Bolognese Temperament & Personality



Cute, friendly, and curly? Yes, that's the Bolognese! Don't be fooled with these fluffy ones. They might be tiny, but they are fun-loving and incredibly witty. Some breeders even think of them as one of the most intelligent dogs.


"Bolos," as what many people call them, are great companion dogs and prefer to stay with you wherever you are. Whether you're a couch potato type or an active wanderer, they'll surely tag along. This is why many deem them as the perfect pet for the whole family.


The Bolognese are fond of attention, but you might need to balance it by enforcing discipline. Spoiling them too much might cause them to display rowdy behavior.


Taking care of a Bolognese is also a challenge for families with young children. Because of their small size, they are more delicate and could easily get injured when play is too rough. Also, they could snap at children when agitated.


The curly hair of these lively pets requires daily brushing and monthly grooming. If neglected, their coats become matted, making them sore and possibly resulting in skin infections.



Dog Breed Profile

Name: Bolognese
Other names: Bolo, Botoli
Origin: Italy
Date of Origin: 1200
Breed Group: Toy
Height: 9 to 12 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 14 years



white fluffy dog in the fields



Bolognese Character & Temperament

Blossoming with a cheerful personality and comical behavior, the Bolognese wants your attention upon them. They are not overly active but will try to match your activity level. All they want is to please and entertain you.


The Bolognese is easygoing, playful, and intelligent. They are not fidgety and respond well to obedience training. They are smart enough to quickly learn new things. However, they can also be stubborn when they don't get what they want.


They are friendly and incredibly affectionate, especially to their owners! As a social dog, the Bolognese could easily mingle with other dog breeds, regardless of their size. They do get a little wary with strangers. Being true companion dogs, they easily develop a sense of affinity with their owner.


The downside of the dog's high attachment to its owners is that it's hard to leave them alone. Do it, and they might develop separation anxiety, which manifests in bad behavior such as barking, chewing, or littering.


The key to taming the Bolognese's personality is to start early. Once you have your puppy, please don't wait for several months to train it. At as early as 8 to 10 weeks, you can teach them to socialize with family, friends, and other dogs.



Bolognese About & History

The Bolognese is part of the Bichon family group, which also includes similar breeds like the Maltese and Havanese. Its name originated from Bologna, a northern city of Italy, where they were greatly valued during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.


They were the ladies' favorite companions in the royal courts and noble Italian families like the Gonzagas, the Medicis, and the Estes. Also spellbound by the Bolognese were notable women of history like Russia's Catherine the Great, Austria's Maria Theresa, and Marquise de Pompadour, the chief mistress of Louise XV.


Even reputed painters included these dogs into their painting works – a testimony of the dog's classical influence.


After the days of the noble courts, the Bolognese almost became extinct. Thanks to Gian Franco Giannelli and some European breeders, they were able to preserve the dog breed. The remnants were imported to England in 1990, and on January 1, 1995, the United Kennel Club officially recognized the dog's class.



Bolognese Dog Care

Having moderate adaptability, you need to be extra careful in caring for a Bolognese. Bolos require a great deal of mental and physical engagement.



Compared to other breeds, Bolognese dogs have a greater need for companionship and do not want to be left for several hours. They become worried, which results in unpleasant expressions by chewing or barking.






Bolognese dogs are temperature-sensitive, so make sure not to keep them under too much cold or hot weather. Purchasing a dog bed or a wooden box would work great for them. Just make sure to overlay a clean blanket and pillow over it.


Dental Health

Monitor your Bolognese's dental health. A foul-smelling breath means that the dog needs an oral checkup. Their teeth could have plaques caused by unhealthy bacteria, which can only be thoroughly cleaned by a professional.


After oral cleaning, keep their teeth and gums healthy by providing only specially-formulated food for dental health. This also means brushing and removing table food from their diet.


Ticks and Fleas

These unwanted parasites are the most common culprits of a dog's skin diseases. If they are left untreated, they can become a grave threat to your dog's health. Using their tiny yet sharp teeth, ticks dig down deep down the dogs' skin and feed on their blood.


During this process, however, the tick's saliva transmits blood-borne diseases into the dog's mainstream. Regularly use a flea comb to find and remove fleas. Wash your pet's bed, vacuum regularly, and bathe them consistently.


