Bichon Frise


The striking powder-puff overall look of this bichon derives from the double coat, with a soft dense undercoat and coarser, curly outer coating, causing the coat to stand off the human body and also spring back when patted. It’s a joyous, nimble breed, more than it is tall, with a simple trot. Its appearances, together with its fitnesscenter, let it make its living as a street performer. Its soft, curious expression allowed it to worm its way into many laps and hearts.

Perky, resilient and lively, the bichon frise’s happy-go-lucky outlook endears it to all. It’s friendly toward strangers and other dogs and pets, and it’s extremely good with kids. It’s sensitive, caring and responsive, as excited to cuddle as it is to performwith. It may bark a lot.

FAMILY bichon, companion, water dog
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION companion, performer
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 9.5-11.5 Weight: 11-16
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 9.5-11.5 Weight: 10-15
OTHER NAME Tenerife dog, bichon Tenerife, bichon a poil frise
Though small, the bichon is an energetic dog and requires daily exercise. Its demands can be fulfilled with a vigorous indoor game or, better, a romp in the yard or a brief walk on leash. The snowy powder-puff coat requires brushing and combing every other day, also scissoring and trimming each 2 months. It will not drop, but the loose hairs become entangled at the jacket and may mat. It could be tricky to maintain white in some regions. This isn’t a dog which should live outside.
  • Energy levelHigh energy
  • Exercise needsLow
  • PlayfullnessVery playful
  • Affection levelVery affectionate
  • Friendliness toward other dogsVery friendly
  • Friendliness toward other petsVery friendly
  • Friendliness toward strangersVery friendly
  • Ease of trainingHard to train
  • Watchdog abilityHigh
  • Protection abilityNot very protective
  • Grooming needsHigh maintenance
  • Cold toleranceMedium tolerance
  • Heat toleranceMedium tolerance
• Major concerns: patellar luxation
• Minor concerns: tooth loss, cataract
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: knee, eye
• Life span: 12 – 15 years
The bichon frise has its own origins from the Mediterranean, initially produced by crossing the barbet (a massive water puppy) with little, white lap puppies. This cross finally generated a family of dogs called barbichons, which was later shortened to bichons. The bichons were split into four different types: the bichon Maltaise, Bolognese, Havanese and Teneriffe. The Teneriffe, that was to later develop into the bichon frise, developed over the Canary Island of Teneriffe, likely having been taken there by Spanish seafarers in early times. From the 14th century, Italian sailors brought specimens back in the island into the Continent, where they quickly became favorite pets of the top class. After a collection of French invasions of Italy in the 1500s, the small dogs were embraced by the French. They were particular pets of Francis I and his successor, Henry III. They also enjoyed fame in Spain, but for some reason, the breed’s popularity waned throughout Europe. It did encounter a brief resurgence during the reign of Napoleon III from the early 19th century, however, once more it quickly disappeared from favor. This started a new chapter at the bichon’s history, since it shook from courtroom preferred to ordinary street puppy. The bichon lived, though, due to its propensity for acting tricks, and it teamed with peddlers and organ grinders to amuse passerbys or even fair-goers for cash. With the dawn of World War I, the small dogs were almost lost. A couple of dogs were brought back home by soldiers, but no real attempt to conserve the strain was created before some French breeders started an earnest attempt to set up the strain. In 1933, the name officially became bichon that a poil frise (“bichon of this curled coat”). The strain was threatened once more, now by World War II, and it wasn’t before it came to America from the 1950s that its potential became more secure. Then, the bichon frise didn’t catch on till it obtained a brand new hair cut and increased publicity in the 1960s. The strain abruptly captured the interest of fanciers and has been known by the AKC in 1971.


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