Truffles are one of the world's most expensive foods -- and that good truffle scent is intoxicating. If you're looking for a breed of dog to help hunt truffles, we've got you covered.
American foxhounds are known for hunting game, but what about truffles? You need a lot of patience when you're trying to find your food in the middle of the forest. Taking a truffle-hunting dog along will speed up your trip! The reason people use dogs to do most of the hunting for truffles in Europe and here in America is because they have a strong sense of smell and can smell the truffles buried deep beneath the forest floor and are trained not to disturb the root structures that surround the trees. This is especially true of the infamous Oregon black truffle (Leucangium carthusianum), which is scattered throughout the forest and grows deeper than other truffles.
Hogs can also help find these hidden treasures, but wrestling a pig for a truffle before they gobble them up can be frustrating. Using a trained hound just makes more sense and there are more dog training resources available, with tons of top rated dog training books on Amazon. Here are five popular truffle-hunting breeds and some fun facts.
Truffle Hunting Dog Breeds
1. Lagotto Romagnolo
An Italian water retriever, this dog is specifically bred for truffle hunting which is broadly used in Italy. This dog is called the Lagotto Romagnolo, or the Romagna Water Dog.
2. Springer Spaniel
The Springer is the oldest type of Spaniel breed and the fastest. Today it is very popular among seekers of truffles. They are brave and quickly adapt in any environment.
3. Beagles and Other Hounds
The Beagle's nose is quite large in proportion to its muzzle. It also holds around 220 million scent-receptors, perfect for hunting truffles. Humans have about 5 million, for comparison. Beagles can sometimes even sniff out cancer, which is pretty impressive!
4. Standard Poodle
It is said that truffle-hunting poodles can smell truffles at a hundred yards! These dogs were trained for loyalty and obedience, and come in multiple varieties. The only downside is that their coat is hard to maintain if it gets dirty in the woods.
5. Belgian Malinois
A Belgian Malinois found the first cultivated Black Perignon truffle. Some said this couldn't be done. Next to the German Shepherd, this breed is a common police dog, easily trained, intelligent, and successful at any jobs you train them to do.
The Lagotto Romagnolo is the best truffle dog since it's a dog that has been specially bred to find truffles on all kinds of terrain. This breed is a typical water dog of small to medium size and categorized as a working dog. Plus, their tight curly hair makes them oh-so-cute.
With that in mind, working with a truffle dog trainer is key if you plan to start foraging for truffles. Some trainers in truffle dog training will coat an item in truffle oil and have the dog find it. Then they are rewarded with high value treats. The dog trainer then transitions to burying these items and eventually puts truffles under leaves and soil and go through a similar training exercise. Soon you will have yourself a bonafide truffle hunter.
European white truffles can sell for as much as $3,600 a pound, making them and their fellow fungi the most expensive food in the world and a culinary delight. One two-pound ripe truffle recently sold for more than $300,000.
Interested? Travel to Oregon. The Oregon Truffle Festival holds an annual truffle dog seminar every January and trainers will take your good dog through the steps and get them acclimated. There are more than 350 varieties in the Pacific Northwest alone!
Good luck hunting for truffles!
Have you gone truffle hunting? Do you have one of these dog breeds? Tell us on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page.
This article was originally published December 27, 2019.
READ MORE: Coonhounds Are True Hunting Dogs
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