The Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka is as small as their name is large. This toy dog was originated exclusively in Russia as a companion dog throughout the 1800s, then throughout Europe after the 1960s and the US in 2000. Their role as a lapdog has remained consistent throughout the breed’s history.
This breed has many nicknames, including Bolonka, Russian Colored Bichon, Colored Bichon, Russian Lapdog, Toy Bolonki, Russian Bolonka, Russkaya Tsvetnaya Bolonka, and Bolonka-Zwetna. Though they are purebred dogs, you may find them at shelters. Please opt to adopt if possible. Remember, when you adopt, you save two lives — the one you bring home and the one you make room for!
Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonki fit well in any size of dwelling, including small apartments. They are playful, intelligent, and affectionate — very happy to sit on your lap for as long as you welcome them. They are generally considered hypoallergenic.
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks. You can find a great jacket for your dog here!
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Companion DogsHeight:7 to 11 inchesWeight:4.5 to 11 poundsLife Span:12 to 16 years
More About This Breed
- The Russian Tsvetyana Bolonka comes in many colors, sometimes with white markings. Colors include black, brown, gray, “wolfgray,” blue, cream, silver, fawn, and red.
- This is a hypoallergenic breed that may be better for some allergy sufferers.
- If you don’t cut their hair, it will be especially important to brush them a few times a week with a wide-tooth comb. If you do trim the hair, they may not need quite as much brushing.
- The Russian Tsvetyana Bolonka doesn’t need tons of exercise, but at least one walk per day, plus play, is a good idea.
- Though they are not excessive barkers, with proper training, they will alert you if someone or something new enters their environment.
- To avoid corneal abrasions, keep the hair above their eyes in a high ponytail — a characteristic functional fashion look you’ll see on many in this breed.
- The natural playfulness and affection of the Bolonka makes them a great childhood playmate or adult companion.
- Bolonki do great with all sorts of other pets. Their hunting drive is about average for dogs, so it is a good idea to supervise them when they are around smaller animals, like rodents.
The Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka has a fascinating history steeped in politics.
Their origin may date all the way back to the early 1800s, when an ambassador of Louis XIV brought a gift of a Maltese-type dog to the current Russian Czar. Napoleon’s army brought more of these dogs with them, and they became known as the French Bolonka.
From there, Russia fiercely guarded the breeding of this dog throughout the 1800s, naming it the Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka. Toy dogs had never been particularly popular in the country due to the harsh weather conditions and economic necessity for working dogs.
Although the breed almost went extinct, it became more popular during the Communist era, when their size was optimal for people’s generally small living spaces.
Because dogs were not being imported during this timeframe, breeders had to rely on mixing the Bolonka with small dog breeds already in the country, such as Toy Poodles and others. They adapted the Bolonka to survive the conditions of Communist-era Russia, right down to the soft, curly fur that tolerated the lack of available clean water and shampoo.
In 1960, breeding restrictions for outside the country lifted somewhat, and the dogs were exported around Europe. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, demand for these dogs within and outside of Russia grew.
In 2000, the breed was finally allowed into the United States. Their popularity has been on the rise recently, surely thanks in part to their celebrity status as the breed of choice of England’s Prince William and Duchess Catherine of Cambridge.
Russian Tsvetyana Bolonki are considered to be the “toy” class of size, meaning the smallest of the small. Males tend to be larger than females. The males average nine to eleven inches tall and eight to eleven pounds, while females range from seven to nine inches tall and four to nine pounds.
That said, some dogs can be smaller or larger than average for their breed.
Russian Tsvetyana Bolonka are the epitome of the perfect, little lapdog. Content to cuddle for many hours, they are also very playful and inquisitive. They’re described as charming, affectionate, and sweet. They don’t need tons of exercise, but at least one walk per day, plus play, is a good idea.
They are an interesting dichotomy of friendly to all and alert watchdog. Though they are not excessive barkers, with proper training, they will alert you if someone or something new enters their environment. Bolonki are not aggressive, and their biggest wish is to be friends with every adult, child, and animal they meet.
With many toy dogs comes the warning to avoid “small dog syndrome,” a set of bad behaviors caused by humans not training their dogs properly just because they’re small — i.e., allowing, and thus encouraging, nipping, excessive barking, or other undesirable behaviors.
Bolonki are surprisingly independent for toy dogs, which, on one hand, can make them less prone to “small dog syndrome,” but on the other hand, more difficult to train.
Early socialization and training will bring out the best in Bolonki, as with all dogs. With firm, but gentle training, Bolonki do well in formal exercises, like agility, obedience, tracking, and rally, due to their natural intelligence and cleverness.
Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonki are generally pretty healthy dogs with a generous lifespan of twelve to 16 years. Because they are a more rare breed, not as much is known about them as others.
However, like all dogs, they may encounter certain health challenges, especially those that tend to run in small dogs, such as:
- patellar luxation
- liver shunt
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
- PRA/other eye issues
Note: to avoid corneal abrasions, keep the hair above their eyes in a high ponytail — a characteristic functional fashion look you’ll see on many in this breed.
As with all dogs, you should keep up with your Bolonka’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet can help you develop a care routine that will keep your dog healthy.
Bolonki are not necessarily prone to weight gain, and they do not have excessive levels of energy, so a moderate amount of exercise should suit them well. At least one walk with you per day, even if it’s just around the neighborhood, plus a bit of play, will be good for your Bolonka’s mental and physical health.
Brushing their teeth a few times a week, or ideally every day, will ensure optimal dental health, especially because small breeds are prone to dental problems.
It’s a good idea to check their eyes and ears for any debris or irritation at least once a week. Bolonki are especially prone to eye irritation, with their long hair, so do make sure to keep their hair out of their eyes as much as possible. This is easily done with a ponytail holder or barrette.
Breed standards dictate not to cut Bolonka hair, so if you are adhering to that, it will be especially important to brush their fur a few times a week with a wide-tooth comb. If you do trim the hair, it may not need quite as much brushing.
They may need their nails trimmed once or twice each month. Nails should not be clicking loudly against the floor. Your groomer can help with this and make recommendations for at-home nail care.
An ideal Bolonka diet should be formulated for a small-sized breed with medium energy. The Bolonka has an average tendency to become overweight, so giving them a regimented amount of food every day and not overdoing it on treats are good ideas, but not major concerns.
As with all dogs, the Bolonka’s dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. You should ask your veterinarian for recommendations about your Bolonka’s diet, as there is far too much variation among individual dogs — including weight, energy, and health — to make a specific recommendation.
Coat Color And Grooming
Bolonki come in many colors, sometimes with white markings, but the breed standard does not allow for more than 20 percent white, or they will fall outside the purebred standards. Colors include black, brown, gray, “wolfgray,” blue, cream, silver, fawn, and red.
The curly coat of the Bolonka does not shed much, but it does need combing with a wide-tooth comb a couple of times a week. Bathing should only be done as necessary. Because their hair is so long, especially if you do not trim it, as showing requires, it’s important to keep their hair out of their eyes with a ponytail, barrette, etc.
The small size of the Bolonka means they’re not particularly happy in any kind of extreme temperature. However, they may do slightly better in warm climates than cold.
Children And Other Pets
Bolonki are very social dogs and are great with children and other animals. Because Bolonki are toy-sized dogs, it’s especially important that children and other pets learn how to be gentle and cautious around them, as small dogs can more easily be hurt. However, the natural playfulness and affection of the Bolonka makes them a great childhood playmate or adult companion.
Although they sometimes want to be independent, Bolonki do great with all sorts of other pets. Their hunting drive is about average for dogs, so it is a good idea to supervise them when they are around smaller animals, like rodents.
As with all dogs, Bolonki will do best if they have early socialization and training. This will foster the loving, loyal traits of your dog, and it can help them get used to being around people and other animals. The Russian Tsvetyana Bolonka is one of the most versatile dog breeds you can meet, and they do well around all sorts of people and animals.
Rescues specifically for Russian Tsvetyana Bolonka dogs might be hard to come by, as this is not a very common breed. However, you can always check with your local shelter, and you may want to try a rescue that caters to all kinds of dogs. You can take a look at the following:
- Wright-Way Rescue
- Angels Among Us Pet Rescue