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Lagotto Romagnolo: Dog Breed Info, Pictures & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Lagotto Romagnolo

Height: 16–19 inches
Weight: 24–35 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Colors: Brown, brown roan, off-white, orange, white and brown, white and orange
Suitable for: Active families, those looking for a low-shedding dog
Temperament: Loving, intelligent, easy to train, friendly, gets along with other pets

When it comes to popularity, retriever breeds are hard to beat. It is not hard to see why people love these dogs; they are athletic, healthy, useful, loyal, and incredibly loving. These characteristics are what make them such fantastic house pets.

However, there is a lesser-known retriever breed that is just as fantastic, the Lagotto Romagnolo. The Lagotto Romagnolo is believed to be the oldest of all European breeds and has all the traits you would want in a family companion. Here is everything you need to know about this breed.

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Lagotto Romagnolo Puppies

puppies of the lagotto romagnolo breed
Image By: Golland, Shutterstock

When you’re looking for a Lagotto, make sure that a breeder is authentic before purchasing puppies from them. This is the only way of ensuring that what you get is a genuine Lagotto pup. Finding a good breeder, therefore, is a task you cannot take lightly. In addition to matching you with an authentic Lagotto Romagnolo puppy, a good breeder will provide you with health certificates showing that they have done their best to breed out as many health defects as possible.

One way of telling whether a breeder is genuine is their openness to answer queries. Good breeders welcome any type of question that you might have regarding a dog. Additionally, they will come back to you with their own questions to determine whether the breed in question is appropriate for you.

To avoid the risk of running into unscrupulous breeders, consider starting your search at the Lagotto Romagnolo Club of America website. Members of this club must abide by its code of ethics which specifies that members cannot sell their Lagotto pups to or through pet stores.

Additionally, for any Lagotto Romagnolo to be viable for breeding, they must first receive hip certification from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, as well as receive an eye examination from a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist. These measures weed out disingenuous breeders from their club. They also have a breeder referral service that helps you find reputable breeders.

You might have to wait for a few months or even a year before you can lay your hands on a pup. For that reason, some people opt to go overseas to find breeders in other countries. If you decide to take that route, make sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC’s regulations regarding the exportation and importation of dogs.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Lagotto Romagnolo

1. The Lagotto Romagnolo is the only breed bred for truffle hunting, specifically.

2. Studies on this breed are sharing insight on epilepsy in human children.

3. This breed’s history dates as far back as the sixteenth century.

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History of the Lagotto Romagnolo

The history of the Lagotto Romagnolo is both long and rich. The Lagotto is of Italian descent, with its name translating to “the water dog of Romagna.” Romagna is the region in Italy where these dogs were first bred.

The Lagotto Romagnolo was originally bred as a hunting companion, specifically for retrieving ducks from the marshlands of Romagna. As such, some of the traits that were hardwired into this breed included an exemplary sense of smell, athleticism, toughness, endurance, willingness to follow directions, and a water-resistant coat.

However, towards the end of the 19th Century, most of Romagna’s marshlands had been drained to make room for farmland, leaving the Lagotto without a job. Nonetheless, their ability to adapt allowed them to find another job not long after; truffle hunting.

Truffles are a type of edible fungus and are similar to mushrooms,  but are much tastier. However, they are incredibly rare. Thanks to their exquisite taste and rarity, they are extremely pricey, often costing hundreds of dollars a plate. In fact, there is even a black market for this delicacy. Ounce for ounce, truffles are considered the most expensive food on the planet.

Truffles, however, grow underground. This means that you cannot know when they ripen unless you have an extraordinary sense of smell. And this is where our friend the Lagotto Romagnolo comes in. With their keen sense of smell and a need to retrieve things, the Lagotto made for a superb truffle hunter. In fact, they are the only breed that specializes in truffle hunting.

Unfortunately, since there were not many people involved in truffle hunting, the breed ceased to be as popular. By the 1970s, this breed had almost disappeared.

Fortunately, a group of Italian dog lovers rallied to save this breed by founding the Club Italiano Lagotto. Since then, this breed has spread all over the world. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Lagotto Romagnolo in 2015, placing it in the sporting dog category.

Today, in addition to being some of the best family companions out there, Lagottos also serve as service dogs. Their hypoallergenic coats also make them a highly sought-after breed by people who suffer from allergies.


Measuring up to 19 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 35 pounds, the Lagotto Romagnolo is a medium-sized dog.

While the general appearance of the Lagotto tends to vary between individuals, they have some common features. Their ears are floppy allowing them to concentrate scents around their muzzles. Their eyes are large and round and vary between golden and dark brown.

The Lagotto features an athletic, well-balanced build that allows them to be incredibly nimble. However, they are not overly muscular, meaning they cannot act as guard dogs. Nonetheless, they have been found to be remarkable watchdogs.

The Lagotto’s waterproof coat is its trademark feature. It consists of dense, curly, and wooly hair.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Lagotto Romagnolo 🧠

Considering that the Lagotto was bred to live, work, and hunt alongside humans centuries ago, it is one of the most family-friendly breeds out there. Lagottos are not only extremely devoted to their owners but also capable of immense affection.

