Lagotto Romagnolo: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Standing side profile of a Lagotto Romagnolo dog

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The Lagotto Romagnolo is a medium-sized ancient working breed from Northern Italy with wooly, curly fur. They are prized for truffle hunting skills, but they can also make relatively laid-back and affectionate companions around the home. Lagottos are known for their thick coats that are both water-resistant and low in shedding, and these dogs are also enthusiastic swimmers thanks to their roots in duck hunting.

With their friendly personalities, Lagottos are popular family dogs suitable for homes with children or active owners. They are highly trainable and can adapt to a variety of lifestyles.

Breed Overview

Group: Sporting

Height: 17 to 19 inches (males); 16 to 18 inches (females)

Weight: 28 to 35 pounds (males); 24 to 30 pounds (females)

Coat: Wooly, curly, water-resistant double coat

Coat Color: Solid off-white, white with orange or brown patches, brown, brown roan, brown or orange with white patches, or occasionally tan markings

Life Span: 14 to 17 years

Temperament: Intelligent, athletic, friendly, loyal

Hypoallergenic: Yes

Origin: Italy

Characteristics of the Lagotto Romagnolo

While Lagottos have become popular truffle hunting dogs, they were originally bred for duck hunting (hence their signature curly coats), and their instincts for swimming and retrieving still remain in modern generations. This breed enjoys stimulation and exercise each day, but your Lagotto will also be happy to relax around the house with family members when not being active.

These dogs are affectionate toward their owners, but they also require consistent training: Since they have plenty of energy and intelligence to pair with it, Lagottos may entertain themselves by getting into mischief around the house if not offered more vigorous activity than daily walks. Thankfully, this breed can be trained easily with the right guidance.

Affection Level  High
Friendliness  Medium
Kid-Friendly  Medium
Pet-Friendly  Medium
Exercise Needs  Medium
Playfulness  Medium
Energy Level  Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Bark  Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo is thought to be one of the oldest of all the water dogs. They originate from the Romagna region of Northeast Italy, and Lagotto translates from the local dialect as 'Duck Dog.'

They are thought to have been around for over one thousand years. They were used by locals of the region to hunt for waterfowl in the vast marshlands that covered much of the region in days gone by. Their size, agility, eagerness to please and water-resistant coat meant they were perfectly suited to this task.

The 19th century saw the large-scale draining of much of the marshlands in the region. This meant Lagottos were no longer required for the work they were used to. However, their adaptability meant that they continued to be a popular working breed, and they were developed for their skills as truffle hunters in the region.

During this time, they were often crossed with other breeds known for their hunting and scenting skills, and it meant that the population of the purebred Lagotto dwindled—so much that by the 1970s, they became almost extinct.

Since then, enthusiasts of the breed have worked hard to increase their numbers and to hone their skills as truffle searchers.

Lagottos are also becoming increasingly popular as an adaptable and relatively laid-back companion breed. They are not as busy as some of their other working counterparts. Demand for the breed is increasing in other countries, and in 2015, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Water dog standing by a pond holding a cane in its mouth

Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images

A Lagotto Romagnolo competes in the Sporting Group during the second day of competition at the 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Matthew Eisman / Getty Images

Lagotto Romagnolo Care

The Lagotto Romagnolo is an intelligent working breed that needs to be kept well-exercised and properly enriched around the house. That said, they are not as busy as some other working breeds. They can be a little more laid-back around the home, and this can make them appealing even for those living in an apartment.


When outside, be prepared for your Lagotto to have a great love of water. Swimming can be a great way to help them burn off steam, so don't be surprised if you find it hard to get them out of a river or pond once they have discovered it. Their water-repellant double coat and purpose-built body shape are all geared towards them spending a lot of time in the water.

Because they have been developed for their truffle hunting skills, they also have strong scenting abilities and often a great love of digging. You may need to put in extra work to ensure that they do not start digging in undesired areas of your garden. Some Lagotto owners provide a dedicated sandpit and take part in scent trials and nose work games to give them an outlet for this desire.


Lagottos are known for sometimes being rather vocal; they can be keen alert barkers. You may have to spend some time working on bark training to ensure that this does not become out of control.

They are a very bright breed and are keen to please their owner. They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods and can begin training at about eight weeks of age. With appropriate early socialization and ongoing training, they can be very adaptable, affectionate, and happy dogs. They often fit in well to a family environment and can live happily alongside other pets.


