This fluffy bundle of fun is Italian in origin, but not in a pasta sauce way. This small dog is a rare breed of the Bichon family and his appearance in America is relatively recent, even though he can trace his ancestry back about two thousand years.
You may be more familiar with the Bolognese's relations: the Maltese, the Havanese and the bichon frise. The name comes from the Italian city of Bologna, where this tiny dog enjoyed great popularity with the Italian aristocracy. It is thanks to famous families like the Medicis that the breed survived, and in later centuries the Bolognese found favor in a number of royal courts across Europe. However, as the influence of the aristocracy declined following various revolutions, the Bolognese breed was also in danger of disappearing. Thanks to a few European breeders the breed survived. Its appearance in the US in the 1980s is thanks to the work of Bert and Dorothy Goodale, who discovered the Bolognese during their research into the Havanese breed.
You can clearly see the family resemblance between the Bolognese and his Bichon relations. He has a longish, fluffy, curly white coat that is low-shedding. He looks quite sturdy despite his small frame: he measures only between 10 and 12 inches in height and weighs around 8 to 10 pounds. He has dark, expressive eyes and his nose and mouth must be black to conform to the breed standard. His chest is deep and his forelegs straight, giving him a lively gait.
Highly intelligent and easy to train, these little dogs have a great reputation as companion dogs. He should have a daily walk, and whether you are a city walker or a mountain hiker, the Bolognese will happily accompany you everywhere. However, he doesn't need excessive exercise, and he's definitely a suitable apartment dweller. Bologneses have a reputation for appearing to think like people and a Bolognese is happiest when he's sharing an activity with you. He socializes well with your friends and gets on well with other animals. On the downside, he's prone to "small dog syndrome" unless you establish yourself as his pack leader from the get-go.
In general the Bolognese breed enjoys good health and has no breed-specific problems. The American Bolognese Club points out that responsible breeders take preventative measures to reduce health problems associated with purebred dogs generally. These include inherited eye disease and luxating patella, a knee condition common in small dogs. If you're buying a Bolognese, check that the breeder has screened the breeding pair and the puppies for these.
By Eleanor McKenzie
About the Author
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.