Temperament and characteristics

Original use

For centuries the Bolognese were coveted companions of the European Nobles. Phillip II, Louis XIV and Madame de Pompadour of France, and Catherine the Great were among their admirers. A pampered companion pet, favored by Italian Nobility for their lap warming and entertaining abilities, Bolognese came to be celebrated as the most appreciated of royal gifts that one aristocrat could give to another.

Current use

Today the Bolognese is a companion breed which becomes very attached to its master and their family. He makes a fantastic family dog as he is very active and fun outside, but on return to the house the Bolognese is quiet and shadows his owner. It is a beautiful breed that was once fancied by the nobility but are now popular with many people from all walks of life and who love the company of this little, loyal breed. Some bolognese makes wonderful pet therapy dogs and are used in obedience and agility.

Bolognese personality and temperament

Bolognese are very calm and generally not very high energy dogs. They are sweet, playful, willing, intelligent and loyal. Bolognese is very affectionate and creates an intense emotional connection with its owner, often making people think that it is able to read minds. It behaves like a shadow for its owner because it needs attention. However it is not the type of dog that becomes tiring or exhaustive, it just wants to stay close to its owners.

Bolognese is a companion dog in every sense of the word. The most important thing to a Bolognese is to be with you and make you happy. He loves to be by your side and on your lap during  the day and sleep in bed with you at nights if only allowed.

Not only is this a sweet, little companion, the Bolognese (or Bolo for short) wants to have fun whenever he can. Basically he wants to do what you’re doing. If you want to play outside, he’s willing and able. If you just want to chill on the couch, he’ll happily keep your lap warm.

Dorothy Goodale, a well-known breeder of havanese and bolognese, who introduced the Bolognese to United States of America fell in love with the breed immediately: »This is the smartest brees I have ever worked with. They do great in obedience but tend to become bored with reperitive exercises. They absolutely love agility. The Havanese are smart and very good dogs, but Bolognese are different. People who claim that dogs cannot reason have never lived with a Bolognese. I suspect that they are telephatic. They are great problem solvers. (source: Wolfgang Knorr: Kennel Club Books – Bolognese«).

Bolognese donesn’t change its behavior when it becomes a senior. It is known that Bolognese dogs older than 10 year are still playful and willing to learn new things.

As well as being playful and inquisitive, he’ll want to be the center of attention whenever he as an audience. Don’t be fooled by his small size – the Bolognese will impress you with his tenacity.

Does bolognese make a good watchdog?

Altough bolognese are small dogs they make excellent burglar alarms despite their diminutive size. They will bark when they hear suspicious noises and are awaiting on their owner to explain them what’s going on and afterwards they calm down. They will also bark when the bell rings but when their owner let the visitors inside they will greet them warmly and allow visitors to cares them.


Bolognese are easy to train and take part in different activities

Bolognese is a very intelligent dog and it likes to learn new things. It responds well to gentle training with positive feedback, praise, petting and treats. It is a very adaptable and capable breed, very eager to please, and willing to try just about anything its humans ask it to do. Beside that Bolognese is calm and perceptive, which are excellent traits that are much appreciated by an owner when traing his dog.  A Bolognese quickly learns basic commands and also more difficult ones. It can learn a new trick also just by watching other dog doing it. Bolognese are especially fond of agility and learning new tricks while they find obedience classes rather boring especially if there are too many repetitions. With Bolognese being a small companion dog all activities should be understood as play and fun. Unlike working or herding breeds the Bolognese lives for fun and pleasure (not for moving sheep or guarding estates). Because agility trials are no doubt challenging for the Bolognese, the owner should never demand too much of his dog or force him to continue with something he does not enjoy.


