Both Plato and Socrates wrote about little white dogs, precious as jewels, who were brought to Greece, and many other Mediterranean countries, by sailors coming from the Isle of Malta. They were small, all white, black nose, eyes, eyelids and lips. Those dogs were the ancestors of our Bichon type dogs: Bolognese, Havanese, Coton de Tulear, Maltese and the Bichon Frise, of course.
The French modified this little white dog and the Bichon and Coton de Tulear are the result. The Havanese comes from Havana, Cuba and the Italians, with their usual flair for beauty, and fashion, “created” the gorgeous Bolognese with its not curly, not wavy, not straight hair. Their hair, when long, is like a curly haired person on a very humid day. On women, like me, I have long, curly hair and live in Florida so I look like a redheaded human Bolognese, it is not very attractive but on the Bolognese, Bolos, it is divine.
The love for this breed spread from Italy into Russia, Spain and other countries. Of course, only royalty and aristocrats could have these canine jewels. Catherine the Great, originally a German princess, who became the Empress of Russia, an enormous empire, loved this breed and it is though they were very tiny because she would carry them in her bosom and the sleeves of her coat. Other famous Bolognese parents were Da Vinci, Madame de Pompadour and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. They are also depicted in tapestries woven by Flemish craftsmen as far back as the 17th century. The Venetian painter, Titian painted the Spanish Duke Federico with his Bolognese. The Bolos were also painted by Goya, Gosse and Watteau.
In more modern days, Marilyn Monroe was given a little dog Sinatra bought from an Italian breeder. In the early 50’s this breed was unknown in this country so people said he was a Poodle. Monroe named the little dog Mafia, Maf for short, because of Sinatra’s well known links with the Mafia. Maf was with Marilyn Monroe on the night she was killed and was adopted by her agent’s secretary.