Bichon Frises were a popular sight in Medieval and Renaissance art, with them being painted by the likes of Renoir and Monet, among others.
Other Names: Bichon Tenerife, Bichon a Poil Frise, meaning: “curly lap dog”
Country Of Origin: Canary Islands, France
Dog Group: Non-sporting
Recommended For: Families, couples, single owners
Maintenance Level: Moderate
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Temperament: Smart, feisty, playful
Good For the First-Time Owner: Yes
Good With Children: Yes
Good With Other Animals: Yes
Good With Strangers: No
Good For Apartments: Yes
Exercise Requirements: Daily walking
Can Live In Hot Weather: Yes
Can Live In Cold Weather: Yes
Can Tolerate Being Left Alone: Yes
The Bichon Frise (BEE-shawn FREE-say– pronunciation) is a popular breed of companion dog that is an excellent choice for all.
Bichon Frise was bred as a lap dog in France but descends from a breed of water dog that came from Tenerife, Spain.
They are easily recognizable by their white, wooly coat.
Bichon Frise is a great choice as a family dog, and are particularly good with children.
They’re playful, friendly, and get on well with other dogs, which makes them an excellent choice for almost any owner.
They have few breed-specific needs and are generally low maintenance.
Height: 9-11 inches (both males and females)
Weight: 10-20lbs (both males and females)
Personality and Temperament:
Bichon Frises are generally smart, friendly, and playful dogs that enjoy being around people.
Their purpose as a lap dog means that they thrive on human attention, and form strong bonds with their owners.
Bichon Frises are very sociable animals and get on well with almost everyone.
This level of sociability makes Bichon Frise an excellent choice as a family pet. Bichon Frise is good with children because they love to play, and are a particularly affectionate breed.
Unlike some other dogs, Bichon Frise can get along with children regardless of when they’re introduced, although early socialization is always preferable.
It won’t take much for a Bichon Frise to get on with all members of the family, so they make a great choice.
Similarly, their playful nature makes them particularly easy to train. Bichon Frise love reward, so obedience training is not a problem.
Training needs to be started early, however, and remain consistent throughout the dog’s life because they’re not one of the most intelligent breeds.
The Bichon Frise’s ancestry as a water dog means they love playing fetch, and also really enjoy swimming.
Due to the breed’s size, Bichon Frises don’t need as much exercise as some larger, more energetic dogs.
A Bichon Frise will usually be happy with a moderate, 30-minute daily walk, and plenty of playtime around the home.
As mentioned, they love to play fetch, which is a great way to provide them with enough exercise that isn’t too strenuous.
Bichon Frises get on very well with other animals and are great to keep in groups with other dogs.
The breed is also known to be friendly with other pets, and are okay with cats and smaller animals.
However, the Bichon Frise descends from a retrieving type of dog, and so do retain a prey instinct to some degree.
This means owners should be wary around small rodents like rats and mice, although this behavior won’t be too difficult to train out.
The breed is known to be very protective of both its owners and property and can be very wary around strangers.
Bichon Frise can make a good choice as an alert dog, but won’t be able to do much more than bark.
Any wariness around strangers can be worked on, but, likely, the dog will still bark or growl at people it doesn’t know if it feels threatened.
Due to their size and exercise needs, Bichon Frise is fine for apartment living.
Owners will need to ensure the dog gets plenty of exercises, and also be aware of the breed’s tendency to bark.
Also, Bichon Frise can be left alone for long periods, making them suitable for working owners. This will be much better for the dog, however, if they’re given a company.
Similarly, the Bichon Frise makes a good choice for first-time owners because they’re generally very easy to care for.
Although the breed does have some known health complications, they’re overall a low maintenance breed that is perfect for first-time owners.
First-time owners will also appreciate the Bichon Frise for its personality, temperament, and love of humans.
The Bichon Frise can live in both hot and cold climates, which has been a big factor in its popularity.
Although its coat can be quite warm, Bichon Frise is a popular sight down the groomers because its coat is very easy to trim.
However, on the other hand, owners in cold climates will need to ensure they buy the dog a coat for the winter to help keep them warm.
Bichon Frises have a dense, curly coat with longer, wispy hair on the tail. Their coat needs to be brushed at least twice a week, but daily brushing is preferable if owners want it to be in the best condition.
Although Bichon Frises do shed a little bit, this is easily controlled with proper grooming.
Bichon Frises are considered hypoallergenic, and so are suitable for people with dog allergies. This is another factor that’s contributed to their popularity.
A Bichon Frise’s coat should be washed once a month, and trimmed every 4-6 weeks. Although owners can do this at home, many take their dog to a groomer’s because this is much easier.
Unlike many other breeds, Bichon Frise looks their best when groomed and bathed frequently. While some owners enjoy this process, it can be enough to put some people off.
Common Diseases and Conditions:
Bichon Frises suffer mainly from the common purebred condition and have minimal breed-specific issues.
They’re known to suffer from conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts and eye conditions, bladder infections, and allergies.
All of these will be tested for by breeders before breeding.
However, Bichon Frise is particularly prone to ear infections and dental problems.
These are both down to selective breeding for desirable ear and mouth shapes, and this means owners should be especially attentive to these areas.
Weekly, or even daily, ear cleaning is necessary, as is tooth brushing at least three times a week.
The Bichon Frise can trace its ancestry back several hundred years to Barbet or Water Spaniel and comes from the same ancestor as the Poodle.
More “History of the Bichon Frise” ?
Spanish sailors used them as retrieving dogs, which is why Bichon Frise love swimming.
The Bichon Frise’s ancestor is believed to have been taken to the Spanish island of Tenerife earlier than the 14th century.
This dog was then brought over to mainland Europe and soared in popularity during the Renaissance after French king Henry III had once.
The breed’s name comes from the Middle French bichon, which means “little dog.” “Frise” is derived from the French for “curly.”
Although the Bichon Frise originated as a water retriever for sailors, it was in France that it developed into the lapdog we all know today.
Medieval French nobles enjoyed grooming their dogs, arguably more so than we do today, which is why the breed has ended up being so high maintenance with grooming.
The breed remained reasonably popular in France throughout the rest of history, although fell out of favor slightly in the early 19th century.
The official breed standard was written in 1933, and it was written mainly because of the popularity of the Tintin books.
The Bichon Frise was brought to the USA in 1955 and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1972.
The first proper breeding dogs were brought over in 1959 and 1960, and it’s from these that all early Bichon Frise in America were descended from.
In 1973, the Bichon Frise was upgraded to the non-sporting category in the American Kennel Club, and has been a popular choice at dog shows ever since.
They’re popular choices in a wide range of competitions, but mostly in shows. Bichon Frise has remained reasonably popular in the USA, and the breed was ranked 40th most popular in 2013.
Bichon Frise Facts & Figures
Did You Know?
- Spanish sailors used the Bichon Frise’s ancestors as trade in bartering. This is part of what led to them spreading back to continental Europe. This is also what led to the wide variety of bichon breeds, including the Barbichon and the Bichon Havanese.
- The breed’s popularity and maintenance led to the French developing a new word. The French verb bichonner means “to pamper.”
- When the Bichon Frise fell out of favor with the aristocracy in the 19th century, they became street performers, often earning money for beggars.
- Although Bichon Frise is almost always white, there is a known genetic defect that results in an occasionally all-black dog.
- Similarly, Bichon Frises are a famous sight in modern media, with some even having their own social media pages. Many of us have probably seen a video of Ozzie, the skateboarding Bichon Frise.
- Thinking of Getting a Bichon Frise? Puppy average price is $600.00.
*More French Dog Breeds below: