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The Bichon Frisé dog, also known as Bichon, are small, cheerful dogs renowned for their playful and affectionate nature. Their name, which translates to "curly-haired small dog" in French, suits them perfectly, as these friendly canines love nothing more than to be the center of attention.
Their compact size, lively personalities, and curly white coats make Bichon Frisés ideal companions for individuals and families. Known for their adaptability, they can thrive in various living environments, from apartments to large homes, and make a charming addition to any household.
Keep reading to learn more about Bichon Frisés to determine if they're the right pet for you.
- History & Origin of Bichon Frisés
- Physical Attributes of Bichon Frisés
- Behavioral Characteristics of Bichon Frisés
- Bichon Frisé Health Risks
- Caring For a Bichon Frisés
- Final Notes
History & Origin of Bichon Frisés
The history of the Bichon Frisé dog is unknown. Some believe that the little dogs are direct ancestors of the Maltese breed, while others believe they’re descended from a water spaniel.1
It's widely accepted that the breed originated in the Mediterranean, with Spanish sailors introducing them to the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands before they were returned to Europe by Italian sailors in the 14th century.2
They were especially popular among royalty and the middle class in 16th-century France and appeared in many paintings. However, they became pets to commoners in the following centuries. In the 1930s, they evolved as show dogs and were brought to the United States in 1956.2
Today, the breed is loved for its friendly and playful nature, making it a popular choice as a companion dog around the world.
Physical Attributes of Bichon Frisés
- Height: 9.5-11.5 inches
- Weight: 12-18 pounds
- Life expectancy: 14-15 years
Bichon Frisés are small non-sporting dogs with distinctive coats. They have a dense, curly white double coat that consists of a soft undercoat and a coarser, curly outer coat.3 The Bichon's fur is almost always white, although they may have shadings of cream or apricot around their ears.2
These small dogs have rounded faces and dark eyes with ears covered in long hair.2 Their tail is plumed and typically carried over their back, making them appear cheerful and friendly.
Behavioral Characteristics of Bichon Frisés
These cheerful dogs are known for their playful behaviors. They're often friendly and affectionate. They tend to thrive with human companionship and form strong bonds with their family. In addition, this breed is well-known to get along with children and can tolerate other pets when properly socialized.3
Bichon Frisé dogs are often easy to train and eager to please.2 They're intelligent dogs that can learn commands quickly, especially when training begins at an early age. Like most dogs, they respond best to positive reinforcement and can be sensitive to harsh training methods.
Bichon Frisés are not guard dogs, but they can be protective.3 They may bark to alert their owners of strangers or unusual activities outside, but they can also bark when bored and seeking attention.
These dogs also tend to adapt easily to a variety of living situations. Their small size makes them good apartment dogs, but they can benefit from living in a house with a private yard to ensure they get enough exercise.
It's important to note that all dogs are different. Your dog's temperament will largely depend on factors like socialization, training, and individual temperament. While the generalizations can help you determine if this breed is right for you, we recommend spending time with the dog before bringing them home to ensure their behavior fits your lifestyle.
Bichon Frisé Health Risks
Bichon Frisés are small dogs, so they tend to live longer than larger breeds. However, the individual health of dogs varies. In addition, Bichon Frisés are prone to a variety of health issues prospective pet parents should be aware of, such as:
- Diabetes: Like many small breeds, Bichon Frisés are prone to diabetes, which occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, leading to high blood sugar.4
- Corneal dystrophy: Corneal dystrophy is an inherited disease that causes an opaque area to develop in the cornea. It can affect one or both eyes and can cause vision problems.4
- Cataracts: Cataracts are hereditary in Bichon Frisés and occur when the eye lenses harden.4 To treat this condition, your vet may prescribe cataract eye drops or recommend surgical intervention.
- Dental disease: Small dogs like the Bichon Frisé are at an increased risk of developing dental disease. Brushing your dog's teeth regularly can help prevent the accumulation of plaque and tartar that contributes to periodontal disease.4
- Ear infections: Like many breeds with floppy ears, Bichon Frisés are prone to ear infections because they create a warm, moist environment ideal for the growth of bacteria and yeast. You can prevent painful ear infections by regularly cleaning your dog's ears and checking them for odors or redness.
- Hip dysplasia: Hip dysplasia commonly affects large breeds. While less common in smaller dogs, it can occur in Bichon Frisés due to a hip joint deformity during growth.
