Lagotto Romagnolo Breed Magazine - Showsight

Lagotto Romagnolo Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard for the Lagotto Romagnolo General Appearance: Small to medium-sized dog, well-proportioned, powerfully built, of rustic appearance, with a dense, curly coat of wooly texture. The dog should give the impression that he has the strength and endurance to work all day in difficult and challenging terrain. Size, Substance, Proportions : Size – Height at the withers: Dogs 16½ to 19½ inches; Bitches 15½ to 18½ inches. Disqualification - Dog under 16½ or over 19½ inches; bitches under 15½ or over 18½ inches. Substance - Males 28 to 35 pounds. Females 24 to 31 pounds. Important Proportions - The Lagotto is a square dog, measured from the prosternum to the point of ischium and from the highest point of the shoulder to the ground. The length of the head is 40 percent of the height at the withers. The neck is slightly shorter than the length of the head. The length of the skull should be slightly more than half the length of the head. The legs are slightly more than half the height of the dog at the shoulder . Head : Viewed from above and from the side, the head is a broad blunted wedge. The length of the skull, from stop to occiput, is the same as the width at the widest point of the zygomatic arch. The somewhat arched skull is slightly longer than half the length of the head (56 percent skull to 44 percent muzzle) with unpronounced occiput. Planes of the skull and muzzle diverge slightly - extreme divergence, parallel planes or dish faced appearance are serious faults. Nasal bone is straight. The stop is moderate, with a distinct furrow between the eyes. Frontal sinuses are well developed, giving good fill beneath the eye. Cheeks are flat. The wide robust underjaw defines the shape of the muzzle so that the lips form an upside- down semi-circle. The nose is large with wide open and mobile nostrils and a strongly pronounced median groove. It protrudes very slightly from the front edge of the lips. The nose should be fully pigmented in shades from light to dark brown, varying with coat color. Anything else is a serious fault. Lips are rather tight and not thick. The strong lower jaw determines the profile of the muzzle. The flews are tight fitting and dry. Pigment of the lips varies with coat color from light to dark brown. Well- developed teeth meet, ideally, in a scissor or level bite . A reverse scissor bite is acceptable. Full dentition is preferred. Disqualification - Overshot or undershot bites (where the incisors do not touch those of the opposing jaw). The eyes are set somewhat frontal-obliquely, and fairly well apart. They are large, rounded, fill the sockets, and very slightly protruding. The color of the iris ranges from ochre to hazel to dark brown – no other colors are acceptable. Eyelids are close fitting. Eye rim color will vary with coat color from light to dark brown. Eyelashes are very well developed. The arch of the eyebrow is prominent. The ears are medium-sized in proportion to the head, triangular with rounded tips. The base of the ear is rather wide and is set just above the zygomatic arch. When alert, the top of the ear rises to widen the appearance of the skull, and the front edge of the ear is close to the cheek. When pulled loosely forward, the ear should cover about ¼ of the length of the muzzle. The Lagotto’s expression should be intelligent, friendly and attentive. Neck, Body, Topline : The neck is strong muscular, thick, and oval in shape. It is lean, well set off from the nape, and slightly arched. The length of neck is slightly less than the total length of the head. Neck should blend smoothly into shoulders. Muscles are extremely powerful. A correct neck is fundamental to function. The Lagotto body is square, compact and strong. The length of the dog, measured from the prosternum to the point of the ischium, should be the same as the height at the top of the scapulae, which are long and quite high-set, rising well above the level of the back. Chest is wide and well-developed, reaching down to the elbows, but not below them. The ribcage is slightly narrowed in front, widening from the sixth rib back, allowing elbows to move smoothly along the body. Ribs are well sprung (width

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of ribcage at the widest point is about 30 percent of the height of the dog). Underline is straight, with a slight tuck-up at the flank. The scapulae are set high, back straight, loin slightly arched, croup slightly sloping and tail follows the line of the croup. A line drawn from the top of the shoulder to the hip will be slightly sloping. A dog high in the rear or low in the withers is to be penalized. The Lagotto’s back is straight and very muscular. The loin is short-coupled, very strong, and slightly arched. Its width is equal to or slightly exceeds the length, giving strength for digging. Croup is slightly sloped, quite long, broad, and muscular. It forms an angle of approximately 25 to 30 degrees from the horizontal. Flat or steep croups are to be severely penalized. The tail is set on following the line of the croup. At rest, it is carried scimitar-like, and no higher than the back. When excited, the tail is decidedly raised, and carried in a loose arc above the level of the back. Tip of tail should not be carried further forward than the pelvis. The tail should never be curled or carried straight up. The tail tapers from base to end, and should reach to just above the hock. Ringtails or tails carried over the back are serious faults. Forequarters : The shoulder blades are long (30 percent at the height of the withers), well laid back (yet not too close at tips), muscular, and strong. They are closely attached to the chest, but move freely. The angle formed between the shoulder blade and the upper arm should be approximately 115 degrees. The elbow will fall on a vertical line lowered from the back of the scapula to the ground. The upper arm is as long as the shoulder blade, of light bone structure, muscular, and tucked firmly against the brisket. Legs are straight. The forearm is long, with strong, compact, oval bone. The carpus is fine, robust and mobile, and in complete alignment with the forearm. Pasterns are also in perfect alignment with forearm, and of slightly finer bone. They are moderate in length and slightly sloping. Forefeet are webbed, rounded, and compact, with well-arched, tight toes. Pads have particularly hard soles. Nails are curved and range in color from white to extremely dark brown. Hindquarters : Angulation of the hindquarter is slightly less than the angle of the forequarter (approximately 110 degrees). Legs are powerful and parallel when seen from the rear. The upper thigh is slightly longer than the shoulder (35 percent of height at withers). It is quite broad, convex, and with well- defined muscles. The second thigh is slightly longer than the upper thigh, well boned and strong. The hindquarters must be perfectly parallel to the spine. The angle of the stifle should be more open than the angle at the hip, (approximately 130 degrees). The hock joint is well let down, wide, clean and strong. Pasterns are thin, cylindrical, and perpendicular to the ground when the dog is standing freely. A vertical line from the point of buttocks to the ground will fall slightly in front of the toes. Hind feet are slightly oval, compact, and webbed. The toes of the back feet are not quite as arched as those of the forefeet; thus, the nails may be straighter. Skin, Coat : The skin of the Lagotto is thin, firm and close-fitting all over the body, without wrinkles. Pigmentation of the skin and pads harmonizes with the color of the coat, ranging from dark pink to dark brown. Depigmentation anywhere on the body is a serious fault. Coat is extremely important in this breed. Hair should be of wooly texture, semi-rough on the surface. Topcoat should be quite thick, and undercoat visible. The combination of the two repel water. A correct coat is never luxurious or shiny. The body is covered with tight ring-shaped curls, not frizz. Skull and cheeks are covered with thick hair, and the looser curls of the head form abundant eyebrows, whiskers, and a rather bristly beard. The coat covering the tail is both curly and somewhat bristly. The Lagotto must not be corded. Disqualification - smooth or straight coat. The correct trim must always be unpretentious, and contribute to the natural, rustic look typical of the breed. In a curled state the body coat must be trimmed to no more than 1½ inches in depth

