This curly mop of a dog is a hard worker who makes wonderful company at the end of a long day. The Lagotto Romagnolo hails from Romagna in Italy, where their waterproof coats kept them dry and protected as they retrieved waterfowl for hunters. Later, their superior scenting skills were put to use hunting truffles—expensive fungi used in haute cuisine—within wooded regions of Italy.
Lagotti are medium-sized dogs who look a bit bigger than they are because of their wooly curls. They are rugged and strong, with the endurance required of sporting dogs. They have a calm, confident demeanor and are highly attuned to their owners when well trained. With their stubborn streak, however, training takes consistency and patience. Lagotti are lively and loyal, and relish spending quality time playing with their people. They can be aloof with strangers, but they warm up as soon as they recognize you as a friend.
The Lagotto Romagnolo is also called Romagna Water Dog, Water Dog of Romagna, and Lagotto for short. The plural is Lagotti Romagnoli.
Lagotti are covered in ringlets from head to paw. Double coated, their outer coat is woolly and somewhat rough to the touch, and their undercoat is dense and waterproof. Their coats are clipped along the natural lines of their bodies, giving them a rustic, unfussy look. The fur is kept longest on their head and faces, forming a full beard and mustache. Coat colors are solid off-white, solid brown, off-white with brown or orange patches, brown with white patches, or brown roan.
Average Height: 16-19 inches
Male: 28-35 pounds
Female: 24-31 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The Lagotto Romagnolo is a powerful, rugged dog of medium build. They draw attention with their dense, curly coats and prominent beard. Their large eyes, which can be anywhere from hazel to dark brown, are alert, intelligent, and curious. Lagotti are in their element in conditions that other dogs (and many people) would consider "roughing it." They have a square build when viewed from the side, and a muscular frame, from their deep chest to their strong legs.
The painting The Meeting, by Italian artist Andrea Mantegna in circa 1474, includes a curly-coated dog in the lower right corner that is the spitting image of the modern Lagotto. Indeed, Lagotti are an ancient breed who helped hunters retrieve prey in the challenging, waterlogged terrain of Italian marshes for centuries. They are thought to hail specifically from the historic Romagna region known today as Emilia-Romagna.
At some point, Lagotti showed an aptitude for truffle hunting. Today they are recognized as the only purebred dog specializing in truffle hunting, giving female pigs a run for their fungi-finding money. Specialty schools are devoted to training dogs to sniff out truffles, which can garner upwards of $1,000 per pound.
A lull in the Lagotto's popularity in the 1970s put them at risk of extinction, but the breed was rejuvenated by the efforts of Italian dog fanciers. They have since become beloved by a select few around the globe. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2015.
AKC Breed Category
Lagotti Romagnoli are even-tempered dogs who are devoted to their family members and are amiable, affectionate company. They have a great deal of energy and need plenty of exercise, but tend to be laid back in between play sessions. Spending time with their people is the Lagotto’s favorite pastime. This loving, patient quality makes them excellent therapy dogs. They are alert to their surroundings and will loudly announce the arrival of visitors, but they are not a noisy breed as a rule.
Are Lagotti Romagnoli Good with Kids? When raised with kids from puppyhood, Lagotti welcome them with wagging tails. They prefer the company of children they know well, but are not generally aggressive with strangers.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Lagotti Romagnoli Good with Other Pets? Again, socialization is the key. When accustomed to the company of dogs and cats from an early age, Lagotti are patient with other furry family members.
Lagotti are protective of their territory, but tend to ward off interlopers with barks rather than aggression.
Are Lagotti Ramognoli Good Guard Dogs? The alert Lagotto will bark to let you know the moment people or animals encroach on your property. They are not especially aggressive, however, and make better watchdogs than guard dogs.
The Lagotto Romagnolo has the high energy levels required of sporting dogs. When given enough exercise, however, they are laid-back dog at end of day.
- May develop shyness if not well socialized
- Prone to separation anxiety
- Require a lot of exercise daily
- Become bored easily and require a great deal of mental stimulation
- Strong willed, they require patient and consistent training
- Prone to digging
Lagotti Romagnoli are deeply attached to their families and become distressed if asked to spend too much time away from them. They should live indoors with their people. Their coats shed very lightly, so they don't require much cleanup, unless they've been rooting around for truffles or bounding through a swamp.
Lagotti can and should go outside frequently. Their coats are warm and waterproof, so make sure you provide yourself the necessary outerwear to keep you comfortable in inclement weather. It’s helpful to have an enclosed yard where you can play fetch and hide-and-seek games with your Lagotto, but it isn’t necessary. Just be sure to take him to the dog park or on long walks frequently if you live in an apartment.
Lagotti Romagnoli require one to two hours of vigorous activity each day. They particularly enjoy putting their sniffing abilities to work with hide-and-seek games.
Lagotti have the stamina for long walks and play sessions, but they usually settle down and are easygoing in between.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Healthy, adult Lagotti can run with you for two to three miles.
- Hiking Miles: Hiking is more the Lagotti pace. They will hike by your side for a half-day trek.
Generally, this breed requires about 2 to 3 cups of good quality dry dog food each day, given in two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Lagotto's activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Lagotto.
Lagotti are amenable to time alone, as long as it doesn't drag on. Training your Lagotto to spend time in a dog crate can help keep boredom at bay because they will enjoy the downtime in their den. Give them a special dog toy to play with and don't leave them for more than four hours at a time.
Health and Grooming
The Lagotto’s curly coat requires a bit of extra attention. Brush them several days a week to prevent tangles and matting, and give them a bath once a month or so to keep their coat healthy. Lagotti require a trim regularly to keep their coats manageable and so they can see through the mop of hair on their heads. Wash your Lagotto’s ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Brush your Lagotto’s teeth several days a week, and trim their nails every month or so to prevent painful cracking.
Common Health Issues
Though generally healthy, Lagotti Romagnoli can be prone to some breed-specific health conditions, including:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Juvenile epilepsy
You can minimize serious health concerns in Lagotti Romagnoli by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
The Lagotto Romagnolo is an especially intelligent dog breed and trains up with ease. Because they are somewhat independent-minded, train with patience, persistence, and kindness.
Lagotti require a great deal of mental stimulation, so advanced training is a wise choice for the breed. Consider signing them up for tracking training, as well as obedience, conformation, agility, and dog sports.
Sporting Dog Training
Lagotti were historically bred as waterfowl hunters. Although they are not among the top dogs for the sport, they can be trained to become proficient hunting companions.
Yes. The curly double coat of the Lagotto doesn't shed very much and, as a result, leaves minimal pet dander in your home. Pet dander is the primary cause of pet-related allergies. Keep in mind, no dog breed is considered 100 percent hypoallergenic.
They do bark, but they are known as a quiet breed. They will bark to alert the house to visitors. But if a quiet dog is at the top of your list, the Lagotto is a good choice, especially when you give them plenty of activity and attention.
Yes. Lagotti are known as water dogs and are usually exceptional and eager swimmers. Every dog has unique likes and dislikes, however, so if you have the rare Lagotto who doesn't enjoy the water, don't force the issue. Always watch your dog in or near water, if he's a strong swimmer.