Breed History

The Italian Bolognese is one of the few true Italian Breeds.
They were a favourite companion of the nobility during the Renaissance period and were often given as gifts among the royal families of Italy, France, Spain and Russia. They nearly became extinct during the late 19th century.

bolognese dogs in history

Fortunately for us today there was a revival of the breed and a few dedicated breeders managed to preserve the breed.
The Bolognese is still a rare breed in the United Kingdom having only been registered with the Kennel Club of Great Britain since late 1988. At shows the breed had to be entered under the Import Register and it was not until July 2001 that the breed was taken off the Import Register and was allowed to be shown in breed classes in the United Kingdom. The first time the breed was exhibited at Crufts was in 2002. I had the pleasure of being one of the first to exhibit my Bolognese at Crufts and also had the greatest pleasure of receiving the accolade of Best Dog in Breed that year under Breed Specialist Liz Stannard. There are more Bolognese about now than when I had my first one but still people still stop in the street to ask what breed they are.

bolognese dogs at crufts 2003

Best Dog in breed at Crufts 2003 (Shown Right)
Best Bitch belonging to Gina Taylor "Fabio La Face Enfarinee" (Chile)
Judge Breed Specialist Liz Stannard

General information on coat & temperament

The Bolognese has a coat which is called flocking.

eleven month old bolognese puppy dog
11 months old
three year old bolognese dog
3 years old

You can see from the first photo of an 11 month old puppy that the coat is beginning to flock (like little ringlets)
On the right the same dog a couple of years later. Note that the coat is now much more dense and longer but the flocking remains. This can be seen better when the dog has just had a bath.

The coat should be white, with no patches of colour. The coat is a single coat, with no undercoat as in some other breeds. The coat should be combed through with a metal comb on a regular basis otherwise knots will appear, this is uncomfortable for the dog and also can be a nightmare for the owner who has to try and remove the knots. NEVER use a brush on your Bolognese, just a wide toothed steel comb. A brush is not sufficient to be able to reach right down into the coat. The Bolognese does not moult, so are ideal house dogs and are suitable for people with allergies. The Bolognese are not a clipped breed, although some pet owners find the coat easier to deal with if it is clipped shorter.

The ears do have to be plucked. This should be carried out by the breeder as soon as possible (around 4 ? 5 weeks). If a puppy is used to having its ears plucked from an early age, it will not mind too much. If the ears are not plucked and the excess hair taken away then this can cause ear problems in the future. The feet also need to be trimmed, this is the only trimming a Bolognese will need.

Apart from the grooming aspect the Bolognese are easy to maintain and are truly delightful little dogs to keep as house dogs. They are very loyal to their owners, but do need the company of their "family" around them. The Bolognese have wonderful temperaments although they are a little wary of strangers to begin with. They are not an ideal dog to keep if you are out to work all day as they can get stressed if left on their own for any length of time.

The Bolognese enjoys walks, and are quite happy to walk as long as they have company. They can cover quite a distance, but if like mine, when it is raining, they are quite happy just to enjoy the garden and forego the walk!!

Interim Breed Standard for Bolognese

General Appearance
Small white Toy dog with square, compact outline and distinctive coat.

Intelligent, companionable.


Head and Skull
Wide flat skull. Nose to stop slightly shorter than from stop to occiput. Accentuated stop. Nose large, black.

Large, round, dark with well pigmented rims.

Set on high, long, pendulous, carried away from head giving a broad appearance to head.

Jaws level, with perfect, regular scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Clean, medium length.

Shoulders well laid, legs straight with slightly sloping pasterns. Elbows close to body.

Well sprung ribs, brisket reaching to elbows making half overall height at withers. Level back, loins slightly arched. Point of shoulder to point of buttock equals height at withers.

Well-muscled, moderate turn of stifle, hocks well let down.

Oval, black nails and pads. Dewclaws customarily removed.

Set on at level of croup carried curved over back. Well feathered.

Normal and smart. Legs moving parallel. Ambling highly undesirable.

Long, flocked without curl covering entire head and body. Shown in natural state.

Pure white without markings, not even simple shadings. Lips, eyelids, nose and nails black.

Dogs 27-30.5 cms (10 1/2-12 ins). Bitches 25.5-28 cms (10-11 ins).

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Full breed standard can be viewed on the Kennel Club Web site here & further information on the Bolognese Club Web site here

Endurance of a toy breed

Although this breed are classed as toy dogs they have hearts like a lion. They will protect their family to the end. This was proved to me a few years ago when I had a burglary. One of my Bolognese put up a fight, but was unfortunately severely injured. But it is my belief and that of the Police that if he had not done so, the burglar(s) would have got away with a lot lot more. So the moral to the story, toy dogs they may be but they have much larger hearts!!

January 2015

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