Bolognese Overview

Dog Breed:
Breed Group:
Devoted, curious, intelligent, shy, and calm.
10-12 inches
5.5-9 pounds
Life Span:
12-14 years
Coat Colors:
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Owners who are prepared to wait to get a pup/A home where someone is home most of the day/Older children
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Bologneses
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Bologneses

Bolognese Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Bolognese

  • Small and often shy dogs

  • Not suitable for full-time workers

  • A rare breed


The Bolognese is a small and stocky white breed of dog. Although shy and reserved with strangers, they are devoted to their family. With this in mind, they can become distraught when left alone and so ideally need someone around most of the time. This means that they’re not going to be the right choice for 9-5 workers.

A busy household with lots of people coming and going may also be difficult for many Bolognese to cope with. An adult home or where the children are much older is probably a better environment for them.

This is not a breed who has high exercise needs, in fact, they tend to be very calm around the home. Though as with every type of dog, they do need the opportunity to get into the fresh air several times every day.

The Bolognese is a rare breed in the US. This means that you will need to be patient if one is to join your family. Most breeders who are recommended by the American Bolognese Club will have a waitlist, but this is the best way of obtaining a fit and healthy pup. Do be aware that some unscrupulous breeders and puppy farms try to pass off poodle crosses as a Bolognese in anticipation of charging exorbitant fees for a ‘rare breed.’

Bolognese Breed History

  • First bred in Italy

  • Popular with the nobility

  • Not currently eligible for registration with the AKC

The Bolognese is classified as a ‘Rare Breed Dog’ in the US, but they have been devoted companions to their owners within Italy for over 2000 years.

Coming from the Bologna region of Italy, it was the country’s nobility who brought the breed to fame. During the Renaissance period, they would often give Bolognese pups as presents to other members of nobility, and they were considered to be the most precious gifts that could be given. The Bolognese came to be a symbol associated with wealth, with many women of aristocracy considering the breed as the ultimate accessory.

Throughout the centuries the Bolognese were the adored companions of European Nobility. They are a common feature of Renaissance art and are even mentioned in the writings of Aristotle. The Gonzagas, a family of nobility in Italy from the 14th to the 18th centuries, were well known for their breeding of Bolognese within their luxurious estates.

However, as the power held by the aristocracy began to decline, so did the number of Bolognese being bred. They were, thankfully saved from near extinction by a small group of passionate breeders throughout Europe.

In the US, the Bolognese is not yet eligible for registration with the American Kennel Club (AKC). They have though, been admitted to their Foundation Stock Service. This allows time for the breed to develop and for the compilation of breeding records.

Bolognese Size & Weight

  • A small and compact breed

  • Males 11-12 inches and up to 9kg

  • Females 10-11 inches and around 5.5-7kg


Although the Bolognese does not yet have a breed standard with the AKC, breeders in the US utilize the one published by the European Federation Cynologique Internationale. In this standard, there are described as being ‘small, stocky, and compact.’

It states that males should be between 27-30 cm, so that’s around 11-12 inches and that females should be between 25-28 cm or 10-11 inches. On weight, well, they should be around 5.5-9kg, with females being towards the bottom end of the range.

Bolognese Personality & Temperament

  • Loyal and calm

  • Can be shy with strangers

  • Prone to becoming anxious when left alone


The Bolognese are easygoing and loyal little dogs. They are generally very calm around the home, and even as pups, they can be quite low energy. They do have a reputation as being reserved and shy with people that they don’t know; however, early socialization can help them to feel more confident in those situations.

With their own family, the Bolognese is completed devoted and adores being with them at all times. Care is then needed not to get into a situation whereby they cannot cope when being left in the home by themselves. Building in short periods of time when they are left by themselves right from being a young pup will help them to be more confident in their own company.

The Bolognese can be a good family dog, but as with all breeds, they need gentle and considerate handling. Children do then need to be old enough to learn how to behave around the breed so that a great relationship can develop. The Bolognese can also live with other dogs and cats, but its recommended that canine friends are of a similar size to prevent any accidental injuries.

The breed prefers a moderate climate but can adjust to cooler/warmer climes as long as they have access to aircon, or warm jumpers as needed.

Bolognese Health & Grooming

  • Generally, a healthy breed

  • Some testing needed for breeding dogs for genetic conditions

  • Many owners clip the coat for easier maintenance


The Bolognese is, a very healthy breed and to maintain this, the breed club recommends that all breeding dogs undertake the following two checks –

Eye Examination – This check looks for several inherited eye conditions and must be carried out by a Canine Registry Foundation board-certified ophthalmologist.

Patellar Evaluation – This assessment checks for a luxating patella (kneecap). This condition causes the knee cap to dislocate or move out of position. This can then cause both lameness and pain for affected dogs.

The Bolognese coat is one of their trademarks with its white cotton textured hair. The coat is ‘non-shedding,‘ so the breed may be suitable for those who may get an allergic reaction from being around dogs.

Usually, the Bolognese coats are unshaped and untrimmed; however, this requires more skill and time to keep it in top condition. Many families decide to keep their dogs in a shorter coat of around inch in length and then have an untrimmed “mop head” around the face.

Bolognese Training

  • Smart dogs capable of learning a whole range of behaviors

  • Attending classes will help develop confidence levels

  • Low prey drive


The Bolognese is a smart little dog and very capable of learning a whole range of behaviors. Their lower energy levels may not mean they are highly competitive in speed events such as agility and flyball, but they’ll still enjoy the learning process.

Attending a well-run puppy class will help this breed to become more confident around new people while also learning how to become a well-mannered member of the family.

This is not a breed with a high prey drive, but all dogs have their moments! So do keep that in mind if your Bolognese is exercised off-leash.

Bolognese Exercise Requirements

  • Smart dogs capable of learning a whole range of behaviors

  • Attending classes will help develop confidence levels

  • Low prey drive


With their lower energy levels, the Bolognese is not a demanding dog in their exercise requirements. However, every dog needs the opportunity to have their lives enriched by getting out and about. A short walk twice a day not only keeps them fit and healthy but also provides them with mental stimulation too.

While not overly playful, the Bolognese will enjoy the opportunity for brief games with their beloved people. Food enrichment toys can be a great way of stimulating them to be more active and to use their most powerful sense, their nose.

Bolognese Diet & Feeding

  • Get professional advice on the nutritional requirements for your dog

  • Choose a specially formulated puppy food, to begin with

  • Consider size, age, and exercise intensity when selecting adult food


We recommend speaking to your veterinarian or pet nutritionist for expert advice on feeding your dog.

Generally, your Bolognese will be on a specially formulated puppy food for the first six months of their life. This will provide all the nutrition they need during this growth period of their life. Once they move on to adult food, you’ll need to take into account their size, age, and exercise level when making your choice.

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Bolognese Rescue Groups

The Bolognese is a rare breed in the US, and so at present, there are not the rescue organizations that you see for more popular types of dogs. When looking for a pup, you may have to join a waitlist and be ready to be interviewed by the breeder; they’ll want to check out your suitability for one of their precious pups.

For more information on this breed, take a look at the website of the American Bolognese Club –