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  • Temperament: Playful, Easy-Going, Devoted
  • Height: 10-12 inches
  • Weight: 5.5-9 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Foundation Stock Service

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Breed Standard
Bolognese lying in the grass outdoors.
Bolognese lying in fall leaves outdoors.
Bolognese on leash standing outdoors.
Bolognese sitting in fall leaves outdoors.
Bolognese lying in the grass outdoors.
Bolognese lying in fall leaves outdoors.
Bolognese head in three-quarter view outdoors.
Bolognese standing in three-quarter view.

About the Bolognese

The Bolognese is small, stocky, and squarely built. He is rather serene and inactive, and devoted to his master and his people. They can be shy towards strangers, but warm up quickly if they are properly socialized. Prone to separation anxiety, the Bolognese does not do well alone for long periods of time. They would be ill-suited for people with a 9-5 workday. Bolos are an old breed, known by royals and noblemen in Roman times, and were given as precious gifts between the wealthy and powerful.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country. For more information about the Bolognese, visit the websites of the Bolognese Breed Association and the American Bolognese Club. Interested in adopting a rescue? Visit the American Bolognese Club's rescue site.
Bolognese puppy playing on the couch.

Find a Puppy: Bolognese

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Bolognese Puppies



The Bolognese should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.


The Bolognese has an all-white coat that is soft and fluffy like the texture of cotton. He is also “non-shedding,” so low to mild allergy sufferers should not be greatly affected. Bolognese coats are unshaped and untrimmed except for around their eyes for sanitary reasons. Regular grooming is needed if the Bolognese is kept in its full coat. For easier maintenance, many people are satisfied with keeping their Bolo in a shorter coat of about one inch, leaving the untrimmed “mop head” around the face.

Beyond regular grooming, the occasional bath will keep your Bolognese clean and looking his best. Nails should be trimmed occasionally with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting and cracking. Ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris, which can result in an infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
2-3 Times a Week Brushing




Bolos would make great apartment dogs, provided they would still have a moderate exercise schedule. As a calm, easygoing dog, they would do well as companions for retirees and seniors. Options for exercise could include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or taken for walks. Indoor entertainment, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or teaching them new tricks are excellent low-key activities for the low-energy, but playful, Bolognese.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity


Small dog breeds, such as the Bolognese, can be prone to “small dog syndrome.” This is a human-induced behavior where the dog thinks he is the “pack leader” to humans and can lead to separation anxiety and timidity. Those wishing to own a Bolognese can gain the knowledge they need to know to prevent or correct this behavior.


May be Stubborn
Eager to Please




The majority of Bolognese are healthy dogs, and a responsible breeder will screen breeding stock for health conditions such as luxating patellas (compared to “trick knee” in humans) and eye anomalies. Good breeders utilize health screening and genetic testing to reduce the likelihood of disease in their puppies.

Recommended Health Tests From The American Bolognese Club

  • CERF
  • Patellar Evaluation
Bolognese walking down a path outdoors.
Bolognese standing on a bench outdoors.


The Bolognese was developed centuries ago in Bologna, Italy, and it is written that they were already valued in Italy as early as the Eleventh and Twelfth centuries. Because of its beauty, grace and charm, it became a favorite of the nobility during the Renaissance. King Umberto of Italy gave a beautiful little Bolognese to Princess Jose of Belgium on her birthday. Also, in 1668 Cosimo de Medici sent eight Bolognese by royal courier and asked his friend Colonel Alamanni in Belgium that these be given as gifts to several of the wealthy and influential families of Brussels.

As time passed and the nobility passed along with it, the Bolognese went almost extinct. A few breeders in Europe, however, and especially one man in Italy, Gian Franco Giannelli, who loved the breed, restored it to its present-day popularity. The breed was brought into England by Liz Stannard in 1990 and first shown that year in Imported Register classes. In 2001, the breed was able to be shown at all shows with their own classes and, in 2002, they were at Crufts dog show for the first time.

Did You Know?

The Bolognese is also known as the Bichon Bolognese.
Bolognese can be seen in tapestry work produced by Flemish craftsmen dating as far back as the 17th century. The Duke Frederico Gonzaga was painted caressing his Bolognese by the Venetian painter Titian, born in 1477.
This breed was developed centuries ago in Bologna, Italy.
The Bolognese has been assigned the Toy Group designation.
The Bolognese has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 1999.
The Bolognese has been eligible to compete in AKC Companion Events since July 1, 2008.
Bolo is short for Bolognese.

