Other names: Bichon, Bichon à poil frisé, Tenerife dog
The Bichon Frise canines belong to the “Toy” dog groups. As small lap dogs or companion pets, they can be very affectionate and friendly. They are known for their superb temperament and enjoyment of being with their human family. The Bichon breed is of Belgian and French heritage and was previously very popular among French aristocrats. During the French revolution, the breed fell from popularity and these cute dogs earned their living by performing with street musicians and organ grinders. Later, during World War I, the breed was almost extinct, however, dedicated breeders worked together to save the Bichon Frise.
Key facts about the Bichon Frise
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Origins and history
Dating as far back as the 13th century, the Bichon Frise is a descendant of the Poodle and the Barbet Water Spaniel. Previously traded worldwide by Spanish sailors and eventually becoming a favourite in French Royal courts during the 16th century. The dog fell out of favour and ended up on the streets working as a circus performer and an organ grinder’s pet. In more current days, the Bichon Frise is known as a show and companion dog.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs
Section 1 : Bichons and related breeds
Physical characteristics of the Bichon Frise
Female : Between 9 and 12 in
Male : Between 9 and 12 in
Female : Between 9 and 15 lb
Male : Between 11 and 15 lb
Although the dog’s coat is generally completely white, as puppies they can have different coloured markings too (White ,apricot-white, buff-white).
Type of coat
Medium length coat.
The Bichon Frise sports a silky, soft and fine white coat that has curls like corkscrews. Anywhere between 7 to 10 cm long, the coat is either left to grow naturally, or can also be trimmed.
Dark and round, boasting black rims surrounded by haloes.
The Bichon Frise is a compact dog, yet totally in proportion. With a soft, pure white coat, the adult dog has a slightly rounded head, a shiny, black nose and dark eyes. They are very endearing with an alert and cute expression on their face. The dog’s ears are set high on his head and are covered in flowing, soft hair. The dog’s black lips give him a smiling appearance. The dog carries his tail raised but not curled over his back. A quite muscular body, strong back legs and well-rounded thighs, complete this little dog.
Good to know
Bichon Frise translates from French to “curly lapdog”. Bichon is a type of lapdog and Frise means curly in English.
Many Bichon Frise pets have their own social media accounts and love nothing better than posing for photographs and selfies!
This breed is understood to be a very popular breed and it’s clear to see why. With lively, affectionate and adorable personalities, they make gorgeous pets. Another bonus is that the Bichon is extremely good around children, which is sometimes unusual in smaller dog breeds.
The happy and fun-loving Bichon Frise is also a very outgoing and confident character. They are real performers and love clowning around, rarely showing any aggressive tendencies. This little dog loves to be the centre of attention and will happily perform a new trick for his master.
As a playful, gentle dog, he is actually quite calm too. He loves to show off but won’t respond well at all to harsh reprimands. On the whole, he prefers a peaceful environment and can sometimes be quite timid.
Despite his high intelligent traits, he’s not a dominant dog. He much prefers learning new tricks to obedience commands, although he is a quick learner.
The Bichon Frise certainly isn’t a hunting dog, but this doesn’t mean he won’t challenge the neighbour’s cat, often just for fun. Early socialisation prevents any naughty or unwanted behaviours.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Although this breed will alert you to a stranger in his presence, his bark is much worse than his bite. He is actually more likely to welcome a stranger than to chase them away.
This intelligent, lively pup thrives on human company. Despite this, they are independent dogs in most circumstances. However, this dominant behaviour often leads him to think he is the pack leader, and will jump up onto the furniture and onto people.
Behaviour of the Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise much prefers to spend time in the company of his owners, usually hating to be left alone. This small dog can become stressed and anxious if he has to spend too much time by himself.
Easy to train / obedience
This intelligent pup is also quick witted and his main aim is to please his master. Providing you show him who rules the roost, he is easy to train as long as you use consistent methods. Check that the dog doesn’t develop “small dog syndrome” when he will take on the alpha dog role. This can of course, lead to unwanted behaviour problems. Toilet training may take a deal of patience and understanding as he can be more difficult to housetrain than other small breeds.
Very often, some Bichon dogs are very yappy at times. They do like to bark just for the sake of it, which can be annoying. Early training, can of course, avoid this behaviour.
