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The Lagotto Romagnolo along with several other breeds can sometimes have what is known as an “incorrect coat” or short hair. It is quite rare and not harmful to a dog in any way. However, it is a cosmetic defect in the breed and dogs with an incorrect coat are different in appearance to those with a correct coat. The problem does not become apparent until puppies are around 7 to 8 weeks old and it is most apparent on their heads, ears and legs where coats are that much shorter than their littermates.
Mature dogs with incorrect coats typically have long feathering on their torsos, ears, tails but the hair on their faces and legs are short. It is worth noting that dogs with incorrect coats shed normally and that a dog’s coat depends on one inherited gene. It is also worth noting that for the Lagotto Romagnolo, there is a genetic test available to identify carriers.
As previously mentioned, there are several breeds that are affected by improper coats which are as follows:
Furnishings in a dog’s coat describes its wiry texture and the amount of hair that is present on their faces and legs. It is a trait that is important to breeders as well as people who show their dogs more especially for breeds with moustaches and defined eyebrows which are part of a dog’s breed standard. When a dog does not have these “furnishings”, they are considered as having improper or incorrect coats.
Research carried out in 2010, identified a gene mutation which is known as RSPO2 which ensures that dogs have their “furnishings”. This led to a test being developed that allows breeders to establish whether a Lagotto Romagnolo is a carrier of the gene mutation.
Dogs inherit their furnishings in what is termed as a “dominant way” which in short means that dogs need only inherit one copy of the RSPO2 mutation from one parent to develop their long, characteristic hair on their faces. This does, however, present a problem for breeders because when dogs inherit a single copy of the gene mutation, they are in fact “carriers” even though their coats are “proper or correct”.
As such, if a carrier is bred to another carrier with an incorrect coat, the chances of puppies being born with their “furnishings” stands at around 25%. The problem more especially affects many “hybrid/designer” dogs namely the Labradoodle because they are a Poodle cross and Poodles are known to have two copies of the RSPO2 mutation which are referred to as having “fixed furnishings”, but the Labrador does not have any.
The problem is that hybrid puppies will inherit one copy of the gene from each of their parents and as such all puppies from Poodle crosses will inherit a copy of each variant, so they will have furnishings. With this said, the puppies would also carry the variant that means they have an improper coat in that they would have short hair on their faces and they would therefore be carriers of an improper coat.
There is a DNA test available for Improper Coats (ICs) in Lagotto Romagnolos which establishes the genotype of a dog as to whether they are Normal, Carrier or Homozygous Affected which means they have an improper coat. The test is interrupted in this way:
Normal – a dog has two copies of the gene (RSPO2) and therefore has correct furnishings and coat
Carrier – a dog has one copy of the gene (RSPO2) and therefore has a proper coat and furnishings, but if bred to another “carrier” or an “affected” dog, a certain percentage of their offspring could be born with improper coats
Homozygous Affected – a dog has two copies of the gene (RSPO2) and therefore has an improper coat and therefore has the IC phenotype which means that all their offspring would inherit a single copy of the RSPO2 gene mutation
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