This little dog belongs to the Bichon family group, which includes the which includes the Bichon Frise, Maltese, Lowchen, Havanese and Coton de Tulear. He has both similarities and differences with these other Bichon breeds. For example, the Bolognese is considered less hyperactive than the Bichon Frise.

Bolognese image

The Bolognese is considered an excellent companion dog. He loves being part of a group, whether it’s with a single city dweller, a family with older children, or a retiree. However, it is not recommended that Bolognese live with very young children as a child could accidentally jump on or roll over the dog, causing injury or death.


The Bolognese is descended from Italian nobility, which can be verified by his appearance in paintings and tapestries posed with their high-ranking owners from the 1700s. Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796), Madame De Pompadour (1721-1764) and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria are among these ladies of privilege.

Even earlier, in the 1200s, it is thought that the first Bolognese was conceived in the northern Italian city of Bologne. The Maltese is thought to be the Bolognese’s closest relative, but it is not clear which breed appeared first.


The Bolognese is a little guy, the male standing just 10.5 to 12 inches and the female, just 10 to 11 inches. The coat is white with a wooly texture and no undercoat. Bologneses, like their Bichon relatives, are often described as “shed-free” or “hypoallergenic.” However, there is no such thing as a shed-free dogs, only dogs that are less likely to trigger reactions in allergic people. Bologneses merely shed and regrow their hairs individually, so the impact on an allergic person is much milder. Many people with allergies to pet hair and dander find they can live in comfort with a Bolognese.


Bolognese make excellent family pets. They are laid back with a low energy level, and they love to give and receive attention. That said, children must be taught to treat and play with the dog gently, as he can be injured be a well-meaning but rambunctious child. This is the case with all small dogs. The dog should probably not live in a home with children younger than four unless someone is supervising at all times.

Training at a young age is essential, as the Bolognese tends to be shy around strangers and obedience can help him overcome this.

Ever hear of “small dog syndrome?” It’s a name for a condition in which the smallest dog in the house believes himself to be the pack leader. This behavior must be overcome. There is plenty of literature on this subject, so if you think you’re seeing it in your dog, find a book that deals with the topic, or consult the web. In the meantime, a Bolognese sharing a home with a larger dog should be monitored for his own safety. He does make an alert watchdog.

The main drawback of the Bolognese is he is subject to separation anxiety. He needs to belong to a family where at least one person is home during the day; a home in which everyone goes to bed early and comes home late is not going to keep him happy. Bolognese make delightful companions for the elderly as they are low-energy and low-maintenance.


The Bolognese has an average life expectancy of 14 and is said to remain playful and active for up to 10 years and beyond. He is not known to be prone to any genetic disorders or other health issues.


Although the Bolognese is a minimal shedder and not likely to cause allergic reactions, his coat does need to be brushed on a regular basis (preferably daily) to prevent the coat from matting or collecting debris. He also needs a monthly grooming (to include eye, ear and tooth care as well as bathing).

As a low-energy dog, he requires little activity, but does enjoy at least one long or a couple of short daily walks, particularly if you see him becoming lazy or overweight.


The Bolognese is a rare, prized dog and therefore not often in need of rescue, but anything can happen with any breed at any time. Recognizing this, the American Bolognese club lists a phone number for a volunteer who manages rescue and rehoming efforts. Here is a link to help in your rescue efforts:


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