The World’s Truffle Hunting Breed
Pigs can be used to find truffles the wonderful unground mushroom delectable delicacy, but …do you really want to sleep with a pig? Seriously, pigs can get hard to control when they get excited and many times eat the truffles, whereas lagotti are the preferred choice as hunters because the breed has been bred for centuries to hunt truffles and they are wonderful companions to live with.
Truffles can look like potatoes. In North America they grow naturally on the roots of douglas fir trees, oak trees and hazelnut trees. There are cultivated truffle farms (truffieres) in North America which usually use inoculated European trees.
Truffles live in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the host trees. This means that both the truffle and the tree benefit from their relationship. How does that work? The host tree uses photosynthesis to make sugars which get passed to the truffle as nutrients needed to grow. Truffles are the “fruit” of the fungi. The fruit which people pay good money to eat! The truffle helps the tree by giving it water and minerals.
The lagotto romagnolo has been bred for centuries to find truffles underground. The dogs keen sense of smell find the ripe truffles which are perfect for eating. There are people who find truffles by raking the forest floor destroying large areas as well as damaging the truffles. Rakers will find and sell subpar truffles. A trained truffle dog will only dig a small hole to find the ripe truffle. This hole can then be filled back in with dirt with minimal disruption to nature.
There are multiple types of truffles found in North America in the wild. They are basically categorized as white or black truffles. Trained dogs will find all ripe truffles in the area the are hunting. Martha Lake Lagotto will demonstrate truffle hunting on our location. We will give you a truffle for you to start training your pup. It is common for our pups as young as 12 weeks to find truffles. We can refer you to several excellent dog trainers in Washington state. They use different methods to train both the dog and their handler.
As a sporting event, there are more and more truffle hunting competitions. Truffle hunting for is a fun activity that is good for the mind, body, and spirit for kids, adults, and their dogs!
© 2018 by Martha Lake Lagotto.