The Bolognese dog breed is Italy’s contribution to the Bichon variety of dogs. These small, white furry dogs closely resemble the Maltese, Havanese, Coton de Tuléar and other Bichon dog breeds. However, this fascinating bundle of charm has a unique personality and a distinct set of characteristic traits. Learn all you need to know about the Bolognese dog in this brief guide:
Characteristics and facts
- In many countries, the Bolognese is considered to be a rare breed although, in reality, it is a noble, ancient and pure breed.
- Bolognese dogs hail from Bologna province of Italy and their ancestors included Italian toy dogs that were popular among the European royalty and aristocracy. In fact; during the Renaissance period, these dogs were a popular gift among the nobles. The small dogs came to be known as the Bichon Bolognese from the French word bichonner meaning ‘to pamper’. Empress Elizabeth of Manchukuo, the wife of the ‘Boy Emperor’ also had a pet Italian toy dog closely resembling the Bolognese.
- Empress Maria Therese of Austria loved her Bolognese dog so much that she even had it stuffed by a taxidermist. You can see this dog on display at the Museum of Natural History in Vienna.
- Russian Bolonka breed is closely related to the Bichon Bolognese.
- There is a lot of comparison between the French Bichon Frise/Bichon Tenerife and Italian Bolognese. However, the main difference is in the style of grooming in that; the Bichon’s coat is meticulously sculpted into shape.
- Colors- Historically, the Bolognese is found in various colors like white, tan, brown and black. Today, as far as the Bichon dog breeds are concerned, the Havanese and Lowchen are seen in various colors while the other Bichon breeds like Coton de Tuléar, Havanese, Bolognese and Maltese dog are mostly found in solid white.
- According to FCI standards, the Bolognese should weigh between 6 to 9 lb. Females measure 10-11 inches at withers and males between 10.5 and 12 inches at withers. In USA, the breed standard is allowed to be 8-14 lbs (2.5-4 kg) since this weight is more proportionate to the height of the dogs.
- The Bolognese is not recognized by the AKC but the day may not be far away when it will be.
Where to find a Bolognese dog
The American Bolognese Club is the best place to find reputed breeders of this breed. When it comes to getting a pet dog, always remember – choose a responsible breeder, choose to adopt instead of buying, and choose to spay or neuter your pet. These days, unethical and irresponsible breeding has led to proliferation of dogs and many of them end up in rescue shelters or dog pounds. Do visit a shelter to see if you can find a Bolognese rescue. An advantage of adopting a rescue is that their price is a lot less compared to what you’d pay a breeder. Also, older Bolognese rescue dogs are likely to be house trained. On the downside, rescue dogs could have anxiety issues and it may be harder to teach an older dog new rules and tricks.
Ethical breeders take out just a couple of litters per year; so expect a long wait time between booking and actually bringing your pet home. Expect to pay anywhere between $1800 and $2500 for a purebred puppy, depending on the bloodline and the breeder. Before you get your puppy, here are some steps to follow:
- Ask to observe the puppy in the litter. He should appear healthy, well fed and energetic.
- The puppy should be curious and eager to explore. Avoid pups that growl, snarl or bite as their temperament is not likely to change as they grow. The same is true for puppies that are shy, timid or not comfortable with humans.
- Ask to meet the dam or the father of the pup. Their behavior and temperament can give you an idea about the puppy’s temperament as well.
Bolognese dogs are endearing little souls who will win your heart with their cheerful disposition. They even do the famous Bolo dance, standing on their hind legs and rolling their paws in the air. These are intelligent, easy to train and playful dogs that make ideal household companions. They mostly get along well with children and other pets and are also easy to train.
Like all small dogs, the Bolognese does not need too much exercise but it definitely needs regular walks twice a day. Don’t let their small size fool you; these dogs have a lot of energy and if he gets bored, he is likely to display bad behavior. Encourage your puppy to fetch, run and walk briskly twice a day. Do not let puppies jump from the stairs as it could lead to permanent damage in the joints. Training along with active playtime and mental stimulation will help keep your buddy physically fit and mentally alert.
Your breeder can provide valuable guidance about the food for your Bolognese with which he/she has had success. Remember: the food you feed this Bichon dog breed will have a direct impact on its coat. So check the labels of food always. Some Bolognese tend to develop allergies in which case your vet can recommend the right food for sensitive stomach. Human foods like chocolates, resins, grapes, onions and nuts are a strict no for your pet.
It is important to get your pet accustomed to regular grooming while he is still a pup. A young dog that gets used to human hands for grooming during the young age is more likely to cooperate with professional groomers later on. In fact; your pet will look forward to the grooming sessions as it helps him bond with you. While grooming your pet, talk to him in a soothing tone. Praise him and tell him that he is beautiful and that you love him for being so cooperative. These irresistible pets do not need too much grooming as they are inherently very beautiful to look at. Having said that, your Bolognese dog still needs brushing and combing several times a week to keep its fur free from tangles and mats. Bathe your pet about once a month to keep him free from ticks, fleas and dandruff.
Health issues in Bolognese dogs
Most common genetic diseases in the Bolognese are patellar luxation, cataracts, cardiomyopathy and hypothyroidism. They are also prone to tear stains which are not serious but they look prominent owing to their white fur. Cancer, diabetes and arthritis are quite common in older dogs. However, these days, most of these diseases can be managed with proper medicines, lifestyle changes and good diet. Life span of the Bolognese is about 12-14 years.