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Pros Cons
  • loves children
  • excellent family companion
  • gentle
  • cheerful
  • can perform tricks       
  • can by shy with strangers
  • doesn't suit family with small children

The Bolognese (Bichon Bolognese) is a small, amicable, dog with funny curly hair from Italy. During the Italian Renaissance it accompanied noble people everywhere and is believed to be one of the most ancient companion dogs. In the recent years the breed popularity has spread outside its homeland and particularly in the United States. The Bolognese is much more reserved and shy than its popular relative Bichon Frise, but it still makes a great and loyal family companion.

The history of the Bolognese began centuries ago and its ancestry is quite mysterious and obscure. The common knowledge holds that the dog’s homeland is Northern Italy where it was initially bred in the period between the Roman Era and the XII century. Its name is derived from the title of one of Italian city, Bologna.

The Bolognese belongs to the Bichon family of dogs. References of Bichon-type dogs date back at least 2500 years and it’s a well-established fact that they all have sprung from the Maltese. The breed was famous among the habitants of the Mediterranean area and was mentioned in numerous works of art at that time.

During the Roman era Bichons gained a special acknowledgment and they were portrayed on many Italian paintings. Some of these dogs had straight smooth hair and others owned a wavier coat of the Bolognese. There is a strong possibility that the breed stemmed from the Maltese like all other Bichon-type dogs. One view suggests that it appeared by crossing the Maltese with fluffy coat breeds, while the majority supposes that the Bolognese was an outcome of breeding the Maltese with wavy-coated breeds. With certain rate of confidence one can say, that the age of the breed implies such descendants as the Poodle, the Barbet, the Lagotto Romagnolo, or other mutual ancestor of those breeds. Development of the breed in subsequent centuries allows also suggest the participation of the Bichon Frise and the Lowchen.

The Bolognese preserved its status of the most preferable companion of noblemen from XII century until XVII century. Its popularity peaked during the Italian Renaissance, and it was often depicted alongside rich and noble families of that period. Generally speaking, the Bolognese was one of the most portrayed breeds up to the XX century and could be found in the masterpieces all over the Europe. Among the renown artists, who painted the dog were Titian, Goya, Gosse, Watteau, and Pierre Bruegel.

Sad enough, aristocratic predilection for the Bolognese has started to subside at the early XIX century. The number of dogs was also severely influenced by the on going weakening of the nobility’s authority and power with coming of the American Revolution in 1776 and the French Revolution in 1789. Gradually the Bolognese again acquired its former popularity, especially among European middle and upper classes. By the XX century, the coverage of breeds’ fanciers reached Netherlands, France, and Italy. Naturally two World Wars have caused a significant damage to the population of dogs, but at much lesser extent than to other breeds due to its wide diffusion throughout Europe.

In the midst of XX century, the number of the Bolognese was so small that it was considered to be rare. Breeders in France, Italy, and Netherlands had put substantial efforts to recover its standing and now the breed is favoured by many families around the globe.

In 1995, the Bolognese was given full acknowledgment with the United Kennel Club (UKC). The next step for the breed seems to be full recognition with the American Kennel Club (AKC), for the sake of which in America the American Bolognese Club was formed. The Bolognese has already got an admission to the Foundation Stock Service (AKC-FSS) and it’s a good sign for its complete acceptance in foreseeable future.

Since the Roman Empire the Bolognese has been a pleasant and trustworthy companion for noble and affluent people, which shaped it in a wonderful and truly people-oriented breed. The dog adores its family almost to the point of worship. It strives to always be surrounded by human presence and attention and can’t stand being alone.

This dog suits best in a house with older children, preferably above the ages of 8-10. It has fragile physique and clumsy toddler can accidently hurt it. In effect the dog has every right in that case to defend itself and can bite it, though well trained and socialized animals won’t ever bear a grudge. The elderly family members will highly appreciate a superb travelling partner in the Bolognese.

The Bolognese can be timid and wary around strangers, though its outgoing demeanour fights back this feelings really quickly and the dog will pour its love all over them. The breed makes a prime watchdog, being constantly at alert and capable to warn about possible intruder. But your dog will be a mediocre guard dog due to the absence of proper aggressiveness and anyway as being too small to provoke any fear.

The Bolognese is a friendly and gentle furry ball, it is universally tolerable of other dogs and home pets including cats. Though it can sometimes display mild hunting drive towards small animals, when they are introduced at the right time they get along just fine.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

• patellar luxation;
• eye problems;
• fur stains/tear stains;
• ear infections.

At first glance it may seem that the Bolognese requires a fair amount of grooming. But comparing to other breeds with similar coat it’s not so exhaustedly high. Unless the owner prefers to keep the coat of the dog cut short, the daily brushing is a must. If you decided to cut your dog’s coat acceptable frequency of brushing may be one time every other day.

If you plan to show your dog monthly visit to professional groomer may require. The master also should take proper actions of cleaning to maintain ears, eyes, and mouth of the Bolognese in healthy condition. The breed is a light shedder, and some specimens shed almost nothing.

For hundreds of years the Bolognese was used to amuse influential and rich owners with tricks and along the way it developed a sharp mind and excellent learning ability. The breed took part with prominent results at agility and competitive obedience events and deserved a reputation of diligent and quick-witted pupil. The dog’s desire to please makes it qualified even for advanced training techniques.

The Bolognese gets weary and loses its drive quickly when forced to execute simple tasks multiple times, and performs best when offered greater variety of assignments. Positive incentives and gentle reinforcements are the best choice for an outstanding success in the training while the dog isn’t responsive to any kind of harsh treatment or screaming.

Socialization is not so crucial for this breed, although it can fix its natural problems with shyness and extreme wariness.

The Bolognese need for exercise is pretty low so it will essentially suffice 30 or 45 minutes of energetic walk every day. That doesn’t mean that the breed doesn’t require any kind of physical activity, because the under exercised dog may reveal unwanted behavioural patterns such as hyperactivity, aggression, destructiveness, nervousness, and superfluous barking.

This breed does tend to have higher energy level than such types of companion dogs as the Pekingese or Maltese. The Bolognese is well suited to life in urban apartment and can become a perfect pet for a moderate active family.