Let's talk Bichon Frisés

It’s hard to describe the Bichon Frisé without using the word ‘fluffy’. Their hair is practically cloud-like in its softness although the bouffant look is optional (they aren’t born symmetrically groomed). And while they don’t shed, Bichon Frisés definitely need daily attention paid to grooming to keep that beautiful coat from matting. Naturally affectionate and ultra-friendly, Bichon Frisés don’t always discern between people they know and people they don’t, greeting both with tail-wagging enthusiasm. Even so, the Bichon Frisé’s temperament is one of the pleasures of this playful breed.

Official name: Bichon Frisé

Other names: Bichon Frise

Origins: France

Black and white portrait of a sitting Bichon Frise
 Drooling tendencies  Very low Warm weather?  Medium
 Shedding level  Very low Suited to apartment living?   High
 Energy Level* Medium Family Pet?* 
 Very high
 Compatibility with other pets  Very high Can stay alone?*  Very low

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age.  Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
Inline Image 15
Illustration of a Bichon Frise
Male
25 - 30 cm Height
5 - 8 kg Weight
Female
23 - 28 cm Height
5 - 8 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 10 months
 Adult age  10 months to 8 years
 Mature age  8 to 12 years
 Senior age  From 12 years

Bichon Frise caught mid-air running through a field

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Get to know the Bichon Frisé

All you need to know about the breed

Bichon Frisé or Bichon Frise? While the world can agree that this is one playful, open and affable breed, it can’t always agree on the breed’s name, spelling or pronunciation. Their French name, Bichon à poil frisé, or curly-haired little dog, has the accent on the last letter; but in English-speaking countries, the breed is known as the Bichon Frise, accent-free in both writing and pronunciation. That’s okay, these confident dogs know who they are.

Adaptable and full of energy, the breed is well-suited to city life due to their compact size and easy-going nature. As has been said, there are no strangers to the Bichon Frisé, just humans they haven’t met yet. As such, they are known to form incredibly strong bonds with their human families. Have owner, will follow.

Equally known for their silky, powder puff coat, the Bichon Frisé does require near daily brushing to keep them looking their best. They will most likely be sitting in your lap much of the time anyway so just keep the brush nearby.

The Bichon Frisé breed comes in varying shades of white, extra-white, and even a slightly apricot-tinged white. If you were thinking that the Bichon looks a lot like the Maltese, Havanese or Bolognese, you have a good eye, they are not so distantly related.

While the Bichon Frisé can take a little longer to housetrain, their intelligence means they respond well to positive reward-based training overall. They just want to please you, basically.

Bichon Frise puppy climbing a small rock surrounded by red flowers

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2 facts about Bichon Frisés

1. Parlez-vous Français?

While the Bichon Frisé as we know it today has French roots, the breed’s earliest ancestors were actually Spanish and Italian, sailors and noblemen equally. That’s why some refer to the Bichon Frisé as having Mediterranean origins, thereby covering all bases.

2. Brush up on your grooming

Supremely easy-going as a breed, the same cannot be said for the Bichon Frisé’s grooming needs. That soft, fluffy coat must be brushed daily where possible to prevent matting. And, as with many small breeds, they can be prone to teeth and gum issues, so grab a toothbrush while you are at it! The good news: Neither brushing routine takes long.

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History of the breed

The Bichon Frisé’s history is long and as interesting as the breed itself. Typically and rightfully associated with France, the breed is believed to have originally descended from Spanish sailing dogs in the Canary Islands, keeping sailors company during long voyages. The Tenerife Bichon, as they were known, is thought to be one of the Bichon Frisé’s forebears.

By the 13th century, they were housed in royal courts all over Spain, Italy and France. It was the latter who bred the lapdog we know and love today, probably around the time of the French Renaissance in the 16th century. Beloved by nobility, the Bichon Frisé had a grand old time of it. However, when the French Revolution began, their royal owners were sent to the guillotines, leaving Bichon Frisés to fend for themselves. Saved by the reign of Napoleon III, the breed was in the royal court once again, adored, pampered and dressed to the nines, the inspiration behind a new French verb: bichonner, meaning “to pamper.”

Throughout their history, fanciers would swoop in and keep the Bichon Frisé going as their fame ebbed and flowed and ebbed again. They didn’t appear in America until 1955. The Bichon Frise Club of America was formed in 1964 – note the Americanisation of the name – with the breed finally recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1971.

White Bichon Frise walking while looking backwards

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Bichon Frisés

1. Neck

Arched long neck carried proudly behind an erect head.

2. Eyes

Dark, round eyes with black rims, surrounded by dark haloes.

3. Ears

Ears carried forward when dog alert.

4. Head

Head in balance with rest of body, cheeks flat.

5. Coat

Soft dense undercoat, with coarser, curlier outercoat.

Bichon Frise standing on a paved terrace

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Bichon Frisé
Bichon Frise walking through a garden

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Caring for your Bichon Frisé

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The Bichon Frisés fluffy white coat does require near-daily TLC. Gentle brushing is recommended to avoid a build-up of tangles, though skipping a day here and there is doable. They shed very little but those hairs can get caught up in their undercoat and need to be brushed out as well. Nails should be trimmed and ears cleaned regularly. Because the Bichon Frisé can be prone to dental disease, teeth should be brushed often, daily if you can get away with it. While compact, the breed needs their exercise to work off that small-dog energy. They can run surprisingly fast, so a closed-in area is always a good idea. And daily play sessions with you will keep their mind in great shape. Bichon Frisés can be quick learners. But their stubborn streak can mean slow housetraining. Patience and positive reinforcement are key to smooth training progress for Bichon Frisés. As is early socialisation!

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All about Bichon Frisés

While we can’t speak for the entire breed, Bichon Frisés are known to be affectionate and devoted to their human owners. While they love to play – ideally with you – your lap works as well as any pillow when nap time comes around.

Most people ask this thinking that, because the breed doesn’t shed, Bichon Frisés are hypoallergenic. The truth is that no dog is 100% allergen-free. Having said that, the Bichon Frisé breed regularly makes lists as one of the best choices for allergy sufferers as they don't really shed.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/