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(not brushed/combed out), and it should be uniform with the silhouette of the dog. Only on the head can the coat be longer than 1½ inches, but should never cover the eyes (should be penalized). The edges of the ears should be trimmed to the leather; the surface of the ear flap should show looser curls, but remain wavy. The area around the genitals and anus may be clipped short. Hair must be of sufficient length that curls and texture can be assessed. Corded dogs or excessively groomed dogs (sculpted or blown out) should be so severely penalized as to be eliminated from competition. Color : Lagotti can be off-white solid color, white with brown or orange patches, brown roan, orange roan, brown, orange, or sable (in different shades), with or without white. Some dogs have extremities darker than their body color. Tan markings (in different shades) allowed. The colors have a tendency to fade, sometimes to such an extent that the brown areas can appear as silvery/gray roan. All the above colors are equally desirable, including the faded or diluted colors. Disqualification - Black or gray coat or patches; black pigmentation. Gait/Movement : Lagotti should exhibit an energetic, lively, balanced trot, with moderate reach and drive. Back should remain firm and strong with no tendency to roll. At a trot, the rear foot covers but does not pass the footprint of the front foot. Movement from the front is parallel at a walk or slow trot, never wider than the dog’s shoulder, and tends toward a center line as speed increases. Rear legs are also parallel at a slow gait, converging at increased speed, with hocks staying in a straight line between hip and foot. As the dog increases speed, the neck moves slightly lower and forward. The Lagotto should move with distinction and nobility of bearing. He should not be exhibited in an elongated trot – it is atypical and incorrect for the breed. Behavior, Temperament : The Lagotto is tractable, adaptable, keen, affectionate, and extremely attached to its owner. He is both highly intelligent and easily trained. He is an excellent companion and a very good watchdog. A natural gift for searching and a very good nose have made the breed very efficient in finding truffles. The former hunting instinct has been modified by genetic selection to avoid distraction by game. This breed should never be aggressive or overly shy. Faults : Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and to the degree that it will affect the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work, as well as the health and welfare of the dog. Disqualification s : Size - Dogs under 16½ inches or over 19½ inches. Bitches under 15½ inches or over 18½ inches. Bite – Overshot or pronounced undershot bite (incisors of the upper jaw and lower jaw do not touch). Coat – Smooth or straight. Color – Black or gray coat or patches; black pigmentation .

Approved January 14, 2020 Effective March 31, 2020





T he Lagotto Romagnolo has a new AKC Breed Standard in place as of March 2020. Unfortunately for all, this occurred during quarantine when not a lot of opportunities were available to talk about the changes—and exactly what we were referring to with a variety of word choices and changes in phrases. We want to take a moment to review three areas of the standard that seem to still need clarifying: The addition of the word “Gray”; the Reverse Scissor Bite; and the concept of “Rustic” presentation as it applies to grooming. So, our standard has been revised… is that cheering we hear? For the last seven years, I have heard from many judges that our Lagotto Romagnolo standard was so complicated that you needed a protractor to understand what was expected to examine our breed. The purpose of the breed revision was not to change what we hope to present to you as judges, but instead, to make it more user-friendly and keep with the intent of the original Italian standard. The changes that were made were in hopes of allowing you, as judges, more time to evaluate the dogs’ conformation without having to spend extra time hunting for dewclaws or taking time to count teeth in your endeavor to check for DQ’s. These changes keep us in line with the Italian /FCI Standard and DQ’s for the Lagotto.




