Ras geschiedenis

Breed history

In contemporary kynology, the Lagotto Romagnolo is also called the Italian truffle dog and is known for its great ability to find truffles. Although the Lagotto is the only breed worldwide that specializes in truffle hunting, it is certainly not the only breed used for this purpose. However, the truffle hunting is not the original use function of the Lagotto as that was fetching waterfowl.

The Lagotto is related to the Barbet (fresh waterdog), the Portuguese Water Dog and Spanish Water Dog. Although these four breeds are counted among each other's equivalent, the Barbet may be called the mother of the water dogs. It was claimed at an early stage that both the Barbet and the Lagotto descended from African dogs, which were taken from the Middle East by crusaders. The Etruscans, living among the Italian rivers Arno and Tiber, were known for their maritime trade and piracy. From the beginning of the Etruscan period the presence of curled dogs, used to retrieve waterfowl, is known.

A fresco by Andrea Mantegna (1456) shows a suite of Palazzo Ducale in Mantova (Lombardy). In this painting you can see a dog that is almost identical to the current Lagotto. The Lagotto is clearly present in a painting by the Italian Baroque painter Giovanni Fransesco Barbieri (1600). In 1591 Erasmo di Valvasone wrote a poem called "La Caccia" (the hunting) in which he describes a hunting dog with "curly fur, not afraid of the sun, water and ice, climber of mountains, wading of rivers, he who know how to overcome thorns bushes and that the waterfowl proudly and happily brings to the handler ".

The Lagotto originates from Romagna, a region in Northeast Italy. The original inhabitants of the swamps between Ravenna and Ferrara, bred and used the Lagotto, a medium-sized water dog, mainly to retrieve the waterfowl. These residents were also called the Vallaroli (Lagotti) people. It was not until the 19th century, when the marshlands slowly came to dryness, that the Lagotto was used to search for truffles. With that, the retrieving task of the Lagotto wasn't used any longer, but  the excellent sense of smell has been retained. During all those centuries the Lagotti have always been used to guard the property and properties of the Vallaroli, such as the boats with which they fished the marshlands.deeeuw, toen de moerasgebieden langzaamaan droog kwamen te staan, werd de Lagotto ingezet voor het zoeken van truffels. Daarmee is de apporterende taak van de Lagotto komen te vervallen maar het beroep op het uitstekende reukvermogen behouden gebleven. Gedurende al die eeuwen zijn de Lagotti wel altijd ingezet voor het bewaken van het erf en eigendommen van de Vallaroli, zoals de boten waarmee ze de moerasgebieden bevaarden.

Shortly after the Second World War, the truffle became a scarce commodity due to a huge expansion in the agricultural sector. Nevertheless, enthusiasts in the last 25 years of the last century have succeeded in retaining the Lagotto as truffle hunter. In 1977 Quintino Toschi, president of the Kynology association of Imola (a city south of Bologna), expressed the wish to ensure the preservation of the original type Lagotto. In collaboration with Gilberto Grandi he invented and registered all the Lagotti then present in Italy. From that moment Lagotti breeding took a turn with much more emphasis on the breeding of specific breed characteristics, both in character and conformation. In June 1988 the Club Italiano Lagotto was founded, after which a group offered enthousiasts worked for the recognition, which was followed by the recognition by the ENCI (Italian kennel club) in 1991. The FCI came with the provisional recognition in 1995. Final recognition followed only 10 years later, the first Italian breed standard dating from 1992. The standard was adopted on 13 October 2010 for the first published in English and last modified on 6 January 2016.

In the meantime the Lagotto can be found all over the world and is becoming increasingly popular.



As in every population, we find genetic disorders in dogs. There are several disorders known to the Lagotto, below more information about the genetic abnormalities known for the lagotto Romagnolo (update September 2020).

Not all mentioned health issues will have influence on the dogs quality of life. 

All results of the health tests carried out for our dogs can be found in the database of the Dutch Kennel club (hips, eyes and patella) and mydogdna (DNA markers). In the unlikely event that you can't find something there, please feel free to ask.


Hip dysplasia (HD) is a developmental disorder of the hip joints. It can be hereditary, but environmental factors also play a role in development. A dog can suffer a lot from HD, but that is not necessary. On the outside of the dog you can not see if a dog has HD, so if your dog can walk well, that does not have to say that his hips are perfect. To really see if your dog has HD, (digital) X-rays of his hips are needed. Raad van Beheer.

