Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka (Russian: Болонка), also known as the Bolonka Zwetna in Germany, is a rare toy breed of the Bichon type, developed in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia from the ancestors of smaller dogs such as the Bichon, Toy Poodle, Shih Tzu, Pekingese and French Bolognese. They include the white version Franzuskaya Bolonka, which is a variation of the Italian Bolognese dog. Franzuskaya means French, Zwetna is the German term for Tsvetnaya and means multicolored, and Bolonka translates as "Bolognese" in a number of Slavic languages. The Bolonka has recently gained more fame by being the chosen breed of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Bolonkas are 18 27 cm high at the withers and 2-4 or 5 kg in weight. The Bolonka bodily formation resembles a square, with a long coat that has big wavy curls. The Bolonka is moderately boned and should never appear fine-boned. The Franzuskaya Bolonka is white, while the Tsvetnaya and Zwetna are black, brown, gray, red or wolf-gray. The breed is known for its soft, wavy to curly coat in a variety of colors. They have ears that are neither too long nor too short. Male Bolonkas have a distinct beard and moustache that sets them apart from their female counterparts. Bolonka tails are supposed to have the tip touching the back. Similar to other Bichon breeds, Bolonkas do not shed. Daily brushing of the coat helps to prevent matting. If a Bolonka's coat gets severely matted, they may develop a hematoma. Bolonka dogs are considered suitable for people with allergies, as they are bred to be hypoallergenic. Breeds that don't shed are more likely to be hypoallergenic, since the dog's dander and saliva stick to the hair and are not released into the environment. The frequent trimming, brushing, and bathing required to keep the Bolonka looking its best removes hair and dander and controls saliva. It is important to note that how hypoallergenic a particular dog is for a particular person may vary with the individual dog and the individual person.
The Tsvetnaya Bolonka is even-tempered, intelligent, friendly to all, and should never be shy or show aggression of any kind. The Russian Tszvetnaya Bolonka was specifically developed as a companion dog and is prized for its sociable, easy-going and affectionate temperament. Its specimens will avoid exuberant games and wont appreciate any extent of physical abuse during playing. The Bolonka Zwetna usually perceives all unfamiliar people as potential play mates and without timely socialization it can grow into an inappropriate greeter. However this breed was bred with strong tendency to defend its territory and its favorite humans, so it can become a fairly good watchdog. The Bolonka wont be able to apply to necessary aggression when the situation calls for it and shouldnt be tasked with the responsibilities of a guardian.
Tsvetnaya Bolonka means "colored lap dog." The Bolonka has several different nicknames. They have been called Russian colored Bichons or Russian lapdogs. In Germany, the dogs have been known as Bolonka Zwetna since the 1980s, or Deutscher Bolonka. Tsvetnaya and Zwetna have the same bloodlines, however the Nordic Kennel Union officially recognizes the Russkaya Twvetnaya and not the Zwetna. In the Czech Republic the breed is called Barevny Bolonsky Psik (Bolognais color). Sometimes they are mistakenly called Bolognese. The common name of the breed in all countries is Bolonka. The Franzuskaya (French) Bolonka is the white version, and is a variation of the Italian Bolognese dog.
The Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka had its beginnings as far back as the early 18th century. Louis XIV of France presented the Bolonka as gifts to Russian nobility. Later, the ancestors of the Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka migrated to Russia with Napoleons army and they were known as the French Bolonka. Russia was never known for its toy breeds, partly because of its environment and its economic need for working dogs. Smaller breeds were considered superfluous and unnecessary, even more so during the Soviet Regime. During this time, dogs were not imported to Russia, so breeds were developed by selections from existing breeds. Being unable to import dogs from outside of Russia, the Bolonka was developed by localized breeding through dog lovers in Moscow and Leningrad, who looked to the ancestors of smaller dogs such as the Bichon, Toy Poodle, Shih Tzu, Pekingese and French Bolognese, with a view to creating a toy sized lap dog that would have the right temperament for apartment living. Since 1966, they have been called Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka. Interest in the specific breed of Bolonka revived after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Similarly, through the connection between the Russian and French aristocracy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a 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 Franzuskaya Bolonka 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 Italian Bolognese. This was at the same time as the coloured version was being developed, the Bolonka Zwetnaya (bunte Schoßhündchen, Tsvetnaya Bolonka, Deutscher Bolonka). These are not yet recognized, although they have active breed clubs in several countries.
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. The fact that Russian Bolonka are not recognized 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 recognize the Russian dogs; in addition, there have been reports of irregularities in record keeping since in present-day Russia. In January 2013, the Nordic Kennel Union officially accepted the Russkaya Twvetnaya Bolonka and not the Bolonka Zwetna, and since then it has been allowed to participate in dog shows in the NKU member countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. The American Kennel Club added the Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka to the Foundation Stock Service Program in 2015 and assigned the breed to the Toy Group. Bolonkas are considered the rarest of the Bichon family.