The Bolognese is a truly ancient Italian toy breed of noble origin, originating in the Mediterranean region and favoured in the past by celebrities such as Madame Pompadour, and Catherine the Great of Russia. Philip II King of Spain from 1556 to 1598, thanked the Duke of Este for offering him two Bolognese dogs with the words “the Bolognese is the most princely gift that could be offered to any Emperor.” Bolognese belong to the Bichon family which includes the Bichon Frise (Tenerife Dog), Maltese, Havanese, Coton de Tulear (Madagascan Dog) and Lowchen and are considered to be the oldest and the foundation of the aforementioned breeds.
A small square compact dog, they should be completely white with good black pigment including dark eyes, nose and pads. Puppies occasionally are born with champagne shades in their coat, which should fade with age, often such markings are indicative of good black pigment. The coat is distinctive from the other of the Bichon breeds, its texture being slightly woolly and flocked with the hair falling in to ringlets, the coat is shorter on the face, it has no undercoat and does not shed. This makes it an attractive breed for allergy sufferers. Dead hair needs to be carefully combed out of the coat which should not be trimmed or clipped.
Bolognese have a very acute sense of hearing, they are alert, vigilant, and companionable. They are devoted to their owners but can be reserved with strangers. Being very quick to learn and highly intelligent they are able to master tricks in no time, thus they can be quick to take advantage and like all dogs big or small they need firm but gentle handling and training by the owner from the outset.
A healthy breed with very few problems. Those that have been eye tested with recorded results indicate that there are very few eye problems including cataracts. There have been some recorded cases of Patellar Luxation, which is fairly common in many small breeds, but it is not a widespread generally in Bolognese. Their life span is typically 14-15 years but they can attain ages greater than that.