The Breed - History
This antique breed finds its origin in Bologna, Italy. But it is uncertaion how exactly it al started. What we do know is that in ancient times, 400 years B.C., the Bichon was already known. Some Greek and Romain writers wrote about this small dog. Plinius called it: "Catulus Melitaeus". Tombstones and vases with a small white dog and descryption "Melitae" were found. Long time ago Melitae was the name for the island Malta.
There was an ancient breed called: "Barbet", which means "with a beard". The diminitive is Barbichon, which will actually lead to the breed Bichon. It was in 1860 that the Bolognese was recognized as a different breed within the Bichon group. Until then it existed as a variety of the Maltese, the only difference being the curled fur instead of the silky straight hair the Maltese have.
An other piece of history we know is that the Bolognese were used as rat killers on ships. This probably enabled them to spread around the world. Something must have changed their position because in the renaissance they became very valuable. They were given as presents to many rich people. We know that Cosimo de Medici (1349-1464) brought eight Bolognese to Brussels as a gift to Belgian noblemen. The Duke d'Este gave Philipe II (1527-1598), King of Spain, two Bolognese as a present. Philipe II thanked him by saying: "These two little dogs are the most royal gifts one can make to an emperor".