Bolognese Dog Breed: Pictures, Colors, Bark, Characteristics, and Diet

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The Bolognese Dog is a small, bichon-type breed, originating from Italy.

The average male and female Bolognese dogs stand at 10 to 12 inches (25.4 to 30.5 cm)  tall. 

Three Bolognese dogs standing
Three beautiful Bolognese dogs

They weigh between 6 to 10 pounds (2.7 to 4.5 kg) and are born in litters of 3 puppies on average, although mothers can have as many as 7.

They continue to grow until they’re around 9 months of age.

Bologneses have small, square, compact builds with short legs and long tails and long, silky, wavy white coats.

Their heads are of medium length with short snouts, large, round, dark eyes, and large, floppy ears.

They have a calm, docile nature, and are loving and loyal to their owners. They are also known to be only average barkers and are not yappy. 

Bolognese Dogs have a bite force of 245 PSI and an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years with good care.

They need to eat a diet with biologically appropriate protein and healthy fats, plus fruits and vegetables packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

Specifically, one cup of food per day will do them good. They also need around half an hour of exercise a day. 

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Bolognese Dogs!

What is the Bolognese Dog Breed?

The Bolognese Dog is a part of the Bichon-type breed, which is a distinct group of Toy breeds that were bred to be companion dogs.

This is what gives the Bolognese its fabulous temperament. 

Where Does the Name “Bolognese” Dog Come From?

The Bolognese Dog is named after the Italian city of Bologna in the 11th century, which is thought to be their place of origin.

They have a long history of royal companionship and even being featured in artworks by famous painters. 

What is the History of Bolognese Dogs?

A close-up image of a Bolognese dog
Meet Fluffy, a little Bolognese ball of fur – Image source

The Bolognese is a dog breed with roots in Italian aristocracy. Their beginnings were recorded in the 11th and 12th centuries. 

They were loved by nobility and were often given as a gift between royal families during the Renaissance, particularly between Italian and Belgian royalty.

Catherine the Great of Russia, Madame de Pompadour, and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria were famously owners of the breed.

Famous Venetian painter Titian also painted Duke Frederico Gonzaga with his Bolognese dog, and the breed can also be seen in other famous paintings by Goya, Gosse, and Watteau.

They can be seen in an ancient tapestry work that dates back to the 17th century. 

When nobility started to die out in Europe, the breed almost went extinct. 

However, their popularity was somewhat restored in the 1980s by Italian breeder Gian Franco Giannelli, along with a few others, but they’re still not as popular as they once were. 

They’re not yet fully recognized by the American Kennel Club because they’re so new to the United States, but they have been competing in Crufts, the world’s biggest dog show, since 2002.

What Family of Dogs Does the Bolognese Belong to?

The Bolognese Dog belongs to the Bichon-type breed, which also includes the Bichon Frise, Maltese, Lowchen, Havanese, and Coton de Tulear.

Their precise ancestry is unknown, but it’s thought that their closest living canine relative is the Maltese. 

How Many Bologneses are There in the World?

It’s not known or estimated how many Bolognese Dogs there are worldwide.

However, we do know that they are a relatively rare breed, even in their native country of Italy and in the surrounding countries in Europe. 

Are There Any Types of Bolognese Dogs?

A Bolonoodle dog standing outdoors
Meet Stella, a pretty Bolonoodle – Image source

Many Toy dogs have variations, with different sizes or different coats. However, the Bolognese Dog doesn’t have any.

That said, they do contribute to some adorable mixed breeds, such as the Beaglolo (Bolognese x Beagle mix) and the Bolonoodle (Bolognese x Poodle mix). 

What are the Characteristics of Bolognese Dogs?

The Bolognese Dog is known to have a personality twice its size.

The following are their most prominent personality traits and a table of their key characteristics rated on a scale from one to five.

  • Easygoing: The Bolognese Dog is pretty calm and not known for being hyperactive.
  • Docile: They’re also moderately easy to train and are eager to please.
  • Loving & Loyal: The Bolognese Dog is very affectionate and devoted to their families.
  • Friendly: They’re also very friendly towards other dogs.
  • Intelligent: Bolognese Dogs are very bright, enterprising, and known to be particularly responsive to obedience training.
Bolognese Characteristics Rating
Relation with Family 4
Good with Children 4
Friendly with Strangers 4
Friendly with Other Dogs 5
Easy to Train 4
Energy Level 2
Barking Level 3
Mental Stimulation Needs 1

What Do Bolognese Dogs Look Like?

