The Bichon Frise is a small dog, classified under the Toy group by the Kennel Club. It is predominantly white with soft corkscrew curls around the body and a gorgeous plumed tail carried over the back. This well-balanced breed is described as smart, lively, friendly and outgoing. The muzzle is not short nor long, just the average size compared to the head. The cheeks are flat, stop is moderate but definite and the nose is large and black. It has dark round, forward-looking eyes with black eye rims. The ears are covered with long hair, hangs close to the head and carried forward when the dog is alert. The teeth form regular and complete scissor bite. It has an arched neck that is about one-third the length of its body. The ribs are well-sprung while the loin is broad, well-muscled, slightly arched and well-tucked up. The tail is normally carried raised over the back in a curved manner with just the hair touching the back and not the tail itself. The coat is made of fine, silky, soft corkscrew curls which are about 7-10 cm in length and comes mainly in white colour. The ideal height of the Bichon Frise is between 23 – 28 cm at withers.
The Bichon Frise was developed from the Barbet or Water Spaniel and the Standard Poodle. All Bichon breeds originated in the Mediterranean area. The Bichon Frise in particular, originally came from Spain and was subsequently brought to the Canary Island of Tenerife where it flourished. Italian sailors rediscovered the breed and brought some of them to mainland Europe in the 14th century. It is in Italy where they became popular with the Italian nobility as a companion dog. It eventually gained success in France during the Renaissance period particularly during the reign of King Henry III until he died in 1589. The Bichon Frise was also showcased in some of the paintings of famous Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. Interest in the Bichon Frise eventually waned and it became a “common dog” in the 1800s where it was found performing in circuses and leading the blind. French breeders worked to preserved the breed after the first World War with the official breed standard adopted on March 5, 1933 and recognized by the FCI in that same year.
The Bichon Frise is a very loving dog and it loves to play. It is a wonderful addition to the family especially those with children. This breed has a happy disposition, except when it is left alone for long periods of time. It has a reputation to suffer from separation anxiety and should not be left alone in the house for a whole day. It is a family-oriented and very sociable breed that needs human company all the time. It is very affectionate and gentle – a true lap dog and a companion. It is a perfect pet inside the house, whether in an apartment in the city, a small suburban house or in a large countryside home. The Bichon Frise does not moult like other breeds. It is often highly recommended for people suffering from allergies. However, it is best to consult a doctor first before considering the Bichon Frise as a pet because different people react differently to dogs.
This lovely little breed is highly intelligent, highly trainable and love learning new tricks. Training must be done by firm but gentle handler with positive reinforcement. Harsh or coercive training methods should never be done to the Bichon Frise because it will only become harder to train. This breed can be trained for obedience, agility and rally competition which is also a good way to bond with the pet. Therapy training is also highly suitable for the Bichon Frise because it makes a perfect therapy dog. Training and socialisation must be started at a very young age and must be constant throughout until adulthood.
The Bichon Frise is one of the breeds of dogs that does not shed. Daily brushing will help prevent mats from forming which may affect the breed’s overall health if it develops severe matting. Daily brushing will also help remove loose hair. Brushing, occasional trimming and bathing will keep the dog looking great and it will also help control dander from escaping into the air. It is advisable to have the dog groomed once a month or every two months.
The Bichon Frise has an average lifespan of about 12 to 13 years but may live longer especially if properly cared for. In a 2004 survey by the Kennel Club, it was found out that the leading causes of death for this breed are old age and cancer. Hematologic causes, including autoimmune haemolytic anaemia (AIHA) and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia are also attributed to some of the deaths. This breed is also prone to protosystemic shunts (PSS) which affect the liver and can either be hereditary or acquired.
This is an adaptable breed suitable to live in any home setting as long as it is properly exercised. The Bicon Frise has a lot of energy for a little dog and it is quite active indoors. Daily walks and fun games for about half an hour on a daily basis will satisfy its mental and physical exercise requirements.
It gets along very well with children because it is a very playful breed with a lot of energy for playtime. It is a sociable animal that tends to get along quite well with other dogs and animals. It has a tendency to become very territorial if it becomes affiliated with a particular space or territory.