visible… A correct coat is never luxurious or shiny.” A cor- rect coat is the product of two things; texture and curl. The undercoat must not be pulled out, it should be visible. Parting the hair lightly should not reveal the skin. From the Standard: “The Correct trim must always be unpretentious, and contribute to the natural, rustic look typical of the breed.” The cut of the dog follows the form of the body. Except for the head, the body should be approximately the same length all over, which is up to 1.5 inches in length. (For many of us, this is approximately the same length as dipping your pinky finger into the coat and having it reach the second knuckle.) This includes the leg furnishings. Leg furnishings that flow or move when the dogs moves are TOO LONG. However, it must always be long enough to curl. Different types of curl do effect the grooming. A mature Lagotto coat happens between age two and three. Usually, it appears on the withers and spreads down the back and up the neck, and finally down the legs. A Lagotto may have large curls (size of a dime) or small ones (pencil eraser), and any- thing in between. All are correct. Depending on the individual, you may see puppies that don’t appear to have good curl. But, if they have been pre- pared correctly, i.e., drip-dried, you should be able to dip you fingers down into the coat and feel the hair separating into little groups (like a strand of yarn) where the hair is coming together to make/begin to make curls. The grooming of these dogs should never remind you of a topiary sculpture, perfectly clipped, with curls present only at the tips of the hair. Curls, whatever their size, should be vis- ible and go all the way to the skin itself. The coat must not be blown out—especially the legs! Our standard clearly says that overgroomed or incorrectly groomed dogs are to be penalized: “Corded dogs or exces- sively groomed dogs (sculpted or blown out) should be so severely penalized as to be eliminated from competition.” Please do not encourage such practices in your judging. Dogs that are presented to you in this manner have deprived you of the chance to evaluate their unique coat. This is a defining feature of the breed, and we must not lose it in a cloud of hair products and procedures.

One of the things that may not be as clear with our new change (unless you read through the new color description) is the DQ for Black or… and here may be a confusing part… Gray. GRAY Color: Lagotti can be an off-white solid color, white with brown or orange patches, brown roan, orange roan, brown, orange, or sable (in different shades), with or without white. Some dogs have extremi- ties darker than their body color. Tan markings (in different shades) are allowed. The colors have a tendency to fade, sometimes to such an extent that the brown areas can appear as silvery/gray roan. All the above colors are equally desirable, including the faded or diluted colors. Disqualification: “Black or gray coat or patches; black pigmentation.” So, in one sentence, the Standard says: “The colors have a tendency to fade, sometimes to such an extent that the brown areas can appear as silvery/ gray roan. All the above colors are equally desirable, including the faded or diluted colors.” Then we have a DQ for Gray… The issue here is that the faded coat can look silvery gray. These faded coats are not shades of black, which is the intent of the DQ here. Often what is perceived as “Gray” is, in reality, the mixture of a vari- ety of hair types and hair colors. The wiry hair that is present through- out the coat on mature dogs is often white, thus adding a “frosty appear- ance” to the dog. Careful examination will show that it is, in fact, a mixture of white hairs and brown hairs—NOT individual hair shafts that are gray in color. Included here are examples of dogs that are faded brown, but are not gray. THE BITE We are still hearing of judges who are calling a reverse scissor bite an undershot bite. Our Standard clearly states: Disqualification: “… undershot bite… (where the incisors do not touch those of the opposing jaw).” For the Lagotto Romagnolo, a truly undershot (and DQ) bite is where there is space between the upper and lower incisors. The revision to the standard has tightened up our definition of the bite, which used to allow some space and now does not. This bite is just as it sounds; the lower incisors come up over the upper incisors, tightly. This is a perfectly acceptable bite. Specimens with a reverse scissor bite should NEVER be ignored in favor of dogs with minor and major faults. As a reminder: Please note that we are no longer a full mouth exam; front and side checks of the bite will suffice. BEING RUSTIC One of the things we are always asked about is grooming. What makes a dog “rustic” and another dirty? What makes a dog groomed to perfection and another overdone and sculpted? The Standard says: “Hair should be of wooly texture, semi-rough on the surface. Topcoat should be quite thick, and undercoat

BIOS Adrienne Perry is the Judges Education Coordinator for the Lagotto Romagnolo Club of America and a Breeder- Judge. Lisa Sobon is a Judges Education Committee Member and mentor, and the judge for this year’s Puppy and Veteran Sweepstakes at the National Specialty. pictured from left: Adrienne Perry and Lisa Sobon




T he Lagotto Romagnolo is a dog that has been specially bred to fi nd tru ffl es on all kinds of terrain; it is the only breed in the world specialized in tracking down this precious tuber. A typical water dog of small-medium size, it is a light mesomorph with a rather stocky trunk. Its general appearance is rustic, strong and well-proportioned and its utility as a working dog is immediately obvious. Th e expression is one of attentiveness, intelligence and vivacity. Th e Lagotto Romagnolo works enthusiastically and e ffi ciently, making the most of its inher- ent search-and- fi nd skills and excellent sense of smell. Th e hunting instinct has been suppressed so that it is not distracted by game. An a ff ectionate animal, it forms a close bond with its owner and also makes a fi ne, easy-to-train companion. Th e Lagotto Romagnolo has the restrained character of the true country dog, the typical appearance of a dog which has its roots in history and the gentle, attentive expression common to all dogs of Italian breed. A fi rst glance gives an impression of something historic and archaic that has miraculously survived to the present day—a living challenge to time and history. Many centuries ago the people of Italy developed a thriving trade with the Orient. Th is system of commerce involved continuous con- tact at every level, thus allowing the di ff erent populations to learn much about each others’ cultures and customs—and a knowledge of dogs was no exception to that rule. Th is explains why so manyar- chaeological sites, especially in north-west Italy, have revealed the presence of various canine breeds, especially a small water dog with a bristly, crimped coat. Th e Etruscan necropolis of Spina (near Fer- rara) contains updated representations of hunting and fi shing which consistently include a dog like the current Lagotto Romagnolo. Th e Etruscans reached the northern Adriatic between the sixth and fi fth centuries BC and maintained commercial relationships with many Eastern nations; this favored the introduction of this group of dogs into the northern Adriatic region. While it is true that the expansionism of many eastern popula- tions was responsible for introducing these breeds as far a fi eld as the British Isles, it should be noted that this happened centuries after the initial contact with Italian populations. When water dogs reached Spain via North Africa at the time of the Moorish con- quests, giving rise to the present-day Perro de Agua Español, they had already been on the Italian peninsula for centuries, especially in the wetlands and marshes of Romagna. It is thus quite probable that the Canis acquaticus of which Linneo spoke, de fi ning it as having “been around for some time” in the Mediterranean Basin, is none other than our Lagotto Romagnolo. In its morphology, the drawing made by Linneo bears a striking resemblance to the curl-coated dog of Romagna.

