Getting To Know You – Bichon Frise

When I started researching Bichon Frises in order to write about them, I was impressed by the description on the American Kennel Club website:  

“This is a breed that has no gross or incapacitating exaggerations and therefore, there is no inherent reason for lack of balance or unsound movement.” No gross or incapacitating exaggerations…this should apply to every breed. Bichons are a sturdy and resilient breed. They adapt well to different environments and tend to get along well with other dogs and children. Their intelligence and confidence make them curious little beings. They are fairly easy to train. They make nice watchdogs, which means they bark – something to keep in mind if you like a quiet household. These cheerful dogs tend to be mischievous, but their loving nature will quickly make you forgive any transgression.

Bichon Frises are small dogs, weighing in at 12 to 18 pounds. They stand between 9.5 to 11.5 inches. They have a life expectancy of 14 to 15 years. They are white and puffy, almost reminiscent of a marshmallow. Their coat is soft and dense, not unlike a Poodle’s, and is always white. It may have limited shadings of apricot, buff or cream. It’s no wonder their coat is similar to a Poodle’s as both of these breeds descended from the Barbet (Water Spaniel) in the Mediterranean area. Bichons hail from the Barbichon group of dogs. The Barbichon group evolved into four distinct breeds; the Bichon Bolognese, the Maltese, the Bichon and the Havanese. The Bichon was originally known as the Bichon Tenerife, and it is believed that they traveled from the Island of Tenerife (Spain) with sailors, who probably used them for bartering. Due to their background, Bichons have an affinity for water and enjoy retrieving. They are not, however, considered retrievers, nor water dogs.

The Bichon Frise is a happy dog, with a gentle, affectionate, playful, and sensitive temperament. It has high energy and is very playful. It is obedient by nature but must be trained. Care must be taken not to allow this lovely clown to become territorial. It is a very sociable dog that generally enjoys going along on frequent outings with its owner. It takes its job as a companion dog very seriously.

Bichon Frises coats require a lot of grooming – generally more than the average owner can provide. The coat must be combed daily to remove loose hair, tangles, and mats. If severe matting occurs, the dog may develop hematomas, usually in the ears. They are more prone than other dogs to ear infections, so this will compound the problem. They can suffer from numerous allergies, such as to ticks, fleas, dust, and pollen. They tend to scratch a lot and chew on themselves, which can result in serious skin issues. Other conditions seen in this breed are loose patellas (knees), diabetes, heart disease, and cataracts.

For more information on this lovely breed, go to the parent club at