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

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Calm Intelligent

Size :

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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

FCI Group

Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs


Section 1 : Bichons and related breeds

Physical characteristics of the Bolognese

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    Adult size

    Female : Between 10 and 31 in

    Male : Between 11 and 12 in


    Female : Between 4 and 9 lb

    Male : Between 4 and 9 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    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.


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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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

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        Tolerates solitude

        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.

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        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.

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        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.

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        Tendency to run away

        A Bolognese Bichon has a very low "flight" risk. First of all, they lack the innate prey-drive and tracking desires of other dogs. So they're much less likely to run off in search of an adventure. Secondly, they ‘re not a particularly athletic breed. In other words, they're short legs and tiny bodies are unlikely to get them very far.

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        This depends. As long as their needs are being met, these soft natured animals will rarely become destructive. However, if they're bored or lonely, they’ll soon start expressing their frustration through destructive behaviour.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        Bolognese Bichons are neither greedy or glutinous.

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        Guard dog

        These loyal, family oriented dogs are very territorial. Although they lack the physical presence to deter intruders, they'll certainly alert your attention to the presence of anything they don’t like the look of.

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        First dog

        Bolognese Bichons are ideal "starter" dogs. They're easy to train, have moderate exercise needs, and their loyal and obedient natures are a perfect match for the inexperienced dog owner.

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          Bolognese in a flat

          Toy breeds like the Bolognese Bichon can live very happily in a flat. Although they still need a decent daily walk and plenty of fresh air, they're also happy to spend much of the day lazing around the flat. These guys are also pretty small; they don't need massive amounts of space to feel happy and content.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          A Bolognese Bichon needs about 30 minutes of outdoor exercise each day.  You can tire them out in one big walk, or split it up into shorter walks spread out through the day. Although it's good to give them some time off the leash, Bichons are generally happy with a gentle stroll.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          Any major trips with a dog need to be prepared in advance. This includes crate training and familiarisation techniques. However, Bolognese Bichons are much easier to transport than many other dogs. They don't take up much space and will usually stay fairly relaxed as long as they feel comfortable and safe.  Their relatively low exercise needs mean they're unlikely to become restless on longer journeys.


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            Bolognese and cats

            The Bolognese Bichon is a cat-friendly breed. They'll make friends with any cats they grow up with and are very adaptable to any feline additions to the family. Their low prey drive is also good news for your neighbour's cats. Bichons have neither the temperament nor the physical abilities to chase after strange cats.

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            Bolognese and dogs

            Bolognese Bichons are social dogs and enjoy making friends with other canines. They rarely display any competitive or aggressive behaviour around other animals, making them perfect playdate buddies for other dogs.

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            Bolognese and children

            Like most companion dogs, the Bolognese Bichon has a real soft spot for children of all ages. Their diminutive size and caring disposition make them especially suited for families with small children and toddlers.

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            Bolognese and the elderly

            These toy dogs are relatively low maintenance. They don't require too much exercise or space. They're easy to train. And despite being energetic and playful, they know when it's time to chill out. In other words,  Bichons have all the qualities that many elderly people look for when adopting a dog.



            The average cost of a purebred Bolognese Bichon is somewhere between £935 if they are not registered at the Kennel Club and £1070 if they are.

            You'll also need to budget around £30-40 a month for feeding costs, and the average cost of a basic insurance policy is around £20,00 per month, although this varies from dog to dog. Yearly health checks, vaccinations, and other costs will add to an annual expense of around £900.


            Despite their long, fluffy coats, Bolognese Bichons shed very little. This will save you a lot of time and money (regular trips to the doggy salon can hit your wallet hard!) However, they will need a weekly brush. Without it, their curly coats will soon become matted. Not only is this really uncomfortable, but it's also a health risk. A matted coat traps in dirt and grime, which can lead to skin infections and other health complications.


            Bichons are not prone to hair loss and shed very little.

            Nutrition of the Bolognese

            A Bolognese Bichon has a modest appetite. They require two/three smallish cups of high-quality dog food every day.

            Health of the Bolognese

            Life expectancy

            The average lifespan for a Bolognese Bichon is between 12-14 years.

            Strong / robust

            Despite their small frames, these dogs are still pretty sturdy, making them a lot tougher than they look. Still, it's best to handle them gently and try to avoid exercising them in rural environments. These guys were bred to be companion dogs; they lack many of the characteristics needed to thrive in more physically challenging environments.

            Withstand heat

            Bichons are pretty comfortable in any kind of weather. They have no problems regulating their body temperature and are not prone to overheating or heat exhaustion.

            Withstand cold

            Their thick coats do a good job of keeping them warm during the milder parts of winter, but all toy breeds will start to struggle as the temperatures drop.  Owners will need to invest in a high-quality doggy coat.

            Tendency to put on weight

            Bolognese Bichons aren't prone to obesity or weight gain. However, it's really important that you don't overfeed them. Their small frames are not designed to carry large amounts of weight. An overweight Bichon will soon start developing health problems, including arthritis, joint dysplasia, and more serious conditions such as heart disease or even cancer.

            Common illnesses

            • Liver disease
            • Hip Dysplasia
            • Cataracts
            • Weepy eyes
            • Patellar luxation
            • Allergies
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