The Breed Standard


Small size, stocky and compact, covered with a pure white coat, long and fluffy.
Important proportions: Square built, the length of the body being equal to the height at the withers. Length of head reaching 1/3 of the height at the withers. Depth of chest almost half of the height at the withers.


Medium long. The width, measured at the level of the zygomatic arches is the same as the length.
Skull: Slightly ovoid in shape (egg-shaped) in the sagittal direction and has rather convex sides; rather flat in its upper part. The protuberances of the frontal bones are well developed. The longitudinal axes of the skull and muzzle are parallel; the frontal furrow is only slightly accentuated, as is also the occipital protuberance. The length of the skull is slightly more than that of the muzzle.
Stop: Rather accentuated.
Nose: Set on the same line as the topline of the muzzle: seen in profile the front is vertical. Large and must be black.
Muzzle: Its length is equal to 2/5 of the length of the head; the topline of the muzzle is straight and the sides of the muzzle are parallel, so that the forepart of the muzzle is almost square. The lower orbital region is well chiselled.
Lips: Upper lips being only slightly developed in depth, they do not cover the bottom lips, and the lower profile of the muzzle is determined by the lower jaw.
Jaws/Teeth: Jaws normally developed, with top and bottom arches perfectly adapted. Teeth white evenly aligned, with strong and complete dentition. Articulation of incisors as scissor bite; pincer bite tolerated.
Eyes: Set on an almost frontal plane; size slightly superior to normal. Eyelid opening is round; the eyeball must not be prominent; the white of the eye is not visible. The rims of the eyelids must be black, and the iris of a dark ochre colour.
Ears: High set, they are long and hanging, but rather rigid at their base, so that the upper part of the external ear is detached from the skull, giving thus the impression of the head being larger than it really is.


NECK: Without dewlap: its length is equal to the length of the head.
BODY: The dog being of a square construction, the length of the body, measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock bone is equal to that of the height at the withers.
Top line: The straight profile of the back, and that of the loin, slightly convex, merge harmoniously in the line of the croup. Withers: Only slightly prominent above the top line. Top of shoulder blades well spaced.
Back: Straight.
Loin: Short, strong, slightly convex.
Croup: Very broad and only slightly sloping.
Chest: Ample, let down to level of elbows, with well-sprung ribs, the height reaching almost half of the height at the withers. The point of the sternum is only slightly prominent.
Underline and belly: Following the profile of the sternum, then rises slightly towards the belly.
TAIL: Set in the line of the croup, carried curved over the back.


General appearance: Forearms are perfectly straight and parallel in relation to the median plane of the body.
Shoulder: The length of the shoulder blades is equal to 1/4 of the height of the withers; in relation to the horizontal, they are slanting and are near the vertical in relation to the median plane of the body. Upper arm: Well joined to the body, of an almost equal length to that of the shoulder, but less slanting.
Elbows: They are on a parallel plane to the median plane of the body.
Forearm: The length is equal to that of the upper arm; follows a perfect vertical direction.
Metacarpus (Pastern): Seen from the front they continue the vertical line of the forearm. Seen in profile the pastern is slightly slanting. Forefeet: Oval shaped, with well cushioned dark pads and very hard black nails.


General appearance: Viewed from behind, the hind legs must follow from the point of the buttock bone to the ground in a perfectly vertical line – legs are parallel to each other.
Thigh: Length is equal to 1/3 of the height at the withers. Slanting from top to bottom and back to front and perfectly parallel to the median plane of the body.
Stifle (Knee): Firm, not very angled.
Lower thigh: Longer than the thigh.
Hock joint: The tibio-tarsal angle is not very closed.
Metatarsus (Rear pastern): The distance from the point of the hock to the ground is slightly less than a third of the height at the withers. Hind feet: Same characteristics as the forefeet, but less oval.


Hair: Long all over the body, from head to tail, from the top line to the feet. It is shorter on the muzzle. Forms long flocks that have the same texture all over the body, rather off-standing coat thus not falling flat and tight, never shows fringes.
Colour: Pure white, very slight shades of ivory are not disqualifying.

Bolognese illustration

Colors & Markings


Description Standard Colors Registration Code
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199
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