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The Italian Bolognese (pronounced ‘bowl-owe-KNEES’) is a rare toy breed dog.  The Bolognese breed is named after the city of Bologna in the northern region of Italy and was once referred to as the Italian Bichon of Bologna and sometimes as the Bichon Bolognese.

Venus and Cupid with an Organist c. 1548-49 by Titian aka Tiziano Vecellio

Venus and Cupid with an Organist c. 1548-49 by Titian aka Tiziano Vecellio

Bolognese are descendants from Bichon breeds in southern Italy in the 11th and 12th centuries and became very popular during the Renaissance Period. The Maltese, Havanese, Bichon Frise, Coton de Tulear and Lowchen (Petit Chien Lion) are also in this family. Bolognese are depicted in Renaissance art, Flemish tapestry, and in writings even mentioned by Aristotle.

For centuries the Bolognese were coveted companions of the European Nobles. Phillip II, Louis X1V and Madame de Pompadour of France, and Catherine the Great were among their admirers. A pampered companion pet, favored by Italian Nobility for their lap warming and entertaining abilities, Bolognese came to be celebrated as the most appreciated of royal gifts that one aristocrat could give to another.

The White Duchess” by Francisco de Goya, 1795

With the end of the age of nobility and the prevalence of horrors in the aftermath of World War II, the Bolognese nearly became extinct. Italian breeder Gian Franco Giannelli and del Leone Fiammingo Kennel, along with other dedicated European breeders began the restoration of the Bolognese breed approximately 30 years ago.

Federico Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua" by Tiziano Vecellio, 1529

Federico Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua” by Tiziano Vecellio, 1529

Bolognese entered the United States in the late 1980s. They made their first appearance at Crufts, the world’s largest international dog show, in 2002. Because of its rarity, the Bolognese breed has not been exploited by unknowledgeable breeders, and, therefore, have few known health issues. It is estimated that there are less than 1200 in the USA with fewer than 15 reputable established breeders.

All Bellissimo puppies are registered with the American Bolognese Club of America, which is a recognized registry of Bolognese, and are listed with the AKC as an accepted foundation registry. All Sires/Dams are health checked, CERF and patella certified annually. All of my puppies come with a written one year health guarantee and my personal technical support, as I am a very passionate and knowledgeable Bolognese breeder.