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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.
Two Bolognese sitting on a large window sill.
Bolognese on leash standing outdoors.
Bolognese lying in fall leaves outdoors.
Bolognese sitting in fall leaves outdoors.
Bolognese head in three-quarter view outdoors.
Bolognese standing in three-quarter view.
Three Bolognese sitting side by side outdoors.
Bolognese running across the grass.

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 American Bolognese Club. Interested in adopting a rescue? Visit the American Bolognese Club's rescue site.
Bolognese puppy sitting outdoors looking up at the viewer.

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.



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 standing on a pebble walkway outdoors.
Bolognese laying on a bench outdoors.
Bolognese laying in the grass.
Bolognese laying in the grass.
Bolognese puppy running in the grass.
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

Colors & Markings


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