The Bolognese is believed to have descended from the Bichon breed (include Bichon Frise, Maltese, Havanese, Lowche and Coton de Tulear), which genetics is believed to be traced back to ancient ancestors of the Poodle and Barbet. Although there are apparent similarities, the exact ancestry of the Bolognese is unknown.
The name Bolognese came from a city in northern Italy called Bologna. It is thought to be where the breed was established. The breed has been recorded since the early 1200s. One of the oldest companion dogs in Europe, Bolognese dogs can be seen in artworks such as tapestries and paintings in the 17th century.
It was not until Liz Stannard brought the breed in England in the 1990's that it was officially shown in a class for breeds that were not yet recognised by The Kennel Club. In January 1995, the Bolognese was accepted by the United Kennel Club.