Bichon Frise

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Bichon Frise Facts

  • Breed Type: Purebred
  • Size: Small
  • Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
  • Temperament: Affectionate, Cheerful, Feisty, Gentle, Playful, Sensitive
  • Colors: White, White and Apricot, White and Buff, White and Cream
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Related Dog Breeds:

Bichon Frise dog breed drawing

Have you ever wished that you could hug a cloud? Because if you have, then the Bichon Frise is probably about as close as you can get.

These cheerful little pups are the epitome of fluffy happiness. They have a soft, curly coat complete with an adorable face. Plus, they’re very people-oriented and make great lap dogs and companions. 

No wonder these dogs dot the portraits of countless Renaissance nobles.

But don’t let their seemingly “delicate little lap dog” description turn you off. Because these dogs are a lot sturdier than they look.

And their history is proof.

History

Bichons are an ancient breed that extend way before European nobles.

They descent from a group of generic white pups known as Barbichon dogs. Over time, the Bichon Frise began emerging as a distinct breed. He wasn’t the only resulting pup, though. Some of his close cousins, including the Maltese and Havanese breeds, were also born.

Once the Bichon became the Bichon, he also became very popular.

And so began his life of luxury. Starting in the 13th century, European nobles grew very fond of these little dogs. Which is why the breed shows up on the laps of the rich in various paintings.

The Bichon Frise’s coveted life did not last long, however. During the French Revolution, the breed lost his comfy laps and elaborate cushions. And many pups were abandoned on the streets to fend for themselves.

But don’t worry…they weren’t street dogs for long.

Circus performers took in many of the homeless Bichons and trained them. The previously pampered Bichon then began to earn his daily bread by performing tricks.

It wasn’t all work and no play, though…

These pups loved being in the spotlight and showing off for on-lookers.

Still, the Bichon Frise’s troubles didn’t end with the French Revolution. The two world wars also took a toll on this dog’s comfort.

And the breed likely would have died out, too, were it not for the few fanciers that rescued these dogs from the war-torn streets.

So…long story short, the Bichon Frise is more than just a lap dog. He’s also a sturdy, happy-go-lucky, dedicated performer and survivor.

The breed’s awesomeness earned him full breed recognition in 1973 by the AKC.

Are Bichons Frises Good Family Dogs?

Yes, Bichon Frise are fantastic family dogs!

The Bichon gets along really well with children and will enjoy playing with them and snuggling up in their laps. The breed is also quite tolerant of the noise and sudden movements that come along with kids.

Of course, you’ll still need to monitor your children’s interactions with your pup. Bichon puppies are especially fragile and can be injured by children who don’t know how to handle a dog. So just make sure to teach your kids the in’s and out’s of properly playing with a pup. 

As for living situations, the Bichon is adaptable.

He’s an active dog, but he can do well in an apartment so long as he gets proper exercise and playtime.

Care

While owning a fluffy little cloud dog can be lots of fun, it’s important to understand how to care for the breed before bringing one home.

Especially since they tend to be high maintenance.

Of course a Bichon’s basic needs are about the same as the next dog’s: nutrition, grooming, exercise, training, and health.

But there’s some important things to know that are uniquely Bichon-related. So please read on!

Nutrition

Bichons Frises need a balanced diet of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to stay healthy.

Of course the amount of food this breed needs is determined by activity level, metabolism, age, and overall health.

But as a general rule, a Bichon should eat between ½ to 1½  cups of high-quality dog food each day.

You should feed your pup twice daily on a schedule, dividing his daily portion into two meals. Don’t leave food out for your dog all the time as this doesn’t allow you to watch how much he is eating.

Also, take caution to not indulge your pup with people food. Bichons are prone to urinary tract stones. So a monitored diet is particularly important with this breed.

For further reference, you should check out the guide listed on your dog’s food bag. You may also want to talk to your veterinarian about exactly how much your individual Bichon should be eating.

Again, several factors affect feeding amounts, and each individual dog is different. But these tips should give you a good starting point.

Grooming

Before getting a Bichon, please make sure you are aware of their grooming needs!

The breed is high-maintenance when it comes to keeping him looking and feeling his best.

Bichons Frises have a double coat. This is made of a dense, soft undercoat and a course outer coat. 

