A Lagotto Romagnolo has a unique undercoat that insulates the dog and makes him or her essentially waterproof. For this reason, brushing an adult Lagotto isn’t recommended (not especially when the coat is dry) because it can strip the undercoat and ruin the coat. Puppies are a different matter since they’ve not yet developed an undercoat.
Working dogs are typically kept in a completely unbrushed state and their coats are frequently matted. The matts, however, don’t cause irritation, rather, they provide the dog with a dense layer of protection. If you’ve ever touched a sheep, you’ll know what a working Lagotto’s coat feels like: Dense, wooly, and so resistant to manipulation that it’s tough to separate the coat to see skin. If the dog is shaved, the coat comes off in a solid piece, the outside dirty and coarse, the inside baby soft and clean. Clipping the coat, however, isn’t recommended by some sources we checked as it prevents it from curling, or evaluating its texture.
With brushing discouraged, people may be wondering if a show Lagotto is wash-and-show breed. It’s not. There’s still a fair bit of grooming involved that requires “scissor-craft” which is preferred over the use of clippers because of the thick undercoat. Neither should an adult Lagotto with a full double coat be completely combed out, again to avoid ruining the coat.
The Lagotta’s coat is incredibly unique to this breed and nothing like it exists in any other breed.
Photo of 2½ years old female Lagotto Romagnolo – from Wikimedia Commons