The Bolognese is a small-sized dog belonging to the Bichon family with a characteristic pure white single coat. It is classified under the Toy group of the Kennel Club. It is a very popular pet because of its charming looks, small size and a non-shedding coat which makes it popular among people with allergies. It is squarely built and well-muscled with an intelligent disposition. The breed originated in Bologna in northern Italy where it was kept by wealthy residents as a companion dog. It has a wide flat skull with an accentuated stop, an almost square muzzle, and a large black nose. Its eyes are large, round and dark ochre in colour with well-pigmented eye rims. The ears are long and pendulous, highly set above the head and rigid at the base. The jaws and teeth form a regular scissor bite. The well-feathered tail is carried curved over the back. The single coat is made of long, flocked/ringed woolly hair and is pure white without markings. Hair on the face is shorter than the rest of the body. A male Bolognese stands between 27 – 30.5 cm while a female can be between 25.5 to 28 cm in height. The average weight is from 2.5 to 4 kilograms.
The breed belongs to the Bichon family group which originated from Malta and southern Italy. The Bolognese in particular, was bred and developed in Bologna, Italy as a companion dog and was very popular with Italian nobility. However, the exact ancestry of the Bolognese is clouded in doubt as there were no written records that existed yet when the breed was developed. However, the breed has been depicted in artworks as early as 1200. Tiziano Vecellio (Titian), a well-known 16th-century Venetian painter did a portrait of Duke Frederico Gonzaga, 1st Duke of Mantua together with his Bolognese. Tapestry work done by Flemish craftsmen from the 17th century depict dogs similar to the Bolognese. Royalties from the 18th century were also proud owners of Bolognese. The breed was recognized as a different breed in 1860. It was brought to the United Kingdom in 1990 by Liz Stannard and was shown at Crufts for the first time in 2002.
The Bolognese is a fascinating and delightful little breed which enjoys being a part of a happy family. It is described as playful, intelligent, affectionate and fun-loving that thrives on personal human interaction. It does not tolerate being left alone for long periods of time and will typically develop destructive behaviours such as excessive barking and chewing furniture if it develops separation anxiety syndrome. The Bolognese is a perfect pet for a family with a stay-at-home member. Unlike other small breeds, the Bolognese has a calm and submissive character and usually forms a very strong bond to a member of the family, usually the one who feeds it. It is typically wary and suspicious of strangers but it would seldom show any type of aggression and would rather shy away to a safe place in the house. It will also bark at unfamiliar visitors but not in a yappy manner like other toy dogs.
The Bolognese is an intelligent little breed and full of character. It is always willing to learn and eager to please its master. Training must be done by a firm, consistent but gentle owner preferably starting at an early age. Expose the dog to as many different experiences, people, places and animals as possible to develop a calm, happy, well-rounded character in the breed. The Bolognese is quite sensitive by nature so gentle positive reinforcement training will produce the best result as opposed to harsh training methods. Reward the dog for good behaviour and correct him gently but firmly from wrong deeds.
The coat of the Bolognese does not shed or moult seasonally compared against other breeds. It does, however, lose individual hairs similar to humans. Daily brushing will remove loose dead hairs and help keep the coat looking good. Pay extra attention to the dog’s underbelly, legs and behind the ears because the hair on these parts tend to tangle. Monthly trimming is recommended if the dog is kept as a pet as opposed to a show dog which should be kept untrimmed. Trimming should be left to a professional. Bathing, eye and ear cleaning and toothbrushing should be done on a regular basis.
The Bolognese can be affected by any of the following medical predisposition:
It has a typical lifespan of 12 to 15 years with some dogs reaching 16 to 17 years specially when properly cared for and fed a correct diet. The right diet will typically be recommended by the breeder. An adult Bolognese is not a picky eater but it is always best to avoid giving low quality diet. Good quality food with high nutritional value plus the right amount of exercise will keep the Bolognese healthy and happy for many years to come.
Although it is a small breed, the Bolognese still needs plenty of exercise to keep it fit and healthy. It enjoys being taken out for a nice, long walk. An hour of walk on lead around the park or around the block on a daily basis is good enough to keep it happy. An ideal setting for the dog is a fenced yard where it can run free at full speed or play stimulating or interactive games until it decides it had enough. Proper physical and mental stimulation will keep the Bolognese happy.
As a breed with a happy and joyful temperament, the Bolognese is an ideal choice for a first-time pet owner. It goes quite along very well with children and is a wonderful addition to a family that lives in an apartment setting, in a suburban home, or in a large countryside estate. It is fairly active indoors and thrives on human companionship who loves to be involved in every indoor activities. It is generally good with other dogs especially if it is well-socialised at an early age. It will also get along well with cats and other small animals if it is raised with them from a very young age.