Other Names

  • Bichon Bolognese
  • The Bolognese Toy Dog
  • The Bologneser
  • Bolo
  • The Botoli
  • The Bottolo

Country of Origin – Italy

Weight – 6 to 14 lbs


  • Male – 10.5 to 12 inches
  • Female – 10-11 inches


  • Woolly
  • Single Coat
  • Very Little Shed
  • Constant Maintenance Required

Color – White

Life Span – 9–11 years (average)

Group: Toy


The Bolognese [bolo???ese] is a small breed of dog of the Bichon type, originating in Italy. The name refers to the northern Italian city of Bologna. It is part of the Toy dog group and is considered a companion dog.


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The Bolognese is a small, white, compact dog with a distinctive white single coat. It is of small size, stocky and compact. It is of square build and well-muscled. The head is of medium length. The skull is slightly ovoid. The muzzle is large, black and almost square. It has a developed jaw and the upper lips don’t cover the bottom lips. Its lips are black. It has white, strong and evenly aligned teeth. Its eyes are well developed, open and round. The rims of the eyelids are black and the iris is a dark ochre color. The ears are set high and are long and hanging but rigid at the base. The tail is carried curved over the back.

The Bolognese’s height varies 10.5 to 12 inches for a male and 10-11 inches for a female. The weight varies between 6 to 14 lbs.



The distinctive single coat (i.e. no undercoat) falls in loose open ringlets / flocks all over the body, with shorter hair on the face. The hair’s texture is woolly, as opposed to silky, and is never trimmed or clipped unless kept as pets. The hair sheds very little, but requires regular combing to prevent matting.

The Bolognese often appears on lists of dogs that allegedly do not shed (moult). It is true that these dogs do not seasonally moult or lose large amounts of fur as many other breeds do. However, they do eventually lose and replace individual hairs, similar to human hair growth cycles. Each hair in their coat grows from a hair follicle, which grows, dies and is then replaced by another follicle. When the follicle dies, the hair is shed. The length of time of the growing and shedding cycle varies by age and other factors. There is no such thing as a completely non-shedding breed.

The coat requires daily brushing with monthly grooming recommended. Grooming must also include regular bathing, eye and ear hygiene and teeth cleaning.



Trademark traits of the Bolognese include: playful, easygoing, earnest, willing, intelligent and loyal. They are very serious and generally not very high energy. They are normally more reserved and shy than the Bichon Frise. The Bolognese is very responsive to obedience training. They are highly intelligent, quick to learn and are easy to train but can be very stubborn when they don’t get their way.

The Bolognese genuinely enjoy companionship of people and forms a close relationship with his owner. They are true companions and thrive on their owner’s attention. They have been known to follow their owners wherever they go. They are friendly with strangers but need to get accustomed to people at a young age. They can be reserved with strangers at first but the response of the owners to the new person greatly influences their behavior towards the individual. Because of this, they are generally friendly towards strangers after the initial meeting. Bolognese are true watchdogs, but are not incessant barkers. They notice anything unusual and faithfully notify their owners. Bolognese get along well with other dogs but are happy to be the only dog in the family. They are non-aggressive by nature.

Bolognese can be prone to small dog syndrome, human induced behaviors where the dog believes he is pack leader to humans. This can cause behavior programs including separation anxiety and timidity. They do not do well when left alone for long period of time. They may howl mournfully when the owner is busy and cannot pay attention to him.

Ideal owners of Bolognese include families with children, retirees and city dwellers. They are good with children as long as the children are old, mature and responsible enough to handle these dogs gently, carefully and safely. They are not a good choice for younger children who can easily injure small dogs. They are a good choice for counsellors or therapists since their soothing nature helps calm the patients down. Many psychologists use this breed as emotional support dogs.



The precise ancestry of the Bolognese is a mystery. Its closest relative within the Bichon group is the Maltese but it is unclear as to whether the Maltese is its direct ancestor or descendant. The Bolognese are named after Bologna, a city in northern Italy, thought to be the place of their conception. The existence of the Bolognese has been recorded since the year 1200.

They can be seen in tapestry work produced by Flemish craftsmen dating as far back as the 17th century. The Venetian painter Titian painted the Duke Frederico Gonzaga with his Bolognese. The breed is also seen in paintings by Goya, Gosse and Watteau. Other famous owners of the breed include Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796), Madame De Pompadour (1721-1764) and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.

The breed was brought into England in 1990 by Liz Stannard and is first shown during that year in the breed registry. In 2001 the breed was able to be shown at all shows with their own classes. They were at Crufts, an annual international dog show, for the first time in 2002.


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While Bolognese are perfectly happy to lounge around the house, they should also have a daily walk. A good walk would be around 20-25 minutes.



Bolognese are easy to train but are quick to bore with numerous repetitive drills. They thrive on variety so it is best to change or expand activities to keep them happily engaged and thinking. They respond well to positive reinforcement, gentle training methods and consistency. They do not respond well to shouting or harshness.


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Life Span

The average life span of the Bolognese is 14 years but they have been known to live up to 18 years. They can live up to 10 years with relatively few genetic health issues. They are known to still act puppy-like at 10 years of age and are able to maintain aspects of youthfulness throughout their lives. They are typically active well into their senior years.
Common Health Problems

Bolognese are typically a healthy breed and are not prone to any major problems.