Truffle Diggers From Italy

The Lagotto Romagnolo is a breed of dog that comes from the Romagna sub-region of Italy. The name means “lake dog from Romagna,” coming from the Italian word lagolake. Its traditional function is a gundog, specifically a water retriever. However, it is often used to hunt for truffles. Lagotto have been hunting dogs for at least three thousand years, and truffle dogs for maybe a hundred years, if that.

Lagotto Romagnolo

Imagine my surprise when I saw these adorable faces at The Blackberry Farm, an upscale hotel and resort adjacent to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The Farm recently started a new initiative to breed Lagottos on property under the supervision of Mr. Jim Sanford, a professional elephant trainer of many years.

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These Lagottos were carefully flown in from Italy and given the finest southern hospitality. They receive 24-hour care, heated kennels, and lots of training time among the crisp mountain air. When I arrived at the Farm, a 2-3 weeks old young litter was being nurtured in a quiet room with hay stack and heated lamps.

Lagotto Romagnolo

Training for these Lagottos starts on day 1. The house broken puppies are sold for $6,000, and ones without training for only $3,000. All the puppies from the Blackberry Farm have found good residences, mostly in celebrity homes and in Beverly Hills.

The Farm currently sources black truffles from the neighboring farm of Tom Michaels.  Upon finding this treasure trove of truffles, he brought them to the kitchen at Blackberry Farm where they were immediately offered at that evening’s dinner service. So began the relationship with Dr. Michaels, which has lead to the planting of Blackberry Farm’s own truffle orchard.

So on future visits to Blackberry Farm, you may just have the opportunity to harvest your own truffle and have it shaved for you at dinner that very night…and on your farm eggs in the morning!

And if you are lucky, you may even be able to take a Lagotto Romagnolo puppy home.

Lagotto Romagnolo


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Sucheta Rawal

Sucheta is an award winning food and travel writer, who has traveled to over 90 countries across 7 continents. She is also the founder and editor of 'Go Eat Give' and author of 'Beato Goes To' series of children's books on travel.

7 thoughts on “Truffle Diggers From Italy

  1. I am very much interested in the lagotto breed. I’ve been doing research trying to learn as much as I can about the breed so I can decide if this is the breed for me. In my readings I learned that Blackberry Farm had this breed and I was even more interested since I had been a guest several years ago. I would very much like to know more about your dogs and your breeding program. I will be looking forward to hearing from you.

  2. Please help me contact Jim Sanford at Blackberry Farm. I am very interested
    in one of their Lagottos. Years ago as a guest at the farm I was introduced to one of their first litters. At the time I had two standard working poodles.
    Presently I am in search of a Lagotto.

    1. Hi Gemma, If you contact the Blackberry Farm directly, they will let you know when new pups arrive. Generally, they are claimed as soon as they are born, so you may want to put your name on the waiting list. Good luck!

  3. I have a friend who breeds Lagottos. She is not at Blackberry Farm, but in TN. She has 2 males and 1 female left. I believe they are orange and white. Please email me at if you are serious. Please give contact information and a veterinary reference.

    Thank you.

  4. We got our Lagotto Romagnolo from Blackberry Farm. INHUMANE! At 6 months old she was diagnosed with DOUBLE HIP DYSPLASIA! We called to let them know and they said, oh she’s the second one in her litter! Turns out her breeding father, Bruno bred multiple dogs with hip dysplasia! INHUMANE BREEDING PRACTICES! We are so upset and want all future owners to know that Blackberry Farm is not a safe place to get your little lagotto. Our baby is going to have surgery soon, we have to wait until she is a year old. She is in so much pain, has to take 2 painkillers to be comfortable everyday. She cannot jump and she has trouble running beyond 30 second spurts. IT IS SO SAD TO WATCH YOUR LITTLE LAGOTTO IN PAIN! I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW BLACKBERRY FARM IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO PURCHASE THESE BEAUTIFUL DOGS!

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