The Bichon Frise is a small lapdog breed that originated in France and is now among the most popular of all the small companion dog breeds owned in the UK. They share similar traits with many other small white dog breeds, including the Maltese, miniature Poodle and Bolognese dog, and are classed as a member of the toy dog grouping for showing.
What is a Bichon Frise? The Bichon Frise is a small white fluffy dog, the literal translation from French is “curly lap dog”. It has an affectionate and inquisitive nature if sometimes a little shy. They look like a compact poodle but are not related. They are on the list of Hypoallergenic Dogs so are great for families with allergies. At 3 to 5 kilos in weight and only 30cm high fully grown they are a true lap dog.
Quick Facts about the Bichon Frise
Males grow to just between 23 – 30 cm or 9 to 12 inches.
Females grow to between 23 to 28 cm or 9 to 11 inches.
They usually weigh between 3 – 5 kg or 7 to 12 pounds
Generally this little dog is very heathy and often live for around 14 to 17 years
Appearance of the Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is a pretty little head turning dog. Compact in size dog with a puffy cloud like coat and round black eyes. The Bichons appearance is very similar in look but not in size to poodles in terms of their powder-puffy coat, made of a silky yet curly outer coat and soft undercoat. Their coats can be white / white and buff / cream / apricot or grey. For show purposes the white is the preferred color.
History of the Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise has been recorded as far back as the 13th and 14th Centuries by sailors travelling the Mediterranean sea. This led to the 4 other breed varieties, namely the Maltese Bichon,
the Bolognese, the Havanese and the Bichon Tenerife. The breed is believed to have originally been bred from the Poodle and the Barbet Water Spaniel.
During the 16th Century it was a favourite of the French royal courts Bred as a companion dog, the Bichon Frise is a wonderfully affectionate dog. Because his job was to entertain, his nifty repertoire of tricks made him an ideal circus dog and in later years as its breed travelled further it could be found in travelling circuses as a performing dog.
It is of course the French translation of Bichon Frise that has given the dog its name the translation is literally ‘curly lap dog’.
Grooming Your Bichon Frise
For the show breeds the trademark ‘puff ball’ coat requires regular grooming to stop any knotting or matting of the hair, of which it barely ever sheds any at all. You may need to visit a grooming parlor every few weeks if you are not capable of trimming dog coats yourself.
Adult Bichon are well known for their fluffy white, wool-like coat, but puppies can have overtones of colors, such as, buff, apricot or even grey. Any moulting of the undercoat which is minimal is caught by their distinctive outer coat curls, this makes them ideal for some allergy sufferers.
One of the reasons you may need a professional groomer is to remove hair from the ears, this lets air circulate helping to reduce the risk of ear infections.
Living With your Bichon Frise
These toy pooches make inquisitive, happy sociable companions that are good with both people and other animals. They are lively dogs, but don’t need too much room to roam and are very happy living in apartments or houses. Bichons don’t generally bark a great deal which can be great for living in quarters with close neighbors.
Bichons are great as family dog’s but they are not a Rufty tufty dog. So not ideal for a household with uncontrolled kids as they will make the dog very nervous. They are more suited to the little girl who will comb them and tie ribbons in their hair.
For those people with allergies the Bichon is an excellent choice but as ever there are no guarantees so speak to your allergist and try to spend a bit of time around adult bichons before deciding to find one to live with.
Health of the Bichon Frise
Given that these dogs have a long lifespan it must be said that they have few health concerns but in breeding can always lead to some problems and recognized under the kennel clubs are a few issues.
Legg Calve Perthes Disease
One that is usually obvious from puppy stage is Legg Calve Perthes Disease, this is when the ball at the top of the thighbone does not get the correct blood supply causing it to become brittle, making the dog limp. If it is going to occur, it is usually at about 4 to 6 months of age. In most cases it is treatable.
Although a rare immune system disease among dogs it occurs quite often among Bichons. Vets associate it with a large buildup of mucus and bacteria in the respiratory tract. Its symptoms include a lot of respiratory infections and fast antibiotic therapy is necessary.
And in common with many other pure breeds they can also have luxating Patellas and like Shih Tzus can get watery eyes.
The Bichon Frise is definitely one of our top lap dogs. These little dogs will give you years of fun and loyalty regardless of your age.
Treat them with gentleness and you will not frighten them, show them care and they will return it in full bounty and then some.
Teach them a few tricks and they will entertain you for hours, they love play and will amuse even the sourest heart.