The Socialable Bichon Frisé : Dog Breed : Pictures : Information -

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The Socialable Bichon Frisé : Dog Breed : Pictures : Information


Bichon Frise Dog
Well groomed Bichon Frise dog

A Bichon Frisé (French, literally meaning Curly lap dog; often spelled Bichon Frise in English) is a small breed of dog. They are popular pets, similar to but larger than the Maltese. They are very intelligent and generally have happy dispositions. They are a non-shedding breed that requires regular grooming.


Colour - Almost every piece of fur is white, sometimes with cream, apricot or buff shadings, usually around the ears. At least 90% must be white in a purebred Bichon for show. At least 50% must be white in a Bichon puppy for show. Colour fades during the first year of life. During this time the coat also changes from puppy fluff to frisé.

Face - Expression should be alert, soft, inquisitive. The eyes are usually very dark, either black or dark brown. The skin surrounding the eye is also very dark, this is called a "halo" and is looked for in purebred puppies and dogs. The nose and lips are always dark. The ears are drop and covered in long, feathery fur.

Coat - The undercoat is soft and dense while the outer coat is curly, giving it a powder-puff look. The coat feels thick and should spring back if touched. The coat may feel velvety if is groomed correctly. The fur makes this particular dog look like a marshmallow puff dog.

Muscle - The muscle tone should be of exceptional quality, especially the lower thighs and buttocks area.

Video - Bichon Frise dogs having fun together


The Bichon Frisé descended from the Barbet or Water Spaniel, from which came the name "Barbichon", later shortened to "Bichon". The Bichons were divided into four categories: the Bichon Maltais, the Bichon Bolognais, the Bichon Havanais and the Bichon Tenerife. All originated in the Mediterranean area.

Because of their merry disposition, they travelled much and were often used as barter by sailors as they moved from continent to continent. The dogs found early success in Spain and it is generally felt that Spanish seamen introduced the breed to the Canary Island of Tenerife. In the 1300s, Italian sailors rediscovered the little dogs on their voyages and are credited with returning them to the continent, where they became great favourites of Italian nobility. Often, as was the style of the day with dogs in the courts, they were cut "lion style." The Bichon Frise has a mild attitude but can be over excited.

Cyprus Poodle
Picture of Cyprus Poodle sent in by Trish - Thanks
Brilliant site, having had Bichons for many years in the UK, then being without a dog for seven years and emigrating, then felt the need to obtain a dog. The attached dog is called a Cyprus Poodle, but believe me she is so like the Bichon it is unbelievable.  Not the best of photos as she is squinting with the sun being too bright, but just thought you would like to see the so called Cyprus Poodle to compare. Regards, Trish

The Bichon went to sea as a working Spanish boat dog. They were perfect for a boat because they do not shed, don't need a lot of exercise and do not like to get wet. This dislike of water makes them unlikely to jump or fall overboard and be lost at sea. The Spanish bred the spaniel out of the breed, the dog's job was not to hunt or point but instead meet and greet people with great enthusiasm.

Their purpose was to make weary people smile and feel at ease, but most of all to cause these people to like the Spanish. It is one of the few dogs that has eyes like a human, that it shows the whites of its eye as well as expressions of happiness in them. The bichons were the little happy ambassadors for the Spanish at every new port of call.

The "Teneriffe", or "Bichon", had success in France during the Renaissance under Francis I (1515-47), but its popularity skyrocketed in the court of Henry III (1574-89). The breed also enjoyed considerable success in Spain as a favourite of the Infantas, and painters of the Spanish school often included them in their works. For example, the famous artist, Goya, included a Bichon in several of his works.

Interest in the breed was renewed during the rule of Napoleon III, but then waned until the late 1800s when it became the "common dog", running the streets, accompanying the organ grinders of Barbary, leading the blind and doing tricks in circuses and fairs.

Bichon Frise Dog
A "puppy cut" Bichon


On March 5, 1933, the official standard of the breed was adopted by the Societe Centrale Canine of France. As the breed was known by two names at that time, "Tenerife" and "Bichon", the president of the International Canine Federation proposed a name based on the characteristics that the dogs presented - the Bichon Frisé. ("Frisé" refers to the dog's soft, curly hair.) On October 18, 1934, the Bichon Frisé was admitted to the stud book of the French Kennel Club.

The Bichon was brought to the United States in 1955, and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1973.

The first US-born Bichon litter was whelped in 1956. In 1959 and 1960, two breeders in different parts of the USA acquired Bichons, which provided the origins for the breed's development in the USA.

The Bichon Frisé became eligible to enter the AKC's Miscellaneous Class on September 1, 1971. In October, 1972, the breed was admitted to registration in the American Kennel Club Stud Book. On April 4, 1973, the breed became eligible to show in the Non-Sporting Group at AKC dog shows.


The well-bred Bichon Frisé is feisty, sensitive, playful, and affectionate. A cheerful attitude is a prominent personality trait. Most Bichons enjoy socializing with people and most dogs. They dislike being left alone. Bichons may be relatively stubborn, but are also said to be patient. They may tend to nip gently in play. They may have sudden bursts of energy resulting in the "blitz" or "buzz", where they race around in circles.

Special Considerations

Because Bichons do not shed, they are suitable for many people with allergies, however human sensitivity to dog fur varies considerably. People with dog allergies should first visit with a Bichon to test their individual reaction before committing to ownership.

Like most non-shedding dogs, Bichons are high-maintenance. They require regular grooming, which can be expensive and/or time-consuming.

Bichon Frise Dog
Three Bichons in a row

Grooming and Skin/Coat Care

Because Bichons are so susceptible to skin problems and allergies, good grooming practices are very important.

Bichons being shown in conformation (i.e., in dog shows such as the Westminster Kennel Club show) have their coat styled in the full-volume cut required by most show standards. Bichons not being shown are more often kept in a "puppy cut," which is shorter and requires less maintenance.

Like all dogs that require frequent grooming, Bichons should be accustomed to grooming from a young age and care should be taken to keep grooming pleasurable. Bichons should be brushed several times a week to prevent tangles. Frequent grooming creates a puffier coat. To prevent matting, the coat should be kept clean, brushed thoroughly before bathing, and brushed and completely dried after bathing. Hair dryers designed for dog grooming are generally preferred over human hair dryers.

Dog dryers are cooler and blow air with more force than human hair dryers. Some breeders use products such as baking soda or cornflower to dry the hair but this can lead to the hair becoming brittle. Excess hair should be removed regularly from ears and between foot pads. Owners should clean their dog's hind (anal) area with a damp cloth after each bowel movement to keep feces from sticking to the hair.

The fur on the face of a Bichon Frisé should be kept clean and trimmed, as eye discharge and mucus tend to accumulate in the hair that grows in front of their eyes. In common with most white dogs Bichons are prone to tear-staining around the eyes.

Tear staining may be caused by allergies, infections, blocked tear ducts, stray eyelashes, or foreign material in the eyes. It is generally good practice to wipe away the tears on a daily basis. A saline solution may help. There are topical wipes available from pet stores that have been shown to help some dogs.

If skin problems develop or if eye discharge is excessive, a veterinarian should be consulted. Problems due to allergies may be require medication or a change in diet.

Bichon Frise Puppy Dog
A 7-week old Bichon.



Although Bichons are often considered a "hypoallergenic" breed for people prone to dog allergies, Bichons themselves are unusually prone to allergies. Between a quarter and half of Bichons (depending on the particular survey) in USA/Canada surveys have skin problems and allergies, including atopy (inhalant allergies). Skin problems in Bichons were less often reported by owners in a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey, but were still more prevalent than among other breeds. Other health issues unusually common in Bichons include dental disease, patellar luxation and cruciate ligament tears, and bladder and kidney stones.

Longevity and Causes of Death

Bichons in (combined) UK and USA/Canada surveys had a median life span of about 12.2 years, with Bichons in the UK tending to live longer than Bichons in the USA/Canada. This breed's longevity is similar to other breeds of its size and a little longer than for purebred dogs in general. The longest lived of 34 deceased Bichons in a 2004 UK survey died at 16.5 years. The oldest Bichons for which there are reliable records in various USA/Canada surveys have died at 19 years.

In a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey, the leading causes of Bichon death were old age (23.5%) and cancer (21%). In a 2007 USA/Canada breeders survey, the leading causes of death were cancer (22%), unknown causes (14%), hematologic (11%), and old age (10%). Hematologic causes of death were divided between autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP). AIHA and ITP were responsible for the greatest amount of Bichon "years lost."

"Years lost" is a measure of the extent to which a condition kills members of a breed prematurely. While cancer is a more common cause of death than AIHA/ITP, Bichons that died of cancer died at a median age of 12.5 years. Hematologic deaths occurred at a median age of only 5 years. Bichons in the UK survey had a lower rate of hematologic deaths (3%) than in the USA/Canada survey (11%).
Bichon Frise Dog

Bichon Frise Dog
A well really groomed Bichon



Because autoimmune haemolytic anemia (AIHA, also called immune-mediated haemolytic anemia, or IMHA) and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP) are responsible for so many premature Bichon deaths, Bichon owners should be particularly alert to the symptoms of these conditions. In AIHA, the dog's immune system attacks its own red blood cells, leading to severe, life-threatening anaemia.

Symptoms include weakness, loss of energy, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, dark urine, and pale or yellow gums. Thrombocytopenia often accompanies AIHA. In ITP, blood platelets (which cause blood clotting) are destroyed. The most common clinical signs are haemorrhages of the skin and mucus membranes.

Owners of Bichons showing suspicious symptoms should seek immediate veterinary care as these diseases can strike with little or no warning and kill very quickly. Mortality rates of 20% to 80% are reported.

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"My mom has one of these dogs, she rescued him. She does a lot of rescue work and has always referred to Charlie as her "ambassador". He is always the first dog to meet and greet, esp other dogs. He's quite the love, and so enjoys being scratched. He also loves to "blitz" through the back yard with his buddy Mac (an unknown poodle mix)."

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