Maltese vs. Bolognese: Which Breed to Get?

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Maltese vs. BologneseThe Maltese and the Bolognese are very similar looking dogs, they’re both small and white, and can often end up being considered alongside or versus one another. They’re part of the same family of bichon breeds after all.

If you’ve found yourself thinking about getting either of the two breeds, be sure to consider everything before you choose!

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Maltese and Bolognese History

The Maltese and the Bolognese both have pretty extensive histories, but the Maltese’s history is significantly more extensive. It is also, however, much more mysterious.

Experts have three theories about the origins of the Maltese. One is that the breed developed in Malta – hence the name – from spitz-type dogs around the Mediterranean. Another is much the same but traces the breed back to Italy, and another theory places the breed’s ancestors in East Asia. The one thread that ties all of these theories together, though, is the breed’s ancestors being spitz-type dogs.

Regardless of where the Maltese descended from, the breed has been well-loved for a very long time. So much so that there is evidence of the breed’s presence amongst the British royals of the 16th century, and the French aristocracy in the 18th century. In fact, the breed was so well loved that efforts were made to save it after breeders had tried to develop an even smaller version of the Maltese.

The Bolognese, on the other hand, developed from Bichons Frises in Bologna, Italy. Experts can trace the breed’s origins as far back as the 11th century, when, much like the Maltese, the breed was favored by nobility and was even often gifted to and between noble families during the Renaissance era.

Unlike the Maltese, however, the Bolognese has not kept its level of popularity over time. It took an Italian breeder’s efforts to restore the Bolognese’s popularity in the 1980s when the breed was then taken to England. Since then, the breed has spread across the globe, and whilst it has been featured in competitions like Crufts since the early 2000s, it is yet to be registered with the American Kennel Club.

Maltese vs. Bolognese: What Are the Breeds Like?

With the history lesson out of the way, let’s compare the two breeds based on a number of different aspects.


Despite being descendants of spitz types, the Maltese has a very rounded skull with dropped ears, a black nose, and short legs. The breed usually measures around 8 to 10 inches tall and weighs around 7 pounds. The coat is long, silky, and white.

The Bolognese also has a white coat, but the coat is rather more fluffy than silky. The breed will usually measure between 9 to 12 inches tall and will weigh between 8 and 14 pounds. Just like the Maltese, the breed has dropped ears and a black nose.

Life Expectancy and Aging Profile

Fortunately, both the Maltese and the Bolognese benefit from being small dog breeds when it comes to their life expectancy. Smaller dog breeds tend to have slower metabolisms and as such, they grow and mature significantly slower than the larger breeds. This results in them developing fewer structural injuries and fatal illnesses.

The Maltese has an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, and will usually reach its full size by the time it is approximately a year old. The Bolognese, similarly, has a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years and will reach its full size somewhere between 6 and 12 months old.


The Maltese can make a great family pet. The breed forms very strong attachments to its family very quickly and can be very affectionate. But the breed is also incredibly playful, and will run around or sit on the couch with you. Happy-go-lucky, loyal and sweet, the breed often ends up being rather spoilt as owners find it hard to say no to its adorable little face!

The Bolognese, on the other hand, is a true companion dog. It is incredibly docile, and absolutely loves people. The breed will have a favorite human, but it will always be happy to spend time with just about anyone. Known for being laid back, the breed is perfect for a household that doesn’t always have the energy to run around and play.


For anyone looking to train their new dog, the breed’s intelligence is certainly something to consider. Luckily, both the Bolognese and the Maltese are intelligent dogs. They are more than capable of learning day-to-day commands like recall, fetch, sit, and toilet training.

The Maltese is happy to learn and eager to please, and, with positive reinforcement, will listen to you for a long time. The Bolognese is a little bit more stubborn and sometimes anxious, but if training is started early on, there should be few issues.

Maltese vs. Bolognese: Which One Is Easier to Keep?

With getting a dog being a responsibility first and foremost, let’s take a look at what it takes to take care of these two dogs properly.

Required Living Space

Unsurprisingly, since the two breeds are both small dogs, they are reasonably adaptable when it comes to living spaces. Neither breed requires a yard, so long as they get walked and exercised regularly, and even with “zoomies”, the breeds will do just fine in an apartment or even a studio.

It is, however, essential to meet their mental and physical stimulation needs, otherwise, the breeds may develop anxiety and low mood which can manifest as destructive behavior.


Out of the two, the Maltese is slightly higher maintenance when it comes to grooming. Both breeds, however, require a significant amount of grooming on a regular basis. Since their coats are white, they must be wiped after eating, going outdoors, etc. The coats also need brushing regularly – for the Maltese this is a daily job, but the Bolognese can be left for every other day.

Both breeds will need to be bathed every couple of weeks or so, or when noticeably dirty. The breeds will also need their eyes wiped on a daily (if not more) basis to prevent tear stains. Owners should also be sure to clean their dogs’ teeth on a regular basis and clip nails where necessary.

Walking and Exercise

Neither the Maltese nor the Bolognese requires huge amounts of exercise on a daily basis in order to stay happy and healthy. A mere 30 minutes a day will be plenty to keep them at the right weight and to expend any excess energy. It is important, however, to provide this. Failing to do so can lead to weight gain and health issues as well as mental health concerns.

This exercise can be provided as a run, walk or jog, but can also be provided through agility training, purpose-led play (fetch is great, or frisbee!), or even swimming. It doesn’t have to be mundane!

Maltese vs. Bolognese: How Much Do They Cost?

Cost is always something to consider when getting a new dog, but it is important to remember that there is more than just the upfront cost of the animal itself. There are monthly costs like food, treats, veterinary insurance, veterinary bills, treats, toys, and grooming tools.

To buy a Maltese puppy, owners can expect to pay between $600 and $2,000. This will depend on the breeder, location, and the litter’s lineage. For a Bolognese, owners might have to pay anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000. If these costs are a barrier, it is always worth checking in shelters for the breed that you’re after.

Maltese vs. Bolognese: Which Should You Get as a Pet?

In addition to everything mentioned above, it is crucial that whichever breed you opt for fits in with your pre-existing household routine and dynamic. This means making sure that if you have children, the breed will get on with them, or if you have pets, ensuring it will be safe for both the dog and your other pets. It is also worth considering things like how often you will be leaving the dog at home.

In this case, those with young children should not opt for either breed. As very small-framed dogs, the breeds are at risk of injury when playing with children who are often a little rough. Older children (8 years or more) may be able to be taught how to treat the dog, in which case both breeds will be just fine.

Anyone with other pets will be pleased to know that both the Maltese and the Bolognese get on with other animals just fine, so long as they have been socialized at a young age. So cats, dogs, and even reptiles should be fine, assuming there’s enough space for everyone!

Finally, socialites or those who work in an office/anywhere but home will be disappointed to hear that neither the Maltese nor the Bolognese are well equipped to handle being left alone. Both are prone to developing separation anxiety and thus can only be left for an hour or two at any one time.


Both adorable family pets, the Maltese and the Bolognese are very similar.

Their differences lie largely in their grooming requirements, cost, and popularity. But both breeds will make a house a home with their loving, affectionate natures. Regardless of whether you’re after a cuddly couch pet or a fun play pet, you’ll be in luck with the Maltese and Bolognese.

If you still can’t decide, check out our detailed article on the advantages and disadvantages of getting a Bolognese and the advantages and disadvantages of getting a Maltese.

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