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Lagotto Romagnolo Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Lagotto Romagnolo

Start your Lagotto Romagnolo off on the right foot by feeding the right food, giving the right vaccinations, finding the right vet, and if you're going to spay or neuter, don't do it too early.

Jump down to this list of
Lagotto Romagnolo Health Problems

Or check out my advice for raising a healthy Lagotto Romagnolo puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Lagotto lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet... [read more]

numeral 33 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food
You can dramatically increase your dog's chances of living a long, healthy life by feeding the right food. Cutting right to the chase, the best foods for your Lagotto are... [read more]

Real homemade dog food A Quick Way To Make Homemade Dog Food
Your Lagotto will love real chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, yogurt, broccoli.... this is not just "people food" and I'll tell you why... [read more]

Dry kibble and canned dog food 5 Best Kibble and Canned Dog Foods
Some are better than others, but I must be honest – I'm not a huge fan of dry or canned dog food. Here are my concerns... [read more]

Information on booster shots for your German Shepherd. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Lagotto puppy really need? Does your adult dog need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you... [read more]

Information on spaying Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Should your female Lagotto be spayed? Current research says, "The AGE at which you spay can be vitally important to your dog's future health." So what's the best age? [read more]

Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Have you been told that you must neuter your male Lagotto? Current research shows that the issue is not so simple. Pet owners are not being told about some risks associated with neutering male dogs, especially neutering too early... [read more]

Information on choosing the best vet Make Sure Your Vet is the Best!
Is your current veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Here's how to tell... [read more]

Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review
Does your Lagotto suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to reduce inflammation and pain. [read more]

Lagotto Romagnolo

Complete list of Lagotto Romagnolo health problems

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a malformation in the hip joint. The Orthopedic Foundation of America examined the hip x-rays of 425 Lagottos and found about 1 of every 4 was dysplasic. That's a very high rate for a dog this size. Hip dysplasia causes pain and lameness and also leads to chronic arthritis.

Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy (BFJE)

Unique to the Lagotto breed is a type of inherited epilepsy called Juvenile Epilepsy (or Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy).

  • Benign = not too dangerous to health, usually goes away
  • Familial = inherited, runs in family bloodlines
  • Juvenile = manifests in puppies
  • Epilepsy = seizures

Interestingly, with BFJE, true seizures are not as common as tremors, loss of balance, uncoordinated movements, and tripping/falls.

BFJE symptoms typically begin at 5-9 weeks old. The good news is that they usually resolve on their own by 4 months old. The bad news is that sometimes symptoms do persist into adulthood.

Another piece of good news is that breeders can do a simple DNA test on your pup's parents before breeding them. Based on extensive testing of adult Lagottos, the numbers so far look like this:

  • 3% are affected by BFJE (or were affected as pups but recovered) – these dogs should not be bred
  • 50-70% are normal – their pups cannot be affected
  • The rest are carriers – these dogs are not affected themselves but they carry the bad gene so they must never be bred with another carrier, else their pups can be affected; breeders must breed a carrier with a normal, never with another carrier, lest affected puppies be produced

Again, as long as ONE parent tested normal for BFJE, the pups will be safe even if the other parent is a carrier.

Unfortunately, there is another form of epilepsy in the Lagotto, unconnected to BFJE, and with an age of onset in adulthood. There is no DNA test for this form yet.

Lagotto Storage Disease (LSD)

Also known by the tongue-twisting name Neurodegenerative Vacuolar Storage Disease, this is a rare but severe disease.

Symptoms include uncoordinated movement, loss of balance, and behavior changes, and appear anywhere from 4 months to 4 years old.

Storage Disease is progressive and incurable. Eventually the dog will need to be put to sleep.

As with juvenile epilepsy (see above), there is a DNA test available for Storage Disease. Responsible breeders use the test to find out whether their breeding stock (your pup's parents) are affected, normal, or carriers of Storage Disease.

Over 1000 Lagotti have been tested for Storage Disease. Only 1% were affected, 88% were normal, and 11% were carriers. Breeders must be careful to breed a carrier only with a normal dog, not with another carrier. As long as at least ONE parent tested normal, the pups will be safe.

Cerebellar abiotrophy (CA)

In addition to Juvenile Epilepsy and Storage Disorder, Cerebellar Abiotrophy is yet another inherited neurological disease in the Lagotto.

In fact, the symptoms of all three diseases are similiar: uncoordinated movement, wobbly gait, loss of balance, etc. All three diseases affect the brain.

Cerebellar Abiotrophy is incurable and progressive. The only good news is that the disease is still rare in the Lagotto. The bad news is that there is not yet a DNA test for Cerebellar Abiotrophy in the Lagotto. So breeders can't test their dogs before breeding.

Neuroaxonal Dystrophy

This is the most recent neurodegenerative disease discovered in the Lagotto. Same symptoms as all the others: gait abnormalities and behavior changes. Same incurability, although dogs with mild ND can live a good life with medications. Dogs with severe ND need to be euthanized.

Age of onset for ND is 6-12 months old. Fortunately, it's rare. And there is a DNA test, so breeders can be sure not to breed two carriers together.

Eye Diseases

Not a big issue in the Lagotto. But to keep it that way, responsible breeders always have the eyes of their breeding stock tested and cleared.

When an eye problem does occur in a Lagotto, it's likely to be cataracts, or prcd-PRA (always leads to blindness), or distiachiasis (a painful condition in which a dog's eyelashes rub against his eyeball).


An inherited disorder that predisposes a dog to forming stones in his bladder and kidney.

Stones can lead to urinary tract infections... or worse, a blockage where the stone gets stuck. This can be life-theatening in male dogs, who find it difficult to pass stones through their narrow urinary tract.

Fortunately, there is a DNA test for this disorder.

Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if your dog inherits from his parents the genes for an eye disease called PRA, he will go blind and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Dog feeding and health book by Michele Welton But most health problems can be prevented by the ways you raise your dog.

My best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to raise your Lagotto in all the right ways that help prevent health problems. Become your dog's health care champion!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.