Tendency to run away
The Bichon Frise, although a small dog, is a fast runner. His speed and agility will astound you. It’s very important to teach your dog to respond to your recall command.
Although their coats are known to be hypoallergenic to humans, they do sometimes chew and scratch at their own skin. The Bichon often has skin allergies to dust, pollen, chemicals and fleas.
Greedy / Gluttony
As a very small dog, care must be taken not to overfeed the Bichon. Likewise when you offer him titbits, as he always appears to be looking for another treat.
Although a very small breed of dog, the Bichon is certainly a good watchdog at times. He will alert you to something he’s not happy about in his near vicinity, or to the arrival of any strangers.
Definitely a good choice as a first time pet, however they are quite time consuming in their grooming requirements. As an affectionate canine who is very keen to please their owners, they do socialise very well with everyone.
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Bichon Frise in a flat
As a very adaptable small dog breed, he will fit well into many different lifestyles. He will be just as happy living in a country house, or in a flat in the city. This is, of course, providing he has company for most of the time and isn’t left to his own devices for too long.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Of course this playful, happy little dog is just as happy to have a cuddle on your lap as he is to play games or go for a walk. A daily walk is necessary to ensure that the dog is stimulated both physically and mentally, to prevent any behavioural problems. Often, they are happy to run around outside, to burn off their excess energy, providing you have a safe enclosed location.
Travelling / easy to transport
The Bichon is happy to travel in the rear of a car, or even on the back seat using a restraint harness. Likewise, he will accompany you on public transport if it means being alongside you.
Bichon Frise and cats
Care needs to be taken when introducing a Bichon to a cat in the home. The dog may see the feline as prey, even though this breed isn’t an extreme hunter.
Bichon Frise and dogs
If the dogs have been socialised together from a young age, a Bichon Frise should get along just fine with another canine.
Bichon Frise and children
The Bichon makes a fantastic family pet, even though he is an energetic and lively dog. With his fun-loving and playful personality, this breed has a natural affinity with humans. Care must always be taken when children and dogs are allowed to interact, just in case the playtime becomes too boisterous. Bichon puppies are really tiny, so take care when they are handled by very small children.
Bichon Frise and the elderly
As a pet who is often calm and affectionate, this breed of dog will be a wonderful companion for an older person. Equally happy cuddling up on his master’s lap or playing with his toys, he loves nothing more than human company.
Expect to pay an average buying price of between £510 for a non KC registered pup to £610 for a KC registered dog.
As a small breed, feeding costs are never extortionate, however his grooming requirements can soon add up to be expensive. In addition, veterinary check-ups, vaccinations and the cost of neutering can amount to between £40 and £50 monthly.
Because the Bichon Frise has such a thick and curly coat, grooming is more high maintenance than some other dogs. Frequent bathing and hair trimming is a necessity. With the show group, coat trimming is best done professionally with scissors, although with the pet group, electric clippers are often used for speed. Daily brushing is advised to prevent knots and tangles in the dog’s curly coat.
The Bichon Frise sheds very little hair, which is good news for anyone that suffers from allergies.
Nutrition of the Bichon Frise
A small dog with a big appetite, the Bichon needs to be given an appropriate diet to not only satisfy his hunger but also to meet his nutrient and physical needs. A high quality, dry dog food is best, but keep him in shape by giving him 2 meals each day and measuring his food according to instructions.
Health of the Bichon Frise
Life expectancy of this breed is between 12 to 14 years, however some dogs have been noted to live to 20 years of age.
Strong / robust
He may be a small dog, but he is certainly a tough cookie.
As a canine with a very thick coat, the Bichon Frise is at risk from suffering heat stroke in very warm weather. This is more so if they are physically active.
Certainly, the Bichon dog has a thick, dense coat that will help to defend him from the cold weather. A woolly coat will also help to prevent any chills when on his daily walk.
Tendency to put on weight
As is the case with many toy dog breeds, the Bichon can very easily put on excess weight if he lies on the sofa for most of the day and doesn’t care for much exercise. Owners often tend to offer lots of tasty treats to lap dogs, however of course, this can mean that the dog often gains weight very easily.