Lagotto Romagnolo Breed Magazine - Showsight

Lagotto Romagnolo Q & A

“The more I am around them, the more I learn how smart and clever the breed is.”

THERESE WILLIAMS I live in Washington State in a city called Bellingham, which is 20 minutes from the Canadian border. I am a retired dean of a small college, and now spend my time with breeding dogs and working on home projects. I also sit on a couple advisory boards at the college I retired from. Do I feel the average person on the street knows what the breed is? The breed is still very new to most people. They are fascinated with them once they learn about them, but it is a rare day for anyone to know what they are, where they came from or what their purpose was originally, and what they are best known for now. What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? The more I am around them, the more I learn how smart and clever the breed is. While they do enjoy some sort of “job” they enjoy activities that keep them active and make them use their brains. If you have talked with other breeders, you will find that many are being trained for various tasks for every day life. I have several dogs of my breeding that are doing therapy work, but also many that are active truffle hunters. Other breeders have reported training for var- ious scent based skills, such as mold, peanut butter, and of course, chronic illnesses, such as seizures. They are also very good watch dogs and will alert when they detect or see something or someone out of place. I have a great story of an owner who’s Lagotto woke her up in the middle of the night and wouldn’t stop barking until she got up to see what he wanted her to see. He led her to the living room where she found her husband collapsed on the floor, having a heart attack. The paramedics told her that if she had not got up, her husband would likely have died. I have one girl that kept sniffing a spot on one of my breasts and as it turned out, that is where a very small cancerous tumor was found. These dogs seem to have a sense about them and bond very closely with their owners. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? The Lagotto is a little different from your “typical” sporting dogs in some ways. While driven to work when asked to, the Lagotto is a less compulsive, meaning when you let them know the work time is over, they are fine with that and happy to just “hang” with you or play, or sit on the couch. I tell people they will be as busy as you need or want them to be, but are also happy to just be close. The biggest drawback is that they do need some sort of activity daily that burns off their energy, and if it also involves thinking or prob- lem solving, that is best. If you don’t have time to take a long walk, throw the ball, or otherwise run off that energy, you could end up with some destruction issues. Lagotti are very smart, and if you don’t have something for them to do, they will make up their own game, and it may not be one you enjoy. They like to dig, especially when they are young, and the landscaping they do is likely not what you had in mind. What special challenges do Lagotto breeders face in our current economic and social climate? I think the one of the biggest social issues that any dog breeder faces is the sort of shaming we get from the misconception of some animal rights groups that all breeders are bad and run puppy mills. Nothing is further from the truth. Being a responsible breeder, having all your dogs health and struc- tural tests done, being part of a breed club, following the rules, only breeding dogs that meet the breed standard, raising healthy and well socialized puppies, showing your dogs or doing other events, is a lot of work and takes tons of time and is not cheap. Many people also believe that you should only adopt a dog from a shelter. Adopt- ing a shelter dog or taking in a rescue is wonderful thing to do

and I have always had a rescue dog of some sort on our home. Not everyone can do that however so they turn to a breeder for specific traits they need for the dog to be a good fit in their household. That could be a certain temperament, a particular size, shedding versus non-shedding, activity they want to do, etc. I just wish that publicly, responsible breeding practices had a bigger voice and that the various breeding practices (backyard breeder, puppy-mill and responsible breeder) were better defined and understood by the general population. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? A breeder starts to look at the development of each puppy right after they are born. You watch they act, how they respond, how they move, and as they get closer to eight weeks of age, their overall structure. Pat Hastings, and AKC judge and author of the “Puppy Puzzle” says that at seven and a half to eight weeks of age, the pro- portions of the puppy are roughly the proportions they will have as adults. That can be used as a good guideline. The Lagotto has some specific angulation that is part of the standard, so you also want to assess that as well. The show ring can be a little intimidating so having a puppy that seems to have that “it” factor; the temperament and attitude that they own the ring and want to let everyone know it would be optimal. Those puppies don’t come that often and cer- tainly not one in every litter. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Our breed standard is not the easiest to learn for any judge and a new one may have to consult it before going in the ring, just to remember most of it. One such part of the standard is the bite. The Lagotto can have a scissor bite, a straight or even bite and also a tight “reverse” bite, which most breeds would call an underbite. That throws a lot of judges, and they tend to lean towards the dog with the normal scissor bite if they are unsure, even if that dogs may not have the best overall structure when compared to a dog with a reverse scissor bite. When the Lagotto first began in the show ring, some judges seemed to like them more fluffed out, such as with a poodle. The Lagotto Romagnolo is a working and rustic dog with well defined curls, and should never be fluffed and over-groomed, but they should not look or be matted an unkempt looking either. My ultimate goal for the breed? The goal is to develop the breed in this country to be a healthy, well-rounded pet and working dog. As most breeders began with dogs coming from other countries and imports still being common, it is important to increase the breed diversity as well. The other goal is to continue to monitor the overall health of the Lagotto. Since I obtained my first Lagotto in 2005, we have added more genetic tests to our mix as various genes that can cause issues are detected and the specific gene or genes, isolated. Continuing to collaborate with other breeders around the world about any health issues is at the forefront. My favorite dog show memory? Of course, winning your breed is always an easy answer, but I love getting to know the other com- petitors and networking. Sure, there is a competitive aspect as shows and some are a bit over the top, but I show because it is supposed to be fun. The day is stops being fun for me or the dogs is when I hang it up. The Lagotto Romagnolo is a delightful breed, but not the breed for everyone. People really need to educate themselves and meet a Lagotto before they consider one. Dogs are a commitment and these dogs can live 14-16 years or so. They are also very sensitive and do not do well with hard training.


Powered by