Information about the Tsvetnaya Bolonka

Bolonka refers to small breeds of dog of the Bichon type, originally from Russia, developed from the Bichon Frisé and further developed in Germany. They include the Franzuskaya Bolonka (Bolonka Franzuskaya) and the Bolonka Zwetnaya (bunte Schoßhündchen, Tsvetnaya Bolonka). Franzuskaya means French, Zwetnaya means multicolored, and Bolonka translates as “Bolognese” in a number of Slavic languages. This may pose a challenge to the idea that the Bolonka was developed from the Bichon Frisé, suggesting instead that the original dogs brought into Russia may have been French Bolognese.

Bolonka are 24 – 26 cm high at the withers and 2-4 or 5kg in weight. The Franzuskaya Bolonka is white, and the Bolonka Zwetna may be of various colours.

Although popular in Germany, Bolonka are not recognized as a separate breed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. The white version, the Bolonka Franzuska, was recognised by the VDH (German national kennel club) as a variation of the Bolognese. That fact that Russian Bolonka are not recognised stems from the lack of a national kennel club in Russia, after the fall of communism. Without an active national club, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale will not recognise the Russian dogs; in addition, there have been reports of irregularities in record keeping since in present day Russia “there is no single Kennel Club but a number of smaller clubs who basically do whatever they want.”

Through the connection between the Russian and French aristocracy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a type dog similar to the Bichon Frisé or Bolognese of today was brought to tsarist Russia. These little white dogs were favorites of the fashionable ladies of the period in both countries. After the Russian Revolution, the breed was isolated from the French dogs. The little dogs began to be taken seriously as a native Russian breed in the 1950s, and grew in popularity. Export of the dogs was strictly regulated. In 1978 a breeding pair of Bolonka franzuska was sent as a diplomatic gift from the Soviet Union into the GDR. From these and a few others, the white Franzuskaya Bolonka began to be developed as a breed in Germany in the 1980s. Eventually it was recognized by the VDF (Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen) as a variation of the Bolognese. At the same time a coloured version was also being developed, the Bolonka Zwetnaya (bunte Schoßhündchen, Tsvetnaya Bolonka, Deutscher Bolonka). These are not yet recognised although they have active breed clubs in several countries.