Another painting from the 1600s shows an almost perfectly conformed Lagotto Romagnolo as the subject of a painting by il Guercino" Giovanni Francesco Barbieri. Following the disappearance of the Etruscan civilization water dogs continued to fl ourish, remaining a common sight through- out Roman and medieval times, especially along the tract of coast that runs from Ravenna, through the Comacchio and Veneto lowlands to Friuli and the Istrian peninsula. In the frescoes of the Bridal Suite of Palazzo Ducale dei Gonzaga di Mantova, created by Andrea Mantegna in 1456 there is, in the scene representing the “meeting”, at the feet of the marquis Ludovico III Gonzaga, a dog which is apparently the same as today’s Lagotto Romagnolo. From the 16th century onwards books on folklore, local culture, customs and hunting are full of citations that mention the utilization of a small curly-coated dog used to retrieve water game. Th ese dogs carried out a number of activities, providing support for the vallaroli (or “lagotti”), picturesque folk who, prior to the sweeping land reclamation of the late 19th century, were the real soul of those game-rich lagoons. Th e vallaroli, who were granted use of the famous “tinelle” or “botti” (marshland hides made from bar- rels) for lowland hunting, generally accompanied the local gentry in the fascinating, yet di ffi cult practice of hunting. Th e vallaroli were also trained to fi nd tru ffl es: back then far less was known about tru ffl es and they were far more abundant. Th e inseparable companions of the vallaroli were the small Lagotto Romagnolos, guardians of boat and house, and excellent retrievers (especially of coots) way back when hundreds of small boats would “beat” the hunting ground and surround and kill fl ocks numbering thousands. Th e Lagotto Romagnolo would, often for hours on end, dive into the water whatever the season, even breaking through ice to swim under it and drag the fallen birds back onto the shore (an activity made possible by the animal’s compactly crimped coat and thick undercoat which forms a water-repellent layer that keeps the water o ff the skin. Th e name Lagotto Romagnolo derives, then, from its original “career” as a water dog. In the local dialect of the Romagna “Càn Lagòt” is synonymous with “water dog” or “wetland hunting dog with crimped, curly coat”. A sharp aptitude for searching, a steep learning curve and an unbeatable sense of smell, would, in time, make the Lagotto Romagnolo an e ffi cient tru ffl e- fi nder. Following the cleansings which, during several decades, constantly reduced the immense marsh of Comacchio and of Romagna, while mak- ing disappear almost completely the “Vallaroli”, Lagotto Romagno- lo also gradually lost its function of water dog andspecialized gradu- ally as a tru ffl e dog. Th e transition between these two functions ranges between 1840 and 1890. One can even a ffi rm that during >


The Lagotto Romagnolo


the time between the two world wars, almost all of the tru ffl e dogs of the tru ffl e hunters of Romagna and the adjacent areas were Lagotto Romagnolo. In subsequent decades the use of concrete pylons to sup- port grapevines and the steady disappear- ance of woodland has made the tru ffl e a somewhat rarer fi nd, especially on the plain. Th e Lagotto Romagnolo then turned out to be the perfect choice for searching in hilly woodland and thorny scrub during the autumn-winter period on account of its tightly-knit coat. Even as far back as 1920, the Lagotto Romagnolo was well known in the valleys of the Romagnolo Apennines, in the Valle del Senio, Valle del Lamone and especially in the Valle di Santerno. It should be born in mind that back then no-one was inter- ested in the Lagotto Romagnolo as a pure breed: the existing breeds were considered to be more than su ffi cient and the cross- breeds were often even more appreciated on account of their robustness, character and resistance to disease. Tru ffl e hunters have always bred their dogs on an entirely empir- ical basis (outside of any genetic rules), taking into account only the immediate, practical outcome: a brilliant tru ffl ing dog, whether Lagotto Romagnolo or not. In this manner, Lagotto Romagnolo, which had arrived in the valleys of Romagna “ fi xed” by the continuous couplings in narrow con- sanguinity carried out by the “Vallaroli” of the marshes of Comacchio started “to be polluted” by constant and unjusti fi ed introductions of foreign blood. However, merit where merit is due: the tru ffl e hunt- ers of that period did not let our Lagotto Romagnolo fall by the wayside, allowing it to survive—almost by miracle—to the present day in near-perfect phenotype and genotype form. Towards the mid 1970s a group of Romagna-based dog lovers decided to save the breed, which was risking extinction as a result of the incompetence, ignorance and negligence of owners: Th e group was led by the gentlemanly Quintino Toschi, President