Bolognese are excellent therapy dogs

Bolognese dogs are used for canine assisted therapy because of their friendly and joyfull nature, lovely face and soft, fluffy coat. They get along well with all kinds of dogs and can work in any group of dogs and with all kind of people – children, adults, elderly and people with special needs. Everybody is charmed by their »plush toy look« and everybody wants to caress them, take them in her/his lap and spoil them with treats and gentleness.  They are also known as anti-depressive dog and they bring happiness and joy to clients – users of canine assisted therapy. Their big advantage is their size. Nobody is affraid of them so they can be used for clients who are afraid of big dogs,  immovable clients or invalids.


Bolognese are very good with children

Because Bolognese  are lively and very playful dogs, they make ideal companions for children. They can play with them for hours but supervision is needed especially around small children who can be too rough with the dogs.  In case of families with children parents have to know that the ideal age of their kids should be  7 years old or older when purchasing a bolognese puppy.  Bolognese are small dogs that can be easily injured by a child that might treat it as a toy without knowing how to play more delicately.


Are bolognese good with other animals?

Bolognese are excellent companion dogs that usually get along well with other animals – other dogs, cats, parrots, who live in their household.

If they are well socialized they are fairly tolerant of other dogs and will also play with other dogs. Bolognese is a non-aggressive dog breed, yet if it is challenged, attacked or becomes jealous, it can fight back.

Although bolognese  love to have canine playmates, they also feel good being the only dog in the family.
As they usually have no herding or hunting instincts and no pray drive they will not chase cats, birds and other small animals (mouses, rabbits, hedgehogs, squirells, frogs, butterflies, beetles, flies and others).  So walks in the nature are always very pleasant.


Bolognese are very curious and brave dogs

Bolognese are very curious dogs who love to get away from the house and accompany its owner everywhere including in vacations.  If properly socialized during their junior age they behave well in any situation. They are not afraid of new surroundings, new people and unknown things. They like to visit unfamiliar places and people as well as shopping sessions. So you can take your Bolognese with you almost everywhere. They are not afraid of big cities’ traffic, big roads, crowded places. They will enjoy in a ride with the bus, car, train, metro, boat, plane. They are very curious dogs and enjoy seeing new things and meeting new people. They are excellent hiking dogs and will accompany you just everywhere you might wish.

Bolognese are choosy about food

Bolognese can be a very pricky eaters because their big dark eyes often melt their owners’ hearts  who quickly give them a different dog food than already offered.  Even so, bolognese needs a well-balanced diet and a fixed feeding schedule part of its daily routine so that it can live a healthy and active life.  Proteins and animal fats are very important for its diet. It should be feed twice per day. These dogs do best on a high-quality kibble, but you may choose to go with a grain-free food as it may keep tear staining to a minimum.


What is bolognese relationship with strangers?

Bolognese can be somewhat reserved and shy, but warm to strangers quickly if they have been properly socialized.


Home environment

Bolognese are very adaptable and can live happily in all kinds of climatic conditions. Bolognese feel best if they live in a family as members of the family. Because they are very sociable animals they do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. The Bolognese is suitable for apartment life that doesn’t necessaeily need a yard. It has a moderate to low energy level, being able to leisurely laze on the couch for hours, but also to play for hours in a row together with other dogs. They are not suitable to be kept in kennels, because they need constant and close contact with their owner, whom they are very devoted and loyal.


Excercise requirements

Even though the Bolognese is not an especially active dog, it will tailor its activity level to meet yours. They don’t need very long walks, but it is best to be taken out for 2 to 3 short daily walks that last about 15 to 30 minute if you live in apartment and at least a daily walk if you live in the house with a yard. On rainy days and busy days when you can’t make it outside that day, play time will help tire him out.  You’ll find that your Bolo will be a lot better mannered if he is taken out for regular walks. Its small size and moderate activity requirements make him an ideal dog for urban areas and small living spaces, such as condos and apartments. As well, it likes to run around in a fenced-in yard or dog park and play with other dogs.Even if a bolognese has a yard at its disposal, it still needs socialization, supervision, company and everyday walks to feel good and have a quality life.


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