Injuries, Illnesses, and Diseases

When your Bolognese gets hurt or manifests symptoms of illnesses, it's best to approach your trusted vet. Visit the vet annually for shots and heartworm assessments. Bolognese dogs continually exposed to mosquitoes are at risk of developing heartworms.


Prevention is better than cure. When you travel to places with cooler weather, make sure to bring with you preventive medicine or doctor-prescribed parasite pills.


When you reside in rural areas, it's common for Bolognese dogs to get exposed to worms. An infected dog's stool could contain a significant amount of roundworm eggs. The earlier the culprit parasite gets detected, the earlier the vet can prescribe the proper deworming medicine.



If you decide on spaying your Bolognese – testicle removal (for males) or ovaries and uterus removal (for females) – do it by 6 months old. Neutering or spaying them after maturity will lead to complicated health risks.


For males, neutering before maturity reduces the risk of developing testicular diseases, hernias, or aggressive behavior.


Related: How Much Does It Cost to Neuter a Dog?



The first four months of your Bolognese's life are gravely important. Thus, you have to approach your trusted vet for immunization shots from the second to the fourth month, then annually after that. These shots include parvovirus, parainfluenza, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and distemper.



small white puppy on couch



Bolognese Common Health Problems

Bolognese dogs are typically resilient and healthy, but there are a few health problems to watch out for. Examples of these physical illnesses are hip dysplasia, Legg-Calv-Perthes disease, patellar luxation, and periodontitis.


If something is happening to your dog and you're unsure how to treat it, don't do anything randomly. Call a veterinarian immediately for help.


If you're acquiring a Bolognese from a breeder, ensure that they are honest enough to disclose the dog's medical history and its parents.





Hip Dysplasia

This happens when the dog's hip joint ball and socket do not fit properly. Instead of a smooth experience, the ball and socket rub against each other.


The surgery to treat hip dysplasia is expensive, but it could worsen and lead to joint issues if neglected.


Legg Calv Perthes Disease

The disease is also known as aseptic necrosis or avascular necrosis of the femoral head. This is a common problem for small breeds, which causes lameness of the hip joint.


At first, the blood supply to the femur's head gets interrupted. Some portions of the boney tissues die, and supporting cartilages collapse because of blood deprivation. This results in a misaligned hip joint, bringing pain to the dog.


Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a type of dislocation wherein your Bolognese's knee cap rides outside its femoral grooves. The fundamental cause for this condition is not yet established.


Occasionally, a traumatic injury to the dog's knee can cause severe lameness to its limb. This condition is prevalent in small dogs.



Dogs tend to devour various things that result in the formation of plaque in their teeth. The problem is the bacteria in the plaque, which wages war with the immune system.


The dog's white blood cells form an army to defend, but the bacteria triggers them to release enzymes, which break down gum tissue. The skirmish produces some casualties: destroyed tissue, inflamed gums, and bone loss. The result is tooth loss.



Bolognese Diet and Nutrition

Even if Bolognese are active, they still need good nutrition, whether it be food or treats, to stay in tip-top shape. You can approach your trusted vet to assist you in formulating a specific diet for your dog. To properly monitor your Bolognese's diet, create an eating schedule.


As a toy dog breed, they don't need large amounts of food. The Bolognese burns energy at a higher rate with a faster metabolism, so picking a food specifically made for toy breeds is vital. Foods formulated for small breeds are manufactured in kibble sizes that smaller mouths can easily accommodate.


It is recommended to feed the Bolognese with a diet rich in fat and protein. For pups, choose those with Omega 3 for optimal growth and development. Bolognese puppies need to be fed four meals a day. When they turn a year old, you can feed them with at least one cup per day.


Use only clean and potable water to safeguard the health of your Bolognese. Using your hands, regularly check the weight of your dog by feeling its hip bones and rib cage.



Bolognese Appearance

Bolognese closely resembles their cousin, the Bichon Frise, because of their small size and curly hair. They are stocky, compact, and covered in a fluffy white coat.


As a member of the toy dog breed, these dogs are irresistibly charming and adorable.


Their round eyes have a "curious" look to them. If their coat is full, it could almost conceal their eyes from their sight. They might have a petite build, but they have powerful jaws. They have perfectly aligned white teeth and a perky black nose.


