The Lagotto is a country dog and highly adaptable. It can live in an enclosure in the garden, with a covered area containing a well-sheltered bed. It does not need any particularly large area, but has to be guaranteed a daily walk in the open. It is a dog that can even adjust to living in a flat, in which case the possibility of regular outings becomes essential.
As far as feeding is concerned too, it has no particularly sophisticated requirements. It can adjust with no problems to whatever is offered; a good-quality commercial diet can fully meet its needs. As with all dogs, the diet should be varied as little as possible, and always gradually so as to avoid digestion problems. Greater attention should be paid to dogs that work a lot in the cold season: in this case the feed has to supply enough calories, which can be obtained with a suitable amount of fats.
In this breed the growing stage does not involve any particular problems. A balanced diet is important, and if one decides to make it at home vitamin and mineral supplements have to be provided, though without exaggerating, especially as regards calcium supplements.
The puppy should not be subjected to intense physical activity until its skeleton has finished growing.
Given the type of coat, with continuously growing hair tending to become felted, it is important to groom regularly, for the dog’s benefit and to prevent various troublesome problems.The Lagotto should be completely shorn twice a year, in late spring and before the end of summer. This is an absolute necessity for working dogs, and in winter too the length of hair should be regulated according to need, using scissors. Shearing in summer in particular reduces the risk of problems caused by ears of wild cereals and grasses, which in long-haired dogs easily stick, and work their way into the ears and often between the pads. The hair growing inside the earhole should be regularly removed to facilitate better aeration of the ear and more efficient elimination of wax.
If the dog is to be put on show, shearing has to be limited, and when done the head should be left out. It should be borne in mind that after shearing it takes at least three or four months to get back to an appropriate hair length on the body, whereas for the head, and especially the whiskers, it takes much longer.
To keep the dog in good hair condition, it should be carefully combed every two or three weeks to prevent knotting and felting of the hair. After this operation the dog should be washed, or at least wetted, to make the hair take back its natural curl. It is advisable to wet it slightly over several days so as to obtain the optimum curl. The dog should be combed and washed at least a week before any show.
Some health aspects
The Lagotto is an extremely healthy dog. Good feeding and a proper prophylactic programme as regards vaccinations, internal and external parasites and cardiopulmonary filariasis in areas at risk of infection are enough to guarantee excellent health and a fairly long life (easily reaching 15 years or more).
This breed has no particular predisposition for diseases of the skin or for otitis, as long as the coat is properly looked after and checks made for parasites. Mention should be made of alopoecia of the flank, something common to other water dogs, probably with a hormonal basis. It usually starts at the beginning of winter with loss of hair of variable extent on the flanks, without any effects on the skin. It clears up spontaneously in Spring, with full regrowth of the hair.
Among hereditary conditions there is a certain incidence of hip dysplasia, for which a control programme exists, and a few cases of dislocation of the patella have been reported. My experience is that cryptorchidism and eye pathologies have only marginal incidence.<< Back