"… the Bolognese is the most
princely gift that could be offered to an Emperor"
With these words, Philip II, King
of Spain from 1556 to 1598, thanked the Duke of Este that offered
him two Bolognese dogs.
The history of this small and docile
dog - as it really has to be told - is lost in the mists of
It belongs to the Bichon group,
like the Maltese and the Bichon à poil frisé,
the origins of the Bolognese do not have to be searched out
in the Italian town that has in common the name, but along a
wider Mediterranean region. It belongs to the Maltese dogs that
since Aristotle they have propagated themselves along the Mediterranean,
boarded ships as … mouser.
But their dignity had to be raised
because during the Roman Empire and then, definitely, in the
Renaissance, they were exchanged as presents among the nobles.
"The ladies' dog", as
the examples of the three Bichon breeds were named, it went
all over the courts of Europe in the laps of the mighty. With
the purpose to warm and delight ladies and gentlemen, our dog,
with its noble and unselfish glance, was portrayed by painters
like Titian and Goya.
In this way, the Bolognese reached
the far Russia where, towards the end of 1700, it met the affection
of Catherine II, the Great.
With the decline of the Aristocracy,
its close bond with it, risked to mark its extinction.
During 1900, in Italy some breeders
perceived the peril and turned their passion into a mission:
save the Bolognese and steady the breed.
Today the ENCI (National Italian
Dog Association) states: "The population is yet rather
measured and, because the Bolognese is not bred abroad, we cannot
count on an foreign contribution of blood, thus, it remains
a rare dog".