Bridal Suite of Palazzo Ducale dei Gonzaga di Mantova, created by Andrea Mantegna in 1456

to lay the basis for the renewed purity of the breed. With the founding of the Club Italiano Lagotto (C.I.L.) in Imola in 1988, which now has 300 members all over the world, a fi rm foundation for o ffi cial acknowledge- ment of the breed on the part of E.N.C.I. and F.C.I. was created. O ffi cial recognition by E.N.C.I., with approval of the morpho- logical Standard drawn up by Dr. Anto- nio Morsiani (following years of biometric measurements on hundreds of subjects), was achieved in 1992. In 1995, thanks to the constant dedication of the Club and its technical bodies, provisional international >

of the local dog society and the E.N.C.I. breeder and judge Prof. Francesco Ballotta (who still remembered the Lagotti Rom- agnolo of his youth perfectly). Th ey were supported by dog expert, judge and world- famous breeder Dr. Antonio Morsiani and Lodovico Babini, a Romagna-born dog lover with extensive experience. Th ey were to set a genetic reconstruction program in motion that would save the Lagotto Rom- agnolo from the one-way tunnel to extinc- tion. Th e reuni fi cation of the two parallel stories of the Lagotto Romagnolo – the one that took place in the wetlands and the one that took place on the Apennine hills—were


The Lagotto Romagnolo


In order to safeguard and coordinate proper morpho-functional selection at international level 1997 saw the estab- lishment of U.M.LAG (World Union of Lagotto Clubs—Unione Mondiale dei Club Lagotto Romagnolo), the presi- dent of which is Dr. Giovanni Morsiani. Lagotto Clubs in all the above-mentioned countries are members of this association and there is a constant stream of a ffi lia- tion applications from new clubs all over the world. To safeguard the breed against hereditary pathologies, the Italian Lagotto Club has, since 1992, been involved in the o ffi cial control of hip dysplasia in collabora- tion with the Centro di Lettura (Analysis Centre) directed by Dr. Cesare Pareschi of Ferrara. Th e C.I.L. recently acknowledged E.N.C.I. directives vis-à-vis hereditary

recognition by F.C.I. was won. In the mean- time the breed has enjoyed European and even worldwide success and the number of pups registered at the various F.C.I., British and American Kennel Clubs is constantly growing. For example, in Italy, 545 pups were registered in 1994 and nearly 900 in 2002—a near-doubling of births in just 9 years. In countries such as Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Great Britain the number of registered pups has increased tenfold— and in some cases a hundredfold. Th e rapid international di ff usion of the breed is high- lighted by the constantly increasing num- ber of pup registrations in countries such as Switzerland, Holland, Germany, France, Finland, Great Britain, Australia, and Th e United States.

genetic disease control, providing the Cen- tro di Lettura with the support of the F.S.A. (Animal Health Foundation) of Cremona, directed by Dr. Aldo Vezzoni. Th e Club’s Technical and Health Commission has, for years now, been carrying out careful in- the- fi eld checks and controls as regards the most common hereditary diseases a ff ect- ing water dogs with continuously-growing curly coats. Other checks are regarding the main hereditary eye diseases and some heart conditions. In order to maintain the original work- ing capacity of the Lagotto Romagnolo, the “Quintino Toschi” Italian Lagotto Club has, for some years now, organized tru ffl e- fi nding (working) aptitude tests and trials throughout Italy and has obtained excellent results in terms of both quantity and the perfecting of the breed’s functional quali- ties. Th is allowed us to draw up a Working Standards Proposal for the breed (together with Working Trial Regulations) that the Club sent to E.N.C.I. in 1999. Over recent years we have also trained Club judges to carry out the above Working Trials. At the annual C.I.L. Working Championships, disputed since 1999 in those Italian regions with good tru ffl e terrain, a good number of dogs—from both Italy and abroad - par- ticipate in the skills section and are also entered in the “aesthetic” exhibitions. We believe this to be a clear sign of apprecia- tion of our desire to maintain the original working characteristics of the breed. Th e skills tests allow the Clubs to monitor not only the morpho-functional characteristics of the breed, but also character, which has always been one of the Lagotto Romagno- lo’s strong points. From a morphological viewpoint the Lagotto Romagnolo has, over recent years, been consolidated even further. Our fre- quent, in-depth biometric checks made at conventions, rallies and Club meetings have highlighted that the breed’s morpho-func- tional characteristics are perfectly in line with the o ffi cial morphological standard drawn up in 1991 by Dr. Antonio Morsiani. For some time now, the Lagotto Romagnolo has shown good overall homogeneity, with constant transmission of characteristics down through the bloodline. A few years ago we contacted E.N.C.I.,suggesting that the morphologi- cal standard be clari fi ed by two additional observations vis-à-vis grooming and color of the coat. Th is has become necessary to pre- vent dangerous deviations from the breed’s true rustic nature which can be induced by exaggerated, non-functional grooming by professional handlers both Italian and for- eign. Otherwise, the original Italian Stan- dard is—and remains—the ideal portrait of our breed.

