The Lagotto Romagnolo is one of the most ancient breeds, credited to be the forefather of modern water dog breeds. It originated in the 1400s in Italy. It is active and loving, and would be happy to spend time outdoors with its family. Unfortunately, although more people are showing interest to own this dog, it remains a rare breed outside of its home country.
Are you contemplating whether a Lagotto Romagnolo will be a good addition to your home? Here is a brief background of this charming Italian water dog and retriever.
Lagotto Romagnolo is an ancient dog that originated in the lowlands and marshlands of Comacchio and Ravenna, Italy. Bred as a retriever and water dog, it was often included in paintings that date back as early as the 1400s. As a very old breed, the Lagotto is considered to be the predecessor of a lot of water dog breeds.
It was recognised by the Italian Kennel Club in 1991 and is currently registered with The Kennel Club under the Gundog Group. It remains a highly prized retriever and gundog, as well as a family companion in its home country but its numbers remain low elsewhere in the world, including the UK.
Appearance and Grooming
The Kennel Club describes the Lagotto Romagnolo as a squarely built, small to medium-sized dog of rustic appearance. The breed’s average weight is 24 to 35 pounds and height is 41 to 48 centimetres with males noticeable bigger than females. It has a moderately broad head and slightly convex skull, having the widest point at the zymogatic arch when viewed from above. It also has a strong muzzle, fairly large and nearly round eyes, moderately big and triangular ears, a large nose with open nostrils, powerful and wide jaws, and tight lips that are covered with long whiskers.
The Lagotto has a woolly and waterproof double coat, which is slightly rough on the surface that forms very thick ring-shaped curls. It has less tight curls on the head while the curls are evenly distributed all over its body. It also has well-furnished eyebrows, whiskers and beard. The Lagotto starts with a very soft coat as a puppy and develops its curls very slowly as it matures (fully grown coat when dog is 2 to 3 years old). According to KC standards, the acceptable colours are solid off-white, white with brown or orange markings, solid brown in various shades, brown roan, and solid orange.
The coat of the Lagotto Romagnolo sheds minimally but in order to keep it tidy, it needs to be trimmed by a professional groomer regularly. This also keeps everything more manageable at home. Special attention needs to be given to its whiskers and beards that tend to be messy when it eats. Other grooming requirements are ear cleaning, nail trimming and tooth brushing.
Temperament and Intelligence
The Lagotto Romagnolo is an active, lively and affectionate dog that is a great family pet. However, it is recommended for families that lead an active and outdoor lifestyle because it was bred as a working dog. It will love nothing more than to bond with its owners outside and tends to develop separation anxiety when left alone. It is gentle towards children but there should always be adult supervision to prevent accidents caused by hyperactivity. It does get along with other dogs it is raised with but to be safe, avoid introducing cats and other small pets at home when it is already fully grown.
The Lagotto is an intelligent breed but can be a bit stubborn. It is not suited for first-time owners because it often proves to be too much given its high energy and high prey drive. It needs to be trained by experienced owners that are familiar with this type of dogs. Since it has a high prey drive and strong sense of smell, trainings should be focused on making use of these characteristics such as interactive games and hunting activities.
Dogs may have certain predisposed characteristics but you need to remember that owners play a role in shaping its temperament. The environment it is raised, as well as training and socialisation will influence its overall personality.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical serving for an adult Lagotto Romagnolo is 3/4 to 1.5 cups of excellent quality dry dog food per day. Feeding any type of breed of dog depends on several factors like age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism. When in doubt about the amount and meal timings, consult a veterinarian.
Typical calorie needs of adult Lagotto Romagnolos per day:
- Senior and less active: up to 795 calories daily
- Typical adults: up to 890 calories daily
- Physically active/working dogs: up to 990 calories daily
Like most breeds, the Lagotto Romagnolo thrives on a diet rich in protein in the form of animal meat (beef, chicken, lamb), paired with the right amount of carbohydrates (complex carbs from beans, peas, vegetables and whole grains). Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are also important for coat care.
Health and Exercise
The Lagotto Romagnolo is a generally healthy dog that can actually live up to 17 years old. However, there are hereditary conditions the breed is known to suffer from such as Hip Dysplasia, Lysosomal storage disease, and Cerebral Anomaly Benign Juvenile Epilepsy. All these are worth knowing so you can look out for signs and symptoms and take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
As previously mentioned, the Lagotto is highly energetic and intelligent dog. This combination means high exercise requirements. In fact, this breed will need at least 2 hours of physically and mentally draining activities. It will delight on outdoor activities such as walking/hiking, retrieving and hunting games. As a water breed, it will surely enjoy swimming in pools or lakes.
Cost of Ownership
Buying a well-bred pedigree Lagotto Romagnolo puppy in the UK can be a challenge since only a small number of puppies are bred each year. You would need to go on waiting list to obtain one and pay a minimum of £1,500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy.
To ensure it stays healthy at whatever age, be ready to spend £40-£50 a month on high-quality dog food. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment such as food bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 depending on the brand.
When it comes to healthcare, you need to be prepared in case your dog suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. You can offset some medical bills if you get a pet insurance, which can range from £25 for a time-limited cover up to £55 for a lifelong insurance cover. These prices vary depending on your dog’s health and age, size and weight, the type of cover you choose, and whether it has pre-existing conditions.
Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £1000 annually. Roughly, you will be setting aside £70-£110 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance cover you choose. This estimate is exclusive of walking or grooming services that you might want to use at times.
Lagotto Romagnolo Breed Highlights
- The Lagotto Romagnolo is an active and affectionate family companion.
- Being full of energy, it may be challenging for first time owners.
- The breed would benefit from regular trips to a professional groomer to ensure its coat is tidy.
- The Lagotto is better suited for families with active lifestyle.
- It has high-energy needs so it needs at least 2 hours of daily exercise.
Are you sure the Lagotto Romagnolo is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.
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