The patella (kneecap) is located in the tendon of the large thigh muscle. There are great forces on this muscle so that the leg can carry the body and dogs can stand, walk and jump. In order to ensure that the kneecap remains in the middle of the joint, there is a groove, through which the kneecap glides. If the kneecap shoots out of the groove (patella luxation), that leg can no longer bear the body weight. As with hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, there is a genetic basis, but environmental factors also play a role. Raad van Beheer


Below are some eye abnormalities that we see more often in the Lagotto Romagnolo. During the annual eye examination all common eye abnormalities are tested.

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in the eye. It occurs in older dogs, but is also occasionally seen in very young dogs. Cataract can be hereditary. In addition, cataracts can occur as a result of inflammation or underlying disorders such as diabetes. There are different forms of cataract.

PRA (Progressieve Retina Atrofie)
A group of inherited retinal disorders that occurs in many breeds and leads to blindness in the final stage. Currently there is a small increase in the number of PRA cases in Scandinavia. DNA marker research seems to be a next step.

Abnormal hair growth on the eyelid edge. Which in severe cases can cause irritation and inflammation of the eye.

Membrana Pupillaris Persistens (MPP)
In this condition, remains of the vascular system for the lens (membrana pupillaris) are left behind. This  is called persistence. Normally this vascular system disappears about four weeks after birth. MPP is a congenital eye disorder.

Not all eye deviations that are found result in exclusion for breeding. The breeding rules of the Lagotto Romagnolo Club Netherlands indicate that breeding with dogs that are found positive to PRA or Cataract is not allowed in any case. Dogs that have been found to be positive for another hereditary eye defect will always have to be bred to a dog that is free of this abnormality.

More information about the annual eye examination can be found on the website of the Raad van Beheer (the Dutch Kennel Club). Raad van Beheer

De DNA markers

As DNA marker tests are available we can avoid breeding affected dogs for the listed marker tests.

Benign familial juvenile epilepsy (BFJE) is a neurological disorder encountered in the Lagotto Romagnolo breed. Affected dogs suffer from focal-onset epileptic seizures in puppyhood. The seizures invariably resolve spontaneously by four months of age. In some cases, carriers might also present epileptic signs. BFJE is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner.

Clinical overview

Epileptic seizures are caused by a disruption of the normal electrochemical activity of the brain. Onset of focal epileptic seizures in BFJE is at 5-9 weeks of age. The seizures consist of whole-body tremors, ataxia (uncoordinated movements), and stiffness. The epileptic signs can sometimes be associated with alterations of consciousness. Frequency of seizures can vary between individuals: there can be several seizures a day or sporadic seizures a few times a week. Usually an affected puppy seems completely normal between the seizures. However, in severe cases there can be neurological signs, such as generalised ataxia between the seizures. BFJE form of epilepsy is relatively benign since the seizures typically end after 4 months of age.

Shorthair is not a health problem but gives a different appearance to the lagotto. With the help of a DNA test we can prevent lagotti from being born with a short coat that often also sheds. 

LSD (Lagotto Storage Disease)
Lagotto storage disease (LSD) is a progressive neurological disorder characterised by cerebellar ataxia. Histological examination reveals neuronal vacuolisation in the peripheral and central nervous systems. Aggregation of vacuoles can also be seen in several other tissues, but only vacuolisation of the nerve cells seems to be relevant. Lagotto storage disease affects the Lagotto Romagnolo breed. The disorder is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner.

Clinical overview

The onset of clinical signs and pattern of progression vary considerably between individuals. The first signs can be seen at the age of 4 months to 4 years. Typically the first observable sign of LSD is usually progressive ataxia (uncoordinated movements). The first signs of slowly progressing ataxia are not necessarily noticed by the owner. Some of the affected dogs also suffer from episodic nystagmus (involuntary eye movement). In some cases, nystagmus is the first sign noticed. Lagotto storage disease is a progressive condition leading to behavioural changes such as restlessness, depression, and aggression. The life expectancy of affected dogs depends on the progression of the disorder and the severity of the signs. Some dogs can live for several years with mild signs, but dogs with severe clinical signs are usually euthanised earlier.

Hyperuricosuria (HUU) is an inherited disorder in dogs that can cause hyperuricemia and predisposes affected dogs to the development of urolithiasis (urate stones) in the kidneys and bladder. The disease is very common in Dalmatians but is seen in several other breeds as well. Hyperuricosuria is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner.

Clinical overview

HUU predisposes affected dogs to the formation of uric acid stones. In Dalmatians, the disease is more common in males than in females. As much as 34% of all male Dalmatians are diagnosed with uric acid stones. Clinical signs of urolithiasis include hematuria, pain while urinating, and blockage of the urinary tract. Patients with urine stones are more susceptible to urinary tract infections. Blockage in the urinary tract is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary care. 