Painting by il Guercino" Giovanni Francesco Barbieri



T hese wonderful compact curly-coated water dogs emerged from the truffle regions of Italy decades ago, but are not recorded as arriving on USA soil until the 1990s. The Lagotto is the only breed of dog in the world recog- nized as a specialized truffle hunter. The first US litter was born in 1999. A Yahoo Group for the breed was estab- lished in 1999. Early imports included Truffie who won Best in Show at an ARBA show in 1998. The breed was accepted into the AKC Foundation Stock Service in 2001. In 2007, a small group formed what is now the Lagotto Romagnolo Club of America with a charter membership of 39 persons. The first American bred champion was Jamboree Bella Nina competing in IABCA shows in 2010. In 2011, AKC recognized the club as the parent club for the breed. The breed became eligible to com- pete in AKC companion events in 2008, Open Shows in 2011 and Miscellaneous Class in 2013, ultimately entering regu- lar conformation competition in 2015. The first AKC Champion was Terzo Kleo of Golden Comfort. The LRCA emphasizes the natural rustic nature of our breed and strives to keep the breed true to its roots of water retriever and truffle hunter, stressing that it should be shown in the ring in that look; no fluffing or exaggeration. Following are stories from our first National Specialty Winner, one who competes in conformation and actively hunts truffles and one who actively shows in conformation and companion events. This smart, active and sturdy breed is rustic, loyal and simply a delightful companion. by JUDITH MARTIN co-author: HILARIE GIBBS-SYKES

Cupido the gluten sniffing service dog Lagotto. Owner: Heather Holt

Showdog, after the hunt. Here is Vando, certified Therapy Dog




THE LAGOTTO Judging from a working perspective by Jacki BarBieri

T he Lagotto Romagnolo is an ancient breed, originally a bird dog, that dabbled in tru ffl e hunt- ing. A hundred years ago or so, the breeds path of development deviated. Th e lakes began to dry up and in a short time, the breed was used solely as a tru ffl e dog. In the last century, the breed has been used very rarely as a bird dog until it started to work its way into other countries. Some countries, like England, have begun to use then as bird dogs again. I have trained around 70 Lagotto at this time and a few for birds. Th e smaller size and short muzzle makes it di ffi cult for them to handle large ducks, but they do amazing with upland retrieving and smaller birds. But the coat is amazing for water work, when in correct working coat it is impenetrable. Th e coat is highly unique to this breed. In the ones that have the ability and natural skill for birds, the drive and working style is di ff er- ent than most current successful bird dogs. Th e drive is not visibly intense and the working style methodical and slow. Th is comes from the selection of the dogs over the last century to work predawn to dusk covering large areas of ground. Th ey work intensely and daily for several months. Th e tru ffl e season is short so very few breaks the rest and recover. Th e job that they do is very di ff erent than other sporting group dogs. And in judging them I think its criti- cal to understand these things to prioritize the most important features in the breed. Th e first thing that will shock you is the bite, yes the dreaded reverse scissor. Say what? Reverse scissor in a bird dog! Yes, reverse scissor is aloud and should not be penalized. Often in young dogs (that have adult-sized proportions) the bite will be reverse. I have had several that were reverse until they were 3-5 years old that then changed to level. So why the reverse scissor bite? First, understand that it must tight no

more than ¼ " allowed and its preferred that the teeth touch. Th en understand its rela- tive to dogs correct expression. Th e under jaw should be prevalent it should create an upside down letter “C” when the mouth is closed. Th e under jaw should be wide and not narrow. Th e lips should never form a “V” or be a straight line. Th ey should come slightly below the upper jaw most of the time; if the under jaw is correct, the lips will be correct. Th is prominence of the under jaw will often create a reverse scis- sors especially young in life. Th e short wide muzzle and large under jaw are preferred and developed directly related to the job the dog was to do. Th e larger the under jaw, the larger the upper jaw. Th is creates the extra real estate for the most important feature of the breed—the nose. Th e nose should be as large as possible and with open nostrils. Another feature that is important is the back skull. When measured, it should be nearly as wide as it is long. Measure from ear base to ear base and from occipital bone to stop. Meeting the muzzle, which would be wedge shaped, wide and slightly shorter than the length of the rear skull. Th e function of these points create a large brain for a smaller dog and space for a large nose and olfactory areas. Th ey should be a dog of moderate substance. When you look at them, they should appear hardy, sturdy and robust, but not so much though that they could not be agile. Th ere is a dif- ference between being a dog with substance and a heavy dog that can not climb di ffi - cult terrain. Th ey should be square, but an optical illusion that occurs if the breed is with the wrong proportion of leg. A com- mon defect is a dog too short on leg (a throw back from the Spanish water dog). Th is often makes the dog appear very square, but in reality it’s square, because it’s to low on leg. Th e legs should be slightly more than 50% of the total height of the dog and the

chest should not come below the elbow, which often makes the dog with correct length of leg appear long. All of these fea- tures compliment the dogs working style and job demands. Th ey cover large areas of ground, which are often steep and filled with heavy brush. Th ey do both air scent- ing and ground tracking as they work. Th ey are looking for something that is buried under the ground a few inches to almost a foot for something the size of an eraser on up to the size of a fist. Th ere is no odor trail they are following nor open fields searching for lingering odor to follow back to source. Th ey must cognitively remember things that made them successful under condi- tions that would give trouble even to the most seasoned and best tracking dogs that exist. Th ey use their mind as much as they use their nose while working. So they are a dog with a short body but legs long enough to climb, enough muscle and substance to work long hours and a head that allows for the biggest brain and nose possible for its size. Th e job they have been developed for is very di ff erent than any other dog in the sporting group. So some of the features that would be a downside for most dogs in the group are beneficial to the Lagotto Romagnolo. When judging them, keep in mind the work they have been developed to do. Th ey are a delightful happy breed, tails always wagging and eager to work and please you. Th ey have the intelligence of a Terrier with the heart and willingness of a Retriever. Th e biggest issue you will have in the ring is that they will all try to lick you, possibly jump up to greet you or wiggle with joy as you touch them. It is a unique breed that is extremely versatile. You can expect to see them in many venues working, obedi- ence, dock diving, agility, barn hunts, rally and on and on. You will find them fun to judge and those of us in the breed can’t wait to show just how fun they are.