The male's height ranges between 10.5 to 12 inches, while for the female, it's between 10 to 11 inches. Their average weight ranges from 8 to 14 pounds. The Bolognese becomes fully grown as early as nine months.



white dog being brushed by owner



Bolognese Grooming

Your Bolognese demands high-quality grooming. The dog's hair sheds little and requires consistent combing to avoid matting. You need to brush their coats and groom them through regular bathing and cleaning of eyes, ears, and teeth.


To preserve the dogs' bright white coats, bathe them when they get dirty, and use a whitening shampoo. Some owners maintain a short-trimmed coat, so it's more convenient to groom them.


Like other long-haired dogs, Bolos typically don't shed. They don't lose their whole coat a few times a year as some breeds do. You might see a few white hairs around, but it's not a problem. For germaphobes and allergic people, a Bolognese might be a good fit.


One of the Bolognese's most lovable parts is its enchanting eyes. Taking care of them means regularly cleaning tear stains. Failing to do so will give it an unsightly rust discoloration.


For the other parts, basic grooming will suffice. Trim their nails at least once a month and check their ears weekly if they are clean and odor-free. If dirty, use a dampened cotton ball to gently wipe them.


So, how often do you groom your Bolognese? Well, it depends on the dog breed, coat type, recent activities, and others.


To summarize, below are essential grooming tools for a Bolognese:


  • Comb
  • Brush
  • Dog Shampoo and conditioner
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Dog nail clippers
  • Electric clippers



Bolognese Trainability

Bolognese are highly trainable, so they can quickly grasp training instructions, including body language and expression. To successfully tame a Bolognese, you could try a positive reinforcement approach like giving snacks.


To avoid them getting bored, try to change your training methods. Here are some training programs for equipping your beloved Bolognese:


  • Respect Training
    Your Bolognese must learn to obey whatever it is that you instruct and will likewise stop when you say "no." Commands like "heel," "down," "sit," "stay," and "come" cultivate your relationship with one another.
  • Solving Behavior
    There are behavior and habits that need to be corrected.
  • Socializing Training
    Enhance the Bolognese's socialization skills through constant exposure to other people and dogs.



Bolognese Exercise and Activity Levels

Exercise is key to your dog's overall health because it helps burn calories and stimulate their minds. The activity level may not be as demanding as working breeds or terriers, but they still need one.


Physical activity helps your Bolognese to fight boredom, which is also a cause for inappropriate behavior. Letting them out helps avoid their urges to dig, herd, chase, and chew.


Even though these dogs happily lounge around your house or garden, nothing beats having a daily walk. You can take your Bolognese for a 20 to 25-minute walk, twice a day.


Be careful, though, not to over-exercise your Bolognese, particularly the younger ones. Before doing a free run, warm them up through lead walking. Avoid hot days to avoid heat stress and wait for cooler temperatures, or you can have it during the night.


As a wise tip, don't walk your dog every day of the week as they could be disappointed when you miss a day. Instead, vary their walking days. Letting them run on open grounds and play with other dogs is a good idea.


Refrain from letting them tread on the woods as some debris could get caught in their coat, which upsets them. The Bolognese stops walking and waits until they are fully removed.


They also recoil when it rains. When the rain wets them, it could matt their coat. They love the beach but make sure to wash their coat with shampoo if mixed with water and sand.


You can try out these exercises below for your Bolognese:


  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Fetching
  • Obedience Training



Bolognese Lifespan

On average, Bolognese dogs can live for 12 to 14 years. If the dog has genetic health issues, it could live up to 10 years. The longevity of the Bolognese is also caused by several factors, including breed, size, and general health. The healthier they are, the longer they live.



Where to Adopt or Buy a Bolognese

The population of Bolognese dogs is scarce compared to other breeds, but you can seek the assistance of the following organizations:



A purebred Bolognese is pricey. As a cheaper alternative, you could acquire them from a rescue organization or shelter. You can start by searching on their websites. Just input your location to know the local animal shelters available in your area.


If you prefer to buy a purebred, the safest way is to consult a reputable breeder. Do your research and check if the breeder has performed genetic testing on their animals. This is to verify your pup's health.





More About Bolognese

  • Since they do not shed, Bolognese dogs are preferable in households with individuals having allergies.
  • Bolognese dogs bark more often than other dog breeds.
  • Bolognese can be mixed with breeds like Shih Tzu, Poodle, Chihuahua, Beagle, and Pekingese.
  • Bolognese dogs are considered docile and can get along with cats.
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