A Bolognese dog sticking its tongue out
Meet Barney, an adorable Bolognese fluff – Image source

Bolognese Dogs have small, square, compact bodies with relatively deep chests.

They have short legs and long tails with medium heads and short snouts, big, round, dark eyes, and large, floppy ears. 

How big is the Bolognese dog?

The average male and female Bolognese dogs are around 10 to 12 inches (25.4 to 30.5 cm)  tall.

The breed can live in any sized home, including an apartment, and should be crate trained in a crate between 18 to 22 inches in size.

Bolognese Dog
Physical Features
Male Female
Height  10 to 12 inches
(25.4 to 30.5 cm) 
10 to 12 inches
(25.4 to 30.5 cm) 
Weight 6 to 10 pounds
(2.7 to 4.5 kg)
6 to 10 pounds
(2.7 to 4.5 kg)

How long does a Bolognese dog grow?

The Bolognese Dog should reach their full adult size at around 9 months of age, although it can take longer for their skeleton to fully develop.

They should reach adolescence at 5 months of age, and mature mentally by 15 months old. 

What is the average weight of Bolognese dogs?

The average weight of a Bolognese Dog is 6 to 10 pounds (2.7 to 4.5 kg). Their exact weight can depend on their age, size, and activity level.

It’s essential to feed your Bolognese Dog well in order to prevent unhealthy weight gain and strain on the joints. 

What is the Average Bolognese Life Expectancy?

The average life expectancy of a Bolognese Dog is 12 to 14 years.

They are prone to joint issues like luxating patella and Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, as well as eye conditions, so a healthy lifestyle is essential to prevent poor health. 

What Kind of Coat Do Bolognese Dogs Have?

Two Bolognese dogs standing outdoors
Knutte and Roffe, two Bolognese dogs, stay comfy in their lovely coats – Image source

The Bolognese Dog has a thick, low-shedding, single coat that is long, wavy, and white, and often described as “flocked” with extra fluff around the head and tail. 

Their coats are actually hypoallergenic but require brushing daily, with both a pin brush to de-knot surface tangles and a rake brush to gently brush out loose fur, debris, and deeper tangles. 

Bolognese Dogs also need bathing once a month with a natural dog shampoo, as their long, wavy fur is prone to trapping dirt.

They may need trimming every month or two, as well, depending on how long or short you want your dog’s coat. 

What does the Bolognese dog’s coat look like?

The Bolognese Dog’s coat looks like a fluffy white cloud, with long strands and delicate waves.

Their coats are beautiful and distinctive, and when allowed to get long, they feature a big, beautiful mane. 

How long is the Bolognese dog’s coat?

The Bolognese Dog’s fabulous coat is often maintained at 1 inch in length for easier maintenance.

However, some owners prefer that their dog has a fluffy appearance.

How thick is the Bolognese dog’s fur?

Despite having a single coat, rather than a double coat consisting of two layers, the Bolognese Dog’s fur is as thick as it looks and requires grooming to keep it clean and tidy.

Do Bolognese dogs shed hair?

Bolognese Dogs shed so minimally that they’re classed as hypoallergenic; meaning that they are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in people with allergies to dog hair.

This is because such allergies are set off by the dander that is released into the air when a dog sheds their fur. 

Can Bologneses Live in Hot Weather?

Two Bolognese dogs in the snow
Knutte and Roffe, the two Bologneses, like seeing snow – Image source

The Bolognese isn’t ideally suited to climates that are very hot all year round due to their thick, fluffy, and usually kept long coats.

Owners should keep an eye on their Bolognese Dogs in temperatures over 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 18 degrees Celsius), especially when the humidity is high, and make sure that they have constant access to water and shelter. 

Also, Bolognese dogs are not inclined to spend time in places with cold temperatures, too.

Hence, it’s best for this breed to stay in places with a moderate climate.

What Colors are Bolognese Dogs?