Non-congenital (niet bij de geboorte aanwezig) cataract
binnenkort meer informatie, we wachten momenteel op de publicatie.

De DNA markers van uw eigen hond in beeld laten brengen? Er zijn verschillende laboratoria welke de testen voor u uit kunnen voeren. Voor onze honden gebeurt dit bij Genoscoper www.mydogdna.com

Ongoing research

NAD (Neuroaxonale dystrofie)
Neuroaxonal dystrophy in Spanish water dogs is a rare neurodegenerative disorder. Clinical signs appear between six and eleven months of age. Affected dogs are presented with progressing neurological signs such as gait abnormalities, abnormal vocalization, incontinence and behavioural changes. The disease is pathologically characterised by spheroid formation in the central nervous system. The inheritance pattern is autosomal recessive.
Bij de Lagotto zijn meerdere honden gesignaleerd die dit gen dragen. Hierdoor is het intussen een marker test geworden die steeds vaker meegenomen wordt in het onderzoek.

Clinical overview

Clinical signs of the disease are progressive in nature and include gait abnormalities; behavioural changes such as dullness, nervousness, or abnormal vocalization; incontinence; and uncontrolled defecation. Affected dogs may also show compulsory pacing, visual deficits, nystagmus, tilting of the head and neurological deficits, predominantly related to sensory localization. Neurological examination may show a mild head tilt, generalised cerebellar ataxia, hypermetria of the thoracic limbs, a depressed patellar reflex, proprioceptive deficits, decreased menace, visual deficits, positional nystagmus, and decreased muscle tone. Due to the progressive nature of the condition, clinical signs typically lead to euthanasia before two years of age. A characteristic pathologic feature for the disease is the development of spheroids in the central nervous system. Spheroid formation can be observed in the grey matter of the cerebral hemispheres, the cerebellum, the brain stem, and in the sensory pathways of the spinal cord

Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA)
Read the case report by T.S. Jokinen e.a.. The University of Bern and Helsinki are working together to find a DNA marker for this disease.

Alopecia (kale plekken)
In some cases the Lagotto (but also other breeds) loose hair, causing (temporarily) a bald spot. It is still unclear at this time what causes this with in the Lagotto Romagnolo. We do see that the hair often grows back within a few months.

The breed club

De Dutch breed club has, together with their members, drawn up breeding guidelines. Themost actual version of these guidelines can be found on the homepage of the LRCN: lagotto.nl www.lagotto.nl

De lagotto

The lagotto

Breed description

The Lagotto Romagnolo, also known as the Italian truffle dog, is an old breed that has not been recognized for very long. In 1995 the breed was provisionally recognized by the FCI, in 2005 the final recognition came.

Originally the Lagotto was used in the swamps around Ravenna for hunting small waterfowl. With the drying up of the marshes, they were increasingly used for truffle hunting in the adjacent hilly area in Emilia-Romagna.

The Lagotto is generally a fast and agile dog, which makes it very useful for work in hills and on uneven surfaces. They have a natural urge to search and are very focused on their owner. The Lagotto is intelligent, can be a little cautious/reserved with strangers and can be noisy. In the house they are calm and playful, outside they love to run and dig. The Lagotto is suitable for several forms of dog sports. They perform well in obedience, agility and flyball.

The Lagotto has a curly coat that will become felted if not trimmed. The Lagotto is brown, white or orange. With or without markings which are single-colored or gray. There are also dogs with tan markings. Most brown and orange dogs have a genetic greying factor and so do not stay as dark in color when they are born. Occasionally shorthairs and bobtails are born. This is the result of crossing with other breeds in the past.

The beautiful coat of the Lagotto requires a lot of maintenance. The coat does not shed, but the undercoat must come out. A good brushing every month and trimming at least four times a year is really necessary. The hairs in the opening of the ear canal should be partially removed if they come loose to avoid problems. When this is taught to young puppies, it will not cause any problems in the future.
Depending on the speed at which the nails are growing, they should be clipped weekly, biweekly or monthly.


As with any living creature, genetic defects also occur in the Lagotto Romagnolo. At the moment (September 2020) it is mandatory in the Netherlands to test the Lagotto on the following points; hip dysplasia, patella, hereditary eye disorders, Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy (BFJE), Lagotto Storage Disease (LSD) and HUU.

In addition, it is possible to check the elbows (ODC, LPC, LPA, incongruity) and to demonstrate via a DNA test whether or not the dog is a carrier of the short hair gene (Furnishing). For more detailed information about the health of the Lagotto, please refer to the Health page.

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