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Bichon Frise in Autumn

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Breed Details

  • Average Height: 9 to 12 inches
  • Average Weight: 6 to 11 pounds
  • Coloring: White
  • Coat Type: Loosely curled and double-coated
  • Dog Breed Group: Non-sporting
  • Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Key Personality Traits:
    Affectionate Affectionate
    Good with Cats/Dogs Good with Cats/Dogs
    Good with Kids Good with Kids
    Intelligent Intelligent

The Bichon Frise (or Bichon Frisé) is a doll come to life, with a puffy white coat and a cheerful disposition. This small purebred dog does well in any household, and is especially well-suited for apartment living. 

This breed is ideal for families looking for an adorable companion that they can take anywhere and get along with other pets and children (given the right training early on).  

Keep reading to learn about this dog breed including their needs, health overview, and interesting facts. 

History and Origin

“This sprightly little dog originated in the Mediterranean region, possibly as long ago as the 14th century,” writes Derek Hall in The Ultimate Guide to Dog Breeds (Regency, 2016). The breed later became a favorite among royalty in Europe. Hall states that the dog became a part of circus acts after the French Revolution. Dogs abandoned by wealthy owners that were fleeing caught the attention of street entertainers who took them in and trained them to perform tricks.  

Although its population declined a bit, the breed made a comeback when it was officially recognized by the French Kennel Club in 1934. The breed was brought to the United States in the 1950s and was recognized by American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1971.  

The breed name, Bichon Frise, is pronounced BEE-shawn FREE-say. The French word “bichon” is an abridged version of “barbichon,” meaning “little barbet,” and has come to mean lap dog. “Frise” refers to curly-haired.   

Bichon Frise Physical Characteristics

Bichon Frise dogs may be diminutive looking, but they are hardy and therefore not classified under the Toy Group by the AKC. As part of the Non-Sporting Group, the breed is characterized by a small, yet sturdy body with a soft and thick wooly coat, broad face with large dark eyes, well-boned legs, and a curved tail. 

Their coat is typically solid white with loose curls. Some may have a small amount of apricot, or cream by the ears. These dogs stand anywhere from 9 to 12 inches tall and weigh 6 to 11 pounds, reaching adulthood after the first year. 

Bichon Frise Temperament

“Bichon Frise can be described as gentle, loving, playful, and affectionate. They are happy go-lucky dogs who are smart and social,” says Dr. Rachel Barrack of Animal Acupuncture in New York City. These dogs also do well with kids and pets. 

While they are alert and can make good watchdogs, Jamie Richardson, medical chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary says, “They are not at all aggressive. They treat strangers as friends they haven’t yet met.” 

Richardson adds that Bichons are intelligent and enjoy learning new tricks. However, they do have a reputation for being difficult to housetrain. Richardson recommends plenty of “positive reinforcement, with lots of praise, pets, and treats” when training a Bichon. 

One of the key things to keep in mind is that these dogs don’t like to be left alone. “They are moderately active, and need a good amount of company,” says Richardson. “They do not do well when left alone regularly for long periods of time and may resort to destructive behaviors,” warns Richardson. 

Bichon Frise Care Guide 

Sweet Bichon on walk

These dogs are easy to care for, and they can be happy and healthy companions when given high quality food along with the right training, exercise, and regular grooming. See below for information on general upkeep for these dogs.  

Diet and Nutrition

Similar to other dogs, Bichons don’t have any specific dietary needs. “They simply need a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their life stage (puppy/adult/senior) and size,” suggests Richardson. She recommends getting food with an AAFCO statement. “This certifies that it is nutritionally complete for their life stage.” 

If your Bichon has allergies, Barrack says a special diet is needed. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian to address dietary needs based on your dog’s allergies.  

Exercise and Activity

According to Richardson, Bichons are moderately active with brief bursts of activity between longer stretches of calm. “They need quality play sessions with their owner and walks every day, and may benefit from a fenced-in yard,” she suggests. 

Bichons may also enjoy playing games such as fetch, tug, frisbee, and participating in obedience or agility training. 

Grooming and Nail Care

“Bichons require regular grooming due to long, double-coated, curly coats and their white color. Without proper grooming, mats will develop,” says Barrack. She recommends daily brushing and monthly haircuts. Nails need to be trimmed every four to six weeks.  

Pet parents need to give particular attention to their dog’s ears. Barrack says, “Bichon’s hair often grows in ear canals and can trap in moisture and create a breeding ground for bacteria leading to ear infections.” 

To reduce the frequency of infections, pet parents can have the hair in the dog’s ear canals trimmed and cleaned regularly

Bichon Frise Health Problems

Bichon sleeping on sofa

According to Richardson, Bisons are generally healthy, but can be prone to certain conditions, such as:

If proper dental hygiene practices are not followed, Bichons can also suffer from dental health issues. “Daily tooth brushing and regular dental checks from the veterinarian are important to minimize the risk of periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss and other complications from gum infection,” says Richardson.  

Interesting Bichon Frise Facts

The modern version of this dog breed was developed on the largest Canary Islands— Tenerife—where the dog was popular with the sailors who used them for bartering. 

Painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir included the Bichon Frise in some of his paintings. Other painters, Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya, and Sir Joshua Reynolds, also included the breed in their work. 

Ozzie, the Bichon Frise who can play a wide array of tricks, has a robust Facebook following. He can skateboard and even do laundry.   

Popular Bichon Mixes

  • Maltichon- A mix between Maltese and Bichon Frise.  
  • Poochon or Bichpoo- A blend of Bichon and a Poodle.  
  • Shichon or Zuchon- Combination of Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise. 
  • Glechon- A hybrid of Bichon Frise and Beagle
  • Bostchon- A Boston Terrier mixed with Bichon. 
  • Chi Chon- Combination of a Chihuahua and Bichon Frise. 
  • Pushon- A blend of Pug and Bichon Frise. 

Bichon Frise Adoption Tips and Things to Consider

Woman petting Bichon Frise

If you are looking to adopt one of these adorable lap warmers, the best place to go is a shelter or a breed-specific rescue. A majority of Bichons that end up in shelters and rescues are from puppy mills, especially those that have been used for breeding. 

When adopting a Bichon, keep in mind that the dogs are prone to suffering from separation anxiety when left home alone for long periods. They love to be near their family and can become destructive when left unattended for entire days. 

Special training geared towards separation anxiety in addition to anti-anxiety supplements can help alleviate the symptoms.  

Bichon Frise Rescues

There are a few Bichon-specific rescues in the U.S. that are worth looking into if you would like to adopt a Bichon Frise. 

Bichon Frise FAQs   

Get all the facts you need about Bichon dogs with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the breed.

Are Bichon Frise Dogs Hypoallergenic? 

Yes. No dog is completely hypoallergenic, but the thick curly coat of a Bichon Frise catches the dander instead of spreading throughout the house. 

Do Bichon Frise Shed? 

Yes, Bichons do shed, but they shed very little. These dogs are a great option for dog parents who don’t want to clean up dog hair all over the house. 

How Long Do Bichon Frise Live? 

This small dog actually has a pretty long lifespan. They can live up to 15 years. 

Are Bichon Frise Smart? 

Yes, Bichons are smart. They are eager to please, which means they can be easily trained.  

Do Bichon Frise Bark? 

The breed is not known for barking, making it an ideal dog for apartment living. 

Pictures of Bichon Frise

These fluffy dogs look like little cotton balls with sweet eyes and cute noses. We just can’t get enough of their poofy adorableness. Browse our gallery to see photos of Bichon Frise dogs being their sweet selves.

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