Breed standards


Breed standards are the official guidelines that describe the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential.

Last Updated: 25 Sep 2020

FCI Standard No 196
TRANSLATION: Mrs. Peggy Davis. Revised by Renée Sporre-Willes. Official language (EN).
ORIGIN: Italy.
UTILIZATION: Companion dog.
FCI-CLASSIFICATION: Group 9 Companion and Toy Dogs.
Section 1 Bichons and related breeds.
Without working trial.

Group 1 (Toys)

The origin of the Bolognese is confused with that of the Maltese, because their distant ancestors are the same little dogs mentioned in Latin by Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) under the denomination of canes melitenses. Bolognese, already known in the Roman era appears most especially among the very appreciated gifts, which were made during a whole era by the people of power of that world. Cosimo de Medici (1389–1464) brought no less than eight to Brussels as gifts to as many Belgian noblemen. Philipe II, king of Spain 1556–1598, after having received two as a gift from the Duke d’Este, thanked him in writing saying, ”These little dogs are the most royal gifts one can give to an emperor”. Bolognese are represented in paintings by Titian, Pierre Breughel called le Vieux and Goya.


Small size, stocky and compact, covered with a pure white coat, long and fluffy.

IMPORTANT PROPORTIONS: Square built, the length of the body being equal to the height at the withers. Length of head
reaching 1/3 of the height at the withers. Depth of chest almost half of the height at the withers.


Very serene, generally not very active. Eventful but calm very faithful to his master and his entourage.

Head And Skull:

Medium long. The width, measured at the level of the zygomatic arches is the same as the length.

Skull: Slightly ovoid in shape (egg-shaped) in the sagittal direction and has rather convex sides; rather flat in its upper part. The protuberances of the frontal bones are well developed. The longitudinal axes of the skull and muzzle are parallel; the frontal furrow is only slightly accentuated, as is also the occipital protuberance. The length of the skull is slightly more than that of the muzzle.
Stop: Rather accentuated.

Nose: Set on the same line as the topline of the muzzle: seen in profile the front is vertical. Large and must be black.
Muzzle: Its length is equal to 2/5 of the length of the head; the topline of the muzzle is straight and the sides of the muzzle are parallel, so that the forepart of the muzzle is almost square. The lower orbital region is well chiselled.
Lips: Upper lips being only slightly developed in depth, they do not cover the bottom lips, and the lower profile of the muzzle is
determined by the lower jaw.


Set on an almost frontal plane; size slightly superior to normal.
Eyelid opening is round; the eyeball must not be prominent; the white of the eye is not visible. The rims of the eyelids must be black, and the iris of a dark ochre colour.


High set, they are long and hanging, but rather rigid at their base, so that the upper part of the external ear is detached from the
skull, giving thus the impression of the head being larger than it really is.


Jaws/Teeth: Jaws normally developed, with top and bottom arches perfectly adapted. Teeth white evenly aligned, with strong and
complete dentition. Articulation of incisors as scissor bite; pincer bite tolerated.


Without dewlap: its length is equal to the length of the head.


General appearance: Forearms are perfectly straight and parallel in relation to the median plane of the body.
Shoulder: The length of the shoulder blades is equal to 1/4 of the height of the withers; in relation to the horizontal, they are slanting and are near the vertical in relation to the median plane of the body.
Upper arm: Well joined to the body, of an almost equal length to that of the shoulder, but less slanting.
Elbows: They are on a parallel plane to the median plane of the body.
Forearm: The length is equal to that of the upper arm; follows a perfect vertical direction.
Metacarpus (Pastern): Seen from the front they continue the vertical line of the forearm. Seen in profile the pastern is slightly slanting.


General appearance: Viewed from behind, the hind legs must follow from the point of the buttock bone to the ground in a perfectly vertical line - legs are parallel to each other.
Thigh: Length is equal to 1/3 of the height at the withers. Slanting from top to bottom and back to front and perfectly parallel to the median plane of the body.
Stifle (Knee): Firm, not very angled.
Lower thigh: Longer than the thigh.
Hock joint: The tibio-tarsal angle is not very closed.
Metatarsus (Rear pastern): The distance from the point of the hock to the ground is slightly less than a third of the height at the withers.


Forefeet: Oval shaped, with well cushioned dark pads and very hard black nails.
Hind feet: Same characteristics as the forefeet, but less oval.


Set in the line of the croup, carried curved over the back.


Free, energetic, with a noble and distinguished head carriage.


Skin: Taut and tightly fitted to the body all over, the third eyelids strictly pigmented black.
Hair: Long all over the body, from head to tail, from the top line to the feet. It is shorter on the muzzle. Forms long flocks that have the same texture all over the body, rather off-standing coat thus not falling flat and tight, never shows fringes.


Colour: Pure white, very slight shades of ivory are not disqualifying.


Height at the withers:
Males: 27 – 30 cm.
Females: 25 – 28 cm.

Weight: 2.5 – 4 kg.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be
regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
· Strabismus (Squinting).

· Accentuated convergence or divergence of the upper longitudinal axes.
· Convex muzzle (Roman nose).
· Undershot.
· Size in males under 25 cm and over 33 cm and size in females under 22 cm or over 32 cm.

· Aggressive or overly shy dogs.
· Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
· Depigmentation of the nose.
· Nose of any other colour than black.
· Undershot - very exaggerated with teeth showing and mal-shaped muzzle.
· Bilateral depigmentation of the eyelids.
· Wall-eyed.
· Tail less.
· Shortened tail whether natural or artificial.
· Any other colour than white.
· Patches and flecks.


· Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
· Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.