Breeds of dogs: Shepherd from Lessinia and Lagorai

Breeds of dogs: Shepherd from Lessinia and Lagorai

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Origin, classification and history

Origin: Alpine Triveneto, Italy.
F.C.I classification: UNRECOGNIZED BREED

The Shepherd of Lessinia and Lagorai or simply Shepherd of the Lagorai is an ancient herd-leading breed, indigenous to the mountain areas of the Triveneto. In particular, it is, in human memory, always used in the pastures of a large territory characterized by the alternation of plateaus and mountain massifs, between the provinces of Trento, Vicenza, Verona, Belluno and neighboring areas. But it is widespread, thanks also to the presence of important transhumance routes, throughout Friuli Venezia Giulia, part of Emilia-Romagna and Eastern Lombardy.
The Veronese, the Vicenza area, the Feltrino area and the Trentino mountains have in particular since the Middle Ages areas with a strong woolly vocation, both in production, up to counting flocks of thousands of heads, and in the transformation, thanks to the well-known local manufacturing industries.
It is a dog that descends from the ancient Shepherd of the Alps, a common ancestor of more than one flock breed.
The parator dogs came to the Italian Alps from the east, accompanying the prehistoric migratory waves of shepherds originating in Anatolia and Eastern Europe starting from 4,500 years ago. Populations that had acquired the art of animal domestication, in particular of the dog, from the Natufian culture that developed in the Mesolithic on the eastern Mediterranean coasts. Testimonies of parator dogs, dating back to the Neolithic period, are found specifically on rock engravings and bronze situles of the Venetian culture.
Like other native genetic types (such as the Burlina cow, the Redena or the Gray Val d'Adige, the sheep of Brogna, Lamon, Foza, the Alpagota, the Tingola, the Plezzana, the Carsolina or the Mochena goat), o cultural represented by the Cimbrian language and traditions, the particular physical characteristics of the Triveneto area, a real zootechnical island, have allowed the preservation in almost total uncontamination of the natural qualities, morphological characteristics and rusticity of this dog. So much so that still today it is normally used by transhumant flocks and in the management of cows or horses on rural farms.

An enhancement and safeguarding project is underway by the Italian Shepherd Society of Lessinia and Lagorai (SIPaLL) which in 2017 made an official request for recognition of the breed at the ENCI in order to be able to register dogs in the Supplementary Register Genealogical Book Open dedicated to native breeds at risk of extinction.

Subject with the characteristic blue merle coat (photo Mario and Alberto Venturi)

General aspect

The Shepherd Dog of Lessinia and Lagorai has a typical lupoid, mesomorphic, medium size appearance. Slightly longer than high, with triangular ears carried erect, semi-erect and sometimes drooping. Peculiar is their characteristic of being carried slightly open.
The elongated and divergent muzzle with respect to the skull gives it the particular expression of sympathy and docility. The general anatomical construction suggests the idea of ​​a dog usually destined for work and practical use and allows more than enough resistance to follow the conduct of a flock for whole days. In fact, he is a tireless walker and an excellent jumper. The gaze denotes intelligence and alertness.
It is therefore agile, but at the same time strong and resistant. The hair is generally semi-long with thick undercoat, it can be black, chocolate brown or fawn, while it has a distinctly individual coloring in merle subjects due to the random dilution of the base colors.


The result of a very hard selection in symbiosis with the tiring life of the shepherds, its rusticity allows it to work in extreme climatic and environmental conditions. Hunger and thirst, flat pastures and steep slopes, streams and natural obstacles, snow, rain, winter frosts and summer heat are tackled with the same ease. Always ready if the work requires his intervention, he responds quickly and decisively to the pastor's commands. He has a lively, curious, docile temperament even if he needs to show insight and combativeness when needs require, especially when working with cows and horses. With the touch of the bite or the bark, or both combined, a single subject with medium skills is able to lead more than a hundred heads. It is naturally predisposed to the proximity of other pets, to dogs, with whom it must collaborate, and to humans. If necessary, however, he is a discreet guardian.

Male blue merle at work on sheep (photo Mario and Alberto Venturi)

Two specimens with different coloring (photo by Alessio Sverzut)

History, somatic characteristics and important proportions

Origins and history: The Shepherd of Lessinia and Lagorai is an ancient flock breed that has always been used in pastoral activities in the mountain and pre-Alpine areas of North-East Italy and, through the transhumant flocks that descend from the plains to the sea , even in contiguous regions. Descendant of the ancient dog that probably arrived in the Alps following the migrations of nomadic populations from Paflagonia through the eastern Alps. Populations that in turn had had knowledge of the techniques of breeding pets and the dog from the Natufians. The breed spread in an area known everywhere since ancient times for the flourishing wool industry and sheep and goat breeding through the nomadic practice of seasonal transhumance, from the mountains to the plains and the sea, and vice versa.

Subject with black coat (photo Mario and Alberto Venturi)

Female blue merle (photo Alessio Sverzut)

Important proportions

Medium in size, mesomorphic, wolflike.
The height at the withers is slightly less than the length, sometimes there are subjects registered in the square.
The length of the skull exceeds even if slightly the length of the muzzle.
Coat: Hair normally semi-long, with thick undercoat, sometimes wavy, but always such as to easily allow it to work in any condition and protection from the elements.
The typical colors are black, chocolate brown, fawn, sometimes with tan markings and darker mask. Gray, black and white spots or white, suede and chocolate in merle subjects that often have white spots, even large features.

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Curated by Torresan Federico

Video: 10 Ultimate Shepherd Dog Breeds (August 2022).