Lagotto Romagnolo

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Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Lagotto Romagnolo
Average Cost to keep/care for a Lagotto Romagnolo

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #186 out of 241 Dog Breeds.

The Lagotto Romagnolo breed is also commonly known by the names Lagotto, Romagna Water Dog, Water Dog of Romagna.
15 - 17 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Gundog Group
Males 43 - 48 cm
Females 41 - 46 cm at the withers
Males 13 - 16 kg
Females 11 - 14 kg
Average Price (More Info)
£1,638 for KC Registered
£1,234 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics


The Lagotto Romagnolo is native to Italy where these handsome dogs were originally bred to retrieve game on land and on water. They have always been highly prized in their native Italy not only for their retrieving skills, but also because they boast having a tremendously keen sense of smell and are therefore often used to search out highly sought after truffles in woodland areas of the land. Today, the Lagotto Romagnolo although lesser known and seen here in the UK, remains a popular working and companion dog in their native Italy.


It's thought the Lagotto Romagnolo has been around for centuries having been bred in Italy as a water dog and retriever. The breed has been well-documented throughout history with paintings depicting similar looking, handsome dogs dating as far back as the 1400's. As such, the Lagotto is considered to be one of the most ancient breeds with many other more recent water dog breeds being descendants of the Lagotto.

The origins of the breed can be narrowed down to the lowlands and marshlands of Comacchio and Ravenna where they were highly prized retrievers and gundogs throughout the ages. Today, the Lagotto remains popular in their native Italy both as working dogs and family pets thanks to their charming looks and loyal, affectionate natures.

The Lagotto Romagnolo was recognised as a breed in its own right by the Italian Kennel Club in 1991 and their popularity elsewhere in the world has led to more breeders producing good examples of the Lagotto in many countries which includes here in the UK. However, very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year which means that anyone who wants to share their home with a Lagotto would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list.


Height at the withers: Males 43 - 48 cm, Females 41 - 46 cm at the withers

Average weight: Males 13 - 16 kg, Females 11 - 14 kg

The Lagotto Romagnolo is a handsome dog and one that commands a lot of presence. They are small to medium in size and quite squarely built which gives them a sturdy appearance which is accentuated by a dog's curly, woolly coat. There is a distinct difference between both male and female dogs. Their heads are moderately broad with dogs having slightly convex skulls and slight, but noticeable stops. Eyebrow arches are well developed and muzzles are strong being almost as deep as they are long. They have straight nasal bridges and large noses that boast well opened nostrils. Their jaws are powerful and large with tight lips and covered in bristly, long whiskers.

They have quite large eyes which are set nicely on a dog's face without being too close. Eye lashes are well developed and eye colours can range from ochre to a dark hazel as well as brown to match a dog's coat colour. The Lagotto always has an alert, intelligent expression which adds to their endearing looks. Ears are quite large and triangular in shape having rounded tips. They are wider at the base being set just above the level of a dog's eyes. Their ears hang down when relaxed, but are slightly raised when a dog is excited or alert.

The Lagotto has a strong jaw and they can either have a scissor or a pincer bite, although a reverse scissor bite is also allowed under their breed standard. Their necks are quite short, but powerful and muscular being slightly arched with no dewlap. Their shoulders are well muscled and quite well laid back. Front legs are powerful and well-muscled showing a good amount of bone.

The Lagotto has a strong compact body with their toplines falling from the wither to the croup. Their backs are muscular with dogs having short, wide and extremely powerful, slightly arched loins and wide, long and sloping croups. Their chests are well developed reaching down to a dog's elbows. Bellies are slightly tucked up adding to a Lagottos athletic, streamlined appearance.

Their hindquarters are strong, with dogs having powerful upper thighs. Their feet are compact having strong nails and webbing between a dog's toes which is why they are such strong swimmers. A Lagotto's front feet are virtually round in shape with tight, well arched toes whereas their back feet are a little more oval shaped and the toes are not so arched. Tails are set as a continuation of a dog's croup and taper towards the tip hanging down when at rest, but when excited dogs often carry their tails over their backs although never curled.

When it comes to their coat, the Lagotto Romagnolo boasts having an extremely waterproof coat that's woolly and rough to the touch that forms extremely thick curls. Their undercoat is clearly visible being softer and dense. The curls form all over a dog's body, but they are looser on their head which forms their eyebrows, whiskers and beards. A dog's cheeks are nicely covered in thick hair and the curls on their ears are very wavy and open. Inner ear flaps are covered with hair and tails are covered in bristly, woolly hair. The accepted coat colours are as follows:

  • Solid off-white
  • White with brown or orange markings
  • Brown roan
  • Solid brown (in different shades)
  • Solid orange

Dogs can have a brown or dark brown mask which is acceptable under the breed standard.


Althougth the Lagotto is first and foremost a working dog, they do make wonderful family pets as long as they are given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them busy and happy both physically and mentally. They are known to be exceptionally good natured around children and love nothing more than to be part of a family.

