Bolognese Dog Breed

Swedish Champion Chantli's Little Eros Ramasotti
Photo courtesy of CHAZARD Havanese & Bolognese

The Bolognese belongs to a group of several breeds which trace their ancestry back to the 12th century. This group includes Bichon Frise (or the Canary Bichon), the Little Lion Dog (or Bichon Petit Chien Leon), the Havanese Bichon (or Havana Silk Dog), the Maltese and the Bolognese (or Bichon Bolognese). The Maltese is estimated to be the ancestor of all other breeds in this group. The Bolognese descended from Maltese imported into Italy in the Middle Ages, then bred in isolation.

The Bolognese are quiet and loyal companions. They make excellent watchdogs, but are not nuisance barkers. Somewhat more square in shape than other bichons, the Bolognese has a flocked coat and is named for the area where it first made its mark, Bologna, Italy. Like the Maltese and Bichon Frise, he is a solid white dog, without marking of any kind. They are practically odor free and are thought to be ideal for people with allergies. They are natural clowns and people dogs who thrive on companionship and do not do well if left alone for 8-10 hours a day.

The Bolognese is highly intelligent and easy to train with positive reinforcement, as he is rarely in need of scolding. He is neither headstrong like a Dachshund nor obstinate like Shih Tzu. Once he has been taught to remain at home alone, he is content to stay at home for three or four hours at a time. Because agility trials are quite challenging for the Bolognese, the owner should never demand too much of his dog or force him to continue with something he does not enjoy. Dogs are never trained for agility before one year of age. 1

If the coat of your Bolognese appears overly frayed, the tips of the hair may be clipped every now and then. For show purposes, a Bolognese must never appear as though he has been clipped, especially in the sculpted manner of a breed like the Bichon Frise. As a puppy the coat may be trimmed between the ages of four to six months, which improves the strength and stability of the hair. 1

The golden rule when grooming the Bolognese is never to bathe the dog without first giving the coat a thorough combing through, otherwise the coat will become very matted. Bathe the dog with a protein pH-balanced shampoo and specially formulated for white dogs. To prevent matting, try to keep the hand motion straight rather than rubbing in circles. Rinse thoroughly to ensure all traces of shampoo are removed from the hair. Use a quality conditioner specifically formulated to prevent matting. Part any hair that may have matted onto the skin. This will not happened if the dog is thoroughly groomed before basing. 2

Other Names: The Bolognese Toy Dog, the Bologneser, Bolo, the Botoli, the Bottolo

Country of Origin: Italy

Utilization: Companion Dog

Registration FCI Classification: Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs; Section 1 - Bichons and related breeds (without working trial); AKC Classification: Foundation Stock Service

Size: Small (10-12 inches at shoulders)

Colors and Coat: Pure white, without any patches nor any shades of white. A distinctive, non-shedding coat, rather like the Poodle's, which forms into flocks. It is shorter on the muzzle.

Litter Size: 6

Life Span: 10-12 years

Grooming Requirements: The coat does not require trimming, but needs daily brushing and combing to prevent matting. These dogs are shown in their natural state, but pet dogs are sometimes trimmed (scissored). They are bathed and conditioned frequently. Pads should be checked often for clogged hair. Puppy coat needs more attention as it is of a finer texture. The coat does not molt, but a little hair comes out every time you comb.

Shedding: None

Personality: Gentle, sensitive, affectionate and eager to please, very devoted to his family.

Social skills: Gets along with other household pets, including dogs and cats.

Suitability for Children: Families with children will truly enjoy the playful ways of the Bolognese. These white fluff balls have a great sense of humor and are wonderful companions for older children. Given the small size of the breed, owners must instruct children about how to handle the dog carefully. Puppies are much more fragile and entirely unsuitable for young children. However, careful supervision and proper education can make all the difference in the world. Some puppies can be very "mouthy", so start your obedience training early to discourage this habit.

Exercise Needs: This is quite an active breed who needs daily exercise. Regardless of how many playmates your Bolognese has at home, a good brisk walk every day will contribute immensely to keeping him happy and healthy.

Train Ability: The Bolognese learns quickly and does well in obedience classes. They are a bit slower to housebreak than some other toy breeds. However, once you have your housebreaking system in place, adhere to it closely and you'll succeed.

Health & Behavioral Issues: This is one of the healthiest dog breeds with no inheritable diseases known to breeders.


  1. Original Dog Bible. Kristin Mehus-Roe
  2. Ultimate dog grooming. Eileen Geeson, Barbara Vetter, Lia Whitmore
  3. Small Dogs, Big Hearts. Darlene Arden

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