The Bolognese is a small dog breed that is a member of the Barbichon family. Sometimes called the Bolo, this beautiful companion dog is easy-going and good-natured. He bonds easily with people and is a Velcro dog. 


The Bolognese is named after the area it came from – Bologna, Italy. He belongs to the same group as the Bichon Frise, Maltese, Havanese and Coton de Tulear.

Paintings and tapestry work dating back to the 17th century show the existence of the Bolognese. 

Bolos were often given as gifts to noblemen. Famous past owners include Catherine the Great of Russia, Madame de Pompadour and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. 

In 1990, the dog was introduced to England and registered as a breed.

Physical Characteristics

The Bolognese has a small stocky body that is square-shaped. He is sometimes confused for the Maltese. 

Notable differences between the two are that the Bolognese:

* Is slightly larger

* Has an unshaped coat

This toy dog has beautiful round black eyes and a black nose. His feathered tail usually curls up over his back. 

His distinct single coat is white and fluffy with a woolly texture. It forms into loose flocks on the dog’s body and is shorter on his face.


A mature Bolognese has a height of 9 to 12.5 inches (25cm to 30cm) and weighs between 8 to 14 pounds (2.5kg to 4kg). 

Character & abilities

The Bolognese is an affectionate dog that is devoted and sensitive to the feelings of those he is close to. 

He forms a strong bond with his primary caregiver and he thrives on their love and attention. 

Bred solely to be a companion dog, he can be clingy and enjoys following his person wherever they go. 

He is curious, playful and amusing. He can alert when there is someone at the door but he will not bark incessantly. 

He is sociable but reserved with strangers until he gets to know them. If the person the Bolognese is close to does not like someone, this will influence the dog’s behaviour toward this person. 

This small dog breed loves children but is better suited for homes with older children. Because of his size, smaller children might mishandle him and accidentally get him injured. 

Trainability & Intelligence

The Bolognese is a smart dog and quick learner but he loves getting his way. He can be stubborn, crafty and manipulative. 

Obedience training can help this small dog avoid unwanted behaviour. He learns better using positive reinforcement techniques rather than harsh rebukes. 

He gets easily bored by repetition. To keep him engaged, training sessions should be fun and vary each time.  

Like other small dog breeds, the Bolognese is difficult to housebreak. Owners need patience and consistency, pee pads and a dog crate to get this pup toilet trained. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

The Bolognese is moderately energetic and content to be indoors. He should however be taken for several short walks every day to keep him fit.

This breed acts like a puppy for ten years of his life and remains youthful into his older years. 

This dog is at risk of excess weight gain and should have his food intake monitored based on his age, metabolism and activity level. To get a breed-specific diet, consult with an animal nutritionist or vet. 

Too many dog treats can contribute to the dog’s risk of being obese. People can look at his adorable face and let him indulge but these should be limited during training. 


The Bolognese sheds very little. Regular brushing can remove any loose hair and prevent matting. 

Some owners like to keep the dog’s coat short except for the hair on the head which is left in a mop head. Maintaining a full-length coat will require more regular grooming. 

It is essential to regularly trim the hair around the dog’s eyes to ensure his vision is not obstructed. 

Occasional baths will keep the coat clean. Using a dog shampoo for all-white coats will help to maintain its shine. 

Creating a dental hygiene routine with this dog will prevent the build-up of tartar and bacteria in the mouth. Use dog toothpaste and not human toothpaste because the fluoride content can be harmful. 

The dog’s nails can be trimmed every month at home or by a professional groomer. Unkempt nails can spread the dog’s toes and cause him pain and discomfort.

Living Conditions & Adaptability

The Bolognese is adaptable to living in the city or country as long he is not left alone for prolonged periods and provided with enough physical exercise. 

The Bolognese is prone to separation anxiety which can manifest as:

* Excessive barking

* Howling

* Potty accidents in the home

* Chewing on items in the house like shoes and carpets

He is a house dog and should not live outside or in a kennel. 

This small dog breed is not aggressive and gets along with other dogs. He however will prefer to be the only dog in the home. 

As a rare breed, the Bolognese can be targeted by dognappers. He should be microchipped and supervised when playing in the yard. 


This little dog is generally healthy with few genetic issues.

* Hip dysplasia – a hip deformity that may lead to arthritis 

* Patellar luxation – kneecaps that easily get pushed out of place

* Legg-Calve-Perthes disease -shrinkage of the head of the thigh bone caused by a reduced blood supply

* Eye infection

* Dental problems

The Bolognese has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years. 


The Bolognese is a rare easy-going dog with a calm demeanour. He is people-oriented, devoted and loves to cuddle. People who work from home or retirees would be the ideal match for this small dog.

Adding a furry friend to your home is an important decision. It is important to determine the dog that is best suited for your home and lifestyle. 

Our team at All The Small Dog Breeds has researched and compiled detailed small dog breed descriptions to help dog parents adopt a dog that will thrive in their family. 

When ready, visit your local animal shelter or registered dog breeder to meet some potential new furry family members.



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