Other names: Bichon Bolognese, Bolognese Toy Dog
The Bolognese Bichon is a small companion dog with a big personality. These dogs love lots of attention and cuddles and thrive off the company of their favourite humans and other dogs. They form really strong bonds with their owners and are a perfect choice for people looking for a smaller breed with less demanding exercise requirements. These cute toy dogs have a relatively long lifespan but retain much of their youthful vigour well into old age.
Key facts about the Bolognese
Origins and history
These dogs are members of the Bichon family, which includes the Bichon Frise, the Maltese, and the Havanese. Despite their similarities to some of their close cousins, the Bolognese Bichon is a breed in its own right. Given its name, its roots are likely to begin in Bologna, a city in northern Italy. They have a noble history, being the dog of choice for many 17th century aristocratic families. They also appear in paintings by several of the worlds greatest ever painters, including Titian and Goya. The breed was introduced to UK dog lovers in the 1990s and made its first Crufts appearance in 2002.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs
Section 1 : Bichons and related breeds
Physical characteristics of the Bolognese
Female : Between 10 and 31 in
Male : Between 11 and 12 in
Female : Between 4 and 9 lb
Male : Between 4 and 9 lb
Pure brilliant white with no other colouring or markings.
Type of coat
Bolognese Bichons have long, curly coats.
Single layered coat with long curls and a woolly texture; requires regular grooming to prevent matting.
Always dark brown or black.
The Bolognese Bichon is a small, compact dog with a very distinct white coat. It has a square, stocky body with a deep chest and a slightly rounded head. Bolognese Bichons have dark noses, dark eyes, and a relatively long muzzle compared to its diminutive stature. It has high set ears and a long, curly tail.
Good to know
Although they're a fairly obedient bred, it's important that you know when you to say “no” to your Bichon. Giving in to their every whim and desire, especially during their formative years, will create a very stubborn and demanding little dog; such behaviours can be very hard to "untrain."
Bichons are social animals, but they can get quite nervous around new people. Whatever you do, don't force them into situations if they seem uncomfortable. Just let them do their own thing. They'll come and say hello when they're ready.
These toy companion dogs are extremely affectionate towards their owners. This cute little breed will happily spend an afternoon cuddling up on the sofa. They really appreciate cuddles and strokes. They make long-term, loving companions.
Like most Toy breeds, the Bolognese Bichon loves playing. These fun-loving dogs will keep you entertained for hours. They also tend to retain their playful natures well into their senior years.
These dogs have plenty of energy and can sometimes get a bit overexcited. However, they're nowhere near as hyperactive as some of their toy dog cousins. The Bolognese Bichon will happily start winding down once playtime is over.
Toy dogs are not known for their intelligence. Most "smart" dogs were breed from mixing various working dogs with high levels of natural intelligence. The Bolognese Bichon evolved from a different line of companion dogs and so weren't exposed to more intelligent bloodlines.
Bolognese Bichons have a low-prey drive and will rarely display any of the behaviours associated with “hunting” breeds. This makes them ideal for families with cats or other domestic pets. It also means they have more modest exercise requirements.
Fearful / wary of strangers
They can be a bit shy around “new” people, although a well socialised Bolognese Bichon will soon overcome their natural shyness. But they do have a tendency to "stick to their own," preferring the company of their owners rather than people they don't know very well.
Companion dogs are highly social animals and shouldn't be left alone for long periods of time. If so, they're likely to start “acting” out. This can include destructive behaviour, accidents around the house, and excessive barking.
Behaviour of the Bolognese
Bolognese Bichons need lots of company. Prolonged periods of solitude will have a very negative impact on their mental health. Make sure someone is at home with them most of the time. If not, your Bichon will need a doggy brother or sister.
Easy to train / obedience
These dogs respond well to training, although they will soon grow bored if the sessions are too long, too repetitive, or too complex. Focus on short, fun training sessions and stick to basic dog obedience commands. Anything more than that will probably be beyond the dog's capabilities, and they'll soon lose focus.
Many toy dogs have a reputation for being a bit yappy. Luckily, the Bolognese Bichon is much more reserved than some of its toy relatives.