There is written evidence that the Lagotto Romagnolo was working in the marshes of Italy as early as the year 1600. But many believe the Lagotto Romagnolo's history goes back much further than that. Etruscan artifacts depict hunting dogs that bear a striking resemblance to the Lagotto, and the Etruscans lived in Italy from the 8th century to the 2nd century B.C.
The Lagotto Romagnolo was originally a water dog that would retrieve game from the marshes for hunters. “Lago” is the Italian word for lake, and in the local dialect of Romagna, “Càn Lagòt” translates directly to “water dog” or “wetland hunting dog with crimped, curly coat.”
Truffle hunters deserve credit for saving the Lagotto from extinction by giving it another line of work. But truffle hunters were also not concerned with producing purebreds. They were only concerned with breeding the dogs that were the best truffle hunters, so they often bred Lagotto Romagnolo with other breeds that had the same skills. How much these foreign crosses permanently changed the breed is unclear.
The lagotto romagnolo or more simply lagotto , is a canine breed , with ancient Italian origins, which developed in the marshy areas of the south of the Po delta : specifically in the Ravenna area and in the plains of Comacchio . Equipped with an exceptional sense of smell , it is the only breed in the world specialized in the search for truffles ; it is a dog also used in antiquity.
The lagotto was originally a water retriever , its use was similar to that of well-known retrievers ; later this attitude was lost with the selection in favor of the search for truffles.
The name of the breed derives from the Romagna language : “Càn Lagòt”, which means: “water dog”. According to other sources, the origins of the name derive instead from the dialect term with which the inhabitants of a village in the Comacchio valleys are called : Lagosanto , called "lagotti". This interpretation is also reported by Giovanni Morsiani who in turn cites Gian F. Bonaveri in a publication of 1761 entitled: Of the city of Comacchio of its lagoons and peaches , where it is said that the valley people used white dogs with thick, curly hair.
Before the reclamation of the '800, in the valleys of Comacchio and in the marshy areas of Romagna , the dog was in fact used to bring back birds (especially coots ). In this activity a decisive role is played by the coat and undercoat of the breed that protect the animal from contact with water, often freezing, allowing it an unsurpassed working capacity. Parallel to this hunting activity, the lagotto carried out a useful, but less known, activity in search of truffles , which at the time were much more abundant. This activity subsequently took over to specialize the breed in this activity exclusively in the entire world panorama; also and above all because the breed is excellently trainable and has an excellent look and a remarkable sense of smell . With the disappearance, due to the reclamation , of the marshy valleys , the need to use the lagotto as a retriever dog was lost . Furthermore, in parallel with the disappearance in the vineyards of the wooden supports in favor of the concrete ones and with the impoverishment of the woods in the plains, there has been the disappearance of truffles in the flat areas. Following this circumstance, the search for truffles moved to more hilly and wooded areas, and once again the adaptability of the breed proved to be precious: the fur and undercoat in fact protect the animal from the thorns often present in the undergrowth