by Jacki BarBieri with Adrienne Perry & Therese Williams

T he Lagotto Romagnolo is a working dog, both powerful and robust. The standard is reflective of all that makes this dog good at its job. From its original func- tion as a waterfowl retriever to its current and popular use in truffle hunting or other nose work, the Lagotto Romagnolo must be able to endure and work effectively in various harsh environments. The origins of the Lagotto Romagnolo (literally meaning “lake dog”) reach back to the 7th century (BCE), where a small curly retriever was used to hunt waterfowl in the marshlands around the Romagna province of Italy. The influence of this small dog, believed to be the founda- tion of many retrievers we see today, can certainly be seen in various breeds of working and sporting dogs: the Portu- guese, the Spanish, the Barbet (French Water Dog) and the German Pudel. In centuries old artworks, a small dog phe- notypically resembling the Lagotto we know today can be seen. Dating to 1464- 1475, the fresco “The Meeting” (see above) and also in Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591-1666) are two known examples. The Lagotto is also known as the Romagna Water Dog. Around the 19th century, the marsh- lands of Romagna and the delta region were drained and the Lagotto Romagnolo lost much of its original purpose and num- bers dropped significantly. Over time the Lagotto Romagnolo found favor among many in Italy, from the affluent to the working class, as a dog with additional pur- pose. Numbers have increased worldwide and the Lagotto Romagnolo is now used in a variety of functions, and in Italy, is bred specifically to hunt the underground tuber known as the truffle.

There are many aspects to discuss in judging the Lagotto Romagnolo. Unique features range from the coat, which should be curly and dense, the nos- trils/nose in regards to size and color, and the structure, which should be square and with substance. The bite is a feature that can be misunderstood as there is more than one considered “acceptable.” The head is also very important to explain and it is the profile that establishes the correct and “classic” Lagotto look. Let us first discuss the unique aspect of the coat. Overall, the coat is one of the defining factors of the Lagotto Romagnolo, and requires a full understanding. Judges must remember that this is not a dog to be over groomed, and that the coat plays an important part in protecting the Lagotto when in its working function. The Lagotto

coat should be thick and woolly in texture, neither harsh nor soft, with well-defined ring-shaped curls, not brushed and blown out. Curls will range in size and tightness and should be present over the entire body with some exception around the face. The size of the curls is not as important as the density, and if parting the hair with your hands, it should be difficult to see the skin. Push down on the coat; it should spring back. The undercoat, by standard, must be present and not completely removed. The undercoat is wound into the curls and helps to create the protective layer the dog requires when working, both in the water and in the brush. This cannot be seen if the dog has been brushed out and undercoat stripped. A dog who is pre- sented with a coat that cannot be evaluated due to over-grooming/incorrect grooming


should be faulted to the point of exclusion from awards on that day. The cut should easily follow the lines of the body to highlight the dog’s natural angulation and should not be over-sculpt- ed. The coat should be the same length all over the body, but never more than 1 ½ inches. It should also be long enough to properly evaluate curliness, but also not so short that the curls and coat quality can- not be properly seen and assessed. The hair on the head, legs and face may be lon- ger than that on the body. Curls should be present throughout the body including the head and legs. The muzzle may or may not have curls. The curls on the head and legs are generally looser but still required to be present. In judging younger dogs, it should be noted that coat curliness can take several months to develop. Dogs under a year will have a softer texture to the coat. At this age it is common to see dogs with less density and looser curls. When evaluating young dogs, some leniency should be given to the developing coat. However, it should still show formation of curl, especially at the root when parted, and never blown and fluffed. Without beating a dead horse, a com- mon question that is asked by judges, as well as those new to the Lagotto commu- nity is, “why not brush out the coat?” That is a great question and a very important point to fully understand and appreciate. First know that dogs with poor coat are not uncommon in the breed. They can have almost no curl, improper texture (either too soft or too hard), lack undercoat and have little density. Secondly, the standard requires the undercoat to be present, and therefore, evaluated as the dog needs to

be shown to the working function and the coat is a major component for that. The Lagotto Romagnolo needs to have a rus- tic appearance. Brush the coat out; lose the undercoat and integrity of what they should be judged on. When the coat is in correct form, the Lagotto is ready to work. Only a proper coat will create an impen- etrable barrier to protect the dog from the elements of weather, underbrush, and foli- age. The denser the quality of coat, the bet- ter protection for the dog. This does not mean the coat should be matted or corded. In fact, cording is another serious fault and requires disqualification. In judging, it is important to examine and appreciate the density as an indicator of the dog being in proper coat formation. There is no black gene in the Lagotto Romagnolo. Coat colors range from off white, white with orange patches (usu- ally seen on the ears and down the back), white with brown patches, brown, brown with tan points, and brown roan. They may also have markings which are white, roan, or freckled with brown. The pigment of the nose ranges from a fleshy tan to dark brown and all shades in between. Even the toenails range from pinkish white to dark brown depending on the color of the dog. The colors of the coat have a tendency to fade with maturation, and some change so much that they look nothing like they did as puppies. To those unfamiliar with the breed, it must often seem that colors are limited white, brown or white and brown only. There is no advantage to the type, shape, placement of markings or the darkness of the color, all colors and dilu- tions, and markings are equally acceptable. Younger dogs will often appear to be much darker than the adults.

