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The Bolognese is a Rare Breed Dog whose origins are shrouded in antiquity. The Bolognese has been making the lives of people happier and more complete for over 2000 years. This enchanting breed has timeless appeal. They may not roam the homes of Kings anymore, but they do bless each castle they romp in.
The Bolognese belongs to the Bichon group, originating from small white dogs called “Melitensis,” which were widespread in the Mediterranean countries. This breed is a cousin to the Maltese, the Havanese, the Bichon Frise, and the Coton de Tulear and Lowchen (Petit chien lion). These breeds are not related to the toy breeds of the far east. They are classified by the FCI as group 9, section 1. In 2012, they were part of the AKCFSS (Foundation Stock Services), for rare breeds.
Italian Nobility made the breed especially famous by giving puppies as gifts to other noble families during the Renaissance. They were celebrated as the most royal of gifts that one aristocrat could give to another. These little white dogs were considered a symbol of wealth, and many well–born Italian women considered the Bolognese a mandatory “accessory” to be spoiled, powdered and perfumed.
For centuries the Bolognese were the coveted and beloved companions of the European Nobility. Phillip II and Catherine the Great were among their admirers. They are depicted in Renaissance art and in writings and are even mentioned by Aristotle. Their bright, joyful temperaments made them a favorite in the Royal households where they warmed the hearts and laps of the mighty rulers.
The Gonzagas, a noble family that ruled parts of Italy between 1328 and 1708 were known to have bred Bolognese in their palatial estates. Queen Maria Theresa of Austria loved her little dog so much that she hired a taxidermist to preserve and mount its body. It can still be seen at the National Museum of History in Vienna.
As the popularity and power of the aristocracy began to diminish, this breed began slowly to wane. It was saved from near extinction by a small group of enthusiasts. In Italy, France and Holland, breeders have been working hard to restore the breed during the last couple of decades.
In general, Bolognese get along with children, but need to be protected to some extent from the outbursts of love and affection of younger children who do not understand that the small bones of the Bolognese cannot withstand the “bear hugs” of an enthusiastic child.
Bolognese love people. They have been selected for centuries based on love and companionship towards humans. Bolognese dogs suffer greatly if they are left alone for a long time. This breed is not suitable for individuals or families who spend a long time each day away from home. Today, the Bolognese continues as a devoted and loving pet and companion.