They are non-shedding and are often great for allergy-sufferers. But because their hair grows continuously like human hair, they need a trim every four to six weeks. While this is typically done by a professional, you can learn to clip the coat yourself if you choose to.

The breed also requires frequent brushing, at least two to three times a week.

Because Bichons are non-shedding, loose hairs get trapped in their coat rather than falling out. Without a regular brush, your pup’s hair can quickly become matted and unmanageable.

As for bathing, your Bichon will need a bath at least once a month. Especially if you want to keep that fur nice, white, and healthy! 

In addition, be sure your pup’s face stays clean and well-trimmed. Otherwise buildup of fluids from the eyes can lead to issues. Your Bichon may also experience some tear staining without proper upkeep. To reduce staining and keep his eyes healthy, you’ll want to wipe around your Bichon’s eyes daily with a damp cloth.

Your Bichon also requires the basic grooming care needed by all dogs:

  • Brush his teeth at least two to three times a week to keep him healthy.
  • Trim his nails once or twice a month.
  • Inspect your Bichon’s ears weekly for signs of infection or irritation.

Exercise

Bichons are somewhat active, though they tend to swing back and forth between lazing around and wanting to go, go, go.

But even still, their calm state is much more long-lasting than their sudden outbursts of energy. So don’t worry too much!

If you have a fenced-in yard, then giving them some time to go out and run around is definitely a good idea.

But whether or not you have a yard, you should still commit to giving your pup a daily walk. And also a good long play session. These dogs love having fun with their people, so make sure to not skip out on playtime.

Training

Training a Bichon Frise is easy, at least for the most part.

The breed is very intelligent, and he loves showing off cool tricks. (Makes sense, as he does have some circus performer history in him!)

Bichons are also quick to learn new commands. They are fairly eager to please, especially since they love being with their people whether it’s work or play.

Keep in mind that the breed does not respond well to harsh punishment, so you’ll want to make training a good experience for your pup. Otherwise he could become spiteful towards you.

Positive reinforcement training works wonders with this breed. Bichons love getting rewarded with affection (as well as treats), so use that to your advantage.

Considering their love of learning, it’s no surprise that the Bichon also excels in obedience and agility competitions.

One area where the Bichon does struggle?

Potty training.

So you’ll need to have some patience as you work with him. 

Crate training is recommended to help him learn the ropes, but be aware that your pup may still take a bit longer to housebreak than other breeds.

Bichon Frise Health Issues

Bichons Frises are a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan between 12 and 15 years of age.

Still, the breed is prone to certain conditions and diseases:

  • Allergies
  • Bladder infections
  • Bladder stones 
  • Luxating patella
  • Cataracts 
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Vaccination sensitivity 
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes
  • Liver disease 
  • Dental issues
  • Autoimmune diseases 
  • Primary ciliary dyskinesia

Things to Know About Bichons Frises

0. Yes, the Plural Really is Bichons Frises and Here’s the Bichon Frise Pronunciation:

Bichon Frise is pronounced: “Be-shahn Freezay”

And for all of you that have been asking to hear the Bichon Frise pronunciation:

…and for all of you who have been misled by the 1st Google video result for “Bichon Frise pronunciation”… it’s a comedy channel.

To be clear, this is NOT how you pronounce Bichon Frise (funny stuff, though!):

1. The People Dog 

If you haven’t realized it already, the Bichon Frise is a people dog at heart.

He loves his people. He loves new people. He just loves all people!

So you can expect your pup to not only thrive on your attention, but on everyone else’s as well. Which means your Bichon makes a wonderful companion to take with you just about everywhere.

Especially since you likely won’t have to worry about him causing a ruckus when he meets someone new.

Nope.

Instead your biggest worry will probably be if your dog will inadvertently wag his poor little tail off with excitement!

2. Good with Other Pets

Not only is the Bichon great with people, but he’s also really good around other pets. 

He enjoys the company of other dogs. And he can easily get along with cats and other types of animals.

You just need to make sure to provide proper introductions to help your pup accept his new animal friends.

3. Don’t Skip the Socialization  

Though the breed overall tends to be a lover of both people and animals, there is one small caveat:

You’ll need to socialize your little guy right from the start. But this really should be no surprise. All dogs need socialization from a young age in order to be good canine members of society.

