An Italian water dog is the informal name for the purebred Lagotto Romagnolo, which literally translates from Italian to English as "lake dog of Romagna."
Lagotto Romagnola dogs have bristly, ring-shaped curls that are usually looser and longer around their heads and eyebrows than along their bodies. Dogs of this breed also have pronounced whiskers and beards. Ranging between 16 to 19 inches in height, these medium-sized dogs are usually about as long as they are tall. They generally weigh between 24 to 35 pounds. The most common colors for Lagotto Romagnola dogs include beige, brown, orange, and white with orange or brown patches. Some dogs of this breed also have brown facial masks.
Lagotto Romagnola dogs date back to seventh century B.C., when they were originally utilized by hunters as duck retrievers. During the 19th century A.D., the Italian peasants drained the marsh lands to create more farm land, and the job of Lagotto Romagnola dogs evolved into hunting truffles, or rare, exotic mushrooms that grow approximately 1 foot under the ground.
The Lagotto Romagnola is considered to be the ancestor of all modern water dogs. These dogs include the poodle, the American water spaniel, the Labrador retriever and the Portuguese water dog.