Nonetheless, they are more than just lap dogs, as the characteristics that make them exemplary retrievers are still deeply ingrained within them. Equipped with stellar hearing ability, excellent eyesight, and a sense of smell that rivals that of a bloodhound, the Lagotto is an exceptionally alert dog.

When you couple that with their undying love for their human companions, they might just be the best watchdog in the game.

Lagotto Romagnolo
Image By: Cemmerton, Pixabay

However, this also means that they retain a strong hunting drive. Therefore, to avoid potential mishaps when out walking, always have them on a leash unless it is a safe area.

Nonetheless, despite their strong instincts, Lagottos are unbelievably intelligent. Due to the specialized nature of the work they were bred for, intelligence was a favored trait, as it allowed them to master the numerous complex commands that came with the job. Fortunately for you, this means that you can teach your Lagotto Romagnolo a wide array of commands without difficulty.

However, like every other smart breed, the Lagotto requires lots of mental stimulation to maintain their sanity. Without enough proper mental stimulation, this breed is prone to destructive behaviors resulting from boredom. Therefore, ensure that your Lagotto is well taken care of when it comes to mental enrichment tools, such as games, puzzle toys, or even an actual job.

You will also notice that Lagottos loves digging. As such, consider getting your Lagotto a sandbox, as they will appreciate it immensely.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The loyal, friendly, and social Lagotto Romagnolo is one of the best dog breeds for families. From toddlers to adults, there is nobody the Lagotto cannot get along with. However, make sure that the dog is well-socialized before introducing it to your family.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Like most retriever breeds, the Lagotto Romagnolo was bred to work alongside other dogs. As a result, they are not only social with people but also with other dogs. When it comes to smaller pets such as rodents and birds, however, it might be ill-advised to keep them together with the Lagotto.

With proper socialization from an early age, the dog can coexist with cats peacefully.

Lagotto Romagnolo dogs playing in backyard
Image Credit: Dejan Dundjerski, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Lagotto Romagnolo

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Lagotto Romagnolo is not fussy about what it eats. However, make sure that your animal’s diet consists of high-quality dog food. Try to diversify their diet by giving them both wet and dry food. Additionally, since they are incredibly active animals, make sure that their food is high in calories.

When it comes to feeding frequency, consider feeding your Lagotto Romagnolo 3 to 4 times per day instead of once or twice. This is due to the high-calorie nature of a Lagotto’s food; it encourages weight gain if eaten in large portions at once.

However, by dividing their meal into small portions and giving them to your pooch at different times of day, you allow them to burn consumed calories more efficiently. However, the best plan of action when it comes to food and diet is to consult your vet, as they will help you customize a diet plan for your dog specifically.

Exercise 🐕

As mentioned, the Lagotto Romagnolo was bred to be a working dog. This means that they are active dogs that require lots of exercise to be happy and healthy. Therefore, simply letting them play in the yard is not enough; you will need to take them out for runs or to a dog park. Additionally, since they love swimming, allow them to play in any safe water bodies near you.

Training 🦮

The intelligent Lagotto Romagnolo requires lots of mental stimulation due to their high intelligence. Fortunately, they love learning, which makes them a joy to train.

As a pup, the bulk of the training should revolve around socialization, teaching them how to coexist with others. This also helps them grow into confident dogs. Over time, you can teach them just about any dog trick there is out there.

Lagotto Romagnolo dog standing in the yard on a sunny day
Image Credit: Jne Valokuvaus, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

The Lagotto comes with a double coat. However, rather than fur, they are both made up of hair. The benefit of this coat style is that hair grows much slower than fur, meaning that these dogs do not shed as much.

Moreover, their matted coats hold onto allergens and dander rather than disperse them into the environment, which is why they are considered hypoallergenic breeds (safe for people with allergies to pet dander). Nonetheless, that benefit comes at a cost, as their coats mat easily. This means that the Lagotto Romagnolo tends to trap debris and other foreign materials close to their bodies, making them susceptible to infections.

As such, you must brush and groom the dog regularly to avoid potential health risks. While at it, cut the hair around their eyes and ears, in addition to inspecting their ears weekly for infection. Experts recommend maintaining the coat of a Lagotto at a length of about 1½ inches.

Therefore, be prepared to groom this cute fellow regularly.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Minor Conditions
  • Ear infection
  • Skin infection
  • Dental problems
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cerebral ataxia
  • Epilepsy

While the Lagotto is generally a healthy breed, they are still predisposed to some health conditions. For example, about one in every four Lagottos has hip dysplasia. This is a condition characterized by a malformation of the hip joint resulting in chronic pain, arthritis, or lameness.

This is why you are advised to only work with breeders that offer hip certification from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. The Lagotto Romagnolo is also predisposed to some forms of epilepsy. Thankfully, you can avoid these problems by purchasing a Lagotto pup from a reputable breeder.

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Male vs Female

This comes down to preference. If you are not a professional breeder, you are advised to spay or neuter your Lagotto Romagnolo, as doing so will prevent the behavioral issues that come with reaching sexual maturity.

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Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a friendly, loyal, and active family dog, the Lagotto Romagnolo is one of the best options out there. However, you must be willing to help them meet their extensive exercise needs, as they are working dogs. All in all, the Lagotto is a wholesome pup that will add life to your home.

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Featured Image Credit: Radovancev Zarko, Shutterstock

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