Bichon Bolognese – Small Dog Breed

Bichon Bolognese

Bichon Bolognese is a dog breed suited for companionship, native to Italy. Together with its close relatives, Bichon Maltese and Bichon Frise, it is the oldest dog breed from Europe that served as a companion and that was very popular during the Renaissance period in Italy.

This type of dog is small-sized, very attached to its owner characterized by a curly, white coat. It is considered a rare dog breed less known not only in Europe but also worldwide. However, it has lately become more and more appealing to various dog lovers thanks to its appearance and personality as well.

Breed Characteristics

Dog Breed Group: Companion Dogs
Height: Generally 9 inches to 1 foot tall at the shoulder
Weight: Generally 8 to 14 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 14 years


Bichon Bolognese is a dog breed born and raised as a pet for aristocrats since Roman times. This dog is affectionate and it creates an intense emotional connection with its owner, often making people think that it is able to read minds. It behaves like a shadow for its owner because it needs attention. However, it is not the type of dog that becomes tiring and exhausting. It just wants to stay close to its owner.

The Bolognese often challenges its owner to various games, but it is easy to please if it is petted or plated with for a short period of time. It adores accompanying its owner everywhere, including on vacations. It also likes to visit unfamiliar places and people, as well as shopping sessions. If it is properly socialized during its junior age, this dog type behaves well in any situation.

The Bolognese is a dog that originated in Italy. In fact, it was named after a city in Italy, called Bologna. It was also known as the Italian Bichon of Bologna when it was very popular among the nobility, more specifically during the fourteenth century.

It is a small-sized dog, but it is said that it cannot be categorized as toy dog because it is slightly bigger than the average toy dog. The Bolognese has strong jaws and big round eyes that are covered by hair. It was classified as a curly variant of the Bichon thanks to its coat type which is curly and thick.

Main Highlights

Main Highlights

Bichon Bolognese is the type of dog that loves to get away from the house and accompany its owner everywhere. It is very enthusiastic regardless of the chosen transportation. It behaves nicely in vehicles and as well as on airplanes.

This dog type doesn’t change its behavior when it becomes a senior. It is known that Bolognese dogs older than 10 years are still playful and willing to learn new things.

The physical aspect of this dog was so beloved that even Maria Theresa and the Empress of Austria had one. It was a constant presence in Italy, Spain, and Russia, especially among the nobility.

Painters from France, Italy, and Spain were so fond of the Bolognese’s aspect that they decided to include them in their works of art.

The Bolognese feels great in an apartment as long as its owner is there too. It is recommended to people who actually have time to spend with it and to care for its pretentious coat.

With gentle and consistent training one can obtain the desired results without any problems because this dog is intelligent, and eager to please its master, and therefore it can easily understand what it is required to do.

This dog breed is suited for the elderly because it only has a medium level of energy and is very affectionate.

Breed History

Bichon Bolognese Breed History

Bichon Bolognese is a dog type related to all other Bichon dog breeds. They all have a common ancestor, named in Latin by Aristotle as “canes melitensis”. The Bolognese was very appreciated in the Roman Empire. Starting from the eleventh century, up to the sixteenth century, these dogs were only owned by the nobility.

Cosimo de Medici himself sent 8 copies of this dog type to Belgium, fact which was considered a very kind royal gesture. Not only Cosimo de Medici was delighted by this dog. We can also add Catherine I, Philip II and the Queen of France to the list. Also, painters such as Titian and Goya though this dog type was worthy of being immortalized in their works of art.

Around 2000 years ago, the ancestors of these dogs were used by sailors as working dogs on their ships in order to catch rodents, but also for security reasons. The very same sailors are the ones who brought it to Italy during the fifteenth century. However, when the influence of nobility started to decrease, the popularity of the Bolognese decreased significantly.

During the twentieth century, Bichon Bolognese was a dog breed close to extinction. Happily, there were a few very passionate dog breeders that did all they could to keep it from disappearing. Even if they are still considered rare, they have recently regained popularity and the demand is increasingly higher.


Bichon Bolognese Size

The Bolognese is a small-sized dog. Males stand 10 to 12.5 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 8 and 14 pounds.

The same weight range applies to females too, but they are slightly shorter, measuring between 9 to 12 inches high.

Personality and Character

The Bolognese is an agile type of dog that likes to romp. It is boastful and loves to play with others dogs alike. They create their own games and enjoy fooling their owners. They pay attention to intruders though, without letting any stranger have fun with them.

Their intelligence is obvious and they are also quick learners. They are dedicated and love the whole family, not only one person. They always have to know what their owners are doing and take part in the action. The Bolognese tries to please everyone and it often succeeds in its attempt.

