The Lagotto Romagnolo (literally "Lake dog" from Romagna) has a fascinating history as an all around working dog. Those close to the breed suggest that the original "lagotto" was an all purpose dog used for a variety of tasks by their owners. These "Lagotto"  could be a variety of colors, and were found all over Italy. They were everything from gentleman's hunting dogs to all around farm helpers, and most probably were derived from the same source as the other European water dogs: the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Barbet (French Water Dog) or the German Pudel.  It has been suggested that the modern "lagotto romagnolo" is a very specific branch developed in the Romagna region of Italy after the area had been drained of the swamps and these dogs were trained in particular to "hunt" truffles. These dogs fit a more specific set of physical characteristics and excluded the color black (not even a black nose is allowed in the breed's standard). From an American point of view these modern lagotto romagnolo played a similar role in their family's economics to our US ranch bred border collies. The family's income was heavily influenced by the dogs' ability to find the valuable truffles hiding in the forested hills. Further, the true truffle hunting dog will not "bring up" a truffle that is not ripe (and thereby spoiling it), they are energetic, tractable and determined!


Everything we read about the Lagotto Romagnolo made us think that these dogs would be ideal for the kind of dog activities that we enjoy. They are smart, athletic, biddable and a little naughty! And if you find tracking or nosework or scent articles fun activities you will be OVER JOYED at their abilities. Adrienne had just begun tracking in earnest (after several false starts with the rottweilers) when Terzo joined our family. Though the rottweilers had always been well above average in their scenting ability and their work on scent articles in Utility, it was astounding to see the lagotto were in a league all their own in terms of scenting....and yet, they were more trainable and seemed to "share" the activity than say, a hound would be. For instance, when Terzo is heeling he does not offer to scent the ground, when he is asked to search and scent he does. On his second ever training track, Terzo clearly indicated the article left on the track.....as opposed to the water bottle that the wind had blown right up against it! He passed his AKC TD (Tracking Dog) test on his very first attempt, despite some very strong cross tracks of some kind of critter nearby, that clearly he found rather alarming (Good boy, T!)

Other natural abilities that you might enjoy taking advantage of include anything to do with water! It is the rare lagotto that does not find water like a second home! Terzo loves to paddle around in any body of water deep enough to swim in. And Jetta? Yikes, she loves to DIVE! Those original all purpose dogs were said to have the ability to swim by the duck hunter's boat all day, so if you bring one into your family you should be prepared for an active dog that will enjoy a lot of physical activity (perhaps more than the average person), they do enjoy the mental stimulation of training, and without either of these can be come the most manipulative member of your family. Like the cleverest of childern, Lagotto require gentle handling, strict schedules, firm rules, and lavish rewards. The do seem to be able to channel the "excess energy" at about the time they reach puberty. Some may become very good "cuddle bugs," but I wouldn't say that is the primary way I think of them. One phrase to sum mine up would be "always on the lookout for active engagement with you."




Our first weekend out in the AKC Miscellaneous Class, January 2013. We had an entry of 15 Lagotto Romagnolo at the Kennel Club of Palm Springs shows. Owners came from Arizona, California, Missouri, New Mexico and Alaska for this historic event!

 (L-R Kate Wall-Ganz, Roberta York, Lisa Sobon, Jacki Barbieri, Elizabeth Williams, Adrienne Perry and Robin Morehouse)