over time and increases your chances of getting a healthy puppy that stays that way.





Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Patella Evaluation

  • Hip Evaluation

  • Ophthalmologist Exam

  • Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy (BFJE) - DNA Test

  • Lagotto Storage Disease (LSD) - DNA Test


The above health tests are easy to verify. Any breeder who health tests will be eager to show you proof of health testing, usually by sending you a link to the parent's profiles on the OFA website. Any breeder who gets cagey about health testing or says they did the tests but didn't send them into OFA for certification is not on the up-and-up and should be avoided.



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