Grooming The Lagotto Romagnolo
March 17, 2015
Paging through the breed by breed grooming entries here on PetGroomer.com, I noticed there were no entries on grooming the Lagotto. I happened to have one in the salon for grooming, so I thought I would share the basic grooming needed for this breed.
Some brief history on this breed:
The Lagotto Romagnolo [laˈɡɔtto romaɲˈɲɔlo] is a breed of dog that comes from the Romagna sub-region of Italy. The name means "lake dog from Romagna," originating from the Italian word lago, meaning lake. Its traditional function is a gundog, specifically a water retriever. However, it is often used to hunt for truffles.
Some photos of Lagottos
Lagottos come in a variety of colors
This dog in physical character largely resembles the Portuguese Water Dog, but it is smaller in stature, and its coat is left much more rustic than the Portie. In fact, a coat containing matts is accepted in the show ring and by most educated Lagotto owners as part of their true coat characteristics. Of course, in the grooming salon, leaving matts in a coat is a big no-no. So, as groomers, we have the unusual task of completely grooming the dog, and then getting it to actually look quite UNgroomed as a final step before it is considered finished.
Normally a nicely scissored and plush looking trim on a curly coated pet is what we are trying to achieve and what the owner would envision. But on a coat which is to be kept rustic or natural and not altered looking, as groomers we have to go over the dog as a final step and re-wet and hand squeeze the coat and then allow it to air dry to re-introduce the "marcelle" and the curl back into it. The stick straight results wanted for a Poodle's coat is not what you are going for. And the marcelling or natural wave desired in the jacket coat of a Kerry Blue Terrier is close to what you want to achieve, but the final trim on a Lagotto should be even much more curly, touseled and untidy. Doing this totally goes outside many of the comfort zones that most groomers find easy to turn a dog out as finished, and indeed, overcoming the final look of any tailored characteristic can prove surprisingly difficult.
To begin on a pet dog, we must thoroughly wash the pet and carefully remove any deep solid matting from the coat to be sure the pet's skin is healthy beneath, and that the coat does not inhibit free physical movement. Before the bath I recommend removing only the matting that is so solid that you feel you cannot penetrate it with shampoo and water and result in the hair within the mat being clean. Leave the rest of any webbing or matting until after the bathing session for two reasons:
1. Doing so likely will cause coat damage
2. The coat has a natural ability through its genetic texture and density, to easily blow out loose matting and webbing during the HV drying session. This is easier on the dog and yourself to allow your equipment and topicals to loosen & remove what you would otherwise be relying on your hands and arms to manually do.
Once the coat is clean, completely dry and lofty, use a pin brush and comb to separate the coat nicely. If you use a slicker, be sure to use either a flexible head slicker, or a very soft touch and a pat & pull method.
Thoroughly clipper I wide sanitary trim on the groin of the dog, trim out the underarm area of the front legs, and clip well around the rectum. Trim out the hair around the ear opening and where the ear rests on the side of the head to allow for plenty of air flow to the ear canal. And trim the pads nice and tight.
From here, based on the requested length the owner wanted, choose your blade or comb attachment length and clip the entire dog both body and legs into the same length. This breed calls for columnal shaped legs, but also uniform coat length over the entire dog with exception of the head. And with as active as these dogs are, minimal leg coat will prove in the best interest of everyone.
Once the body and leg coat is fully clippered, go around the feet and shape them into soft round bevels, and be sure that the pads and perimeter of each paw is scissored tidy and tight.
From here be sure that the tail is scissored into its characteristic *carrot shape*. There should be no plume or flag on the underside of the tail per breed standard. For this dog, I scissored the entire tail, but you can also use a longer clip comp attachment if the tail hair is nicely dense.
From there we move to the dog's head, which is finally the place where you can utilize your scissoring skills.
The breed calls for a round head and ears, and a muzzle with coat but in slightly shorter length than the hair on the head and cheeks. It also calls for a round head where the ear hair doesn't extend past the length of the nose nor the cheek line. So you are trying to achieve a relatively round head similar to the Portie but with true circular shape instead of the slightly flat shape required of the top of the Portie head.
To achieve this, I first clippered tightly the throat area and behind the line of the jaw to get this messy area short and even, and to add length to the neck. From there I scissored the head and across the tops of the ears, sides of the ckeeks, and then shaped the bottom of each each to blend it in with the sides of the head. And finally, I stretched the lower lips and scissored the flew tight and then thinnered across the stop area of each eye and around the eye to open the view of the eyes. You should be able t easily se the eyes of these dogs, but there should still be a slight awning of natural hair that sits across the brow so the "deer in the headlights" expression is avoided. This owner also requested that the beard be left longer than usual so you will notice that doing so creates more of a bell shaped head. Ideally, the head should be fully round and similar to a Cockapoo or teddy bear head expression.
From there, as a final finishing step to the groom, I re-wet the dog's entire body and leg coat with a thorough misting of plain water and squeezed the water into the coat with my hands, and then put the dog into the kennel under a fan to allow it to finish by air drying. Remember to allow yourself extra time at the end of the groom to provide this finishing step and still get the dog back to its owner fully dried.
It is important to not use heavy coat conditioning sprays on this breed that will be left on between grooming visits because typically they are not groomed as often, and their guard coat to undercoat ratio coupled with the density of their coat and the type of natural oils their skin produces, proves to be adequate for what they need and you don't want a heavy conditioner left in the coat.