The Bolognese dog only comes in one color – pure white and doesn’t have any other coat colors or markings.

Some of these angelic-looking dogs look like adorable fluffy clouds, indeed! 

Are Bolognese Dogs Good Pets?

A Bolognese dog sitting on its owner's lap
Alfie, a Bolognese dog, spends some cuddle time with his hooman – Image source

Bolognese Dogs are generally calm dogs with an easy-going temperament. They’re known for being docile and loving towards their families.

Although they’re not particularly high energy, they can be playful and tend to have bold personalities. 

The Bolognese is also trainable and friendly towards other dogs and strangers but can be stubborn if handled incorrectly. 

Bolognese Dog Temperament Rating
Adaptability 4
Friendliness 4
Mouthiness 4
Playfulness 3
Family-Oriented 5
Stranger Tolerance 5

Is Bolognese good for other dogs?

Bologneses are known to be friendly with other dogs, and not just other family pups, but unfamiliar pets, too.

That said, all dogs, whether they’re naturally friendly or not, should be socialized with other dogs from a young age so that they can learn how to behave around others. 

Are Bolognese dogs friendly with other people?

Bolognese Dogs love the people they’re raised or homed with and are very affectionate and loyal towards their families.

They love meeting new people and are usually friendly. 

Are Bolognese dogs good with strangers?

While the Bolognese dog is generally friendly to anyone, they may exhibit shyness toward strangers.

Fortunately, these dogs do not take much time to warm up to new people, especially when properly socialized.

How do Bologneses get along with young children?

Bolognese dogs are known to be great with children of all ages.

However, they are better surrounded by older children, who can display leadership over them, than younger ones who may overwhelm them with affection.

That said, all young children should be taught how to approach a dog safely and interact with them kindly, both physically and verbally. 

Can Bolognese Dogs Adapt Easily?

Two Bolognese dogs lying down on a dog bed
Knutte and Roffe, the two Bologneses, enjoy each other’s company – Image source

Bologneses are very adaptable dogs. They can live in any sized house or apartment, with good care.

That said, they are a companion breed and don’t enjoy being left alone for hours at a time, (ideally, they should be left alone for no more than 4 hours at a time), as they are prone to separation anxiety and could become unhappy and stressed.

Are Bolognese Aggressive Dogs?

Bologneses are not naturally aggressive dogs and are generally friendly to anyone.

However, just like any other dog, they may show aggression out of defense if they are not approached sensitively. 

Are Bolognese Dangerous Dogs?

Bolognese Dogs are not generally dangerous dogs.

However, like any dog, they could become aggressive if they are mistreated, threatened, approached aggressively, or if they feel that they have to protect their home or family. 

Do Bolognese Dogs Bite?

A Bolognese dog getting out of its dog tent
Bon, a Bolognese dog, is very friendly and does not bite – Image source

Bolognese dogs have a bite force of 245 PSI, but they shouldn’t bite unless they feel threatened.

However, Bolognese puppies will bite during teething, so it’s a good idea to teach your dog what is and isn’t theirs to chew from a young age. 

You can do this by redirecting “naughty” chewing and using lots of positive reinforcement.

You can also show them that biting others is bad by yelping and stopping your interaction when your pup bites.

How Loyal Are Bolognese Dogs?

Bolognese Dogs are genuinely loyal to their loved ones. They will do anything to ensure they’re the apple of your eye and have your support or appreciation.

They also love cuddling with you and don’t mind spending a couple of hours sleeping on your lap.

Is Bolognese Dog Good as a Watchdog?

Yes, Bolognese dogs are excellent watchdogs because they are generally protective of their homes and families.

They also have an impressive bark and great sense of hearing so they will alert you if they hear or sense something unusual.

Are Bolognese Dogs Easy to Train?

A Bolognese dog lying down on a bench
Jedy, a Bolognese dog, admits he is stubborn at times – Image source

Bolognese dogs are bright, eager to please, and moderately easy to train by nature, especially in regard to obedience training.

However, they do have a stubborn side, so it’s important to keep training sessions short and sweet, with regular sessions, consistency, clarity, and lots of fun rewards. 

Can Bolognese dogs manipulate their owners?

Any dog can use their cuteness to manipulate their owners into giving them something off of their dinner plate.