Brown roan and brown with tan are two colors that are eye catching in the dogs’ youth but often fade or “fill in” (in the case of brown roans) to look like a brown dog as adults. Often the “ticked areas” on a brown roan dog will fill in so much that the dog will look just like his brown littermate as an adult. Sometimes the brown markings as well as un-ticked splashes of white are still visible in adult-hood. Brown dogs with roan stockings or chest markings can also experience this color change as they age. Orange and white with orange puppies are often indistinguishable from white dogs as adults. When examining the head of the Lagotto Romagnolo a careful “hands- on approach is essential in determining correct type. Careful and artful grooming can mask a less that desired head. A nar- row skull and muzzle are quite common faults. The width of the muzzle and its blunt profile are key features for they con- tain wide open nasal passages so impor- tant to the dog while scenting for ripe truf- fles. The blunt profile of the muzzle also plays a part; the nose with its wide open and mobile nostrils protrudes very slightly from the edge of the lips. The nose of the Lagotto should appear large. The size and set of the nose and the width of the muzzle are more important than the dog having a scissor bite. The bite is something that must truly be understood and can be confusing as to what is considered acceptable versus unac- ceptable in this breed. Unique to the sport- ing group, this former duck hunter’s main job now involves scenting and the ‘equip- ment’ that makes this possible may often result in the dog having a level or ‘reverse scissor’ bite. A scissor bite is acceptable as


in bone or in thickness of body type would greatly impede their endurance. The dog’s topline should be straight from the withers to the loin, with a slightly sloping croup. The tail may be carried lev- el, or raised in scimitar fashion when excit- ed. It should never curl so as to touch the back or be raised at the base (gay tail). The tail should reach only to the hocks, which given the length of the thigh can make it appear rather short. The dog’s underline slopes up to a slight tuck up. The Lagotto Romagnolo has a slightly longer in thigh that should be well mus- cled. The thigh should not be so long as to lose the well-defined angulation. The hocks should be perpendicular to the ground. In movement, the Lagotto Romagnolo should cover a lot of ground without effort and be full of energy, and never appear lumbered or clunky. Reach and drive should be very apparent. This is balanced with forequar- ters that are a little more upright than many breeds, while still maintaining a laid back shoulder. The neck, should be oval, muscular and powerful, and demonstrate an athlet- ic appearance. A proper neck line should never be short or stocky, as one would expect in a Pug, for example. Length of the neck should be equal to the total length of the head, muzzle to the occipital ridge, and never elongated. In profile, there should be a slight arch as it moves from the nape. Proper neck length proportion can easily be assessed using hand measurement as compared to length of the head. In temperament and biddability, you should find that the Lagotto fits into the sporting group quite well, he is energetic, intelligent, and has much endurance. The ideal Lagotto has an effervescent personal- ity that will dazzle you, despite or because of, his rustic appearance. Please take time to meet a Lagotto Romagnolo if you can. This is a dog that can be a true delight to judge. We’ll see you in the ring. “the neck, should Be oval, muscular and powerful, and demonstrate an athletic appearance.”

well, but must not come as the result of a snippy muzzle. An overshot bite of any kind is a disqualifying fault, as is a truly ‘undershot’ bite (which has been defined as more than ¼ ” between the top and bot- tom incisors). Many of the world’s top Lagotto carry a reverse scissors bite, and while it may take some getting used to for North Ameri- can judges, understanding that the bite is of lesser importance to the dog’s primary function, which is scenting, which should help when judging for the correct, blunt profile head type. Young Lagotto can have bite changes up to three years of age. Some breeders report that young dogs with strong head-type can be reverse scissor up to a year of age before going level or even a scissor bite. The skull should be nearly as wide as it is long. Measuring from ear to ear and stop to occipital bone is something that can be done by hand and is very obvious when it is right. The skull is slightly longer than the muzzle. The under-jaw is strong and wide, and when correct the lips seem to form an upside “C” when viewed from the front. The eyes should be rather large, round and wide set. The color should be in har- mony with the dog’s coat and pigment color. They should also be visible, not hid- den under excess hair. The eye color in the Lagotto Romagnolo range from ochre (vari- ous golden shades and saturation) to hazel (golden with greenish undertones) and dark brown, and usually follow the depth of color of the coat (e.g. lighter colored coats will generally have lighter shades

of the above described colors). There should be no black pigmentation in the eye color. The eyes should convey a keen and friendly expression. The ears are medium sized, triangular with rounded tips and the base is wide, set just above the zygomatic arches. They are slightly raised when the dog is atten- tive, if pulled toward the nose they reach the muzzle at ¼ of its length. The ears have hair on both the inner and outer surfaces, and in the ear canal itself (though this may be plucked). Grooming wise, the ears tend to become lost in the curls of the head, though the ears themselves should be trimmed to the ear leather. It is possible to disguise a narrow skull, ears that lie flat to the side of the head or are too long with an abundance of groomed out hair, both on the cheeks and the beard. Using a hands- on approach will help to reward structure versus over grooming of the head. The body of the dog is square rather than rectangular. A very common fault is a Lagotto that is too short on leg, (e.g. a rect- angular dog that is proportioned 50/50, in terms of depth of chest and length of leg), which is a common picture in sport- ing dogs. However in the Lagotto, this is incorrect. The length of the leg is a little more than half the dog’s height, while the chest should not come below the elbows. The ribcage actually expands at the 6th rib, far past the elbow. The dog should be powerful, agile and well-muscled, but never heavy or bulky. These dogs work for hours covering miles of rough hillside ter- rain, and being too large or too substantial


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