Bichon Frise

The Ultimate Guide: Bichon Frise

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The Ultimate Guide_ Bichon Frise
By LITTLE PUPPY PAWS | March 1, 2023
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The Bichon Frise packs a charming punch well above 15 pounds thanks to its powder-puff hypoallergenic coat and larger-than-life personality. For centuries, these little dogs have been charming everyone from audiences of street performers to European royalty. But what does this breed have that makes it quite unique?


The Bichon Frise is a happy, small dog breed that enjoys fun and has a lot of affection to give. The Bichon’s physical attributes resemble a stuffed toy with its black eyes and fluffy white coat.

What is a Bichon Frise?

Bichons are a lovely breed with small, baby-doll faces, fluffy white hair, and compact bodies. Their looks are complemented by their energetic, amiable personalities. They are frequently misidentified as white Poodles.


The Coton de Tulear is a dog that originated off the African coast on an island near Madagascar. The Bolognese, which was developed in northern Italy close to the city of Bologna, the Havanese, from Cuba; and the Maltese, which was created on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean, are all related to the Bichon, as he is affectionately known. Bichons also have their origins in the Mediterranean and may have traveled to other nations via trade routes.


Bichons are small dogs, with the largest ones standing just over a foot, but they are tough. Despite their small size, they are not categorized by the American Kennel Club as a Toy breed; instead, they are a part of the Non-Sporting Group.


Although young bichons may be cream or light yellow, they are always white, have black eyes, and have black noses. Their arched necks give them a proud, assured appearance, and their plumed tails gracefully curve over their backs.


The Bichon is a wonderful family pet that you should think about getting. This dog adores having fun. His disposition is loving and gentle, and he is always happy, except when left alone for extended periods.


Bichons are frequently suggested for people with allergies because they don’t shed as much as other breeds. Since not everyone reacts to a Bichon in the same way, you should talk about this with your allergist. If you have allergies, spend some time around the breed before getting a Bichon, or any dog.


Separation anxiety is a common problem in bichons. This breed is not the best choice for you if you have to leave your dog at home by himself for extended periods. It’s not just that bichons enjoy spending time with their families; they need it. If they aren’t required to spend too much time alone, they adapt well to various lifestyles.


Bichons make good pets for people who live in apartments due to their small size. Nevertheless, they are energetic and require daily exercises, such as walks and games.


Bichons are highly trainable, intelligent dogs who enjoy learning new tricks. You need to be firm but gentle when training. The heart of a Bichon will break under harsh corrections and reprimands. For competitions in obedience, agility, and rally, many Bichon owners train their dogs. This activity is fun for both owners and dogs and helps you and your Bichon become closer friends. Therapy work is another activity that brings out the best in the Bichon. They make ideal therapy dogs for visits to nursing homes and hospitals because they are kind and guaranteed to make anyone smile.


The majority of the time, bichons get along well with both people and other animals, but they will let you know if anyone is unfamiliar at the door.

Where Did the Bichon Frise Come From?

The exact origin of the Bichon Frise is still being determined, as is the case with many dog breeds. It’s widely accepted that the Bichon is descended from the Barbet, a medium-sized, woolly water dog and that the diminutive barbichon, which is the root of the word Barbet, is where the word Bichon comes from. The Bichon Frise, Bolgnese, Coton de Tulear, Havanese, and Maltese are all members of the Barbichon dog family. They all share a Mediterranean origin and a similar appearance.


When French sailors brought the dogs home from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, in the 14th century, the breed of Bichon Frise was first documented. It is believed that traders who traveled along the Phoenician trade route brought Bichon Frise dogs. The breed is believed to have originated in Italy.


Other historians contend that the breed was introduced to Tenerife by Spanish seafarers, followed in the 14th century by Italian (as opposed to French) seafarers who brought them back to the mainland. This version of the tale claims that many Bichon Frise dogs were returned to France as war looted by the French during their invasion of Italy in the 1500s.


Nobility embraced the Bichon Frise right away regardless of the breed’s method of entry into Europe. The 16th-century reigns of King Francis I of France and King Henry III of England saw a rise in the popularity of bichons in royal courts. In a special basket he hung around his neck, King Henry III carried his Bichons wherever he went because he loved them so much. Spanish royal families came to love Bichons, and artists like Goya, who frequently depicted one in his works, adopted the breed as their own.


Napoleon III’s reign saw a continued rise in interest in the Bichon Frise breed, but after that, the small canine lost favor with the aristocracy until the late 1800s. It was regarded as an ordinary dog then, occasionally owned by organ grinders or circus performers and sometimes used to assist the blind in following. The Bichon breed probably would have gone extinct during this time if not for its intelligence and appeal.


But following the First World War, French breeders developed a passion for the Bichon and worked to protect the breed. The tiny dog was known by two names at the time of the official breed standard’s adoption by the Société Centrale Canine of France on March 5, 1933: Tenerife and Bichon. The breed was renamed the Bichon à poil frisé (“Bichon with the curly coat”) by FCI president Madame Nizet de Leemans, and the name was anglicized to Bichon Frise later that year when the breed was approved by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (an international kennel club). The first Bichon Frise was added to the French Kennel Club’s studbook on October 18, 1934.


The first Bichon Frise was introduced to the United States in 1956. The breed was accepted for registration in the American Kennel Club Stud Book in October 1972 after becoming eligible to compete in the AKC’s Miscellaneous Class in September 1971. The breed was first permitted to compete in AKC dog shows Non-Sporting Group in April 1973. The AKC accredited the Bichon Frise Club of America in 1975.

What Do They Look Like?

These dogs, frequently mistaken for miniature poodles, have slightly rounded skulls, dark, round eyes, and black noses. Puppies can have cream or yellow fur in addition to their curly, white, dense coats. These dogs’ fur is frequently cut to an even length, and some have less curly hair than others.


Their medium-length, naturally uncut tails are also long and droopy, as are their long, uncut ears. The head and legs of the Bichon Frise are in proportion to their bodies.

What is the Temperament of a Bichon Frise?

The distinguishing quality of Bichon’s personality is its positive outlook. This dog is skilled at charming his family, neighbors, groomer, or veterinarian with his charming personality because he loves to be loved and enjoys being the center of attention.


The Bichon has an independent, playful side, but that doesn’t mean he enjoys being alone. In actuality, this breed despises solitude and frequently experiences separation anxiety when left alone for an extended time. Bichons might act destructively when this happens by tearing and chewing everything they see. People who spend much time away from home should avoid getting a Bichon.


It’s crucial to enroll your Bichon, who is highly intelligent, in obedience training, starting with puppy classes, to teach them proper canine manners. Taking a bichon to such classes can be very rewarding because they are quick students. They excel at dog sports and tricks as well.


Heredity, education, and socialization are a few of the variables that have an impact on temperament. Good-tempered puppies are playful and curious and eager to approach people and be petted. Instead of picking the aggressive or corner-hiding puppy, go with the middle-of-the-road pup. To make sure the parents have pleasant temperaments and you feel comfortable with them, you should always meet at least one of the parents. Usually, the mother is the available one. For a more accurate assessment of a puppy’s future traits, meeting the parents’ siblings or other family members can be beneficial.


Like all dogs, Bichon Frise requires early socialization or exposure to various sights, sounds, and experiences when they are young. Your Bichon puppy will become a more well-rounded adult dog thanks to socialization. The best place to begin is to sign him up for puppy kindergarten. He can improve his social skills by having guests over frequently and being taken to crowded parks, establishments that allow dogs, and on strolls to meet neighbors.

Are They Easy to Train?

Many people wonder if Bichon Frise’s playful puppies are simple to train because they are popular with families and single people.


The good news is that Bichon Frises are generally regarded as simple to train. These clever dogs are eager to please and quick learners, which makes them receptive to training. Most Bichon Frises can be trained to carry out various tasks and obey commands with time, persistence, and positive reinforcement.


The adaptability of the Bichon Frise is one of the main reasons they are simple to train. These dogs are highly adaptable and can live happily in various settings, including big houses with yards and small apartments. Their adaptability makes them simple to train for multiple situations and environments.


The playful nature of the Bichon Frise is another aspect that makes them simple to train. These dogs have an infectious zest for life and are constantly eager to play. Due to the dog’s playful nature, training sessions can be enjoyable for both the trainer and the dog.


The Bichon Frise makes a wonderful pet and is simple to train with the proper methods. The Bichon Frise might be the ideal breed for you if you’re looking for a small dog that’s smart, adaptable, and playful.