They are best suited to people who lead active, outdoor lives and who would like to have an energetic, intelligent canine companion at their side. They are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be handled and trained by people who are familiar with this type of dog’s specific needs. The Lagotto does boast having quite a high prey drive having extremely good hearing as well as a very keen sense of smell. They can also spot their prey in the distance which means that when they are being trained, particular attention has to be paid to the "recall" command right from the word go.

They love being in and around water which means care has to be taken as to where and when they are allowed to run off their leads just in case a dog decides to jump in any of the more dangerous water courses. They also love to dig which can become a problem if dogs are allowed to roam around a garden which often sees a Lagotto happily digging up flower beds and lawns.

Lagottos form very strong bonds with their owners and as such they like to be with them and are never happy when left to their own devices for any length of time which could see a dog developing some unwanted and destructive behaviours as a way of relieving their stress. They often suffer separation anxiety when they are left alone for long periods of time.

Intelligence / Trainability

The Lagotto is an intelligent dog and one that thrives on being around people loving nothing more than to please. As such, in the right hands and environment, they are easy to train and thoroughly enjoy the one-to-one attention they are given during a training session.

It's important to teach puppies the "basics" as soon as they arrive home and to start their training in earnest once they have had all their jabs. Socialising puppies early in their lives helps them grow up to be more outgoing, confident characters and enrolling them into puppy classes is the best way to get their training off to a good start in a safe and controlled environment.

The key to successfully training a Lagotto is to make their training sessions as interesting and as diverse as possible and to indulge their natural retrieving instincts rather than to try and curb them. Younger dogs find it hard to stay focussed if there is too much repetition in a training session and the same can be said if the session lasts for too long. As such, shorter more interesting training sessions are much better than longer and more repetitive ones.

Children and Other Pets

The Lagotto Romagnolo forms very strong bonds with their families and this includes the children in a household. They thrive in a family environment and thoroughly enjoy being involved in everything that goes on around them. They are very gentle and good natured around children although any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not end up getting too boisterous.

When well socialised from a young enough age, the Lagotto generally gets on with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in the home, they usually get on well together. However, if a Lagotto meets any other cats, they would think nothing of chasing them off. As with other breeds, it's best to be careful when they are around smaller animals and pets just to be on the safe side.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.

Lagotto Romagnolo Health

The average life expectancy of a Lagotto Romagnolo is between 15 and 17 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

The Lagotto Romagnolo is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these unusual and handsome dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Lysosomal storage disease
  • Benign juvenile epilepsy
  • Cerebral anomaly

It is not known if benign juvenile epilepsy and cerebral anomaly are connected conditions or potentially different facets of the same condition, but they are both issues that are gradually being bred out of the lineage by responsible breeders. Responsible breeders will undertake hip scoring to check for a propensity to hip dysplasia before breeding their dogs, and will carefully monitor their dog’s lineage for epilepsy and other related conditions.

DNA health testing health testing is advisable for dogs of the breed for the following health conditions:

  • Benign juvenile epilepsy.
  • Lysosomal Storage Disease.
  • Hip dysplasia, with the average hip score returned by dogs of the breed being 11.
  • Annual testing using the AND eye test is also advised, as cataracts are known to afflict a significant number of dogs of the breed, particularly those that originate from Scandinavian countries.

The Lagotto Romagnolo dog has also become an important component in research into epilepsy in children; researchers in Finland identified a specific gene mutation in the Lagotto Romagnolo dog that may be connected to the causes of human benign childhood epilepsy too, and have implications for treatment and potentially, ultimately a cure for the condition.

Caring for a Lagotto Romagnolo

As with any other breed, Lagottos need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


The Lagotto boasts having a curly, dense coat that sheds very little. The downside is that they need to be regularly trimmed by a professional dog groomer, but this makes keeping their coats tidier that much easier in between visits to a parlour. The curls on a dog's face and head are longer and looser than on the rest of a dog's body. This forms their distinct and heavy brows as well as their whiskers and beards which tend to get a bit messy after a dog has eaten. As such special attention has to be paid to their mouths making sure they are kept nice and clean once a dog has finished their food.

One thing that is worth bearing in mind is that a Lagotto's puppy coat is extremely soft and dogs only develop their curls very slowly as they mature. In short, their adult coat only really grows through when they are around 2 to 3 years old. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.


The Lagotto is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need to be given a minimum of 2 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Lagotto would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they may be feeling.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these high energy, alert dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble. Because they love being in and around water, care has to be taken when walking a Lagotto off their leads anywhere near any dangerous water courses, just in case they decide to jump in.

With this said, Lagotto puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.


If you get a Lagotto puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Average Cost to keep/care for a Lagotto Romagnolo

If you are looking to buy a Lagotto Romagnolo, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £1500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy.

The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Lagotto in northern England would be £22.01 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £50.37 a month (quote as of July 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Lagotto Romagnolo and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Lagotto Romagnolo would be between £70 to £110 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.

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