The Bolognese, like his cousin the Bichon Frise, is a tiny white dog with curly hair. Unlike the Bichon, the Bolognese's hair flows in long, wavy locks, giving him the look of a fairy tale dog fallen ever so slightly on hard times. Sometimes a bit shy, he's something of a one-person dog, never happier than when he's in your lap.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

If you're the kind of person who can't tell an adorable little white fluffball "no," you're going to have some problems with your adult Bolognese. Of course you can spoil him; that's what toy dogs are for, but giving him lots of love and attention, along with the softest spot in the house (your lap, most likely) doesn't mean you have to let him get away with nipping, snapping or nuisance barking. Make sure he knows the rules, and enforce them gently and consistently from day one, and he'll be a prince without being a tyrant.

Although the Bolognese can be a wonderful family pet, this may not be the right breed for families with young children. These dogs can easily be injured if play is too rough or even snap at a child if frightened. However, they love children, so as long as play is supervised and the children are gentle, dog and child can be fast friends.

The lively little dogs weigh anywhere from 8 to 12 pounds, and their curly coats require daily brushing and occasional professional grooming. Neglected coats become matted, which is painful and can lead to serious skin infections.

If you fell in love with the Bolognese because of the way their pure white coat sets off those dark eyes, you'd better be prepared to spend a lot of time cleaning away tear stains, which cause a rust discoloration that most people find unsightly.

Speaking of coat, you may have heard these dogs' non-shedding coats make them a "non-allergenic" breed, but that's not true. It's a dog's dander -- flakes of skin -- that triggers allergic reactions, not the coat. The non-shedding coat means less dander in the environment and sometimes fewer allergic reactions. But they still produce dander, and can still cause an allergic reaction. Any breeder who tells you their dogs are "non-allergenic" should be avoided.

Health Issues Common to the Bolognese

Bolognese can suffer from hip dysplasia, a genetic hip deformity that requires costly surgery to repair and can lead to arthritis later in life. And as with all small dogs, the kneecaps of the Bolognese can easily get knocked out of place, a condition known as "luxating patellas."

Make sure to have your puppy's eyes examined once a year by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist, and seek veterinary care immediately at any signs of cloudiness, redness, itching or irritation of the eyes, or if the dog is squinting or pawing at them.

Bolognese can suffer from Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a condition that causes reduced blood supply to the head of the thigh bone, which in turn causes it to shrink. The first sign of this disease is limping, which usually appears when the puppy is 4 to 6 months old. Treatment is surgical remove of the head of the leg bone, after which the puppy will have a relatively normal life other than an increased likelihood of arthritis.

As with most small dogs, Bolognese can have very bad dental problems, so consult with your veterinarian about a preventive care program, and don't treat dental disease lightly.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Patellar Luxation Medium $1,500-$3,000
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease Medium $1,000-$3,000

6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Bolognese Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Bolognese dogs are extremely rare, and finding a breeder is very difficult. All small dogs are at risk of being irresponsibly bred or targeted by puppy mills, so do your homework before buying one of these little dogs. And never, ever purchase one from a pet store or internet retailer.

Ask your puppy's breeder for written documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the University of Pennsylvania (PennHip) that your puppy's parents' hips are free of dysplasia. Also ask for OFA certification that the parents are free of knee disease and Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) certifying that the puppy's parents do not have any genetic vision or eye abnormalities.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many health and behavior problems aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, Bolognese can live 15 years or longer, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Bolognese to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues. Ask specifically about dental care and prevention and treatment of allergies.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Bolognese

Pet insurance for the Bolognese costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because the Bolognese is much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for many of the breed-specific conditions to which the Bolognese is susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Bolognese is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.