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    Bolognese Breed Standard

    © David Dalton


    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

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

    Dogs 27-30.5 cms (101/2-12 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

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

     Bolognese History


    This breed was developed centuries ago in Bologna, Italy. They were already valued there as early as the 11th and 12th century, according to paintings and literature, going back to that time. Some of the history of this toy breed has been lost in the mists of time, often confused with the Maltese, because it's distant ancestors are the same dogs mentioned in Latin by Aristotle (322-384 B.C.)  under the denomination of "canes melitenses". It is of the Bichon group which include 10 different breeds, some of the more well known being, Bichon Frise, Maltese, Lowchen,  and more rarely known the Bolognese,  the Havanese and the Coton de Tulear, all of which are now shown in this country. These days the Bolognese are rare even in their homeland.

    Many little Bolognese were much valued as very special gifts, during the renaissance they were favourites of the courts and nobility. Cosimo de Medici gave eight to Brussels as gifts to Belgian noblemen, and even to day, Belgian bloodlines of Bolognese show first class breeding results as in the case of the famous little dog, "Eliane" who was the 1981 World Champion.

    The Duke d'Este gave two to King Philip 11 of Spain, who in return wrote a letter to him saying "that these two little dogs are the most royal gifts one can make to an Emperor". Ex King Umberto gave two to his fiancée Princess Marie Jose of Belgium on her birthday. Other well known owners were Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796), Madame De Pompadur (1721-1764), and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, who loved her little dog so much that at the time of its death, engaged the services of a well known taxidermist to preserve and mount the little dog, so it would be with her always. The body can still be seen today at the Natural Museum of History in Vienna. As time passed and the nobility passed as such, the Bolognese became street dogs, close to extinction.

    Bolognese can be seen in tapestry work produced by Flemish craftsmen dating as far back as the 17th century.  The Duke Frederico Gonzaga was painted caressing his Bolognese by the Venetian painter Titian, born in 1477. The breed features also in paintings by Goya, Bosse, and Wattenau and noticeably hasn't changed much at all over the years.

    The Bolognese

    This antique breed finds its origin in Bologna, Italy.
    But it is uncertain how exactly it al started. What we do know
    is that in ancient times, 400 years B.C., the Bichon was already known.
    Some Greek and Roman writers wrote about this small dog.
    Plinius called it: "Catulus Melitaeus". Tombstones and vases
    with a small white dog and description "Melitae" were found.
    Long time ago Melitae was the name for the island Malta.


    There was an ancient breed called: "Barbet", which means "with a beard".
    The diminutive is Barbichon, which will actually lead to the breed Bichon.
    It was in 1860 that the Bolognese was recognized as a different breed within the
    Bichon group. Until then it existed as a variety of the Maltese, the only difference
    being the curled fur instead of the silky straight hair the Maltese have.


    An other piece of history we know is that the Bolognese were used as rat killers on ships. This probably enabled them to spread around the world.
    Something must have changed their position because in the renaissance they became very valuable. They were given as presents to many rich people.
    We know that Cosimo de Medici (1349-1464) brought eight Bolognese to Brussels as a gift to Belgian noblemen. The Duke d'Este gave Philipe II (1527-1598), King of Spain, two Bolognese as a present. Philipe II thanked him by saying: "These two little dogs are the most royal gifts one can make to an emperor".


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