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Bolognese: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Bolognese temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Bolognese dog breed

The Bolognese belongs to a related family of dogs that include the Bichon Frise, Maltese, Havanese, and Coton de Tulear. All of these breeds have a similar appearance and temperament.

Of the group, some breeders believe that the Bolognese is the brightest thinker and problem solver.

He is also, by far, the hardest of those breeds to find.

Devoted and attentive, the Bolognese shadows his owner and is such a skilled reader of body language and expression that he often appears telepathic.

Indeed, this breed doesn't do well without a great deal of companionship. If you're home all day and looking for a lap buddy, consider this breed. Otherwise, the dog will be lonely and unhappy.

Quick to learn and responsive to gentle training, some Bolognese do well in competitive obedience and agility.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is small but sturdy
  • Is polite (though often cautious) with people and other animals
  • Is usually long-lived
  • Sheds very lightly (often a good choice for allergy sufferers)

A Bolognese may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much
  • Shyness or suspiciousness toward strangers when not socialized enough
  • Frequent brushing and combing (or clipping the coat short)
  • Housebreaking difficulties (this whole family of breeds can be difficult to housetrain)
  • Tendency to bark when he sees or hears things
  • Waiting lists (very hard to find)

A Bolognese may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

  • You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult dogs have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics. Unfortunately this is better advice for other breeds, since Bolognese are so rare that you're unlikely to find one for adoption.
  • If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. But you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
  • Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Bolognese to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

More traits and characteristics of the Bolognese

If I was considering a Bolognese, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Potential separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, Bolognese need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They become anxious, which they express by chewing and barking. If you work all day, this is not the breed for you.
  2. Grooming. Without frequent brushing and combing, Bolognese become a matted mess. If you can't commit to the brushing, you have to commit to frequent trimming or clipping to keep the coat short and sanitary.
  3. Housebreaking problems. This entire family of dogs (Bolognese, Havanese, Maltese, Bichon, and Coton) is slow to housebreak. Consistent crate training is mandatory. Sometimes a doggy door is necessary to give the dog immediate access to his potty area.
  4. Potential barking. Bolognese are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them.
  5. Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Bolognese need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution could become shyness or suspiciousness, which are difficult to live with.
  6. Finding one and paying the price. Expect a very long waiting list and a price tag well over a thousand dollars.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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