Small Bichon Type Dog: Faithful, Shy Companion "Lap" Dog


Bolognese: Small Bichon Type Dog: Faithful, Shy Companion "Lap" Dog

Easy-going, playful and loyal, the Bolognese is very smart, but quite serious. Although playful with its immediate family, your little pet will not be the life of the party. This dog tends to be shy and reserved, more so than the Bichon Frisé it resembles. Small and compact, this little dog is nonetheless quite sturdy and athletic, a perfect companion for those looking to buy a calm, loving puppy.


Although the history of the Bolognese is somewhat mysterious, the general consensus is that it was developed in Bologna, Italy, and that it was a valued pet among royalty especially as early as the 11th and 12th centuries. Charming, graceful, but somewhat introverted, the Bolognese was a favorite pet of nobles during the Renaissance. Famously, Italy's King Umberto presented a Bolognese to Princess José of Belgium on her birthday, and in 1668, Cosimo de Medici sent eight of the little dogs to his friend Colonel Alamanni in Belgium, asking that they be given as gifts to influential, wealthy families in Brussels.

Although considered dogs of the aristocracy, time passed and the ruling classes became less popular, adopting a lower profile. As a result, the Bolognese became endangered by extinction until an Italian man named Gian Franco Giannelli, as well as other breeders in Europe, sought to resurrect the breed and restore it to its former glory. Today, the Bolognese has resumed its former popularity.

In 1990, the breed was brought to England, and was first shown that year as part of the Imported Register classes. It is currently recorded in the American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service, which means that it is continuing to develop as a pure breed but is not yet allowed registration in the organization. It is currently categorized within the Bichon family group. Other breeds in this family include the Maltese, the Havanese, the Coton de Tulear, the Löwchen, and the Bichon Frisé. It is considered a "Toy" dog, and is also known as the Bichon Bolognese.


It's interesting to note that many old paintings immortalizing this breed, such as a portrait of the Duke Frederico Gonzaga stroking his Bolognese by the famous Venetian painter Titian (born 1477) unmistakably resemble today’s dogs. Tiny, compact, with a single coat and no undercoat, it has a stocky build and is very muscular and athletic. Its large, black square muzzle and strong jaw, open, round, dark eyes and long, high, hanging ears further enhance the "cute" appearance of this dog. The coat is usually white and woolly, and normally doesn't need trimming or clipping. The dog tends to shed very little, but should be combed regularly so that mats don't have a chance to develop. Small and sturdy, most Bolognese dogs reach 10 to 12 inches high at the shoulder in adulthood, and weigh between 6 to 14 pounds.


Although not as "cheerful" as the related Bichon Frisé, the Bolognese is no sourpuss. Playful and gentle with those he or she loves, this little dog is simply bashful and standoffish, and not prone to outbursts of absolute joy. More sober and serious than some other small breeds, your little pet is nonetheless very loyal, smart and eager to please, the perfect lap dog and companion. Always ready to play with those with whom it is most familiar, the Bolognese is known to have puppy-like characteristics well into old age. Don't be afraid to frolic with your pet as it will certainly be able to take it. These little dogs are very sturdy despite seeming delicate – although, of course, you should watch your small children around your pet at first, to make sure they treat him or her with proper respect and care.

Small dog syndrome

It's worth noting that something called "small dog syndrome" can sometimes be a worry with the Bolognese. Small dog syndrome develops when little dogs are treated more like human babies or small children than they are little dogs. Because the Bolognese is most certainly a dog, this does not bode well for your pet's personality development. Dogs that develop small dog syndrome have been spoiled to the point where they think they rule the roost – and won't be afraid to show you that they do! Be careful to treat your dog as a dog, meaning that he or she needs proper boundaries, and to have you in the role of leader, or alpha dog. As long as you make sure you discipline your pet gently and stay in charge, misbehavior should not be a problem.

Proper Environment

Given this dog’s rather quiet demeanor, be prudent about exciting this little dog too much, at least at first. While the Bolognese can tolerate family life with proper boundaries defined for all members of the household, as needed, a perfect environment for the Bolognese would be life with a quiet, attentive owner (or two), who are willing to give it the companionship it craves as well as plenty of daily mental and physical stimulation. Daily walks are an absolute must.


The Bolognese is a very healthy little dog and will live on average 12 to 14 years, although it's not unheard of for the Bolognese to live as long as 18 years. Should you decide to adopt a Bolognese as your pet, you can be sure that he or she should have a good, long life. Offered the love, care and attention needed, along with enough exercise, this dog should maintain good health with regular visits to your veterinarian for "well dog" checkups.


Although the Bolognese is considered to be a largely hypoallergenic dog, it's not a complete nonshedder. Although never cut, the Bolognese's hair doesn't grow much at all and will simply fall out much like human hair without much intervention. Depending on the look you want for your pet, you may wish to go to a groomer on a monthly basis simply for a trim – although again, the Bolognese does not really grow or shed hair as most dogs do. Although normal "shedding" doesn't occur, a good daily brushing will help keep your dog's fur clean and will prevent mats from forming.


AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Bolognese.

Retrieved March 17, 2013.

Bolognese (dog).

Retrieved March 17, 2013.

Bolognese (Bichon Bolognese).

Retrieved March 17, 2013

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