AN ANCIENT BREED - THE PRECIOUS BOLOGNESE
Remembered by Aristotle and the other philosophers, a sovereign gift, that continues to attract admirers for his striking beauty who understand and appreciate him. There are numerous documents about the evolution of artificial breeds, that is, those breeds which came about by man’s intervention in relatively recent times.
Conversely rebuilding of the history of natural breeds like our Bolognese is very problematic, because there is no specific documentation about it. However putting together some of the traces left from this adorable race that is the roots that have been lost in the mists of time. First you must go through each specification. In principle there is no clear distinction between Maltese and Bolognese. Thanks to some evidence remaining/left by some Greek scholars and the works of well known artists of the past we found the existence of a little white dog that vaguely resembles the two breeds today. However it does not have the smooth coat of the Maltese, nor the curls in toat of the Bolognese. Also their name confirms their common origin.
Aristotle in 350BC talks about the little toy dogs with the name Melitensis. There is a lot of discussion about the etymology of the word Melitensis and there exists various interpretations. Some scholars talk about the island of Malta. The BolGreek historian Strabone, who lived between 66BC and 24AD talks ‘(371BC – 286BC) gives us further confirmation about a little Maltese dog.
Later about 79AD also Plinio il Vecchio refers to some little dogs from Melito. After that the traces of our friend, (this little dog) were lost. We find tangible proof of his existence in XV century, during the Renaissance, when he was often portrayed by the most famous painters of the time.
In 1496 Carpaccio gave us important evidence in the work “Miracolo della reliquia della croce di San Marco” (Miracle of the Relic of the Cross of St. Mark) at the Galleria dell’Accademia di Venezia. Other traces are also found in the Courts of Europe, where the Bolognese soon became companions in the living-rooms of noble women and a precious object that was exchanged between the powerful. Historical sources document that, towards the middle of the 15th century, the Bolognese had conquered the hearts of the Italian and European aristocracy.
These noble masters, in fact, very much loved to have their four legged companions painted, which became symbols of refinement and also of a certain status.
AN ARISTOCRATIC DOG
Here is some incontrovertible proof of the trend within the aristocracy. The first is the “Ritratto* di coniugi” by Lorenzo Lotto (1523-24) – which is now housed at Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. The woman hugs a little white dog in her arms, which is half way between a Bolognese and Maltese. (*Ritratto = portrait)
Some years later Titian creates “Ritratto di Federico Gonzaga” (1525-30) where he also immortalises a small precious dog. Another confirmation that this breed was so valuable is found in another of Titian’s works in which he combines Venus, the goddess of beauty, with a small white dog which is undeniably an ancestor of the Bolognese. The title of the work is “Venere con organista, amorino e cagnolino”.
The Duchess of Alba in contrast has chosen Goya to have her portrait done with her white friend. “Ritratto della duchessa d’ Alba” (1795 – Collection of the Duke of Alba-Madrid).
As we have already said, more than just a symbol of a certain status, the Bolognese soon became a precious gift that the European nobility exchanged as a sign of love or respect.
As an example the Duke d’Este gave a couple of Bolognese to to Phillip II of Spain (1527-1598). Louis XV of France (1715-74), a great lover of dogs, made a gift of these dogs to his mistress, the Marchioness of Pompadour. Cosimo de Medici il Vecchio (1389-1464) gave eight examples of this breed as a gift to a Belgian nobleman.
A couple of Bolognese were also given to his future wife Maria Jose del Belgio, by Umberto di Savoia. Also Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-96), had many Bolognese.
At the beginning of 18th century, due to issues relating to war, and to various changes taking place in society, the Bolognese tended to disappear or they were selected and bred in a different way. For example in Russia, the breed emerged as a Bolonka that does not have much in common with our breed in its own right.
Even Italy his country of origin, were not able to guarantee consistency and uniformity in the few examples in the country. Nowadays, thanks to the hard work of a few passionate breeders, the Bolognese, no longer has this risk , in Northern Europe, especially in Scandinavia, although still considered a minority breed, it is well spread out and enjoying considerable interest, especially abroad. The Club Bolognese and Maltese has in its short operability, formed only in 2011, organized three seminars at International level, which recorded a DVD about the two breeds with explanations and commentary given by the head of our ENCI Dott. Francesco Cochetti an all round judge II CBM works constantly in collaboration with the Scandinavian countries in order to give the guidance that this ancient breed deserves. Proof of all this was in the strong participation at the seminar organised at the World Show in Helsinki, where there were 100 participants from four continents. Francesco Cochetti gave a well received presentation on the breed standard, and other information was presented by well known breeders on the history and growth of the breed and also statistics of the breed in various countries.
In summing up, there is an expectation of a bright future for this breed, thanks to the collaboration by established breeders from around the world.
AND NOW THE COMPANION
Classified as a Toy dog, by its characteristics, the Bolognese is the ideal companion for someone who lives in an apartment.
Insightful and quick to learn, sometimes with obsessive attachment, he loves human company with interaction.
He is a gentle, very intelligent, affectionate, cheerful, and lively little dog.
Naturally effervescent and patient he is suitable for families with children (who still have to be taught to respect the dog and his space) but also he is a very good companion for elderly people, being physically less demanding than other breeds, although he is not an armchair or a handbag dog.
On the contrary it is advisable to teach him to walk on the lead and to get used to the presence of dogs and people, and to accustom him to more complicated situations especially if he lives in the city.
Very receptive, eager to please, he is brilliant at learning, able to learn with ease (more or less) commands and games, but for the same reason he is able to quickly understand the “weak points” of the owner. That being the case you must immediately put him in his rightful place in the family, so he is educated and socialised with care, so he does not grow up spoiled or neurotic.
Food should be treated carefully, as he can be finicky if his owner keeps changing the food every time he seems to lose interest.
A dog who feels the cold he is better kept in the house than in the open air, especially because he needs to live in contact with his human family to whom he is always very attached.
Thanks to highly developed hearing he is excellent at guarding the house, barking rarely, he can hear if there are any strangers in his territory (however, not always loved for being so suspicious).
The main functionality of a Bolognese is that of a pet dog.
That doesn’t mean that the Bolognese should not be trained, especially if you want to pursue a show career with him. However to train a dog to be a companion is very different from to train a dog to guard.
A GOOD EDUCATION
From the age of three or four months you should start exercising your puppy to walk on the lead and to stand him correctly on the table, in the same way that he would be judged. These exercises on the lead and on the table, should be in the form of a game and lasting maximum of 10 minutes per day.
On the table the dog should be placed in such a way that he get used to standing in the correct position with his legs, that is to be upright, but above all he will need to get used to having his mouth opened to check his teeth, which is common practice at a dog show. It is recommended that beginners use a mirror, in order to be able to check that the dog is correctly positioned on the table. In time the Bolognese will assume the correct position on the table quite naturally.
If our puppies perform these exercises correctly they should always be rewarded with a tasty treat.
It is a little more complicated to get a puppy used to a lead.
You must be very careful not to be too harsh. Puppies should never be dragged and we recommended at the beginning to let him go where he wants. It is important to have contact with the puppy, to talk to him and praise him when he is good, and also to use food as a reward for this. Always keep the puppy on the left side, avoid frightening him and make him walk.
After he has finished his course of vaccinations it is fine for him to have contact with the outside world. Take him with you, even when you go to the shopping malls, so he gets used to the noise and strangers. You must however pay attention not to frighten him especially when he meets other dogs bigger than himself. Such mistakes could be fatal and could compromise his character. Let him be stroked by strangers but do not let them pick him up in their arms.
For those who do not want to show a puppy, they should always remember that bad habits which he learns when he is very small, will be difficult to correct when he is older. It is important not to make this mistake.