Still, there is a potential for timidity in some lines of Bichons. This isn’t necessarily something to be too worried about. Especially since proper socializing can help your pup learn confidence. 

But it is still something to be aware of. Some Bichon pups simply may need a little extra push in the right direction. 

4. Separation Anxiety

As amazing as these little dogs are, Bichons do tend to struggle with a fairly large issue:

Not wanting to be left all on their alone. 

Since Bichons live to love their people, they tend to get very depressed and anxious when left by themselves. This separation anxiety can also lead to other issues, such as excessive barking and destructive behaviors. Not to mention a very lonely and sad dog.

That considered, you should only get a Bichon if you live in a home where at least one person is home most of the day. (Or you plan on taking your Bichon with you everywhere you go.)

Because more than most other breeds, Bichons are very dependent on companionship. So if you are gone for more than a few hours at a time on a regular basis, you may want to consider some other breeds instead.

5. The Dog with an Independent Streak

Okay, you’re probably thinking, “So if Bichons are so dependent on people, why are you also saying that they have an independent streak?”

Well, I’m not sure exactly why they have an independent streak…

They just do!

The breed may thrive on being with his people, but he can also be a bit stubborn at times, too.

So I guess all I’m saying is just be prepared. A Bichon will love you to death, but don’t be too surprised to find that he also loves doing things his own way!

Obedience training will be crucial if you wish to keep him from ruling the roost.

6. Barking and Boundaries 

As a group, Bichons Frises are fairly quiet dogs.

Sure, they’ll bark at the occasional knock on the door. But all in all, these pups are not particularly barky.

However, Bichons do have the potential to be quite noisy if you encourage such behavior.

“Encourage barking?” you must be thinking, “I would never…”

But the truth is, it’s very possible to reward bad behavior without even realizing it.

For instance, because of their small size and adorable fluffiness, some people often baby and spoil Bichons.

But such treatment will only make your Bichon feel all the more entitled. Hence,if you tend to pick your dog up every time he barks, then he will quickly associate barking with a nice cuddly “reward”.

So make sure you set rules and boundaries. I know it’s tempting to treat him like a teddy bear, but the Bichon is a dog just like any other. He needs to be able to stand on his own four feet.

Properly trained and treated as a dog, your Bichon shouldn’t have too many issues with barking and other Small Dog Syndrome behaviors.

(Unless of course he’s just barking his head off because he’s home alone all day while you’re at work. But we’ve already addressed these separation anxiety issues above.)

7. Fluff and Water Don’t Combine 

Bichons Frises may need monthly baths, but chances are they are not going to enjoy it.

In other words, this breed is not a big fan of the water.

So perhaps you should just plan on finding him a dog sitter the next time you take a boating trip to the lake. 

8. Sailors Loved Them

Before the Bichon became a nobleman’s dog, he was a dog of the sea.

(Ironic, I know, considering they don’t like water.)

But nonetheless, these dogs were companions to Italian sailors. At least temporary companions. Mostly sailors used them for bartering during their travels.

Whether or not the pups enjoyed being used as currency, this is how the breed ended up traveling around to various places. Namely, Spain and France.

9. The French Loved Them 

And once Bichons made their way over to France, they were absolutely adored there.

They became very popular during the Renaissance. And Henry III was particularly fond of them. It’s said that he even wore a fancy basket around his neck just so he could carry his precious pups with him wherever he went.

Now that’s pampered.

But riding around in the king’s necklace-basket isn’t all Bichons did. They also lounged around on cushions while court members adorned them with fancy perfumes and satin bows.

10. The Pamperedest of Pampered Pooches 

Okay, so obviously the Bichon was a little pampered.

But just in case it wasn’t made clear already, let me reiterate that these pups were really, really pampered.

So much so that they turned themselves into a verb.

That’s right. The extravagant treatment they received lead to the creation of a new word: bichonner. Which in French literally means “to pamper.”

11. What are My Color Options?

In one word:

White.

All Bichons Frises have fluffy, white coats. But there is some very slight, almost unnoticeable variation.

Upon close inspection, you will see that some Bichons have apricot-, buff-, or cream-colored tinges around their ears and on their body.

(But let’s be honest, these are basically just different shades of white anyways!)