Health Information

The Lagotto Romagnolo is a healthy breed, that easily can live 14-16 years. There are only a few health problems reported in some bloodlines. There are tests available to make sure that dogs used for breeding are healthy so the risk of producing sick puppies can be minimized. But no matter how many health tests we do and how carefully we select our breeding dogs, there always is a small percentage of risk left, because dogs are living creatures and mother nature sometimes has her own will.

Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy (Cerebellar Anomaly)

Clinical studies indicated that the Lagotto Romagnolo can suffer from inherited benign juvenile epilepsy, which resembles idiopathic childhood epilepsy with benign outcomes in human.


Typical symptoms: tremor, loss of balance, uncoordinated movements and occasional falling.


Clinical and diagnostic evaluations of affected dogs including electromyography, electroencephalography, and other testing indicated that seizures in puppies begin at 5 to 9 weeks of age and usually resolve by 8 to 13 weeks. There are some adult-onset cases in the breed too. Dogs with the most severe seizures also have other neurologic signs such as generalized ataxia and hypermetria. Routine laboratory screenings of blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid did not reveal abnormalities. Electromyography, brainstem auditory-evoked potentials, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) remain normal in analyzed dogs. 

However, most affected puppies and adult cases revealed epileptiform activity in the electroencephalogram (EEG). Histopathologic examination shows cerebellar lesions in two studied lagottos. Pedigree analysis suggests an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance.


A laboratory in Finland has studied the genetics of the juvenile epilepsy in Lagottos and has identified one of the causative genes and now can perform a DNA test to verify if a dog is affected, even without showing any clinical signs.

If a dog carries one copy of the mutation, it can transfer the gene defect to approximately 50% of its offsprings. If the dog has two copies of the mutation it transfers the defect to all of its offsprings. It is recommended that dogs that are homozygous for the lagotto epilepsy mutation are withdrawn from breeding programs. Normal and carrier dogs can be 

used but it is advised to choose mutation-free partners for carriers. 

There still is a second (or maybe even third) mutation causing Epilepsy in the breed with very similar symptoms that cannot be tested yet, but the laboratory is researching and hoping to find these mutations soon.


All our breeding stock is tested for JE and is free of the mutation. We do own carriers but will make sure that these will be bred only to mutation free partners to make sure that no sick puppies will be born.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a genetic disease of various degrees of arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis), it can lead to pain and debilitation.


The very first step in the development of arthritis is articular cartilage (the type of cartilage lining the joint) damage due to the inherited bad biomechanics of an abnormally developed hip joint. Traumatic articular fracture through the joint surface is another way cartilage is damaged. 


With cartilage damage, lots of degradative enzymes are released into the joint. These enzymes degrade and decrease the synthesis of important constituent molecules that form hyaline cartilage called proteoglycans. 

This causes the cartilage to lose its thickness and elasticity, which are important in absorbing mechanical loads placed across the joint during movement. Eventually, more debris and enzymes spill into the joint fluid and destroy molecules called glycosaminoglycan and hyaluronate which are important precursors that form the cartilage proteoglycans. 

The joint's lubrication and ability to block inflammatory cells are lost and the debris-tainted joint fluid loses its ability to properly nourish the cartilage through impairment of nutrient-waste exchange across the joint cartilage cells. The damage then spreads to the synovial membrane lining the joint capsule and more degradative enzymes and inflammatory cells stream into the joint. Full thickness loss of cartilage allows the synovial fluid to contact nerve endings in the subchondral bone, resulting in pain. In an attempt to stabilize the joint to decrease the pain, the animal's body produces new bone at the edges of the joint surface, joint capsule, ligament and muscle attachments (bone spurs). The joint capsule also eventually thickens and the joint's range of motion decreases.


However it is very important to distinguish between radiographic hip dysplasia (where the x-ray plates shown noticeable joint changes but the dog shows no sign of the condition) and clinical hip dysplasia (where the dog becomes stiff, lame and in obvious discomfort with arthritis setting in at an early age.) Many dogs with radiographic hip 

dysplasia will never show any signs of the disease even in old age. 

Others with genetically better hips will develop the condition. The main factor in the development of clinical hip dysplasia is environment not genetic inheritance (which is generally thought to be about 30-35%). 


Being overweight and having a poor diet will vastly increase the chances of a dog developing hip dysplasia particularly in big heavy breeds with slow bone growth. Lagotti, as a breed, are not predisposed to hip dysplasia. They are fast growing, sturdy, but agile puppies with lightish bone for their size. If reared correctly, there is little chance of 

them developing clinical hip dysplasia. Dogs always should be checked for HD before used in breeding.


All our breedings stock is tested for HD and has a passing hip score.

Lagotto Storage Disease (LSD)

Lysosomal storage diseases are a group of rare inherited metabolic disorders that result from defects in the function of lysosomes.


Lysosomes are the "recycling center" in cells, and are supposed to process unwanted or worn out material into a substance that the cell can use. If such recycling processes are disrupted, the unprocessed material builds up. Eventually the stored material builds up so much that the cell cannot function any longer, resulting in LSD. 


Inherited LSDs occur across different species, including humans and dogs.


In Lagotto Romagnolo dogs, the LSD disease is characterized by widespread swelling and accumulation of clear vesicles (vacuoles) in the cytoplasm of neuronal cells of central and peripheral nervous system. LSD-Affected dogs show clinical symptoms of progressive cerebellar ataxia, sometimes accompanied by episodic nystagmus (abnormal eye movements), clumsiness and behavioral changes, such as restlessness, depression and aggression towards people or other dogs. The age of onset of clinical signs can range from months to years and the rate of disease progression and its severity also varies significantly.


Researchers from the University of Bern, together with colleagues from University of Helsinki have identified a novel mutation in theATG4D gene that is associated with a newly characterized lysosomal storage disease in the Lagotto Romagnolo dogs and now provide a DNA test that detects the mutation associated with this debilitating neurodegenerative disorder.

LSD in the Lagotto is inherited as an autosomal recessive disease, which means that only dogs that have inherited two copies of the mutation (one from each parent) will develop this form of LSD. The great value of the DNA test is that it allows detection of carriers of one copy of the mutation. These dogs do not show clinical signs of the disease but they can pass the mutation on to their offspring. In order to avoid producing affected offspring, carriers of the rcd1b mutation should never be bred to other carriers or to affected dogs.


All our breeding stock is tested for LSD to make sure no sick puppies will be born.

Eye Cataracts

Like a camera, eyes have a clear lens inside them that is used for focusing. A cataract is any opacity within a lens. The opacity can be very small (incipient cataract) and not interfere with vision. It can involve more of the lens (immature cataract) and cause blurred vision. 

Eventually, the entire lens can become cloudy, and all functional vision lost. This is called a mature cataract. 


Cataracts may be primary (where the condition is probably inherited) or secondary e.g. the cataract occurs as a result of inflammation; metabolic disease; congenital anomalies; trauma. Some cataracts may be detected at an early age; others develop later, may occur in different part of the lens and may progress at different rates.


All our breeding stock gets tested for eye problems every 2 years and only dogs with a passing score are staying in the breeding program.