However, the Bolognese is known for being a little bolder and cheekier than some other breeds due to their fearless side!

Can Bolognese dogs be used as a working dog?

As mentioned, Bolognese dogs were bred to be companion pets. They also compete in several dog shows due to their unique, beautiful coat. 

Watch the Bolognese dogs compete for Cruft’s Best of Breed in 2011.

Do Bolognese Dogs Bark a Lot?

Bolognese Dogs are known to be average barkers and, like most dogs, will alert you of any slight disturbances on sight. They also like to bark when they’re having fun. 

How does a Bolognese bark?

Despite their small size and vocal nature, the Bolognese dogs do not have what is often referred to as a “yappy” bark. Instead, their barks are deep. 

A Bolognese dog barking
Barney, a Bolognese dog, is a happy little ball of cloud – Image source

What’s the Energy Level of Bolognese Dogs?

Bolognese dogs don’t have particularly high energy levels.

However, they do need a certain amount of exercise and play to keep them stimulated and prevent boredom, anxiety, and destructive behaviors.

A 30-minute exercise per day is enough to keep them healthy.

How Active is the Bolognese Dog?

The Bolognese dog is not hyperactive and requires around half an hour of exercise a day, split into two walks, as a healthy adult. 

Although it’s important to exercise your Bolognese in order to prevent boredom and weight gain, it’s just as important not to over-exercise them.

As mentioned above, the breed is prone to joint problems.

So it’s essential not to over-exercise your dog as it could accelerate joint wear and tear and cause irreversible damage to the developing joints in puppies. 

A Bolognese dog smiling
Valo, a Bolognese boy, loves getting some fresh air – Image source

Do Bolognese Dogs Like to Play?

While Bolognese dogs are low-energy pups, they can be playful and tend to enjoy playing by themselves and with others, so solo-play toys like treat dispensers and interactive toys like tug-of-war toys are both great.

They will also enjoy games like:

  • Chasing a ball
  • Bubbles
  • Hide and seek
  • Treasure hunt

Does Bolognese Drool a Lot?

Any dog may drool when they’re around food but the Bolognese doesn’t tend to drool that much.

Excessive drooling can be a sign of stress or illness, so you should keep an eye on your Bolognese dog if they’re drooling a lot. 

What is the Family Life of Bolognese Dogs Like?

Bologneses were originally bred to be companion dogs, so they’re family-orientated by nature and make ideal pets, for both solo owners and families alike as long as their needs are met.

They’re great for calm homes and less active families, and those with playful yet careful children and other pets. 

What is the Average Cost of a Bolognese Puppy?

Bolognese dogs are not that common, so the prices of puppies of the same breed may depend on the breeder. But in general, Bolognese puppies cost around $900 to $2500.

Other factors may raise or lower the price, like the parents’ pedigree, sex, and health issues.

What Kind of Food Do Bolognese Dogs Prefer?

A Bolognese dog with food
Hipsu, a Bolognese dog, asks for some veggies – Image source

Bolognese dogs should eat a diet made up of biologically appropriate protein and healthy fats to power their muscles and prevent weight gain, with fruits and vegetables that provide all of the essential vitamins and minerals.

A healthy adult Bolognese dog should eat one cup of food per day, split into two meals. 

What are the Best Commercial Foods For Bolognese Dogs?

The best dog food for Bolognese is those suitable for their health, age, size, and activity level.

Here are some of our top recommendations; you might want to check them out!

For Bolognese puppies: 

For Bolognese adults:

What Other Breeds Look Like Bolognese Dogs?

A Bichon Frise sitting at a dining table
A Bichon Frise, ready to munch on some baked goods – Image source

Bolognese Dogs have a few look-a-likes that could easily be mistaken for them, and we’ve listed them down below. 

The Verdict: Should You Get a Bolognese Dog?

If you’re an active family looking for a high-energy pet to keep up with you all day, you’re probably better off adopting a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd. 

However, if you want a small, cuddly fluff-ball with a big personality who enjoys short walks and a few play sessions a day, you should consider getting a Bolognese, so long as you can commit to their grooming needs.

Do you have a Bolognese Dog? Let us know what you love about them in the comments down below!

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