Lagotto Romagnolo Breed Magazine - Showsight


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


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