It can seem trivial but to hunt truffle we need a reliable friend, a dog. In fact, according to Italian law, truffle hunting is possible with dogs only and not with pigs, as French do.
Pigs are bulky, have long teeth ruining plant roots. In addition, their training and getting them obedient is difficult.
On the contrary, dogs have a high ability to obedience and learning, so they are perfect for our activity.
Dog’s name is very important; it must be short and come first before our every order. In addition, the best breed must be chosen …
All dogs and breeds can be trained to hunt truffle, above all half-breeds.
However choice is not simple, in fact place and time of hunting must be analyzed.
Considering that in Piedmont truffle hunting in the night is allowed, winter is very cold and above all white truffle is searched, which is found in depth, a dog breed for cold weather, with clear fur easily visible in the night and high sense of smell must be chosen. We must also consider whether dog is for professional purpose and if hunting takes place every day or only in the weekend.
In case of frequent hunting, a suitable dog must be chosen, deriving from a bloodline “for work” with a body appropriate for long lasting searching and in all circumstances.
Dogs with shaven hair such as Pointer are not suited to our climate, as they lose weight due to cold temperatures, show ribs and tend to come back to the car. All hunting dog crossbreeds like Bracco/Pointer Springer/Pointer, Drathaar/Bracco, Drathaar/Pointer are very suitable instead.
Hunting dog breeds could be suitable too but often tend to have high hunting instinct.
According to my experience, the best breed adapting itself to all circumstances is Lagotto Romagnolo. It is the only one approved like truffle hunting dog by ENCI (Italian Kennel Club).
Lagotto is above all suitable for beginners as it is extremely intelligent. In few training days it can find truffles, has not hunting instinct and its thick fur is not sensitive to cold temperatures. However, it must be often shaven in spring and summer so that it does not suffer from heat and, in addition, weed and foxtail cannot stick to its coat.
In conclusion, hunting dogs require a lot of resolve, they need strict rules and therefore I suggest them only to skilled truffle hunters, while Lagotto is recommended to everyone.
In order to train a puppy to truffle hunting, it is necessary to let the dog gradually connect the hunting with playing, without expecting immediate results. Such training must occur little by little, with patience and trying to repeat different below mentioned steps until the dog understands each single exercise.
Under the premise that the dog must consider such work like a play, it has to be as focused as possible and must be constantly followed. Exercises must be short, so each exercise can be repeated several times over the day but for short time (5 to 15 minutes approximately), because dog is very young and its attention/concentration levels are limited. Insisting on longer exercise is not suggested because the dog considers it a play and if it gets bored and we oblige it to continue, we will have the opposite effect so it will not want to repeat the exercise again.
Day after day the dog will respond to orders increasingly better and exercises as well as duration can become gradually longer. It is complicated to specify time for dog training, as concentration level depends on both dog character and trainer’s ability to involve its dog.
I have a passion for dog training for several years and I must say that each dog has its distinctive trait and must be treated in a different way. Lagotto must be treated with a lot of kindness. If it has not a bloodline for truffle or work, it will be difficult to let it hunt. In fact, during last years I’m have been noticing that many people arrange profit-making broods without considering important factors. For example, they make Lagotto dogs with dysplasia, low inclination to work and learning crossbreed… they will become perfect pet dogs but very bad truffle hunting dogs.
For many years I’ve been selecting dogs for work, both crossbreeds and Lagotto dogs, and on average more than 70% out of 7/8 puppies are already strong when they’re 3 months old, if training is diligent, dedicated to truffle hunting and there’s few distraction.
Before training, we usually let the dog undergo simple tests in order to understand it has inclination to truffle hunting.
During the first test we investigate whether it likes truffle’s taste, then we will try to make it bring a truffle-scented cloth back. Another significant test consists in evaluating whether dog is curious, so attentive to our actions… If the dog is shy, fearful, tends to hide itself, doesn’t eat truffles, is not interested in us nor in truffle-scented cloth, surely it is a good dog but as pet…
Not necessarily, such kind of dog never becomes a truffle hunting dog but before training it surely needs a long behavior training in order to strengthen its character to trust in human being and tackle its fears.
For further info about training, suggestions, brood, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Luca – Phone no. +39 348 8699649