The playful Bolognese was once the favorite lapdog of Roman nobility. Learn more about this delightful pup in our guide.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 14 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level:

Very Low



Coat Color:

Blue Ribbon

Best For

The Bolognese dog breed is best for apartment dwellers, retirees, people who work from home and new pet parents who can be with them most of the time. They need minimal exercise but loads of attention. If there are young children in the household, the pups should be supervised when interacting with them.

Bolognese Traits

Bolognese Temperament

Caring, loving and young at heart, the Bolognese is known for acting as playful as a puppy well into their senior years. They might be pint-sized, but make no mistake, there’s a lot of personality packed into their tiny bodies. This cuddly toy dog breed loves being around people, even strangers—although, true to their royal roots, they may first need proper introductions to feel comfortable.

With a Bolognese puppy, you’re guaranteed a companion dog and cuddle buddy for life—one who will follow you everywhere. Bolos thrive on attention and emotional connection and are happiest when their parent is at home. While these sociable types will get along well with other four-legged pets, they are perfectly happy being the stars of their own one-pup act. Leaving them alone for long periods is a no-no, as this can lead to some less desirable behaviors, like separation anxiety, chewing and barking.

Despite their small size, Bolos can make great watchdogs as they will quickly notice and alert you of anything unusual. But don’t count on them to be your bodyguard. Apart from letting you know when there’s someone at the door, they’re not big barkers and are not prone to biting or aggression. They can, however, make great therapy dogs and are perfectly content to match your activity level, keep your lap warm and do pretty much whatever else makes you happy.

These affectionate, intelligent pups do well with city and apartment dwellers, retirees and families with older children who know how to handle them gently and safely. Younger children should be supervised around a Bolognese to avoid accidentally injuring your pup with overly rough play.

How to Care for a Bolognese

The Bolognese breed is about as laid-back as dogs come, but when it comes to keeping that gorgeous white coat at its best, they definitely need an extra dose of TLC. This playful breed can be easily distracted and exhibit a stubborn steak, so consistency and patience is a must when training them, especially when they’re puppies. The good news? Because they’re so chill, they don’t need a lot of exercise. They do want all your love and attention, though, which is probably the easiest thing you could ever give to these adorable companions.

Bolognese Health

The Bolognese breed has a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years and is generally healthy, but can be susceptible to a few medical issues. It’s important to be aware of them so you can help your pup live their healthiest life possible and reduce their risk of developing these conditions.

  • Patellar Luxation: This inherited condition can cause the kneecap to dislocate and repeatedly pop out of place. It can be treated with physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory painkillers and, in extreme cases, surgery.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: PRA is an eye problem where the photoreceptor cells in the eye deteriorate, leading to blindness. You can help your vet diagnose this early by taking your pup in for regular eye tests, especially when they’re young, and take steps to monitor and control the condition through lifestyle changes, like not rearranging furniture, so they don’t bump into things.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a genetic hip deformity that can be very painful. Treatments include weight management, supplements, physical therapy and surgery.

Bolognese History

The Bolognese dog originated hundreds of years ago in Italy, where their name comes from the city of Bologna. (That’s is the only connection they have to the famed Italian pasta sauce that hails from the same place. Yes, great things come from Bologna.) Historically, these amiable lapdogs were often given as gifts to kings and queens as far back as the 11th and 12th centuries. They were so loved, in fact, that Roman nobility, as well as some of the most powerful and wealthy families throughout Italy, commissioned portraits featuring these pups. However, as the aristocracy diminished in power and influence, the breed almost went extinct. A few enthusiastic modern-day breeders saved them from obsolescence in the 1980s, restoring not only the breed as a whole, but their popularity, too.

Bolos came to England in 1990 and was recognized by the United Kennel Club here in the United States in 1995. The Bolos were recorded in the Foundation Stock Service (a breed registry of the American Kennel Club) in 1999. Because the breed is so rare and relatively new to the United States, it is not yet fully recognized by the AKC, but they have been permitted to compete in AKC companion events since 2008. They are also referred to as Bichon Bolognese, since they belong to the Bichon family of dogs.

Are you looking to add a Bolognese to your life? You can find a list of reputable breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. While the average Bolognese puppy price may vary, you can expect the cost to run anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000 for a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may even come with pedigree papers. You can also adopt from a local Bolognese rescue organization or check the listings at your local animal shelter.


Are Bolognese dogs hypoallergenic?

Yes, Bolognese dogs are considered hypoallergenic. Their low shedding reduces the spread of their dander, which leads to less irritation in people with dog allergies.

Do Bolognese dogs bark a lot?

No, Bolognese dogs don’t bark a lot if they are trained not to. However, they are known to bark when left alone for too long or to alert their owner when they see something amiss or hear someone at the door.

How long do Bolognese dogs live?

The lifespan of Bolognese ranges between 12 to 14 years.

What are the most popular Bolognese dog names?

Some of the most popular Bolognese names are Posie, Clover, Francis, Reese, Bianca, Archie, Bambalina and Finn. Get more dog names here.

What are the most common Bolognese dog mixes?

The most common Bolognese mixes are:

  • Bolognese-Poodle mix (Bolonoodle, Bolopoo, Bolognesepoo, Bolognesedoodle)
  • Bolognese-Maltese mix (Molognese, Bologmalt)
  • Bolognese-Shih Tzu mix (Bolo-Tzu)
  • Bolognese-Havanese mix (Dualanese)
  • Bolognese-Yorkie mix (Bolognese Yorkie)

Top Takeaways

Bolos are loving, loyal companion dogs for retirees, families with older children and newer pet parents who work from home. These charming furballs pack a lot of personality into their tiny bodies and are both intelligent and inquisitive. While maintaining their pristine white coats requires a little more time and care than some breeds, they don’t need a lot of exercise and are generally very healthy. Wherever you are is exactly where your Bolo wants to be, so don’t leave them at home alone for too long if you want your pup to keep smiling.

Expert input provided by veterinarian Corey Shagensky, DVM, founder of Progressive Animal Wellness in Avon, Conn., and Los Angeles-based certified dog behaviorist and trainer Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, founder of Fun Paw Care.

Photo credit for “How do I look?”

Top Bolognese Names

These are the top Bolognese names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!

Female Names

  • Lily
  • Daisy
  • Bella
  • Bella Rosa
  • Kobe Morris
  • Lucy
  • Felix
  • Elsie
  • Luna
  • Biscuit

Male Names

  • Milo
  • Geppetto
  • Sammie Brown
  • Fonzie
  • Titi
  • Louie
  • Iggy
  • Donnie
  • Motley
  • Rascal