Scratch Dog or Not – Are Bolognese Dogs Hypoallergenic?

Pet allergies are a common problem in the United States with many sufferers missing out on that special bond between a dog and its owner, but that doesn't need to be the case. There are certain allergy-friendly pooches that can live happily with the sneezers and wheezers among us and the beautiful Bolognese dog breed is one of them.


These small Bichon-type dogs are a docile, affectionate toy breed that make fantastic companions and the bonus for allergy sufferers is; they won't have you reaching for the tissues or breaking out in hives. Do Bolognese dogs shed? Yes of course, all dogs do to some degree, but they only shed minimally and they are small so allergens are much easier to control with these little guys from Italy.

Is It True, Are Bolognese Hypoallergenic?

The definitive answer is; Yes, they are. However as when choosing any hypoallergenic dog breed it pays to use caution. Reactions can and do occur even with hairless dogs as the proteins which trigger a reaction can also be found in saliva and urine. It is advisable to spend time with the dog of your choice before committing to bringing them into your home and the Bolognese dog is no exception.

What does hypoallergenic actually mean?

The word hypoallergenic first started to be bandied about during the 1950s used by the advertising industry initially and referring to skin care products and cosmetics. People mistakenly assume that it means non-allergenic, when in fact, it means there is a reduced risk of an allergic reaction.

3 Reasons Why the Bolognese is a Choice Breed Among Allergy Sufferers

The Bolognese size is a big factor in their low allergy status less dog means less dander, and less dander means less chance of a sneezing fit.

The Bolognese coat is non-molting meaning they do not shed hair like other breeds. Their single wooly coat also traps dander before it becomes airborne where it can cause the symptoms we associate with allergies, runny nose, itchy eyes, sniffling etc.

Bolognese exercise does not need to involve long hikes through the countryside where they can pick up pollen and other allergens and bring them indoors, they are happy with a couple of walks a day and some extra playtime either indoors or a yard.

The Bolognese and allergies - What should I do?

If you or a family member suffer from pet allergies like 10% of the population the worst thing you can do is rush out to buy a cute Bolognese puppy. Unfortunately, even with dogs that are classed as non-allergic, reactions can and do occur so it is essential to do your research and spend some time with the breed and if possible your chosen dog before bringing one into your home.

Some people can manage their symptoms but if an older person or child has severe allergies, the only option may be to rehome the dog, with almost 4 million dogs entering shelters each year and allergies being one of the many reasons, the last thing you will want to do, is to add to the problem. Spending a little time and patience to ensure you get the right dog is well worth it. Things you could try, include:​

  • Get in touch with the Bolognese Club of America They are a great starting point as they can provide information about the breed, local contacts and breeders who may be willing to let you meet their dogs.
  • Volunteer at a breed specific Bolognese rescue. Many are also looking for temporary foster homes which is a fantastic way of determining if you and a Bolognese can share a home.

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of an Allergic Reaction from Your Pooch

  • It might be tempting, especially with the adorable loving Bolognese, to share kisses, but for the allergy sufferer that is a big no-no as saliva can trigger a reaction. Limiting the licking will reduce the chance of a nasty rash.
  • Keep your bedroom dog-free, you spend a lot of time in their so it is important your boudoir is not loaded with allergens especially as many allergy sufferers say symptoms can be worse at night.
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    Wash dog bedding, blankets etc, weekly on a hot cycle 60 degrees or above to keep allergen particles down.
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    Wipe surfaces that your dog brushes against like doors or chairs every day to prevent a build-up. Those pesky particles are sticky!
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    Invest in a HEPA filter, the best you can afford they work by circulating the air through a fine mesh that removes particles such as dust, pollen and of course pet dander.

All about the Bolognese - Origin of the Breed

The Bolognese has a long history, named for the Italian town of Bologna where it is thought to have originated it is a one of the Bichon-type dog breeds which include:

  • The Bolognese
  • The Coton du Tulear
  • Havanese
  • Bichon Frise
  • Maltese
  • Lowchen

These breeds all originated in the Mediterranean and were the companions of sailors who bartered them on their travels where they prospered in ports and cultural cities around the world.

There have been references to Bolognese dog breed as far back as 1200 and over the centuries were the favored companion dogs of Italian nobility, sometimes given as precious gifts. The Medici family was known to breed Bolognese dogs and they were often seen in the paintings of the 17th and 18th Century including those of the famous artist Goya.

The decline of the aristocracy unfortunately meant the decline of the Bolognese and by 1979 there were only 7 left in their country of origin Italy.

These little dogs didn't arrive in the USA until the 20th century and are still considered a rare breed with less than a 1000 estimated to live in the USA. Surprising since they have had some very famous owners over the years including Catherine the Great of Russia and more recently the screen icon Marilyn Monroe​

General Appearance

The hypoallergenic Bolognese is a small white dog similar in appearance to its closest relative the Maltese. A fully-grown Bolognese is between 10-12 inches and should weigh between 6-14lbs.

Their distinctive single coat should have a wooly texture and hang in loose ringlets on the body with shorter hair on the facial area. The Bolognese coat requires regular grooming to prevent it becoming tangled and matts forming. Their tails are curved and carried over the back.​


The Bolognese temperament is that of a true companion, they bond closely to their owners and are known as one of the so-called "Velcro dogs" Say goodbye to going to the toilet alone the Bolognese will be stuck to your side at all times.

They are an extremely affectionate breed but not as demanding of attention as the Coton du Tulear and are quieter and more laid back than some of the Bichon breeds.

They are eager to please and learn quickly but like most small hypoallergenic breeds they can be a challenge to potty-train.

