Happy, Sturdy, Playful and Tiny, the Perfect Lapdog


Bolonka: Happy, Sturdy, Playful and Tiny, the Perfect Lapdog

The Bolonka, also known as the Russian Bolonka, the Tsvetnaya Bolonka and the Bolonka-Zwetna or Zwetnaya, is a happy, sturdy, playful little dog that makes the perfect lapdog. High-energy, very active, trusting, outgoing and intelligent, the Bolonka generally has none of the snappish and sometimes temperamental behaviors toy breeds can exhibit. Instead, these joyful dogs make perfect companions to just about anyone, whether a single owner or family with children.


Rare and unique, the Bolonka is a small breed that is of the "Bichon type" and originates from Russia. Although the Bolonka's origins are unknown, it is believed that the Bolonka may have developed from the Bichon Frisé, although some suggest that its ancestors were really French Bolognese dogs because "Bolonka" translates to "Bolognese" in several Slavik languages.

What is known is that the Russian and French aristocracy's connections brought about the arrival of the Bolonka's ancestor to Russia under the czars. This ancestor was a dog similar to the Bolognese and/or the Bichon Frisé. Cute and small, these became lapdogs for the aristocratic women of the day both in France and in Russia. Two types, the Bolonka Franzuskaya and the Bolonka Zwetnaya, emerged. "Franzuskaya" means "French" and "Zwetnaya" means "multicolored." After the Russian Revolution, the Russian dogs were isolated from the French dogs and began to be purely developed as a true Russian Bolonka breed. Beginning in the 1950s, the dogs became more popular as they were recognized as a native Russian breed. At that point, exports of the Bolonki (plural of "Bolonka") were very restricted.

In 1978, the Soviet Union sent a pair of Franzuskaya Bolonki meant for breeding into the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or East Germany. This resulted in efforts to develop the white Franzuskaya Bolonka specifically as a breed in Germany, beginning in the 1980s. Ultimately, the Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen, Germany's Kennel Club, recognized the Franzuskaya Bolonka as a Bolognese variation. The Bolonka Zwetnaya (also known as the Tsvetnaya Bolonka), is a colored version of this breed, although it's not officially recognized as a formal breed in its own right as yet. They remain relatively rare in the United States, although the Tsvetnaya Bolonka (the colored dogs) are becoming more popular thanks to a 2002 agreement with the Russian Kennel Federation and the National Russian Bolonka Club. These agreements seek to maintain the breed standard of Russia. Once this agreement was established, the first Bolonka was imported from Russia at that time. Although it does not yet have recognition by the American Kennel Club, it is being shown on the Rare Breed Circuit and is recognized by the American Rare Breed Association.


What's notable about the Bolonka is that it has two separate but equal breed "branches," the Bolonka Zwetnaya (also known as the Zwetnaya Bolonka, the Bolonka-Zwetna, the Bolonka Tsvetnaya or the Russian Bolonka), and the French Bolonka or Bolonka Franzuskaya (name also can be reversed: the Franzuskaya Bolonka). While the Bolonka Franzuskaya is white, the Bolonka Zwetnaya is black or multicolored. The Bolonka most often adopted as a pet in the United States is the Bolonka Zwetnaya, or the Russian (black/multicolored) Bolonka.

A strong but compact animal, these little dogs make excellent lapdogs and usually only reach 10 to 15 pounds in adulthood, standing 7 to 10 inches at the shoulder. Their thick, dense coat can be of various colors, but is usually black, tan and black, red, brown and tan, cream, or brindle. Interestingly, the Bolonka Tsvetnaya was specifically bred originally to have dark or black fur because soap was hard to come by in czarist Russia, and black fur hid dirt better. Today, these little dogs exhibit a multitude of coat colors, but black is still the most common.


Happy, playful, affectionate and loving, the Bolonka has a personality that is as cheerful as its body is strong. Your little pet's role in life is to be your companion, and while he or she will be high energy and need lots of physical activity, this dog will also be very content to sit on your lap for hours at a time. Although as with any dog, the Bolonka needs firm and gentle discipline, he or she is very eager to please and very intelligent; you can teach your pet anything you want to and he or she will learn very quickly.

Although a tiny dog classified as a "toy," this dog is not typically prone to the so-called "small dog syndrome," unless an owner is exceedingly weak and does not take the "alpha dog" role as pack leader seriously. Confident, gentle and with a deep solidity that speaks to its Russian roots, your little pet is very patient with small children and will make an excellent companion even to rambunctious little ones who tend to be a little rough – although you should be careful to make sure your pet is protected from being hurt simply by accident. Although very sturdy and not fine-boned or fragile at all, the Bolonka is still a small dog and needs to be treated without undue roughness.

Proper Environment

The Bolonka is happy anywhere. Whether with a single owner who lives in an apartment or in a large house with an active family, your pet will be at home. All that's required is that you give your dog lots of attention and don't leave him or her alone for long periods of time. This dog’s very essence is as a companion dog and needs to be with the humans he or she loves. Although very active and energetic, physical activity will be satisfied with a daily walk and lots of play indoors, with no need to spend a lot of time outdoors. These tiny dogs are perfectly content inside, as long as they have enough room to play.


Because the Bolonka is still a pretty rare breed, not a lot is known about its health problems, although it appears to be quite resilient and will live about 12 to 16 years with proper veterinary care. It is assumed that the Bolonka has or will suffer from typical small dog problems like hip dysplasia, luxating patella, thyroid disease, and so forth. At present, ethical breeders are testing and submitting results to breed databases, in order to establish a firm health history.


Your little dog's thick, dense coat needs a regular brushing and combing, and bathing as needed. Although resources were scarce for the earliest Russians and these little dogs had to fend for themselves hygienically most of the time, modern conveniences make regular bathing and then conditioning to prevent matting easy to do, and your pet will most certainly benefit. When you bathe your pet, don't blow-dry his or her fur (even though he or she will be very agreeable to it – and in fact to just about anything you ask) unless absolutely necessary so that the fur's natural curls form.



Retrieved March 22, 2013.

East Germany.

Retrieved March 22, 2013.

RightPet: Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka.

Retrieved March 22, 2013.

Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka (Russian Bolonka) (Bolonka-Zwetna).

Retrieved March 22, 2013.

Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen.

Retrieved March 22, 2013.

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