Lagotto Romagnolo Breed Magazine - Showsight

Lagotto Romagnolo Q & A

“When properly bred, socialized and trained this is a very lovely breed. It has a lot to offer as a family companion, show-dog, scent work and all around sport dog.”

ELIZABETH WILLIAMS I live in Oregon and most of my life activities do involve the dogs. I have been a professional dog trainer and breeder for 31 years (Rottweilers and Shiba Inu), have had the Lagotto breed for just over eight years, participate in dog related activities (conforma- tion, performance events and several lesser known dog sport activi- ties) and I am the President of the Lagotto Romagnolo Founda- tion, Inc.—an organization working worldwide to protecting the health and longevity of the breed through education and scientific research. Do I feel the average person on the street knows what the breed is? The breed is quickly gaining in popularity and recognition in a very large part because of its size and non-shedding coat. The ‘average person on the street’ is gaining interest often by the physical characteristics without much research into the breed’s origins, working nature or health concerns. This is a lovely looking breed and it is easy to see how easily people could be enamored by it at first glance. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? This breed still does ‘work’ hunting truffles in European countries and in the USA. It is really not far from its origins as a working dog and it is now gaining in popularity as a companion dog. Without proper understanding of the history and nature of the breed many people are now bringing the Lagotto into their homes and finding some challenges that they are unprepared for. While this breed has many lovely attributes, the quick rise in popularity has many people purchasing dogs from Breeders that have not necessarily been as concerned with sociability and health. These dogs raised and working outdoors in rural areas are being brought into large cities and busy lives without an outlet for those inherent skills. As with many ‘new’ breeds there can be a big differ- ence in the temperament of dogs depending on their origins. As the shift from ‘working dog’ to ‘companion dog’ is grow- ing ethical Breeders worldwide are focusing breeding programs on proper conformation, genetic health and stable/social tempera- ments in order to insure the breed’s nature as a good family com- panions and sport dogs. The Lagotto Romagnolo Foundation conducted a worldwide breed Health and Behavior survey. You can find information about the results of the behavior survey here: http://www.lagottofounda- What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? The Lagotto is not a typical “Sporting dog” because its job has been scent work and they have been bred away from many of the typical hunting traits. The Lagotto is an active breed but not as physically demanding as many of the other breeds in the Sporting Group. They are however a breed that needs mental stimulation through focused training/activities and/or scent work activities. They can be very destructive as puppies and well into adulthood if not given more productive things to do. They love learning and can be a very fun dog to train in any activity. They mature emotionally/mentally slower than some other breeds which also can contribute to unwant- ed behavior further into adulthood if not properly trained and given outlets for mental activity.

As you can see from the Behavior survey results, the breed over- all does very well with their family in the home and the majority do well in new environments outside the home with other people and dogs. However, there is a large percentage of Lagotti that are chal- lenged with people, dogs and other environmental situations out- side the home. The breed tends to be very alert and aware of changes to the environment which can be difficult for people that do not understand the breed. They are very quick to alert bark to anything and everything—‘bark first and then see what it is’! While I feel it is true of all breeds, the Lagotti is a breed that must be well socialized to the world early and often throughout the first 18 months. Their world becomes very small when they are not exposed to new people, places and things early and many people new to the breed are finding themselves with fearful and reactive dogs when they are outside the home. In the past year I have had many inquiries about the breed from around the country where they have been told by trainers and veterinarians to avoid getting a Lagotto because of fearful/ reactive behavior. This is unfortunate for our breed that among professionals in the companion dog population they are getting this reputation. The coat of the breed does require frequent grooming and care, though for companion dogs keeping it trimmed shorter with rou- tine combing and bathing. The ‘rustic’ look of the hair is a key feature of the breed, they should not be overly groomed or sculpted for the show ring. Our breed has several serious health concerns that require test- ing before breeding. We are fortunate that there are genetic tests available to identify dogs as carriers or affected for some of these diseases. There are also current studies looking for the links to addi- tional neurological issues in the breed. More details about these can be found at: • Hip Dysplasia—the current OFA database reports that 24% of Lagotti evaluated are dysplastic. • Patellar Luxation—an issue in the breed but many breeding dogs are not being evaluated. • Eye Health—cataracts are not uncommon in the breed. All breeding dogs should be evaluated yearly or prior to breeding. • Genetic Diseases: Panel genetic testing from MyDogDNA or other labs can identify whether dogs are clear, carriers or affected. • BFJE—Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy is a neurologic disease. • LSD—Lagotto Storage Disease is a progressive neurological disorder. • Hyperuricosuria (HUU)—6% of Lagotti are carriers of this disease that predisposes dogs to form stones in their bladders or sometimes kidneys. My ultimate goal for the breed? When properly bred, socialized and trained this is a very lovely breed. It has a lot to offer as a family companion, show-dog, scent work and all around sport dog. As a Breeder, exhibitor, competitor and overall breed enthusiast I would love to see more people committed to educate, mentor and focus on the well-being of the breed.


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