Intuitive, loving and charming, dogs of this breed were bred over time as companions. Because of that, these four-legged friends need human contact and attention on a constant and daily basis. They long to be with their families, fact which is made obvious because they always try to follow people around the house.

Since the Bolognese gets so attached, it may start to growl if left alone in the house for long periods of time. Because it is addicted to the attention of its owner, Bichon Bolognese is not suitable for those who work hard and don’t stay at home for too long.

Dogs of this breed have curious and enterprising natures. They are lively and have flair when it comes to learning new things. In fact, they love to learn and practice for as long as they are in the center of attention.

Health and Potential Problems

Bichon Bolognese Health and Potential Problems

Apparently, the Bolognese is a dog that has good health and doesn’t suffer from diseases that are common to other types of dogs. It doesn’t have any specific diseases and it is not often affected by any. However, the way it is cared for and often visits to the vet are very important for this dog breed as well.

Care Features

Bichon Bolognese Care Features

The Bolognese is a dog suitable for apartment life that doesn’t necessarily need a yard. It has a moderate to low energy level, being able to leisurely laze on the couch for hours, but also to play for hours in a row together with other dogs.

Bichon Bolognese doesn’t need very long walks, but it is best to be taken out for 2 to 3 short daily walks that last about 13 to 30 minutes. In addition, it should also meet other dogs to play with in safe, fenced areas. Even if it has a yard at its disposal, this dog type still needs socialization, supervision and company.

If the Bichon Bolognese is not getting enough attention, it can develop behavioral problems, such as excitability, hyperactivity, excessive barking, nervousness or even aggression. Although it is a dog with a moderate level of activity, it is still more active than many other small dog breeds. Also, it may suffer from separation anxiety and start howling like a wolf.

Raised for centuries to entertain their noble owners with much affection and many tricks, the Bolognese dog breed is intelligent and very receptive, thus easy to train. However, just like any other small dog, it can be stubborn sometimes. Most dogs belonging to this breed want to please their owners and will enjoy every training session as long as it doesn’t involve any violent methods. It is not the type of dog to repeat the same commands over and over again. It gets bored easily, so its owner has to find various exercises to keep it interested for long.

Feeding Schedule

Feeding Schedule

The Bolognese is known to be very unpretentious when it comes to food. Even so, it needs a balanced diet and a fixed feeding schedule part of its daily routine. Proteins and animal fats are very important for its diet. It should be fed twice per day.

Coat, Color and Grooming

Bichon Bolognese Coat, Color and Grooming

The coat of the Bolognese requires meticulous care. Daily brushing and combing especially on the head, abdomen and in the area between its legs is not only recommended, but also encouraged. Since the color of this dog’s coat is white, it should be washed regularly in order to be kept white and clean.

There are no color variations for the Bolognese, but the shades can change because of food or other harmful factors. Bichon Bolognese is known for its little to no shedding. The dead hairs are usually removed thanks to brushing. Also, it is a non-allergenic dog that needs constant care.

The Bolognese’s ears have to be checked periodically to make sure they are clean and that there aren’t any hairs inside them. In addition, when it is necessary, the excess hair found between its pads should be trimmed. Its nails also need trimming on a regular basis.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Bolognese is an excellent companion dog that gets along well with children, other dogs and even cats. In case of families with children, parents have to know that the ideal age of their kids should be between 7 to 8 years old when purchasing a Bichon Bolognese pup.

The offspring of dogs in general and especially those of small sized dogs can be easily injured by a child that might treat it as a toy without knowing how to play more delicately.

A Bichon Bolognese that was socialized and educated is fairly tolerant of other dogs. It is a non-aggressive dog breed, yet if it is challenged, attacked, or it becomes jealous, it can fight back. Although most Bolognese dogs love to have canine playmates, they can also feel good being the only dog ​​in the family. If not used with cats and other pets, it might chase them around the house.

The temperament of the Bichon Bolognese is sweet, affectionate, peaceful, often lively and playful, It is always eager not to be disregarded and to contribute to any activity. It is smart, responsive and easy to train, but it should not be left alone because if its owner leaves for a long time, it can become depressed as it is a highly sensitive dog.

Out of boredom and annoyance, it tends to overturn and excessively tear and bite everything around it throughout the house. It has a medium activity level that is not tiring for the elderly. Moreover, it may be kept in an apartment or a house because it easily adapts to any living conditions.

It is not picky about food either, but it requires grooming and brushing very often. This dog breed is recommended to anyone because it is obedient and it never becomes irritable as other small sized dogs.