Caring For a Bichon Frisés
There are several things to keep in mind when caring for a Bichon, such as:
All dogs require preventive care. Regular vet visits go beyond confirming your dog is vaccinated; it ensures your dog is eating right and getting enough exercise, and it can help diagnose and treat diseases early to improve your pet's outcome.
During your dog's annual wellness exam, your vet will conduct a health examination to assess their overall health and look for signs of potential illnesses or diseases.
At these appointments, you can ensure your dog is up to date on their vaccinations to protect them from potentially deadly diseases. The vaccines your dog needs depend on their age, lifestyle, and where you live.
The Bichon Frisé has a curly double coat that requires regular bathing and grooming to prevent matting.4 In general, you should bathe your Bichon at least once a month and as needed with dog shampoo and conditioner designed for their coat type and color.
Besides regular bathing, you should brush them frequently to prevent matting and tangling that can lead to pain.4 You can use a brush to remove loose hair and avoid mats. Bichons should also see a groomer regularly to stop their hair from getting too long. Even though this breed doesn't shed too much, their hair grows continuously, so they'll need regular haircuts.
Your groomer can also take care of cleaning their ears, brushing their teeth, and trimming their nails, or you can do these tasks at home. Regular ear cleaning is crucial because Bichon Frisés have floppy ears that are prone to ear infections. And, like all breeds, Bichon Frisés need their teeth brushed regularly—daily if possible—to prevent gum disease.
Their nails should also be kept short. If you hear them clicking on the hardwood floors, it's time for a trim!
Finally, since Bichon Frisés have white fur, they're prone to tear stains under the eyes. Regular gentle cleaning can reduce these stains, and you can invest in eye wipes designed for white dogs to keep their eyes clean.
Bichons are active, but they're not the most active dogs out there. Instead, they'll experience times of increased activity and times of laziness.3 These dogs can be energetic and playful, especially while young, but they're small, so they don't need as much space to run around as larger breeds.
Still, daily exercise is crucial for their emotional and physical well-being. Aim to take your Bichon on at least one walk per day or several shorter walks to help them release some of their energy. You can also engage in playtime, including games like fetch, hide and seek, and puzzles, to provide mental and physical stimulation.
In addition, you should invest in regular training. Training can provide mental and physical stimulation while teaching your dog desirable behaviors. Bichon Frisés tend to be eager to please and relatively easy to train. However, you should socialize them while they're young to prevent issues with anxiety and instill confidence in adulthood. Exposing Bichon Frisé puppies to a variety of environments, people, places, and other pets can minimize anxiety in the future.
Diet and nutrition
A good diet can prevent serious health issues associated with obesity and malnutrition. Most Bichons do well with a high-quality diet, kibble, or wet food. Remember to feed them dog food based on their life stage (puppy, adult, or senior) and size.
Are Bichon Frisés expensive?
The Bichon Frisé price varies depending on where you get one. For instance, adopting from a shelter may cost hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, purchasing Bichon Frisés from a reputable breeder can cost thousands of dollars. However, the initial cost isn't the only expense associated with pet ownership. The true cost of pet ownership differs by individual pet, lifestyle, and overall needs.
Are Bichon Frisés good pets?
In general, Bichon Frisés are considered excellent pets because of their friendly nature. However, all dogs are different. While many Bichon Frisés are affectionate, some aren't. You should never assume your dog will be like another you've met before, so we recommend spending time with any dog before bringing it home.
Bichon Frisés are generally considered friendly, loving companions who make excellent family dogs because they're good with children and other pets. However, they require more maintenance than other dogs because their hair grows continually, meaning they need regular grooming every month.
Bichons are also prone to several health conditions. If you're concerned about your Bichon's health, contact Dutch. Our licensed vets can diagnose and treat a variety of health issues to ensure your Bichon lives a happy, healthy life. Try Dutch today or place an order at our online pet pharmacy.
“History.” Bichon Frise Club of America, 13 Apr. 2021, www.bichon.org/about-bichons/history/.
“Bichon Frise.” Encyclopædia Britannica, www.britannica.com/animal/bichon-frise.
Kriss, Randa. “Bichon Frise Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, www.akc.org/dog-breeds/bichon-frise/.
Paul, Tiffany. “Bichon Frise.” PetMD, 17 Oct. 2022, www.petmd.com/dog/breeds/bichon-frise.