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Discovering Italian dogs: Lagotto Romagnolo

Before reading a few peculiarities about the Lagotto Romagnolo, I urge you to take a look over the full collection that deals with the origins of Italian dogs! You can get to know the Maremmano-Abruzzese Sheepdog, the Italian Bracco, and the Neapolitan Mastiff by clicking on the links!

You know, a man’s best friend is a dog. During my time as a veterinary student in Italy, I had the opportunity to interact with various canine breeds. Given my background, I may be nonobjective, but everyone had their own unique charm that I can’t convey in words.

A group of nice Lagotto Romagnolo breed dogs | Credit

Dogs have evolved alongside people, and for better or worse, they have been subjected to our unrelenting influence. The reason is straightforward. The early attempts at domestication were made solely to lessen the load of the workers’ days. No one, whether a shepherd or a landowner, would ever deny assistance from a four-legged companion. Over the millennia, the various races have thereby specialized in performing various activities, obtaining truly distinctive and distinct traits.

In these anecdotes about Italian dogs, you can learn more about Italian culture by seeing how these animals have changed alongside our fathers over time.
Today, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about the Lagotto Romagnolo. Its odd appearance and perennially curling cloak have always piqued my interest. Have fun reading!

Lagotto Romagnolo’s History

I must confess that this dog breed has a rich history, a sign of prestige, and, most importantly, of its extensive use by our forefathers.

La Camera Degli Sposi by Andrea Mantegna. In the lower right, you can see a dog with the appearance of the Lagotto | Credit

The origin of the name

Let’s begin with the name, which is a little comical if you know a little Italian.

The naming of dog breeds is a serious business. It is considerably more than merely a geographical reference.
The concept of Lago (Lake) is referred to by the name Lagotto. Romagnolo, on the other hand, denotes his native land, which can be traced back to the region of Romagna.
As I have said, the name is unmistakably derived from its primary purpose.

It was a water dog who accompanied lords on hunting journeys in marshes and aquatic areas until the period of reclamation in the 800s.

Although I am not originally from Romagna, I can tell you that the local dialect Càn Lagot means water dog. The connection is quickly made, isn’t it?

Comacchio marshes, one of the most widespread areas| Credit

The beginnings of Lagotto Romagnolo

Let us take a step back in time to the peak of Etruscan splendor, approximately 300 B.C.
Trade creates thriving civilizations. What had a high commercial worth and was traded as a valuable coin? Dogs.
A dog that looks exactly like the present Lagotto Romagnolo can be found in various hunting scenes shown in the Etruscan necropolis of Spina.
As a result, it appears that the Etruscan trade and expansions were responsible for the earliest spread of these specimens in the peninsula.

In this brief video, you can realize the ability of this dog in the water

Following that, Carl Nilsson Linnaeus, an outstanding naturalist of the eighteenth century, referred to this Canis acquaticus as long widespread in the Mediterranean basin.
Furthermore, the scholar’s description of this dog corresponds exactly to the current Lagotto Romagnolo specimens. Researchers now agree that the dog Linnaeus was referring to was most likely the curious-looking one we’re talking about today. We might therefore presume that over the nearly two millennia between the Etruscans and Linnaeus, this dog has become more common in Italy.

Lagotto Romagnolo’s life after the Etruscan civilization

These water dogs spread like wildfire in Roman and later medieval times. Along with the usual occupations of vallaroli or lagotti – the aristocrats hunted game in the valleys of Veneto, Romagna, and Friuli before the reclamation of 800.
Because of their extremely compact, water-repellent, and waterproof curls, these canines were regularly used. The Lagotto appears in several folk ballads, where its exceptional ability to dive in frigid waters and slaughter ducks is extolled.

A fantastic truffle dog

Between 1840 and 1890, the vast marshes of Northern Italy were decreased due to land reclamation, which decimated the vallaroli economy. The marked ability for research, outstanding training, and excellent sense of smell made the Lagotto an efficient truffle hound at the time.
Already in 1920, the Lagotto was well known in the valleys of the Romagna Apennines, including the Senio, Lamone, and Santerno valleys.

Truffle Dog | Credit

Today’s Lagotto Romagnolo

It is necessary to clarify that truffle hunters have always functioned solely on the basis of the immediate practical effect. They intended to get the best truffle dog, and they had to couple closely linked subjects with the case’s implications. This genetic heresy spared the Lagotto Romagnolo breed by protecting its blood from being contaminated by those of other canines.

Close-up details | Credit

The truffle entrepreneurs of the period had the great merit of not burying our Lagotto, allowing it to reach us as if by miracle, almost intact in morphology and genome.

The Lagotto Italian Club was created in 1988, and the breed was recognized by the Ente Nazionale Cinofilia Italiana (ENCI) in 1992.

This concludes the story of the Lagotto Romagnolo. It is always interesting to learn about Italian history from the perspective of our four-legged friends.

If you are an animal enthusiast like me, don’t miss Life in Italy’s insights on other Italian breeds!
See u soon!

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