Lagotto Romagnolo is an Italian breed of sporting dog that is commonly used for truffle hunting. The Lagotto is an ancient breed believed to have originated in the marshlands of the Romagna region in Italy.
The fluffy, affectionate, and undemanding Lagotto has a rich history in the Romagna region and is considered to be one of the oldest breeds of water dogs in Italy.
Lagotti Romagnoli and their descendants have been used for centuries as water dogs to retrieve game and hunt truffles.
The name “Lagotto” means “lake dog” in Italian, which refers to the breed’s original purpose as a water retriever.
The exact origins of the Lagotto Romagnolo in the marshlands of the Romagna region are not well documented, but because water dogs have been used in Italy for hunting and fishing for many centuries, it is believed that the breed has been in the area for about that long.
The marshlands were once a vast network of wetlands and lagoons that covered a significant portion of the Romagna region, and the breed was likely used by local people for a variety of tasks, including hunting and herding livestock.
In Italy, there were many different types of water dogs, each with their own specific traits and abilities that were suited to the particular environment in which they worked. Some of these breeds were used primarily in saltwater environments, while others were better suited to freshwater environments.
The Lagotto’s dense, curly coat made it well-suited for work in the water, as it provided protection against the cold and dampness of the marshlands. Used to retrieve game from both fresh and saltwater environments, the Lagotti’s strong swimming ability, excellent sense of smell, and high intelligence made them valuable working dogs.
Over time, the breed evolved to become the versatile and highly skilled truffle hunter that it is today, known for its exceptional olfactory senses and its ability to locate valuable truffles hidden deep underground. In addition to its scenting abilities, the Lagotto’s determination, and love of digging make it an ideal choice for truffle hunting.
Despite its long history in the Romagna region, the Lagotto Romagnolo’s popularity, and the use of water dogs in Italy in general, declined in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as firearms became more commonly used for hunting and other forms of technology replaced the need for dogs in the retrieval of game.
The Lagotto was not recognized as a separate breed until the 20th century when it was rediscovered in the 1970s, gaining popularity as a truffle hunter and companion dog.
The breed was officially recognized by the Italian Kennel Club in 1985 and is recognized by major kennel clubs throughout the world, including the American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club in the UK.
Today, the history of water dogs in Italy is an important part of the country’s cultural heritage, and these breeds are valued for their unique abilities and the contributions they have made to Italian society over the centuries.
The evidence suggesting that water dogs in Italy date back to as early as the Middle Ages or even earlier is largely based on anecdotal accounts and oral tradition. There are few written records or artifacts from this time period that specifically mention the use of water dogs in Italy, and so much of our understanding of the breed’s history is based on stories passed down from generation to generation.
There are several pieces of evidence that suggest that water dogs have been used in Italy for a very long time. In addition to historical texts and artwork depicting the use of water type dogs for hunting and fishing in Italy, the remains of dogs that are similar in appearance to the Lagotto Romagnolo have been found in archaeological digs in the Romagna region of Italy.
References to the use of dogs for hunting and fishing in Italy can be found in a variety of historical texts and artwork from different time periods. These references provide insight into the role that water dogs, including the Lagotto Romagnolo, played in Italian society and culture. For example, there are mentions of the use of dogs for hunting and fishing in medieval Italian texts and illuminated manuscripts. These texts describe the various breeds of dogs used for these purposes, as well as their unique traits and abilities.
In addition to written accounts, there are also several examples of artwork from Italy that depict water dogs. There are paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance that show dogs being used for hunting and fishing. These works of art provide a visual representation of the importance of water dogs in Italian society and give us a glimpse into the everyday life of the time period.
One text from the Middle Ages describes the use of retrievers for hunting, mentioning their ability to locate and retrieve game birds from the water. Another text mentions the use of scent hounds for hunting, emphasizing their keen sense of smell and ability to track game.
Illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages often include illustrations of hunting scenes, which provide further information about the breeds of dogs used for these purposes. These illustrations often depict dogs with distinctive physical characteristics, such as curly coats or long ears, which suggest the existence of different breeds of water dogs in Italy at that time.
in the 14th century, the Italian artist Giusto de’ Menabuoi painted a fresco in the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence that includes a dog with a curly coat, similar to the coat of a Lagotto Romagnolo. This type of dog is not explicitly identified in the painting, but its presence suggests that the breed was known and valued in Italy during the Middle Ages.
In the 16th century, the Italian painter Titian created several portraits that include dogs in hunting scenes. These dogs have similar physical characteristics to the Lagotto Romagnolo, such as curly coats and expressive faces, and they may have been representative of the breed.
In addition to these paintings, there are also sculptures from the Renaissance that depict dogs with similar physical characteristics to the Lagotto Romagnolo. These works of art provide visual evidence of the existence of water dogs in Italy during this time period and suggest that they were valued for their abilities as hunting and fishing dogs.
The exact origin of water dogs, including the Lagotto Romagnolo, is not well-documented and remains a subject of debate among experts. However, it is believed that water dogs have their roots in ancient times and have developed from a variety of breeds that were used for hunting and fishing.
One theory is that water dogs, including the Lagotto, are descendants of the ancient Roman water dog, which was used for retrieving game from the water. This breed is thought to have been brought to Italy by the Romans and may have evolved over time into the Lagotto Romagnolo and other water dog breeds.
The ancient Roman water dog is believed to have originated from the eastern Mediterranean region, including areas that are now modern-day Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East. The Romans likely brought these dogs with them as they conquered new territories and expanded their empire.
The exact breeds that were used by the Romans to create their water dogs are not well-documented, but it is believed that they may have included indigenous hunting and herding dogs as well as breeds from other parts of the Roman Empire. These dogs were likely bred for specific traits, such as a strong drive to retrieve game from the water, a dense coat to protect them from the elements, and a keen sense of smell.
Once in Italy, these ancient Roman water dogs are believed to have evolved over time into the Lagotto Romagnolo and other water dog breeds. This evolution was likely shaped by local breeding practices, as well as the specific demands of hunting and fishing in the wetlands and marshes of northern Italy.
Another theory is that water dogs, including the Lagotti, developed from breeds that were used for hunting in the marshes and wetlands of northern Italy. These breeds are believed to have been crossbred with other hunting and herding dogs over time to create the Lagotto Romagnolo and other water dog breeds.
It is also possible that water dogs, including the Lagotto, were created through a combination of both ancient Roman and local Italian breeds.
The “marsh theory” suggests that water dogs, including the Lagotto Romagnolo, developed from a variety of breeds that were used for hunting and herding in the marshes and wetlands of northern Italy.
The marshes and wetlands of northern Italy were a rich and abundant source of game, including ducks, geese, and other waterfowl, as well as fish, eels, and other aquatic creatures. To take advantage of this bounty, the local people developed specialized hunting and fishing dogs that could navigate the treacherous and challenging environment of the marshes and wetlands.
These dogs were likely created through crossbreeding between various hunting and herding breeds that were well-suited to the demands of marsh hunting. These breeds may have included pointers, retrievers, spaniels, and other hunting dogs that were prized for their ability to work in the water, as well as herding dogs that were valued for their agility and intelligence.
Over time, these marsh-hunting dogs evolved into a distinct breed that was well-suited to the specific demands of hunting and fishing in the marshes and wetlands of northern Italy. This breed is believed to be the ancestor of the Lagotto Romagnolo and other water dog breeds.
The “marsh theory” suggests that the Lagotto Romagnolo and other water dogs were not created from a single breed, but rather from a combination of different breeds that were used for hunting and herding in the marshes and wetlands of northern Italy. This theory emphasizes the important role that the marshes and wetlands played in the development of these breeds and suggests that these dogs were shaped by the demands of marsh hunting over many centuries.
AKC Breed Standard
According to the breed standard, a description of the ideal dog in each breed, a breed standard Lagotto has the following features: