Bolognese Dog – Here’s What You Should Know

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
The Bolognese is a loving and affectionate dog that loves to be outside as much as he loves spending time inside being cuddled. They are playful, intelligent and fearless when needed. Read on and discover everything about this breed, from its history to training tips and tricks.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
9 to 12 inches tall at the shoulder
8 to 14 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 14 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Bolognese is a true companion dog that loves nothing more but to be next to its family’s side. This small and white fur of joy also loves getting things done his way, usually in silence, so you should be careful – you could easily be manipulated by this 10-pound fur-ball.

Discover below everything that you should know about this breed and see if a Bolognese should be your next best friend.

Quick Facts

Real name: Bolognese
Other names: Bichon Bolognese, Bolognese Toy Dog, Bologneser, Bolo, Botoli, Bottolo
Origin: Italy
Breed type: Companion Dog
Weight: 2.5–4 kg (6–9 lb)
Height: Male 27–30 cm (11–12 in), Female 25–28 cm (10–11 in)
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Color: White
Coat: Long and fluffy


Originally, Bolognese dog is a part of the Bichon family group that is worldwide known for being one of the most vivid and popular groups of companion dogs. Bichon family group includes the following breeds:

  1. Havanese
  2. Maltese
  3. Bichon Frise
  4. Lowchen
  5. Coton de Tulear

The Bolognese is an ancient breed with strong noble origins. Their roots are even intertwined with Italian aristocracy. However, their precise ancestry is still unknown. What we know for sure it that they are relatives with breeds from Bichon group, but it is also unclear whether the Maltese is its direct descendant or ancestor.

This breed is named after Bologna, a well-known city in northern Italy. It’s believed that Bologna is the place of the breed’s establishment. Overall, Bolognese is a very old dog breed. Very first records of this breed have been recorded since the year 1200.

History Of Bolognese Dog

The Bolognese dog was very popular among the royals so even today we can witness their royal treatment in tapestry work produced by Flemish craftsmen. That tapestry work is really old, it dates back to the 17th century.

Some documents are telling the breed is even older and that it dates from the 12th or 13th century even. The breed is often seen in paintings by Watteau, Goya, and Gosse. The most famous Bolognese owners include Maria Theresa of Austria, Madame De Pompadour, and Catherine the Great of Russia.

Interestingly, the breed was very popular during the Renaissance, but as that period reached its end, this breed almost reached one as well. Bolognese was almost extinct as the time passed and the nobility passed along with it. This adorable dog is linked with also another small dog – Bichon Frise, since both are part of a family of dogs named Barbichon types.

Luckily, a few breeders in Europe loved the breed and wanted to save it from going extinct, so they took the breed’s destiny into their own hands. One of the breeders, Gian Franco Giannelli, from Italy, restored the breed to today’s popularity. This dog breed also had huge popularity in England where it was brought in 1990 by Liz Stannard. Since 2001 the breed can be shown at all dog shows.

Physical Appearance

Bolognese is one of the most noticeable dogs once outside. They are well-built, small-sized and stocky. A purebred Bolognese is always white with a long and fluffy coat. More than anything else they are compact and square-built with a body that’s equal to the height at the withers. As a general rule, the depth of chest is almost half of the height at the withers.

For a small dog, Bolognese is well-muscled with a square build. The head is always of medium length, while the muzzle is black, large and almost square.

Interestingly, lips are always black, while the eyes are round and open. Their ears are long, set high and hanging. The tail is slightly curved over the back. Their height varies to 12 inches, while their weight shouldn’t exceed 14 Ibs.

Fast fact: The Bolognese is also known as the Bichon Bolognese.

When Is A Bolognese Dog Full Grown?

Sometimes people are having difficulties to differentiate a full-grown Bolognese from a puppy, due to their size. So, the best way to know the difference and to understand how old is your Bolognese is to know when they are fully grown.

As a small breed, you should bear in mind that females are always smaller than the males. Females tend to be between 10-11″ while the males tend to be between 10.5″-12″. When they reach the weight between 5.5 – 9 pounds they are considered to be fully grown.


This breed is known for being playful, fun and great with humans, including adults, children and even elderly. Although they are playful and outgoing they may seem reserved and shy when they are not around their owners.

Moreover, they are known for forming a strong relationship with its family members, but not with more than one or two people. But this doesn’t mean that they won’t get along perfectly with other humans surrounding them or even animals. It just means that they will love one or two humans extra. To make them comfortable around humans they have to be trained and socialized early or they will try to train you and shape you according to their vision.

Like many small breeds, Bolognese is prone to developing small dog syndrome, due to their small size and how their owners treat them because of it. Therefore, it’s important to treat your small dog as if he were the biggest dog in the world, or otherwise, you will have a small dog with huge stubbornness that you won’t be able to restrain.

One Man Dog

Although they may develop a strong relationship with two humans, the chances are that your Bolognese will be forever-loyal only to one person. Moreover, he will stick to that person as if he was his shadow. Bolognese will pick one human to protect him above all others. As a result of this strong and often seen tendency, they can suffer from separation anxiety.

If you leave your Bolognese alone for a longer period you can expect to hear from your neighbors, as Bolognese will make a loud and frequent noise when left alone, such as howling and barking. Luckily, this is a problem that can be treated with consistent training and socialization.

If your lifestyle demands a lot for you to move around and be outside you should think about getting a dog that doesn’t mind being left alone.

On the other hand, if you spend most of your day inside your home, Bolognese will be a perfect companion. Why? This is a breed with a low energy level and they will be more than happy to curl up on the couch after a short walk or even a short training session.

Is A Bolognese A Good Family Dog?

Long story short, yes. Bolognese is great when it comes to spending time with family members, especially children. They are energetic, fun, playful and love to please, so they will be more than happy to share some happy moments with youngsters.

We can even say that Bolognese is a perfect choice when it comes to families with younger and older children. Just make sure that you educate your child on how to communicate with your dog because you don’t want any unplanned surprises.

Grooming Bolognese

Bolognese is known for having an all-white coat that is soft and fluffy. Some people even say that touching their hair feels like touching cotton. One of the most amazing things about this breed is the fact that they do not shed, so if you or any of your family members is struggling with any kind of allergies you can be assured that you will be able to breathe normally around this small and playful dog.

However, maintaining their coat clean and un-tangled does require a significant time investment. That beauty comes with a price. Interestingly, their coat is unshaped in general so you, or the profession groomer, can shape it as you like with special care around their eyes, mostly for sanitary reasons. How often should you groom your Bolognese? Well, every day.

Regular grooming is mandatory if you want to keep yours Bolognese full coat. But, if you are going for lower maintenance you should think about keeping Bolo’s coat short or shorter. Beyond regular brushing, you should have occasional bath, nail trimming, gums check, ears cleaning to avoid any infection, and regular teeth brushing.

Training Your Bolognese

Bolognese is surprisingly easy to train, but they do get easily bored. Why? With repetitive drills, they aren’t challenged enough. They thrive when their exercise sessions are filled with creativity and variety, so make sure that you expand your activities to keep them engaged and stimulated all the time. They are also huge fans of positive reinforcement, consistency and gentle training methods. Don’t even think about yelling or being harsh, as they may shut and develop a fear.

Bear in mind that training starts from day one, especially because this is a small dog breed that is prone to developing ‘small dog syndrome‘, and although it can be cured its not something that you want to deal with if not necessary.

Quich Tip: Before you get a Bolognese, make sure that you stay informed on ‘small dog syndrome’ so you can know what to expect and how to prevent it, by simply paying attention to proper socialization and training.

How To Train Your Bolognese?

Patience is essential when it comes to training this breed. Never forget that they are highly intelligent dogs who love to learn, but can easily get bored. To have a sociable and well-balanced Bolognese, you need to start early socialization with other people and dogs. Go to places where your dog may interact with other people and dogs, such as dog parks, puppy classes or open parks for everyone.

If your Bolognese gets bored he will become ultra yappy and bark for the sake of it, so keep him entertained. Never leave him without toys and don’t let a day pass by without having ‘playtime’ for just the two of you.

Teach your puppy from day one how to stay home alone, teach him to entertain himself for a short time, and make sure that you use lots of vocal reinforcers or baby voice that is high-pitched and have a mandatory playtime once you return home. This can be supported with crate training.

Create a relationship based on mutual trust and you won’t have any problems with your Bolognese.

Bolognese And Exercise Needs

On average, Bolognese will take 60 minutes of your time for daily activity (this is a minimum of activity per day). As a medium active dog, Bolognese will not demand more than a moderate exercise schedule. Therefore, they are great companions for seniors and retirees. After all, Bolognese is a calm and easygoing dog that is great for apartment living and smaller houses where they will have nice playtime in the backyard (preferably fenced). If you live in an apartment your Bolognese will be satisfied with some indoor play if you organize it well.

On average, Bolognese requires two short walks a day. Due to their small size, they are not extremely active dogs, so a 20-minute walk twice a day will be more than enough. On a weekly level, your Bolognese will be satisfied with having 7 miles of activity.


Bolognese is, in general, a healthy breed and they are not prone to any major health problems. If they weren’t that healthy breed their life span wouldn’t go up to 14 years in some cases. Furthermore, they can live up to 10 years without any serious health issues. They are so playful that it’s known that they are acting as puppies despite being 10 years old.

Just like any other dog breed, they can have some genetic issues such as luxating patellas or eye problems. Responsible breeders will always utilize health screening and even genetic testing to reduce the likelihood of disease in their puppies. Therefore, the most common health tests for Bolognese are:

  • Patellar Evaluation
  • CERF

These tests are recommended by The American Bolognese Club and you should always check with breeder if he performed them.

Due to poor breeding practice, some dogs are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. So, if you are buying a puppy it’s always a good idea to find out if there are any genetic illnesses in the pup’s ancestry and what is common to your breed of interest.

Bolognese The Dog – Key Takeaways

Could the lovely Bolognese be the right choice for you? Well, if you are looking for a playful, loving, and loyal companion who thrives when being around you, this dog could be perfect for you. Also, if you don’t mind being followed all around, you will enjoy countless moments of true pack happiness. As a descendant of Italian royalty, Bolognese is a perfect lapdog.

Being a lapdog doesn’t mean that they won’t demand your free time and regular walks. They also need regular grooming and regular cleaning, especially on rainy days. So, if you are working from home or you are retired, this could be a match made in heaven. Otherwise, make sure that you are organized and that you don’t leave your Bolognese alone for too long.

Popular Bolognese Comparisons

Compare Dog Breeds: