About the Breed
The adorable white fluff ball of a dog known as the Bichon Frise originated in the Mediterranean from a dog known as the Barbet or Water Spaniel.
Four dogs evolved from this common ancestry: Bichon Havanese, Bichon Bolognese, Bichon Maltese, and Bichon Tenerife (which would later be renamed Bichon Frise).
The Bichon Frise was a seafaring traveler, which is how he found his way to the Canary Islands and the Island of Tenerife. He served as a companion to lonely Spanish sailors as well as a bartering chip along the way. He later traveled from the Islands back to Europe.
He has widely admired for his appearance and demeanor but, after years of high popularity, ended up as a street dog and circus performer by the late 1800s.
Luckily for the breed, he survived, and his cuteness returned him to popularity throughout Europe and the United States.
The Bichon Frise is a small breed of dog that is only 9 ½ to 11 ½ inches tall, although he looks larger when in show ring grooming style.
He has an adorable face with soft, brown eyes that are inquisitive. He has a long tail that curves up over his back merrily.
The standard color for a Bichon Frise is pure white. Although some dogs have a light buff or apricot color, it should be a very small percentage.
His coat is what the breed is most known for. It is both soft and springy to the touch. This comes from the soft undercoat and the curlier topcoat. When properly bathed and brushed, this coat combination stands off the body, giving him the appearance of a small cotton ball.
The Bichon Frise is the quintessential family dog that is designed to be cheery at all times. He is first and foremost a companion dog who absolutely craves his family’s attention and doesn’t do well with social isolation. He does well with all ages of people and can make an excellent companion for a gentle child.
He loves to play games and is very intelligent. He can easily be taught all levels of obedience, tricks, or whatever one puts their mind to. He can be shown in various competitive sports, be a nice therapy dog or just a beloved family companion.
It is important to note that many consider the Bichon Frise as a hypoallergenic breed, but this isn’t entirely true. While many allergic people can live successfully with the breed, it is important to know that not everyone can. He still produces dander, but it is reduced compared to many dogs.
The breed loves all people and makes friends easily. He also enjoys all kinds of animals and other dogs if socialized to them, although care should be taken with larger dogs to avoid injury.
The Bichon Frise is a great dog for training. He is an eager learner who wants to work closely with his human and desires to please his person. He learns exceptionally well using positive reinforcement techniques and making the training a lot of fun.
Bichon Frises do best in a companion role, and if left unattended for long hours, may become lonely, bark, or even develop separation issues. Try to prevent any separation issues from forming and consider having a second dog as a companion if you work or are gone from the home.
The breed can be more difficult to housetrain. It is imperative that an owner has a lot of patience, be consistent, and crate train.
Shedding & Grooming
The Bichon Frise doesn’t shed, but he requires a substantial amount of grooming, or his beautiful coat will mat into a painful clump of tangles.
He requires brushing at least weekly or every few days, plus he will need professional grooming every 6-8 weeks to trim his coat.
Tear staining can occur in the breed, so washing the area below his eyes each day with a warm, moist towel will help keep the area clean. If tearing is profuse, consult with your vet. Otherwise, staining can be assisted with tear staining removal products.
Regular nail trims are essential, as is tooth brushing. Bichon Frise can suffer from gingivitis and eventual tooth loss if the teeth aren’t taken care of.
Health & Life Expectancy
The average lifespan of the Bichon Frise is 14-16 years, although some individuals may even live longer. While the Bichon Frise is often considered an overall healthy purebred dog, quite a few health problems might be encountered.
According to the Bichon Frise Club of America, Inc., here are a few of the issues that might be seen:
- Primary ciliary dyskinesia
- Gingivitis and tooth loss
- Bladder/kidney infections or stones
- Luxating patellas
- Cushing’s Disease
- Liver shunt
- Heart issues, primarily Mitral valve disease
- Spinal disk degeneration
- Orthopedic issues (to a lesser extent, hip and elbow dysplasia, Legg-Calves-Perthe, etc.)