Above all we recommend that the puppy get used to living in his own space and maybe to define these areas in the home, in order to prevent unlimited access everywhere where he could cause irreparable damage.
If you start to get the puppy used to sleeping in your bed, that habit is very difficult to change. It will be a clear sign to the puppy, that he can get anything he wants from the master and bad consequences will follow from that. Also a fall from the bed could be fatal especially for a young puppy.
The Bolognese is not a toy and like all dogs must be taught when he is young, to behave in the right way so he is able to live together with other people and animals.
It is a bit like raising a child, if he is spoiled, he will not be easy to manage. Anyway he is a dog, and should be treated as such. Do not believe that to let him have everything he wants is good for him above all it will be a problem for you especially if you are away from home.
The careful education that you have given him in the early months of his life will let you spend pleasant days with your very well behaved and ideal companion.
A correct and healthy diet certainly favours a glossy and thick coat. Before washing, the coat should be thoroughly brushed and combed, with a wide-toothed comb or a soft slicker brush starting underneath and going up the coat.
The bathing can be done every 15 days, always take care to use excellent quality shampoo, conditioner, with good PH for a dog’s skin, never use inferior products of dubious origin or those for human use.
After a thorough combing/brushing proceed to the bathing, with warm water, with a measure of shampoo, specifically for a white coat, diluted first with a little water. You should rinse this very well and apply conditioner or restorative balm and in the case of “show dogs” leave this in the coat for a few minutes and just rinse out a little and quickly. Dab the hair with a towel but without rubbing, then dry with a hair dryer on a warm setting, starting with the trunk of the body then going to the legs and the head using ones hands to lift the coat but not using combs or brushes. Make sure to aim the jet of air from the hairdryer from the bottom to the top. Once dry, you can apply an antistatic product to enhance the flocking.
You should also take care not to get water in to the dog’s ears during bathing and always check that there are no long hairs in the ear canal, which would encourage the accumulation of ear wax or dirt that may cause annoying ear infections.
If you notice hair in the ears, it should be taken out with special tweezers, with a steady and firm hand. The dog will feel a slight discomfort, but not pain. The hair between pads on the paws should also be cut with special rounded tip scissors, so that the pads once trimmed can then adhere better on the ground, preventing the dog from slipping.
The excess hairnear the eyes, anus and penis, should be removed.
The nails, especially in pet dogs that normally live in the house and therefore have little natural wear, should be checked periodically and cut, using clippers, taking care however not to cause bleeding by cutting them too short. If you are unsure about this, it is best to rely on the hands of an experienced person.
It should also be noted that not all Bolognese have the same coat texture and that these characteristics will also vary according to age and sex (especially near or after the heat in a female).
It is advisable to get a puppy used to being combed and washed, the coat of a puppy is obviously different from that of an adult, so it will take less time and care, as it is not yet long and in flocks.
It is essential that the puppy gets used to this kind of handling, which in addition to promoting hygiene will also be reflected in his health, it also helps in his behaviour to get used to the habit of being combed and washed. A puppy must take this treatment as a good game which is done quietly taking care to occasionally cuddle and reassure him, a clean dog is a healthy dog!
The grooming of the coat of a show dog is different, not in the washing and drying, but in the products you use that must be specific for a show dog and nutritious for the coat, a show dog should be washed more frequently, and therefore the coat is subjected to greater stress.
In the Nordic countries it is the practice to wash and dry the coat without the help of a dryer.
We recommend you dry your dogs with a hair dryer using warm air, taking care to keep it at a safe distance, not using combs or another things like brushes during the drying process, and directing the jet of air from the bottom to the top. The show dog must be bathed at least 2 or 3 days before a show to encourage natural reformation of the flocks.
What must be remembered is that the Bolognese coat is well described in the Italian breed standard and is distinguished by colour and texture type from many other similar white breeds. So that he must be groomed, presented and exhibited in the most natural way possible.