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What Makes a Bolonka a Bolonka?

Denise Dang

What Makes a Bolonka a Bolonka?

The official name of the breed is Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka, but most breeders just call these dogs Bolonka, which translates to Colored Lap Dog. They are small but sturdy dogs. Unlike some other Toy dogs, they are an outgoing, energetic breed. They love their human companions and enjoy doing any activity they are asked to do. The Bolonka will excel in any activity without their owners having to worry about having a fragile dog.

Bolonki (plural for Bolonka) are friendly dogs who are willing to please and highly intelligent, so training is not difficult. Their creation goes back to breeds such as the Shih Tzu, Maltese, and Bolognese, among others, to produce this non-shedding breed. Ideally, the size of this lovely little dog will be 7-9 lbs., but they can vary between 5-10 lbs. for males and females. The body is just off-square with a level topline. They should move with good reach in front and strong rear drive. The Bolonka should never be over 11 inches in height at the withers. They are the perfect travel companions.

There Are Two Hallmarks of This Breed

The first feature when looking at a Bolonka that stands out and says, “Hey, I’m a Bolonka!” is the headpiece. They should never look like any other breed but a Bolonka. The head should be slightly rounded and in proportion to the body. The Bolonka’s expression should be sweet and intelligent. They should have medium-sized, round eyes, never protruding. Their cheeks and skull are slightly rounded, giving them their unique look. The Bolonka’s muzzle is short, approximately one-third the length of the head, wide at its base and slightly tapered to the nose. The stop is well-defined. Their nose should be vertical in profile, never turned up. Their ears are V-shaped with slightly rounded tips. They are set moderately high and when alert, the ears lift at the base. The ideal Bolonka bite is a scissors bite. However, an even bite or slightly undershot is permissible and should not be penalized when competing in Conformation. The pigmentation should always match the coat color.

The second feature that defines the Bolonka is the breed’s coat. The coat of a Bolonka should be long, dense, thick, soft, and supple with a well- developed undercoat. The Bolonka coat should have large curls or be very wavy. Lack of curls or undercoat should be penalized when the Bolonka is being shown in Conformation. The Bolonka coat comes in any color except white, spotted, parti-colored or Merle, since those colors are a disqualification. A small amount of white markings on the toes and forechest is permissible. The Bolonka may appear disheveled due to the curls of the coat. A Bolonka participating in Conformation events should always be groomed and mat-free before entering the show ring.

The mature Bolonka should have a well-developed beard and mustache. Complete lack of beard and moustache is a disqualification when shown in Conformation events. The Standard states that no trimming of the coat is allowed, with the exception of the feet which may be neatened. The hair on the top of the head is normally pulled up into a ponytail with a small bow of any color—or it may fall naturally. To keep a show Bolonka’s coat in ideal condition requires hours of care and maintenance to keep the coat beautiful and mat-free. The Bolonka’s coat is considered non-shedding, but they do lose dead coat which will get tangled in the healthy coat and can cause severe matting close to the skin, like a spider web if left unattended. It is recommended that regular bathing and brushing of the coat will keep them mat-free and their skin in good condition.

A fun fact about the Bolonka: They change colors many times throughout their life. Most are born either black, brown or gold in color with either black or brown pigment. Chocolates are a prime example of this. Sables come in several different shades of color, which are born brown or black. The most common colors are black, brown or sable shades.

This little dog is a fun-loving, sweet companion who can take over your heart and home if allowed. They love to spend time on the couch next to you or just following you around the house, waiting for that snack to fall. Many Bolonki enjoy playing with toys or doing outdoor activities such as Agility, Fast CAT, and even a short hike in a park.