Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo is a bird hunting dog that was used to hunt water birds in the Italian marshlands since ancient Roman times. When the marshlands became cultivated, its excellent sense of smell became useful to hunt for mushrooms in foothill areas. A gentle dog that is easy to train, the lagotto is becoming popular as a lovable family pet.


Also known as the Romagna Water Dog and, in Italy, as the Lagota, or the Lagotto Romagnolo, in France as the Truffleur, and in Germany as the Wasserhund der Romagna, this breed is descended largely from water-retriever ancestry. To grateful truffle-hunters it is known as 'the King of the Woods'.

Despite the great value of a fully trained Truffle Dog, this breed has rarely been praised by canine experts for its appearance. In 1871 it was referred to as ‘nothing more or less than a bad small-sized poodle’. In 1880 it was ‘a poodle with a dash of terrier’. A century later it was called a ‘special little yappy mongrel dog’ with a ‘rustic appearance’.

It is believed that the ancestors of this little dog were water retrievers working in the region of the Ravenna lagoons in Italy back in the 16th century. From there it spread to the nearby plains and then into the Romagna hills, where its main role changed to truffle-hunting. In the 20th century, the truffle men began crossing their dogs with other breeds in attempts to improve its nose, and this explains the ‘mongrel’ insults that have been levelled at it in recent publications. However, enough of the original type have survived and the ‘poodle factor’ has somehow managed to remain dominant, so that it is still possible to recognize it as a distinct breed.

In the 1970s, canine experts began to take an interest in the Truffle Dog and set about fixing the type. In 1988 the Club Italiano Lagotto was formed and by 1993 the FCI was persuaded to give it full recognition as a true breed. In 1998 a further organization was formed, the Worldwide Association, with a view to protecting the breed on an international scale.


This breed is quiet and gentle toward everyone it meets, making it a suitable family dog. It can be easily trained as an excellent watchdog.

In personality this dog has been praised for its noble character and its athletic strength and perseverance. The white truffles are the most sought-after and fetch several thousand pounds per kilo at market. They are eaten raw, shaved into thin slices to add their unique flavouring to a wide variety of dishes.


The Lagotto Romagnolo is small to medium in size, with a balanced, well-developed frame and muscles. Its torso is tucked up; it is rather tall; and its movement is athletic and agile. Its soft coat is curly over the entire body.

The height at the withers should be within 16-19 inches/4l-48 cm. Its weight should be within 24-35 pounds/ll-l6 kg. The body should be square and never look low on the legs. The head should be broad with a rounded skull, round eyes and a blunt muzzle that is not too long. It carries its tail almost erect when interested. The coat should be rather short, thick and woolly with tight curls, with looser curls on the head and ears. A long and corded coat is not permissible. The color should be off-white or white, with or without liver brown patches and ticking, liver brown or liver roan or orange. A black coat and black pigmentation is a serious fault.

Care and Exercise

Twice-a-week brushing for about ten minutes and ear cleaning are required. The best exercise for the Lagotto Romagnolo is free movement in a large area.

Puppies and Training

Three to seven puppies per litter are born. They are well cared for by the mother and they easily grow accustomed to people. They are obedient and easy to raise.


Gallery of Lagotto Romagnolo