A member of the bichon group of dogs, the Bolognese is thought to have descended from bichon-type dogs in southern Italy, around the 11th or 12th century. Like the Bichon Frisé, it became popular as a companion dog amongst the royal courts and nobility of Spain, and other parts of Europe from the 1500s to the early 19th century, and Bichons featured in several paintings by artists such as Titian and Goya. The Bolognese was recognized in 1989 by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale as breed number 196 in Group 9 Companion and Toy Dogs Section 1.1 Bichons from Italy.
The Bolognese is a small, white, compact dog with a distinctive white single coat, kept as a companion dog. The eyes are large and dark, as is the nose. The Bolognese's height varies between 25 to 30 cm/10 to 12 in at the withers. Weight varies between 4 and 5 kg/9 to 11 lbs.
The distinctive single coat (i.e. no undercoat) falls in loose open ringlets all over the body, with shorter hair on the face. The hair's texture is woolly, as opposed to silky, and is never trimmed or clipped. The hair sheds very little, but requires regular combing to prevent matting.
The Bolognese often appears on lists of dogs that allegedly do not shed (moult). However, such lists are misleading. Every hair in the dog coat grows from a hair follicle, which has a cycle of growing, then dying and being replaced by another follicle. When the follicle dies, the hair is shed. The length of time of the growing and shedding cycle varies by age and other factors. "There is no such thing as a nonshedding breed."