When most people (at least, people in the US) think of good dog breeds for hiking, they might think of a Golden Retriever, a Siberian Husky, or a Border Collie. People who are a little more familiar with dogs and different dog breeds might also add breeds like Mountain Cur or German Shorthair Pointer to the list.
But the name “Lagotto Romagnolo” isn’t likely to come up often, despite the fact that these dogs can be wonderful hiking companions.
This is mainly because the Lagotto Romagnolo’s area of origin is pretty far from the US, and the breed is new enough that it hasn’t become as popular in other countries yet.
As a result, they are a lesser-known breed, but they have all the same endearing traits as the above-mentioned, “household name” dog breeds, and then some. The breed originated in Italy, and it was first recognized by a kennel club organization in 1995. It is a type of water dog (“Lagotto”) from the Romagna region, which gives it its official name.
Originally, lagotti were used by hunters, as retrievers, especially for waterfowl. Today, they are more popular as truffle hunting dogs.
Of course, like many working breeds, the Lagotto Romagnolo has gained the attention of many people outside of the industries it was meant to work in. These dogs’ temperament, distinctive appearance, and physical ability make them great pets, family companions, and therapy dogs, as well as truffle hunters.
But since they are less familiar to many people than other breeds, new Lagotto Romagnolo owners may have questions about their care and about life with them in general. This guide is aimed at making you more informed and confident about hiking with your Lagotto Romagnolo pup, whether you are a truffle-hunting expert or a complete Lagotti newbie.
Lagotti Romagnoli as Hiking Companions
Lagotti Romagnoli are medium-sized dogs, weighing between 25 and 35 pounds when they are fully grown. Despite their relatively small size compared to other popular hiking dogs, they are able to out-hike many larger breeds thanks to their natural athleticism.
Lagotti Romagnoli in 2022, even those bred for companionship, are not far from their original working dog roots; the energy and endurance necessary for those dogs is still present in all of them, and it will show on a long hike.
They are sweet, loyal, and fiercely protective dogs. They need a lot of physical exercise to keep them from getting bored or antsy, but their real favorite activity is spending time with their family. This makes hiking one of the best things to do with them, since they get to have quality time with you while also being active outdoors.
They are not generally aggressive, even towards strangers, but their natural tendency to protect their territory and their pack may cause them to bark at unknown people who you encounter on the trail. Fortunately, with a bit of training, they can easily learn to be more tolerant of other hikers.
As waterfowl retrievers and truffle hunting dogs, Lagotti Romagnoli have a drive for exploring new areas and tracking down prey. They love to investigate the world with their astute sense of smell, which is another factor of hiking that can keep them mentally stimulated.
They may also be prone to digging, which is understandable but potentially damaging to the hiking trail; try to train them out of this habit or deter them from digging in inappropriate places on the hike. Once they get the hang of things, they will become perfect hiking companions.
Best Conditions for Lagotto Romagnolo Hiking
The Lagotto Romagnolo has a very distinctive look, often considered to be quite cute, thanks to its curly double coat. The outer layer of the coat is wooly and rough, while the undercoat is dense and waterproof, which originally allowed them to work as water retrievers.
This coat is warm and protects them from most varieties of harsh weather, so you should never need to worry about hiking with your Lagotto Romagnolo in the cold. They will be able to keep warm in the rain, snow, wind, and low temperatures, and they often may prefer this to more moderate weather.
If anything, you should worry about yourself when hiking in ideal weather for your Lagotto Romagnolo! Be sure to bring protective gear for yourself in winter months or harsh weather, so that you and your pup can have a safe hike together.
Don’t forget to bring fresh water for the both of you, regardless of the temperature; you may both feel less thirsty in cold weather, but when you’re working hard on a hike, it’s always important to keep yourselves from getting dehydrated.
Because the Lagotto Romagnolo has such a thick, warm coat, they may have trouble hiking in warmer weather or in summer months. This can be mitigated, to some extent, with proper grooming, but the Lagotto Romagnolo’s coat is still insulating even when kept short.
They may be just as excited to hike with you when it’s warm, regardless, and there’s no reason to avoid hiking with them in the summer. They still need the exercise and mental stimulation. But, be prepared for the hike to be a bit different.
They may not be able to hike as fast, or for as long a distance, and you should offer them water even more regularly to ensure they are staying hydrated.
Distance for Lagotto Romagnolo Hiking
The Lagotto Romagnolo is an active dog, built for endurance more than for power or speed. At a running pace, a Lagotto may only be able to keep up with you for a couple of miles, but at a moderate hike, they will happily accompany you for hours. Lagotti Romagnoli are great dogs for long-distance hikes, or even for backpacking trips if you’re properly equipped for it.
Don’t forget to take breaks for water and snacks on these long hikes, for you as well as your dog, no matter how much fun you are having.
Keep in mind that what is true for a healthy, adult Lagotto Romagnolo is not necessarily true for every individual dog. Older dogs may not be able to keep pace with you quite as easily, and Lagotti Romagnoli may have health problems that interfere with their ability to hike.
Joint problems, in particular hip and elbow dysplasia, are among the most common breed-specific health problems that affect Lagotti Romagnoli, so keeping an eye on your pup’s joint health is key to keeping them living their best doggy life and in prime hiking condition.
It’s also important to monitor Lagotti Romanoli’s activity while they are young. Puppies of all breeds can injure themselves, hinder proper growth and development, or increase their risk of health problems later in life by engaging in age-inappropriate exercise, and Laggoti are no exception.
They need a lot of exercise due to the nature of their breed and their high energy levels, but exercise that is too intense or strenuous may have negative effects. Direct the focus more towards long periods of low-intensity exercise, socialization, and mental exercise like hide-and-seek games to keep your Lagotto puppy happy and entertained while still protecting their young joints.
When they are a few months old or have reached their full adult size, you can begin to add in longer hikes and other more physical activities.
One consideration to always keep in mind when hiking with a new dog is their training, or their trainability. Lagotti Romagnoli are highly intelligent dogs, and although they can be stubborn, they will respond to training well if you are patient, and they will retain what they are taught.
This makes life much easier on the trails, when it comes to discouraging them from digging, asking them to settle down upon seeing a stranger, or simply keeping them at your side throughout the trek.
The Lagotto Romagnolo coat that makes them so hardy against intense weather and so adorable to the general population also makes grooming a bit more complicated for them.
They need to be brushed multiple times per week to avoid matting and keep their double coat doing its job effectively, and if you are hiking with them regularly, they may need to be brushed even more. They should be trimmed around the face and paws, so that they can see clearly and avoid getting debris trapped in their toes while on the trail.
Their ears should be washed or cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt, especially if they are digging a lot or exploring on your hikes. Their nails should be trimmed regularly, as well, to prevent them from growing too long and cracking.
If they are spending more time on soft dirt trails than on concrete, they won’t be wearing the nails down naturally through activity, so you’ll have to keep an eye on their length.
Although it can seem like a lot to keep track of at first, the Lagotto Romagnolo is one of the best hiking dogs around once you establish a routine with them. They will happily accompany you on the hiking trails for their whole life.
Have More Dogs in Your Pack?
Finally, if you found this guide helpful, I encourage you to search our site for guides for hiking with other breeds of dog as well. We have partnered with owners of all kinds of different breeds as well as Vet Techs to put together fully comprehensive guides from dog parents and experts with first-hand experience.
For instance, we have guides for hiking with Golden Retrievers and Australian Shepherds and dozens of others!
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