The diminutive Bichon Frise gets its name from the French phrase for 'curly lap dog.' They're playful, intelligent, and love to show off. Bichons will take any opportunity to perform for those who will watch. Through history they have entertained royalty, accompanied sailors at sea, posed for paintings, and delighted crowds at the circus. While the name is French, they were originally a Spanish breed. The compact, yet sturdy Bichon is cheerful and friendly, and often does well with children.
The Bichon Frise (BEE-shon free-ZAY) is also known as Bichon. The plural is Bichons Frises.
Physical Description/Breed Standard
Coat - The Bichon Frise's white double coat is coarse, curly, and non-shedding. Frequent grooming is necessary to remove buildup of fur and dander.
12 – 18 Pounds
Breed Standard and History
The Bichon Frise is a 'white powder puff of a dog.' Its slightly rounded head holds dark, alert eyes. Its ears frame the face and are covered with long hair. A plumed tail curls over the back. The soft, dense undercoat is covered with a curly, coarse overcoat that should be trimmed to appear rounded with hair left longer upon the head, beard, mustache, ears, and tail. Coloring should be white with 10 percent or less buff, cream, or apricot shading. Bichons possess a cheerful, playful, and affectionate temperament. – AKC Breed Standards
The Bichon Frise descends from a type of water spaniel from the Mediterranean area. In the 14th century, the small dog accompanied sailors and the breed was often used in barter, as their friendly nature made them desirable. They were referred to as both "Tenerife" and "Bichon." They became popular with nobility and were included in many works of art throughout centuries.
The Bichon Frise was the favorite breed of Henry III of England, who carried his own dogs in a basket hung around his neck. The breed was also a favorite of French royalty including Francis I and Napoleon III. These small dogs were often decorated with ribbons and bows, and were treated with the greatest of care. When the whim of the court turned toward other small companion breeds, the Bichon found a place for itself entertaining on the street and as a circus dog. Later, the amiable Bichon became popular in dog shows and as a pet.
Breeders in France wrote the original breed standard in 1933, and also appointed the name 'Bichon Frise' at the same time. Bichons accompanied a family who moved from France to America in 1956 and the Bichon Frise Club of America was formed in 1964. The AKC recognized the Bichon Frise in 1973.
AKC Breed Category
Bichon Frise have been well-loved for centuries for their playful, friendly nature. The jaunty breed is well-mannered and often loves to show off to anyone who will watch. The curious, cheerful Bichon is easily won over with treats and praise. While uncommon, some Bichon bloodlines exhibit shyness. Early socialization will help raise an outgoing Bichon Frise.
Are Bichons Frises Good with Kids? The Bichon Frise often does well with children—as long as the children treat the dog with care and the dog is properly socialized. The breed is sturdier than many small breed dogs and their personality makes them a good choice for families, but rough play should not be allowed to prevent injury to both the dog and child.
Are Bichons Frises Good with Other Pets? Bichons Frises are often a good match for households with dogs, cats, and other pets.
While the Bichon Frise isn't a guard dog, they will offer an alert bark if someone approaches the home.
Bichons Frises have a moderate energy level, but because they are small they tire easily. The 'Bichon Blitz' is a burst of high-energy antics that many Bichons Frises display, sometimes more than once per day—often running around rooms and leaping over furniture with impressive speed and agility.
Indoor The merry little Bichon Frise is a wonderful indoor companion. They adapt well to apartment living. They are well-behaved when trained, but may be difficult to housebreak.
Outdoor Walks and outdoor play are both favorite activities of the Bichon Frise. Bichons are not meant to live outdoors. Not only do they dislike being left alone, their long, high-maintenance coat may get tangled or matted.
Exercise While the Bichon Frise has a moderate energy level, they don't require hours of activity to tire. Two walks outdoors—about 30 minutes per day—and indoor play may be all the Bichon needs to be happy.
Endurance While energetic, Bichons do not tend to have the stamina for strenuous activity.
Activity distance rating
Food Bichons Frises are food motivated and respond well to treats during training. The general recommendation for how much high-quality dry dog food (based on average weight and activity level) to feed is ¾ to 1 cup per day. This amount should be split between two meals
The Bichon Frise is not more likely to guard food more than other breeds, but children should never be allowed to touch or remove food while any dog is eating.
Alone Time Bichons are—and always have been—companion dogs. They desire time with their family, and may suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time. They can stay home alone for three to four hours at a time, but they may need to be crate trained to prevent destructive behaviors.
Health and Grooming
14 - 15 years
While Bichons Frises do not shed, their double coat grows continually and needs frequent brushing, trimming, grooming, and bathing to remove old hair and prevent matting. Bichons need to visit the groomer every four to eight weeks, and should be brushed weekly at the minimum, daily is better. Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or a broken nail. Bichons may be prone to ear infections; regular ear cleaning can help prevent them.
Common Health Issues
Bichon Frise can be prone to breed-specific health concerns, including:
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Bichon Frise by purchasing him from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
The smart Bichon Frise learns basic obedience with ease. Positive reinforcement, treats, and praise will earn plenty of clever tricks. Teaching a recall early is beneficial as the small, fast Bichon is difficult to catch if it gets loose. Early socialization is important to prevent fearful behaviors as some bloodlines are more timid. As with most small breed dogs, the Bichon may be difficult to housetrain.
These former circus dogs still have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. Bichons love to show off at every opportunity, and they learn advanced tricks with ease. Keep training sessions fun and interesting, with plenty of praise—and no harsh punishments. The small, yet athletic breed loves agility because it's an activity that involves spending time with people.
Bichons have been trained as service dogs and can provide valuable support in this capacity, though it isn't a common choice for the job.
Sporting Dog Training
While the type of water spaniel from which the Bichon Frise developed was a hunting and retrieving dog, the Bichon Frise isn't a sporting dog. The friendly Bichon's purpose was a companion to nobility and royalty. Many Bichons Frises still possess a strong prey drive that may be harnessed for use as a flushing dog, but it is an unconventional breed for hunting. If used afield, the Bichon's long coat would need excessive care to prevent mats and to remove twigs, burrs, and debris after a hunting excursion.
Why do Bichons Frises have spotted skin?
Why do Bichons Frises chew on their feet?
How do you prevent brown staining on a Bichon Frise?
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