Potential Health Issues in the Lagotto Romagnolo
Overall, the Lagotto Romagnolo is considered a very healthy breed. There are some conditions that can be of concern, and ethical and responsible breeders will screen for these. The known conditions and other regular tests are explained below. If you are considering a Lagotto Romagnolo you should be aware of these and talk to breeders about their breeding and testing program. Genetic testing of parents is necessary to avoid the most common diseases and often the health issues associated with the Lagotto Romagnolo (especially the neurological disorders) can be attributed to poor breeding practices. It should be noted that NONE of these tests are compulsory, but reputable breeders will do whatever tests are available to them to ensure they are breeding healthy, quality animals.
Hip Dysplasia (HD) - Canine hip dysplasia stems from abnormal development of the hip joint; looseness in the joint allows excessive movement which can cause arthritis, especially in larger breeds. As a light agile breed, the Lagotto is not overly prone to joint problems, however HD can occur. It is responsible practice to hip screen breeding animals and by selecting the best scores, there should be continual improvement in the breed’s hips. Hip dysplasia is a multi-genetic inherited trait, with environmental factors playing an important part. During the first year of life, puppies should not be over fed, over exercised or allowed to jump from anything but the smallest height as this can adversely affect their growing joints.
Lysosomal Storage Disease (LSD) - LSD is a neurodegenerative disorder which has been recently identified in the Lagotto breed. It is caused by a genetic mutation which can only only occur if both parents are affected in which case at least half of the offspring will be affected. LSD in Lagotto's is characterized by uncoordinated movements like staggering and falling down, not being able to keep their head up, involuntary eye movement and behavioural changes, such as agression. These symptoms can start from 4 months to 4 years of age and progressively get worst which will result in the dog having to be euthanized.
Herediitary Hyperuricosuria (HUU) - HUU is a genetic defect resulting in a urinary tract and kidney disorder in which excess acid accumulates in urine. This leads to frequent urination, difficulties in urinating, blood in the urine or urinary tract infections. General symptoms include weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, or vomiting. HUU is inherited and according to current knowledge, the dog needs to inherit the mutation from both parents in order for the disease to manifest. Carriers don’t have any symptoms.
Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA) (progressive juvenile ataxia) - While considered very rare, another condition found in the Lagotto is cerebellar abiotrophy of CA. This condition is a form epilepsy, but is not connected with the BFJE mutation. The age of onset is adulthood. The number of confirmed cases is low and research is continuing. There is currently no commercial test for this disease and more research is needed.
Lagotto Romagnolo Info & Lagotto Romagnolo Breeders
The Lagotto Romagnolo (also known as the Romagna Water Dog) is an ancient breed of water dog and retriever from the lowlands of Gommacchino and marshlands of Ravenna, Italy. In the 16th century they were bred to flush out and retrieve water fowl, but also served as a companion dog for farmers. The Marshes eventually dried up so the Lagotto found a new way to work for the farmers in Italy. Among many gifted attributes the Lagotto has, truffle hunting is one of the main reasons for breeding the Lagotto in Europe now, a very versitlie breed that loves to work to please its owner. Today the Lagotto are bred to locate truffles in Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
The Lagotto Romagnolo loves to work. They have sharp senses, though their eyesight is usually more sensitive to motion than detail. Lagotto's have a natural instinct for retrieving. They are excellent swimmers and will retrieve from lakes, streams and other bodies of water without hesitation. Lagotto's can be successful in competitive dog’s sports like obedience, agility, and water trials.
Lagotto's have large, round eyes that range from the colour of dark yellow, green or light to dark brown. Their coat is thick and wooly and is also hypoallergenic meaning that they do not shed coat. Their colours range from cream to apricot or brown. They can be found cream with brown or apricot patches also. If a Lagotto was born with a brown coat, this usually tends to lighten and get cream/white flecks once it enters adulthood. It is known to be rare if a Lagotto has a pure, dark brown coat. Black colouring in a Lagotto is known to be a fault. Males grow to be around 43-48 cm (17-17 in) in height and can weigh up to 13-16 kg. Females are smaller as they grow to be around 41-46 cm (16-18 in) and can weigh from 11-14 kg.
There are conflicting ideas about how to groom the Lagotto. Some say they need regular brushing while others believe that it should be left to grow out naturally into a big fluff and then clipped back short. Regular grooming is recommended to prevent matting and find prickles etc that can become problematic if not removed. In summer the general advice is that the coat is cut or clipped down the coat to around 1 cm short as the thick coat can be irritating in the heat. If you are not prepared to put hard work and effort into keeping a Lagotto groomed you should think about another breed. For more information on grooming see About the Lagotto.
The Lagotto is a very loyal breed and the perfect family companion provided they have regular exercise, daily human contact and affection. They get along well with other household pets and animals if socialized at a young age. An unsocialised Lagotto, like many other breeds, may become timid and nervous. Puppy preschool is also very important.
Lagotto's are not given to excessive barking, but will warn the owner of a stranger’s approach. Lagotto's can be wary of people outside the family and become protective of immediate family if not socialised adequately within the first year of their puppy lives.
Lagotto's are boisterous and can be a bit large and exuberant for a young family with small children. The breed needs a lot of exercise and they should always be kept occupied to keep their intelligent minds stimulated. They need an active owner and daily vigorous exercise, like jogging with the owner or they can be trained to run beside a bike. As the Lagotto is a natural swimmer, trips to the beach, rivers or lakes in summer are ideal for them to show just how powerful they can be in the water retrieving objects.
Without strong leadership and early training the Lagotto will soon become a “problem dog” like many other breeds. If left to their own devices they will become distructive and anti social, nervous and anxious. If considering a Lagotto, above all you must keep in mind that this breed is highly intelligent and needs mental stimulation as well as physical, so that it doesn’t become bored and develop destructive behaviour i.e. digging and barking. They have an intense desire to dig, and can dig a very big hole in a short period of time (with correct obedience training and supervision from the puppy stage they can overcome the digging urge). The Lagotto is not a dog that will be happy being stuck in a backyard day and night.
Special thanks to Lotsalire Lagotto's for sharing this breed information and photos of this wonderful breed.