Dogs Hunting Truffles?

So this morning I was reading the Wall Street Journal Magazine, and I came across an article titled “American Truffle”, written by Andy Isaacson.

What caught my eye was the dog in the picture digging through the mud.

I read on, only to quickly realize there was so much I didn’t know about truffles.

I learned that the dog was a Lagotto Romagnolo, a breed of which I had never heard of, and his name was Tom.

Bellalagotto1

The Lagotto Romagnolo

Tom belonged to Jim Sanford and was a dog raised to discover culinary truffles. Before today, the only truffle I ever heard of was made of Chocolate, and I certainly had no idea where it came from. It turns out there are all kinds of truffles and Tom was hunting winter white truffles in the Oregon forest in the original picture I saw (Isaacson).

Before hunting truffles (“the strange fruit of a fungus”-Isaacson) in Oregon, Tom had a lot of success hunting truffles in Tennessee, he even unearthed $240,000 worth of Perigord truffles there. Luckily, Tom was partnered with a truffle enthusiast who not only started a truffle festival in Oregon in 2006, but also brought truffle dog training to the West coast (Isaacson).

Although I was completely oblivious to truffle dogs before, they certainly are gaining popularity as the price of truffles continues to rise.

It also seems like many breeds of dog are suited to hunt truffles. Some sites mentionedย Dachshunds, German Shepherds, and Labradors as being the best breeds to hunt truffles, while other sites use Puggles, Lagottos and Australian Shepherds. ย If any local areas prove to be great truffle locations, Rooney may have a new job.

Did you know that dogs were used for hunting truffles?

Here are just a few links to sites with more information:

Truffle Hunting Dogs

Umami Truffle Dogs

Toil & Truffle

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14 Comment

  1. Reply
    Kathy
    April 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    I did know this, but I had forgotten! Imagine, them hunting truffles and then NOT eating them!?
    Amazing. My dogs eat anything and everything. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Kathy recently posted…A to Z Challenge: G is for my admiration of Grumpy Cat #atozchallengeMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Rachel
      April 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      Rooney is in that same category, he will for sure eat everything!

  2. Reply
    Ann Staub
    April 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Yes, and I think it is so cool! I saw a little documentary or something a few years back about it. I think there may be pigs that hunt them too? Don’t quote me on that. Maybe it was just that the pigs liked to eat the truffles… Since they are difficult to actually grow on a farm, they use dogs to hunt for them. Pretty cool!
    Ann Staub recently posted…Spring Into Fashion for Your Dog With Sophia Maxim DesignMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Rachel
      April 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Ann, you are so right! They did mention pigs were used also, but I forget why dogs are used more often then pigs, they mentioned a reason. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Reply
    Mary from YourDesignerDog
    April 8, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Very interesting. I always thought only pigs were used to find truffles. But dogs make sense – they have such a refined sense of smell that they should be able to easily locate a truffle if that is what they are trained to smell for.
    Mary from YourDesignerDog recently posted…G is for Growl – #atozchallengeMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Rachel
      April 9, 2014 at 8:58 am

      I was blindly unaware of much of this industry, but it definitely makes sense that they use dogs nowadays rather than piggies. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for stopping by!

  4. Reply
    Kris Jacobson
    April 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Hello Rachel,

    Wonderful blog you have!. My kids have paws too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am a professional truffle hunter and truffle hunting guide who uses dogs to hunt truffles in Oregon and was mentioned in the article. One of the main reasons to use a dog to hunt truffles, instead of a pig, is that most dogs don’t eat the truffles. A pig will definitely eat the truffles they find. Having said that, many dogs can and do, develop a taste for them. My dog (Ilsa, a Belgian Malinois) doesn’t, thank goodness. The good news is that even if a dog likes to eat the occasional truffle, it’s much easier to wrestle a truffle from the jaws of your loveable pooch, than trying to wrestle a determined and hungry full-grown pig. They say many old time European truffle hunters are missing one or more fingers from losing a truffle tug-o-war with their pig. One other reason is secrecy. Walking about with a pig instantly tells the world that you’re hunting truffles and you might give away your truffle patch. Hiking with a dog is less obvious.

    I’d like to point out that spending $6,000 on a “truffle dog” breed isn’t needed. Any kind of dog can be trained to find truffles. Of course, some breeds and certain mix combinations, might be better suited for the task. In my small company, we have a Belgian Malinois, two Labrador Retrievers and a wonderful rescue dog that is an unknown Malinois mix. All four of these dogs are amazing and have harvested thousands and thousands of truffles.

    Foraging in the forests of Oregon with my dog is the best thing in the world. It’s an amazing dance that we do together, each and every time I slip her working harness on and we quietly disappear into a stand of Douglas fir trees. If any of you ever find yourselves in Oregon, please feel free to contact me though my website. My dog and I will take you on a private truffle foray that will truly be a memorable experience.
    Kris Jacobson recently posted…We Find the Best American Truffles!My Profile

    1. Reply
      Rachel
      April 9, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Kris,

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your comments. I truly appreciate you taking the time to explain why dogs are used over pigs, it is amazing to have first hand knowledge.

      Thank you ask for pointing out that the breeds don’t need to be specific. It seemed like different regions and companies used all kinds of different breeds.

      I will definitely contact you if we ever travel up to Oregon, I bet that is an amazing scene to see dogs in action in the Oregon forest. Thank you again for stopping by!

  5. Reply
    Misaki
    April 9, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I think I’d make an excellent truffle dog, but mummy thinks I’d eat them (or at least try to lol)
    Misaki recently posted…WW: Donโ€™t go to workMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Rachel
      April 9, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Misaki,

      I know Rooney would be eating them for sure, but I bet she could entice you with better treats ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Reply
    Kyla
    April 9, 2014 at 6:21 am

    I’m a foodie and eat anything. I’d probably be good at finding them but I haven’t found a single truffle in the Arizona desert yet. I could be trained to not eat a truffle, as long as I got a really good treat for giving it up.
    Kyla recently posted…Kali passed the ClassMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Rachel
      April 9, 2014 at 9:04 am

      That is a great idea! I bet your parents could use better treats to get you to be the star truffle hunter!

  7. Reply
    speedyrabbit
    April 9, 2014 at 8:47 am

    they have clever nose’s,xx rachel
    speedyrabbit recently posted…Disapproving Bun Day!My Profile

    1. Reply
      Rachel
      April 9, 2014 at 9:05 am

      They definitely much better than ours, what would humans do without our pets?

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