Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Bolognese
Average Cost to keep/care for a Bolognese
The Bolognese has become a very popular companion dog thanks to their charming looks, their size and the fact these little dogs don't shed thanks to the structure of their flocked coats. The breed originates from northern Italy and is registered with The Kennel Club in the toy group. They are known for their intelligence, their loyalty and the fact they are extremely adaptable being just at home living in a big house in the country as they are in a smaller flat in town. The Bolognese is an energetic dog and as such enjoy being taken out of plenty of interesting walks and they adore being part of a family and being included in everything that goes on in a household.
It is thought that the Bolognese is a descendant of the Bichon, a breed that hails from Malta and southern Italy. They were given their name having been first bred and developed in Bologna, northern Italy and the breed has been around for a very long time, first appearing on the scene in 11th and 12th centuries. During the 15th century, these little dogs were extremely popular with the Italian nobility when they were kept as companion dogs.
The Bolognese first arrived in Britain around 200 years ago when they were imported from the Canary Islands by enthusiasts of the breed. However, these charming dogs are a rare breed both in their native Italy and elsewhere in the world. Luckily, European breeders are now producing Bolognese through careful and selective breeding with an end goal being to increase the numbers of these delightful, loyal and affectionate dogs.
Height at the withers: Males 27 - 30 cm, Females 25 - 28 cm
Average weight: Males 2.5 - 4 kg, Females 2.5 - 5 kg
The Bolognese looks very much like their cousin, the Bichon Frise having a lovely, distinctive flocked white coat. They are compact little dogs that boast quite a square outline. Their heads are nicely proportioned in relation to their body having a wide skull, a distinct stop and a large black nose. Their eyes are round, large and dark in colour with nicely pigmented rims. Ears are set high on a dog's head being long and pendulous. The Bolognese carries their ears away from their heads which accentuates its width even more.
These little dogs boast nice level jaws with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their neck is moderately long and clean with dogs boasting well laid back shoulders and nice straight front legs. The Bolognese has a compact body with well sprung ribs and deepish brisket. They have level backs, and slightly arched loins. Hindquarters are well-muscled and nicely put together. Their feet are oval in shape with dogs boasting black nails and pads. Tails are well feathered and set level with a dog's croup which they carry curved over their backs.
When it comes to their coat, the Bolognese boasts a long, flocked coat all over their body. However, the hair is straight and not curled. These charming little dogs have a pure white coat with no markings whatsoever in it. Their lips, nose, eyelids and nails are always black in colour.
The Bolognese is a charming little dog and one that enjoys nothing more than being included in everything that goes on in a household. They are known to be intelligent, loyal, fun-loving and affectionate, they thrive on human contact and being around people. As such, the Bolognese does not like to be left on their own even for shorter periods of time. They are the perfect choice for families where one member of a household stays at home when everyone else is out of the house.
For such small dogs, the Bolognese is a calm character and they form very strong bonds with their owners, but they tend to be a little wary and reserved when they are around people they don't know. With this said, the Bolognese would rarely show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards strangers, preferring to keep out of the way. Although a Bolognese will warn an owner when there is a stranger about, they are not known to be yappy dogs like many other toy breeds.
Because they are such smart characters, the Bolognese needs to be given lots of mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded characters. If these little dogs are left to their own devices for longer periods of time, they can develop all sorts of behavioural issues which includes separation anxiety.
The Bolognese is a very clever little dog and because they are always so willing and eager to please, in the right hands and with the right amount of training and socialisation, these little dogs are pretty easy to train. However, they are quite sensitive by nature and as such they do not respond well to any sort of harsher training methods or correction.
They do, however, answer well to positive reinforcement training and if their education starts as early as possible, the Bolognese grows up to be an obedient and very adaptable little dog. The key to successfully training a Bolognese is to be consistent and always fair, rewarding good behaviour with a high value treat when first starting a dog's education.
The Bolognese is renowned for being a happy character which is why these little dogs have been so popular for centuries. They are an ideal choice for first time owners as a family pet because they love being around children and thrive on human company liking nothing better than to be involved in all sorts of interactive games.
However, as with other breeds any interaction between the kids and their dog should be supervised by an adult to make sure play time does not get too boisterous which ends up in someone getting hurt.
If a Bolognese is well socialised from a young age, they are generally very good around other dogs. When it comes to smaller pets and cats, if a Bolognese has grown up with them, they usually get on well with them although it is best to introduce any new animals slowly and very carefully.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Bolognese is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Bolognese is a hardy little dog and unlike many other pure breeds, they are not plagued by the many hereditary and congenital health issues that many other pedigree dogs suffer from.
As with any other breed, a Bolognese needs to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Bolognese is high maintenance when it comes to keeping their coats looking good. On the upside, these little dogs do not shed thanks to the structure of their flocked coats, but they do need to be brushed every day to prevent tangles developing, paying particular attention to a dog's stomach, their legs and behind their ears where the hair tends to tangle and knot very easily. They also need to be professionally groomed at least twice a year which makes it easier to keep their coats looking good in between visits to a parlour.
It's important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and if necessary to remove any hairs that grow in their ear canals which is best left up to an expert. If too much hair is left in a dog's ears it means air cannot circulate as it should and this paves the way for an ear infection to take hold which can be really hard to clear up. It's also to check a dog's feet and if there is a lot of hair growing between their pads, to carefully trim this away.
The Bolognese might be a small dog, but there is nothing they like more than to be taken out for a nice, long walk twice a day. With this said, a good 30-minute walk twice a day would be ideal and if a dog can run around a back garden as often as possible all the better because it means they can really let off steam. However, gardens need to be very secure to prevent dogs from escaping. Because they are so intelligent, a Bolognese also needs to be given lots of mental stimulation and they really do enjoy playing lots of interactive games.
If you get a Bolognese puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature Bolognese twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Bolognese, you would need to pay anything from £600 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. You may have to accept going on a waiting list because these little dogs can be hard to come by and are considered to be a rare breed. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Bolognese in northern England would be £19.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of April 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Bolognese and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Bolognese would be between £60 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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