The Bichon Frise
Bichon Frise [pronounced BEE-shawn FREE-say] is a fluffy, white breed of small dogs known for being very enthusiastic and friendly.
In the United States, according to the American Kennel Club, they are categorized as belonging to the Non-Sporting Group, a diverse catch-all term including breeds of varying sizes, personalities and overall appearances.
In the United Kingdom’s The Kennel Club, Bichon Frises are classified under the Toy Breed Group, composed specifically of small companion or lap dogs generally known to be friendly and require little exercise.
History and Origin
Although the name suggests that the breed originates in France, the Bichon Frise was thought to have originated in the Mediterranean, specifically in the island of Tenerife. Arising from water dogs, the breed was originally used as sailing dogs. They accompanied sailors during travel. Later, sometime in the 14th century, the breed was introduced throughout Europe and developed an association with aristocrats and nobles, showing up in the Royal courts of Spain, Italy, and France.
The Bichon Frise has a distinct white, medium-length coat that is silky and has corkscrew curls. The white coat (which sometimes has hints of apricot, buff or cream coloring) is a stark contrast to their black eyes and the black leather of their nose and lips. Their tail is long and carries over the back.
Bichon Frises typically are 9.5-11.5 inches in height and weigh around 12-18 pounds.
This breed does not shed, or sheds very little, and their curly top hairs catch dander. They do require frequent grooming; their coat needs brushing 3-4 times a week or ideally every day to keep it silky and shiny, and to prevent mats from forming.
The Bichon Frises would be fine with one bath per month, but you can give them a bath more frequently to keep them spotlessly white. Frequent cleaning is also required to avoid them developing ‘tear stains,’ dark, brown-blackish trails around the eyes and beard.
Trainability and Intelligence
They are alert dogs and their intelligence level is mid to high. First-time pet owners may encounter trouble housebreaking a Bichon Frise puppy and for that, early socialization and crate training is recommended. Their outgoing personality makes them easy to train though.
A Bichon Frise is independent, but they are not dominant and are more likely to be agreeable than stubborn. Just like other breeds, they respond well to treats and positive reinforcement.
As a small dog, the breed’s exercise requirements are relatively simple. A daily walk, plus some running around in the yard, will often do.
Living Conditions and Adaptability
Bichon Frises are very adaptable dogs. Despite their medium length coat, they adapt well to hot climates, and do just as well in cold. Due to their size and temperament, they are good for those who are new to taking care of dogs.
They are very family-friendly. They play well with small children and other dogs. They also do well in the city or in apartment living. Although their enthusiasm leads some to like barking, they are generally not fighters or biters when it comes to strangers.
The one possible drawback to a Bichon Frise, however, is that they do not take well to being left alone. They are very affectionate. They love being close to their family. Some bad and undesirable behaviors may arise if they are left alone for long periods, such as self-harming due to anxiety.
Health and Life Expectancy
Bichon Frises are generally healthy. They live up to 12-20 years on average. This breed has a potential for weight gain, so good exercise and nutrition should be implemented to avoid obesity. As small dogs, they can be prone to liver shunts. The runts of the litter, especially, may have negative reactions to high protein diets and may require specialized food throughout their life.
They are also more prone than other breeds to develop ear infections due do their floppy ears. And while the breed itself is comparatively hypoallergenic, Bichon Frises are likely to develop skin allergies if their coat is not groomed properly.