How to Take Care of a Bichon Frise?

Before jumping in and buying a Bichon, here are some things you may need to consider. 

Overall Care and Affection

Although they thrive on play, bichons are energetic dogs that adapt well to apartment life with the proper exercise and play. Always stay on your Bichon’s side for an extended period. When leaving the house, even for a brief period, the wise owner places the Bichon in a crate to prevent destructive behavior.

Feeding and Nutrition

Half to one and a half cups of premium dry food should be consumed daily, split between two meals.


The amount of food your adult dog consumes is influenced by the size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Like people, each dog is unique, so they don’t all require the same amount of food. A highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog, which should almost go without saying. The kind of dog food you purchase matters; the better the food, the more effectively it will nourish your dog, and the less you need to shake into the bowl.


Instead of leaving food out all the time, ensure your Bichon gets enough food by feeding him twice a day. Give him the eye and hands-on tests to check if he’s overweight.


Look at him first from below. A waist ought to be visible. Then lay your hands on his back, your fingers spread out, and your thumbs along his spine. Without exerting much pressure, you ought to be able to feel but not see his ribs. If you can’t, he should eat less and exercise more.


Urolithiasis can affect many small breeds, including Bichons. Therapeutic diets and increased water intake can help prevent and manage this condition. Diet is a crucial component of treating and managing this condition.

Coat Color and Grooming

The Bichon Frise is a breed with two coats that is exclusively white. A soft but substantial texture is produced by combining the coarse outer coat and the soft, dense undercoat. The coat protrudes from the body, creating the illusion of a powder puff. The most common Bichon trim accentuates the contours of the dog’s body while leaving the coat long enough to give him his recognizable “poufy” appearance.


It’s not precisely accurate that Bichons don’t shed, despite their reputation. Every animal that has hair sheds. However, in double-coated Bichons, the shed hair is tangled in the undercoat instead of falling to the ground. If this dead hair isn’t brushed or combed out, it can form mats and tangles that, if ignored, can cause skin issues.


This breed requires a lot of upkeep, so grooming a Bichon is not for cowards. To keep that white coat clean, you’ll need to set aside a lot of time for grooming and bathing. You should brush him at least twice a week, if not more. Before taking a bath, ensure the coat is free of tangles and mats because if not, the mats will tighten and become nearly impossible to remove.


You should frequently check your Bichon’s ears to ensure they are clean. Hair that grows in the ear canal may occasionally need to be removed; if you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, have a groomer do it. Take your dog to the veterinarian to ensure he doesn’t have an ear infection if you see a buildup of wax, redness, or a bad smell or if you notice your dog shaking his head and scratching his ears.


Most Bichon owners take their dogs in for a bath, brush, haircut, nail trim, and ear cleaning every four to six weeks. Check out the numerous helpful books and instructional videos on the market for tips on adequately grooming your Bichon if you want to learn how to do it yourself.


The Bichon’s health and appearance depend on keeping its face clean and trimmed. If you don’t regularly clean the area where the hair grows around your eyes, mucus and discharge from your eyes tend to collect there and can cause eye problems.


Tearstains are frequent and can be caused by various eye conditions or food allergies. If tear staining becomes an issue for your dog, it’s best to have your veterinarian check your dog because Bichons are prone to several eye diseases. Bichons are prone to eyelids that turn inward and rub the lashes against the eye, blocked or small tear ducts, and eyelashes that grow toward the eyeball. If any of these conditions or something else is causing tearstains, your veterinarian can identify them.


To remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk within it, brush your Bichon’s teeth at least twice or three times per week. Brushing every day is better if you want to avoid bad breath and gum disease.


In order to avoid painful tears and other issues, trim your dog’s nails once or twice a month if they don’t wear down naturally. They are too long if you can hear the floor clicking when you step on them. Dog toenails contain blood vessels, so if you cut them too short, you risk bleeding, and your dog might become uncooperative the next time the nail clippers are pulled out. Ask a veterinarian or groomer for advice if you need to become more familiar with trimming dog nails.


When your Bichon is a puppy, start getting used to brushing and being looked at. Dogs are sensitive about their feet, so they handle their paws often and inspect their mouth. Make grooming a pleasurable activity that is accompanied by praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for simple veterinary examinations and another handling when he’s an adult.


