Critter Culture
Lagotto Romagnolo: The King of Truffles

Lagotto Romagnolo: The King of Truffles

Critter Culture Staff



The Lagotto Romagnolo is a fluffy and sweet dog with ancient roots. Their origin can be traced back to central Italy, where these medium-sized water dogs were used for centuries as retrievers before their exceptional nose was employed to search for truffles. Today, they are considered the ultimate truffle-hunting dogs, and the only thoroughbred breed used for this purpose. But with their kind temperament and giant hearts, the Lagotti are so much more.


A quaint name

Lagotto Romagnolo. Sitting on a rock.

The name Lagotto Romagnolo comes from the Romagnol dialect, spoken in Romagna, a central-northern region of Italy. The word Lagotto likely derives from the expression "càn lagòt," which translates into "lake-dog," or "lagoon-dog." Others believe that it has its origin in the name of the inhabitants of the village of Lagosanto, who were called Lagotti.


They are sweet and lovable

Wet puppy of lagotto romagnolo

Lagotti are known for their fun and kind temperament. They love to play, spend time with their humans, and are wonderful with kids. Because of their size, they are no big threat to toddlers. Other pets are not an issue either, especially if your Lagotto is introduced to them as a puppy. Overall, they can bring a lot of entertainment to your home, and are a great breed if you're looking to adopt your first dog.


They are hard-working professionals

A retired woman out walking a dog (Lagotto romagnolo breed) in a spring forest. LordRunar / Getty Images

While they may be all fun and games when they are with family, Lagotti are very serious and committed workers. The Italian king of truffles loves to have a job to do and can often be found digging. These dogs have incredible noses, among the most sophisticated in the canine world, and aren't afraid to use them. When on the search, Lagotti are focused and at the top of their game.


They are very cute and hypoallergenic

Cute Lagotto Romagnolo Foto Zlatko / Getty Images

Lagotti are undoubtedly super cute dogs who can steal the heart of nearly any dog lover. They might look a little scruffy, but their tightly-curled, waterproof coat is soft and easy to groom. They shed minimally and produce little dander, making them a great choice for those with allergies.


The Lagotto's coat

Four puppies of lagotto romagnolo on a bale of hay

Lagotti can have many colors. Brown, black, white, orange, roan, or a mix of them. People often prefer single-colored ones, especially in the truffle-hunters community, where Lagotti with light coats are often the favorite choice. Since truffles are collected in the woods, and preferably at night, a white or orange Lagotto will be more visible. However, if you don't have truffle-hunting ambitions, you can choose your Lagotto Romagnolo without such parameters in mind.


They have a lot of energy

Lagotto Romagnolo running Andrea Izzotti / Getty Images

This Italian breed is very energetic. They thrive on physical and mental stimulation, and they are better suited for the countryside, rather than an apartment in the city. Daily physical activity is necessary, such as walks or games of fetch. Searching for things and exploring new places are among their favorite activities. Routine is definitely something these dogs can't deal with. If bored, they will display destructive behaviors and even bark, which they won't often do otherwise.


They are intelligent and easy to train

Intelligent-looking Lagotto Romagnolo Lena Gadanski / Getty Images

Lagotti are very smart, and it takes them very little time to learn new commands. It's incredibly easy to train them, as they love to please their owners. As with all dogs, training should start when they are still puppies, but the Lagotti need it to be as diverse as possible. They are also super agile. This, paired with their magnificent nose, makes them also great for professions like search and rescue and the detection of medical conditions.


Grooming and diet

Portrait of a brown Lagotto Romagnolo (a.k.a. Italian Water Dog) outdoors. LordRunar / Getty Images

Even if the Lagotto's coat does not shed, brushing is still needed at least a couple of times a week to make sure it does not matt. It also needs regular trimming, but remember that this a working dog, not a poodle, so don't expect them to lose their rough look. The Lagotto's diet varies with age and size, so consult your veterinarian, but be mindful that they can be prone to weight gain.


Health concerns

Lagotto Romagnolo on couch djiledesign / Getty Images

These dogs are generally healthy, with no major concerns, and they can get to live pretty long lives — their life expectancy is up to 17 years. However, like other dogs their size, they can be prone to hip or joint dysplasia and epilepsy, but breeders are careful to keep the breed healthy.


The Lagotto in Italian art

dog playing in the park aerogondo / Getty Images

The Italian truffle kings are so appreciated in their home country that they even have a place of honor in Renaissance art. Andrea Mantegna painted a Lagotto in a 1470s fresco in Mantova, and il Guercino, a 17th-century painter from Bologna, portrayed himself and his sister petting a Lagotto. The animal's bright eyes truly capture the intelligence of this beloved Italian breed.


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