Bichon Frise, the adorable white fluffy dogs originated in the Mediterranean regions of Italy, Spain, and the Canary Islands. Descended from the Barnet (or water spaniel), they were often called Barbichon, which was shortened to Bichon, and later were called Bichon Teneriffe. The breed’s small size, happy personality, and appealing coat made the dogs wonderful companions. In the 1300s, sailors brought the dogs aboard ships as companions and as barter for other goods at ports of call. Using them as barter spread the dogs’ popularity throughout the Mediterranean and into Europe. In the 1500s, Henry III was a fan of the breed, as was Napoleon III.
The Bichon Frise stands between 9.5 and 11.5 inches tall and weighs between 10 and 16 pounds, with females smaller than males. The eyes are dark and expressive, the tail is carried happily over the back, and the white fluffy coat draws your hands—you simply must touch it. Although the Bichon is a small dog, she is sturdy, with a strong little body. At one point during the breed’s history, in the late 1800s, she was known as the circus dog or organ grinder’s dog and danced and performed tricks for the amusement of onlookers.
Bichon Frises today still retain those athletic abilities. The breed’s fluffy white coat is very appealing but does require regular grooming to keep it in shape. If the coat is ignored, it will mat (tangle). If matting is not taken care of right away, the entire coat could become matted, requiring a professional groomer’s services to shave the dog. Therefore, the coat should be brushed and combed daily. Although the Bichon’s coat does not shed, it does grow continually and requires trimming. If you wish to trim your Bichon Frise yourself, talk to your dog’s breeder for guidance. Most Bichon Frise owners find a professional groomer who knows the dog breed and then bring their dogs in for grooming every four to six weeks.
The Bichon Frise’s exercise requirements are not extreme. Older Bichon Frise puppies and young adult dogs are the most active, but a good walk morning and night with a game of catch at midday will keep most of them happy. Bichons do like to play, are always open to a challenge, and have participated in obedience competitions, agility, and flyball. Early socialization is important for all Bichons.
Although the Bichon Frise dog breed is, for the most part, happy and extroverted, some puppies can be quite reserved. With socialization, even these puppies can learn that the world is really a wonderful place. Training is important as well; this is a bright breed, and if not trained, they can easily train their owners to do exactly what they wish. Housetraining can be a challenge; set up a routine, use a crate, watch the dog carefully, and be patient and consistent.
Bichon Frises are alert watchdogs, barking when anyone approaches the house. With family and friends, they are very affectionate and playful. Although they are sturdy, have a happy temperament, and enjoy children, they can be too small for rough childhood play. They are good with other pets, although interactions with small animals should be supervised. Primary health concerns include knee problems, eye disorders, and allergies.
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The AKC Standard calls the Bichon Frise “a white powder puff of a dog whose merry temperament is evidenced by his plumed tail carried jauntily over the back and his dark-eyed inquisitive expression.”
The Bichon Frise is easy to live with, a cheerful, pleasant house dog who enjoys playing games, snuggling into laps and pillows, and perching on the back of the sofa so he can peer out the window.
Exercise needs are easy to meet: a daily walk or two, plus a small yard in which to trot around and stretch his legs.
Bichons are peaceful with everyone, including other pets. There is timidity in some lines, so early socialization is important to develop their confidence.
Though he does have an independent streak, the Bichon Frise is not a dominant dog and responds well to nonforceful training. He prefers learning tricks to formal obedience and is especially bright-eyed when food treats are offered as rewards. Harshness only makes him spiteful.
The three most common behavioral issues with the Bichon Frise are: 1) housebreaking: Bichons are usually difficult to housebreak; 2) separation anxiety: most Bichons are so sociable and dependent on human companionship that they don’t do well when left for long periods of time; and 3) some Bichons are barky — and some have a high-pitched bark that can set your teeth on edge.
The Bichon Frise is a small, sturdy dog with a vibrant, jolly personality. Due to its fluffy and curly white hair, this breed is said to resemble a cotton ball or powder puff.
My Bichon Frise is almost human like! We got our Bichon from a breeder in the country. She was just 8 weeks old and was as sweet as anything. She seemed to just fit in my daughters hand at the time and she was just 2. The Bichons are a breed that requires a lot of time and attention. She was great with my daughter as they basically grew up together and she was very patient when she was young. To introduce her to small children at age 8 is not a good idea, as she has the tendency to want to bite them! Bichons take a great deal of time to train so that you do not feel that they have trained you.
This is Max, our Bichon rescue at 15 years old. We rescued him when he was a year old and he has been a part of our family ever since. He is blind, but that doesn’t stop him. He loves attention and going for long walks. He is happiest when he has his whole family home with him. He loves to eat dog bones and on special occasions he gets doggie ice cream.