Check your pet’s feet, nose, mouth, eyes, and skin for sores, rashes, or other infection-related symptoms like redness, tenderness, or inflammation as you groom them. With no redness or discharge, the eyes should be clear. Your thorough weekly exam will aid you in identifying any potential health issues as soon as possible.

General Bichon Frise Health Information

Dental Disease

80% of all dogs by age two have dental disease, the most prevalent chronic condition in pets. Sadly, your Bichon Frise is more likely to develop dental issues than other dogs. As the infection spreads to the gums and tooth roots, tartar buildup on the teeth serves as its initial stage. Your friend risks losing all her teeth and harming her kidneys, liver, heart, and joints if you don’t treat or prevent dental disease. One to three years could cut off your Bichon Frise’s lifespan!


Infections caused by bacteria and viruses, such as parvovirus, rabies virus, and distemper, can affect Bichon Frises in the same way they can affect all dogs. Vaccination against many of these infections is possible.


A critical health concern for Bichon Frises can be obesity. It is a severe condition that can aggravate heart disease, back pain, metabolic and digestive disorders, and joint problems. When your friend looks at you with those soulful eyes, it can be enticing to give her food, but you can “love her to death” with leftover food and dog treats. Give her a hug instead, brush her hair or teeth, play a game with her, or maybe go for a walk with her. Both you and she will feel better!


Your Bichon’s body may become internally and externally infested with various worms and bugs. Her skin and ears are susceptible to infestation from everything from fleas and ticks to ear mites. Drinking contaminated water, stepping on contaminated ground, or getting bitten by an infected mosquito are just a few ways hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms can enter her body. It immensely concerns everyone that some of these parasites can spread to you or a family member. It’s crucial to regularly test your dog for these parasites because they can harm your dog or even kill it.

Spay or Neuter

Spaying your Bichon is one of the best things you can do for her (neutered for males). This refers to the surgical removal of the testicles in males, the ovaries, and, typically, the uterus in females. By having your pet spayed or neutered, you can reduce the risk of certain cancers and remove the opportunity for your pet to become pregnant or have unintended puppies.

Bichon Frise Genetic Predispositions

Although bichons are generally healthy, they are susceptible to health issues like all breeds. Not every Bichon will contract one or more of these illnesses, but if you’re considering getting one, you should be aware of them.

Bladder Issues

Bladder infections and stones are common in this breed. Bladder stones can be brought on by various things, such as eating a diet high in phosphorus, magnesium, and protein or going too long between urinations. Bacterial or viral infections can be the cause of bladder infections. Take your Bichon to the vet for a checkup if he needs to urinate frequently, has bloody urine, or appears to be having trouble urinating or losing weight.


Numerous factors, such as contact and food allergies, can cause allergies in Bichons. A well-known trait of bichons is their sensitivity to fleas. Your Bichon may have an allergy if he frequently scratches, licks his paws, or rubs his face. Take him to the vet for testing.

Patellar Luxation

This issue, common in small dogs, is also known as slipped stifles. Kneecaps are called patellas. Anatomical part luxation is dislocation (a bone at a joint). When the knee joint, frequently on the back leg, slides in and out of position, it is said to have patellar luxation, which hurts. However, many dogs with this condition live relatively everyday lives, although it can be crippling.

Vaccination Sensitivity

This sensitivity affects some Bichons; many even experience adverse reactions to routine vaccinations. Hives, facial swelling, soreness, and lethargy are typical symptoms. A vaccine-sensitive dog may occasionally experience complications or even pass away. Following his vaccination, keep a close eye on your Bichon and call the vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Hip Dysplasia

This inherited condition causes the thigh bone to not fit tightly within the hip joint. Some dogs exhibit pain and lameness on one or both of their rear legs, while others don’t show any overt signs of discomfort. In either case, arthritis can set in as the dog ages (the most accurate method of diagnosis is an X-ray screening). Dogs with hip dysplasia shouldn’t breed, so if you’re buying a puppy, ensure the breeder can show you that the parents have been checked for the condition and are healthy.

Juvenile Cataracts

Cataracts can occasionally form when a Bichon is relatively young (less than six years old). It is believed that this is inherited. Ask the breeder if her breeding stock has the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) certification before purchasing a Bichon puppy, and request to see the certificates in person.