The Lagotto can be a good choice for individuals that suffer from dog hair allergies. No dog is truly hypoallergenic; it is often the dander on the skin that can cause a problem. The Lagotto, however, hardly sheds, so this means you will not have a hair-filled home. Their coat needs to be groomed out regularly to prevent it from becoming matted, tangled, and uncomfortable. Some owners prefer to shave these dogs' hair short in the summer when the dogs are outdoors in high heat.

Their ears are hairier than some breeds to help prevent them from becoming waterlogged, but this extra hair can sometimes become overgrown and cause a build-up of wax and debris. They may need to have excess hair removed periodically to prevent this problem.

Care should also be taken if you are trimming their nails. Lagottos have naturally longer and more curved nails than some breeds. This is to help them with their truffle digging abilities. It means the quick (the blood vessel inside the nail) is longer than average, and you don't want to cut into this accidentally. Not only will you have to stop the bleeding, but it will be painful and could cause your dog to develop an aversion towards nail trimming. You may have to go back to basics with getting them used to the activity.

Closeup of the face of a Lagotto Romagnolo

Sigena Semmling / Getty Images

Closeup of Lagotto Romagnolo fur

yhelfman / Getty Images

Lagotto Romagnolo Puppies
White with brown and orange patches Lagotto Romagnolo puppies Dario Egidi / Getty Images
Lagotto Romagnolos diving into water
If you have a Lagotto Romagnolo be prepared for them being a water lover Tommi Turunen / 500px / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

The Lagotto is known for being a healthy breed with great longevity. It is not uncommon for them to live up to 17 years. Like most breeds, they can still be prone to particular inheritable health conditions. Below are some of the conditions they are associated with:

  • Hip Dysplasia can be a problem for some Lagotto Romagnolos. Abnormal growth of the joints in one or both of the hips can result in a degenerative problem that can range from mild to very severe. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
  • Lagotto Storage Disease (LSD) is a breed-specific condition that breeders should test for. It is a serious neurodegenerative disease that ultimately leads to death. Dogs affected by this condition will display a variety of neurological symptoms which can include changes in behavior, problems with coordination, and facial and eye tics.
  • Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy (BFJE) manifests in very young puppies who suffer from seizures that they generally grow out of before they reach maturity.

Diet and Nutrition

All dogs should be fed a high-quality and appropriately portion-controlled diet, and the Lagotto Romagnolo is no exception. Your Lagotto's food should be made predominantly from meat. Two servings of food per day is the standard feeding schedule for this breed.

Canine obesity is one of the most prominent problems in companion dogs worldwide, and it can lead to a whole host of other (often serious) health conditions. Making sure you do not overfeed your Lagotto should be a priority.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo is still relatively rare in the United States. This means you may have to travel a little further or be added to a waiting list if you are keen to secure a puppy. Don't let your enthusiasm allow you to make rash decisions: Always make sure you seek out a reputable breeder. Their pups should be well socialized, kept with their mother in a home environment, and up-to-date on all relevant health checks.

The Lagotto Romagnolo Club of America is a good place to start your research. Puppies from responsible breeders typically cost between $1,800 and $2,500, but prices can be as high as $5,000 (often fluctuating based on regional availability).

There are not likely to be many Lagottos in rescue, but don't let that put you off considering adoption. Reach out to the Club to find out more about possible rescue contacts. You can also consider other working breeds that will be more commonly found in rescue.

Lagotto Romagnolo Overview

  • Forms strong bonds with family

  • A more laid-back working breed

  • Eager to please and trainable

  • Their coat needs a lot of maintenance

  • Can be vocal

  • They can be prolific diggers

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • How much do Lagotto Romagnolos cost?

    Puppies typically cost between $1,800 and $2,500, but some breeders may charge as much as $5,000.

  • Are Lagotto Romagnolos good family dogs?

    The Lagotto Romagnolo is known for being a suitable breed for families, as these dogs are friendly and eager to please their owners. They are laid-back in household environments as long as they're properly exercised and mentally stimulated on a consistent basis.

  • Are Lagotto Romagnolos easy to train?

    Highly adaptable and intelligent, Lagotto Romagnolos are popular for their easily trainable nature and enthusiastic personalities. Training puppies can begin as early as eight weeks of age.

  • Is the Lagotto Romagnolo rare?

    While they were once readily available in Europe thanks to their origins in Northern Italy, Lagotto Romagnolos were cross-bred with other retrieving breeds for many years. After the true breed became almost extinct in the 1970s, enthusiasts of these dogs began a resurgence of breeding. They are still rare in the United States.