Breed History

Bolognese Dog long hair

Bolognese is a toy size, fluffy white, small and stocky built dog. This small lap dog has been around for many centuries and is an older breed that was in their native land of Italy for a long time.

Part of the Bichon family along with the Havanese and Maltese they are similar in many regards. Same color and size with the same characteristics as a pet. It is hard to tell the difference from one to another.

No one knows who the ancestor for this dog is or if it has a relationship to other small dogs that still exist. Currently, there is no information to support that they’re anything in relationship to other Bichon types other than a common ancestor.

Comes from Italy city of Bologna and that is where they got their name from. Wealthy Italian families who held the highest positions of government held these dogs in high regard. Royal lap dogs specifically for the princesses and queens of the times.

This old breed has been around since 300 B.C.E. and have literature and other documentations from this time until the today. Having such a long history in the area of Bologna is the reason why they have their own separate breed standard.

Exports of this breed in the late 20th century to England they came to the United States in late fashion as well.


Recognition in 1995 from the American Kennel Club they are still a breed that doesn’t have registration for the Kennel Club. The breed standard comes from the Federal International Kennel Club and they currently don’t produce any on their own.

Toy breed, companion, or Bichon type depending on the Kennel Club you can expect all of these to mean a small lap dog. All major kennel clubs around the world do not show them recognition currently. As time passes, they will most likely gain registration like the other dogs of the Bichon type.

The long wait to bring them over will have more to do with why they don’t have papers with other major kennel clubs.

Here are the Kennel Clubs that show recognition and their breed standards.

Bolognese Size

Male Height: 10-12 inches

Female Height: 10-12 inches

Male Weight: 5.5-9 pounds

Female Weight: 5.5-9 pounds

Boys and girl dogs are the same size and you can’t tell the difference when looking at them.

Litter Size

4-5 puppies are the litter size which is a lot of puppies for such a small breed. Most toy sized dogs will carry fewer puppies per litter.


White is the only color and no other colors are show approval currently. Other Bichon types are exclusively white for the most part.


$1,500-$3,000 is the price for a puppy with papers with both parents showing registration from a Kennel Club. Papers will cost a potential owner more money than a dog without them because of the quality, bloodline and possibility to see their own puppies for a significantly higher price.

Without papers owners can expect to pay much less around a few hundred dollars. You will not have any idea of where the dog came from or any other essential information.

I would suggest understanding the colors and overall breed standard in order to get the best puppy that fits the description of the dog without papers. Knowledge will help you bypass obvious crossbreeding errors that show in the owners or in the puppies.


Long single coat that doesn’t shed too much for the length of hair it has.

  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

Brushing the dog should be something you try to do weekly to keep the coat in excellent condition. Failure to brush the coat often can lead to a painful future grooming session.

Combing the dog should be something you do weekly as well starting from the skin outwards. An excellent activity to do with the dog building trust and a bond.

Bathe the dog as you see fit. Some owners prefer to bathe the dog on a schedule and others prefer to do it when the dog is dirty or smelly bad. The choice is yours.

Ears are likely to get an infection if you choose to not clean them on a regular basis. Dog owners should avoid this preventable vet bill while doing a quick dip in the ears to remove any dirt buildup.

Nails are something that will naturally trim if you are exercising the dog every day, which we recommend. If you don’t exercise, which we don’t recommend, trim with nail clippers for dogs or take them to a professional.

Recommendations for a professional grooming for this breed. Something you should seriously consider if you are short on time or you don’t have ability to groom yourself or up to standards.

Life Span

12-15 years is a long time in dog years and a long time to own a dog. Bolognese are dogs that you can adopt at an older age and still spend eight plus years owning them.

Health Issues

Luxation Patellar – smaller dogs are always going to have issues with their kneecaps and this dog is known to have problems in this area. Favoring of any leg or hopping when running can be a sign that the dog needs some medical attention. If this situation never comes up, then you can get them a check on the knees around 12-24 months.

Eye Exam – suffering from excessive tears, glaucoma, cataracts, cherry eyes and others can arise at any time in the dog’s life. Getting a yearly checkup will help with early detection to get them the medicine they need. Some of these issues will be minor and others can lead to blindness. Take eye issues seriously.

CERF – certified eye examination done by a professional and can be done at any time in the dog’s life. A specialist should conduct the test to determine inherited eye problems. Information will release publicly and help everyone find out what problems are more prone in which breeds.

Breed Group

Proud members of the Toy Group and one of the older breeds in this old dog group. What they have in common is being companions or lap dogs without any specific jobs outside of being a guardian.

Many of these dogs were held in high regard and only given away as a gift to other royal members of society. After centuries of only being a gift and sleeping in the biggest estates with the most powerful people of the country they were finally given away and sold like regular dogs.

Here are some of the dogs in the toy group

Exercise Needs

A Bolognese needs a lot of exercise. Every dog will need a lot of exercise and a good dog owner will give it to them every day. It is very simple to figure out how much exercise any dog will need.

Looking at a dog and what they do will be the biggest indicator of how much exercise they need. Dogs have a funny way of telling you if you are not meeting their minimum requirement.

Bad behavior like digging, barking excessively, chewing, nipping, biting, running away, never listening, and other behaviors will tell you if you are exercising them enough. A dog doing any one of these activities should get emergency exercise.

Failing to provide an outlet can be detrimental to everyone who lives in the house and small dogs are no exception. Ankle biters are the names they tend to get because they have no daily outlet.

Here is a general guideline for exercising them. Remember when the behavior is bad you increase from here and if it is good you can keep it the same or increase.

Morning: Hour (run, walk or treadmill)

Evening: 30 minutes (run, walk or treadmill)

Smaller dogs are always mistaken for a dog that doesn’t need much exercise or very little due to size. There is no evidence to support that they need little exercise due to their size. The opposite is true.

They need as much as a dog that is much bigger. Mental and physical health will have an improvement when the dog can get exercise every single day possible.

Owners should take the time to find any reason to exercise. Too little is normally the problem there is almost no example of too much exercise. People call me for help because they exercise too little.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

Every house needs a solid foundation and exercising is the most solid building blocks you have available. Hard work and lots of hours outside giving the dog exercise is the result. Training, vet visits, baths, going to the dog park, excitement, and energy levels are all going to improve with the daily outlet. Your dog is going to act like a dog for once when you get them the exercise they deserve. Most of your time will be spent in this area.

Commands are a much smaller area to focus on. You will move on from commands once the dog is taught the commands. After that everything will become routine. Prepare to teach the dog over a span of a few days and keep it current. Expect to spend a little bit of your time in this area.

Socialization should start happening once the dog is getting six to seven days of exercise per week. After a long week the dog will be tired and this is the perfect time to take them tot the park, on the weekend. Monday thru Friday you should be walking and running them for one to two hours per day.

Correcting the dog is something that comes with the territory. Verbal, by hand, or on leash you can correct the dog and expect one of a few responses. Firs verbal and expect the dog to listen. Once the dog doesn’t listen you should give them and tap or leash correction. Make the dog sit or lay after each correction.

Additional Resources