They do not require much exercise and are the perfect pooch for city-dwellers. Playful and comical they remain puppy-like well into their senior years and do well seniors and families with older children. Younger children can easily hurt these small dogs without proper supervision.

Kind and gentle these cute Bolognese dogs make the perfect canine companion especially for the many Americans who suffer from allergies.

Source: YouTube


The Bolognese lifespan is 12-14 years, they are an extremely healthy little breed that suffer few issues, in fact they are so rare it is difficult to determine specific breed conditions but as they belong to the Bichon family of dogs they can also be prone to the same problems including:

  • Allergies
  • Luxating Patellar
  • White Dog Shaker Syndrome
  • Ear Infections
  • Epilepsy
  • Cataracts

All the Bichon-type dogs are prone to allergies and the Bolognese dog is no exception, Fleas, Food and airborne allergies can all be the cause of your pooch itching and experiencing hair-loss. Vaccinations can also cause a reaction and some experts advise to get boosters every 3 years instead of annually. This is something to discuss with your vet.

The benefit of the little Bolognese living with an allergy sufferer is that their owners are usually adept at dealing with the problem and already take precautions to ensure the environment is as allergen free as possible.​


Small dogs need more calories than larger breeds so it advisable to feed them a premium small breed dog food tailored to their requirements, that way you can be sure they are getting the correct nutrients they need through the various stages of their life.

Bolognese puppies can suffer from hypoglycemia which basically means low blood sugar. This is because they have a high metabolic rate and low fat and sugar reserves they need a calorie-dense puppy food and frequent meals 4-6 times a day.​

Because the Bolognese can be prone to allergies it may be worth considering a hypoallergenic dog food which will not contain fillers, preservatives and artificial coloring as these ingredients are known to cause problems with Bichon-type dogs. You may also find it helpful to introduce some supplements to their diets. Probiotics are good as they promote healthy bacteria in within the gut and some others include:​

  • Omega 3
  • Fatty Acids
  • Vitamins B and E
  • Quercetin

Keeping your four-legged friend healthy and happy is the single most important thing you can do for them and this starts with a healthy balanced diet.


Finding A Good Bolognese Breeder

If you decide the Bolognese is the right breed for you, be prepared to wait. Bolognese puppies for sale are not common and most reputable breeders have waiting lists. Because they are so rare beware of scams and do not be tempted by Bolognese puppies available for a couple of hundred bucks as these will almost definitely be from puppy mills.

A good breeder is usually a member of a breed club and their first priority, is the health and wellbeing of the puppy not your credit card. They will be happy to answer questions regarding to your allergies and the suitability of the breed and be knowledgeable about diet and health issues.

Some breeders prefer small breed puppies to remain with their mothers until 10-12 weeks of age, never buy a puppy from someone selling a Bolognese puppy under 8 weeks.

A good place to start your search for Bolognese puppies is the American Bolognese Club who have information on breeders and upcoming litters. As well as having to be patient for your new Bolo you may find you need to travel too.​

3 Red Flags to Look Out for When Searching a Bolognese Breeder

  • Because the Bolognese is a rare breed they are often used in scams. People who cannot travel great distances to visit their chosen puppy are often taken in by these con-artists who send adorable Bolognese dog pictures, include shipping in the price and take payment online. Do not be taken in, you will be waving goodbye to your hard- earned cash.
  • Avoid Bolognese breeders who cannot provide references. Reputable breeders that have a Bolognese dog for sale will have a list of previous buyers willing to endorse them.
  • The Bolognese price is high, don't be fooled by someone trying to pass off any small white Bichon-Type dog as a Bolognese and charging the earth. Although the AKC does not yet recognize the breed there are various breed clubs that do so ask for some documentation.

Adopting a Bolognese from a Rescue or Shelter

You will be hard pushed to find an adult Bolognese in a shelter never mind a Bolognese puppy. While adopting may be the road you wish to take believe me, it could be a long one.

Of course, there are circumstances when dogs need rehoming no matter how rare the breed, perhaps they have been rescued from a puppy mill, the owner has passed away or is no longer in a position to care for them.

​There are a few breed specific Bolognese rescue organizations but the majority of their dogs will be Bolognese mixes and they usually have a waiting list for Bolognese adoption. Social media groups and breed forums are a great way of getting a heads-up when one of these little dogs needs rehoming while gaining more knowledge about these charming diminutive little dogs.

How Much Will a Bolognese Set You Back?

The bad news is the Bolognese dog doesn't come cheap, you can expect to pay between $1000-$2500 for a purebred Bolognese puppy depending on where you live, whether the pup is show quality and the sex.

That being said, for this price you should receive a healthy pup with an outgoing, friendly temperament. You will also receive the relevant health screening results and any registration documentation. The puppy will have been checked over by the vet and have had at the very least its first vaccinations.

The breeder should provide you with information on the puppy's diet, socialization and dates of worming treatment. Most will also provide a contract of sale, this is essential for the allergy sufferer as it usually includes a clause whereby the breeder must be given first refusal if the puppy needs to be rehomed for any reason.​

Source: BritishBologneseClub

It's a Wrap

So, there you have it, not just a tasty Italian sauce that you eat with pasta, the Bolognese is also a beautiful, gentle, companion dog.

Small with a big heart these little guys have a long history but have seen a decline in numbers this century and are a rare breed.

They do not need much exercise or feeding but do need a lot of grooming and attention

Good with other pets, kids and retirees they make great apartment dogs although they cannot be left alone, as this would lead to separation anxiety

We've answered the question "Are Bolognese dogs hypoallergenic?" and a few others too. We've concluded that the allergy-friendly Bolognese makes a great non-molting dog suitable for everyone, which is something not to be sneezed at.​

John Devlin

Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!

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