Lagotto Romagnolo Breed Magazine - Showsight

Lagotto Romagnolo Q & A

“My introductory letter to breed inquiries states that this dog is not the one for every family, and not a first choice for a family with no dog experience. They are highly trainable, but must be trained.” Judith Martin continued

On my first visit to Italy in 2007, I visited several highly respect- ed breeders. Each of the breeders kept their dogs in kennels separate from their homes with no dogs inside which helped me understand why many of our imports arrived with shyness or anxiety issues. It took me almost a year to train my first Lagotto to be comfortable around strangers, and my second import was rehomed due to unac- ceptable level of shyness for a show/breeding dog. I knew that once the puppies were raised in typical “American-style” in the homes of their breeders with lots of socialization, we would see much of that issue go away. We still recommend our puppy owners continue with plenty of continual socialization for our breed. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? My introductory letter to breed inquiries states that this dog is not the one for every family, and not a first choice for a family with no dog experience. They are highly trainable, but must be trained. We see a variety of energy levels in a litter and must evaluate the energy levels of the prospective families. I remind people that the breed is toler- ated by many folks with allergies, but that is not always the case. Their current growing popularity is due to adorably cute puppies, medium size and non-shedding coats. We want to make sure they are not too cute for their own good. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Judges need to keep in mind that this dog has a purpose, and when judging in the ring, they need to ask them- selves if this exhibit looks like it could run in the forest for six hours and come out looking the same; the perfect conformation with the perfect coat should be one and the same. We do not want to see the selected dog be the result of talented grooming. My goal for this breed is for us to protect the robust health of this breed, to maintain the proper conformation to do the work it was bred for, to have the temperament to remain a lovely family dog. SANDY MIGNOGNA I discovered the breed in

of people. I do find dog enthusiasts at training centers and AKC conformation shows are definitely more aware of the breed though. What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? I would agree that in the US, the breed is not utilized as it is in Italy as a working breed. This can lead to challenges in living in a home situation as they are a breed that needs to be engaged mentally and on a lower level, physically. As long as their owners are committed to engagement and making them a member of their household, they do very well. I think their nature of wanting to please their owners and their physical and mental stamina that is needed while working as a truffle hunter carries over into the non-working life as a family pet in that they are easy to train and can be utilized in a variety of fun and active dog sports. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? I find them to be a breed that needs a lot of mental stimulation and inter- action with “their people”. They have a great get-up-and-go attitude and are eager to try any activities their owners want to do with them. This makes the Lagotto a really fun breed to train and they excel in many dog sports, such as scent work, agility, obedience, dock diving, etc. Because of their need for activities and needing guidance and boundaries to be content members of the household, they may not be a great fit for first time owners or busy families that are just looking for a couch potato at the end of a busy day at work or with kids. What special challenges do Lagotto breeders face in our cur- rent economic and social climate? Unfortunately, in recent years the demand for the breed has been greater than the supply. Now that the recognition of the breed is growing, people are wanting a Lagotto without understanding their needs, they are attracted to the breed because of their mid-size, cute and cuddly appearance, non-shedding coat and the fact that they are considered allergy- friendly. In very recent years, many inexperienced and/or unethical breeders have been breeding to meet the demand and are breeding without doing the proper health testing on the parents, being aware of temperament issues and breeding structurally unsound dogs which are also lacking in breed type. Too many people are inter- ested in the “now” puppy and are not doing their homework and waiting for a puppy from an experienced and diligent breeder who places health, type and temperament as a top priority. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? All puppies in a litter are cute and it is easy to start to fall for one because of unique color or markings but in my opinion, true con- formation qualities of type and movement and that “show spark” can not be analyzed until a minimum of seven to eight weeks. Of course a full evaluation is not possible in this breed until maturity, closer to one and a half years. The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? In Italy, there are three parts of the Lagotto breed that are so important to the breed that three separate awards are given at specialty events. They are head, coat and structure/move- ment. The first, head type—without proper expression/head type we lose the essence of the look. But more importantly though, if we lose the head type which is so important for the breeds’ function, we also lose the elements needed for greatest scenting abilities—a wide muzzle with a strong underjaw, both of which allow for a blunt

1997 and visited Italy to meet with breeders for the first time in 2002. I have travelled to Italy over 15 times to attend their National Specialties and World Dog Shows and to be mentored by breed specialists. I served as the LRCA’s President, as a Direc- tor and as on multiple commit- tees and I am presently a judge’s mentor. I started breeding and

showing dogs in 1992. I graduated from Penn State University and worked in the corporate world but I am now retired pursuing my full time dog passion. I live in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Outside of dogs, I love to travel anywhere and everywhere. I also love to trail ride with my horses. Do I feel the average person on the street knows what the breed is? While the breed has definitely grown in recognition in the past several years, I don’t think they are yet recognizable by the majority


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