A lapful of charm in a cloud of cotton-wool-like curly white hair, the Bichon Frise is undoubtedly one of the sweetest and most affectionate of all dog breeds.
Pronounced BEE-shawn FREEzay, the Bichon Frise is a breed that loves to be the centre of attention, which isn’t surprising given that he used to be very popular with royalty and performed tricks to the roars of the circus crowds.
The Bichon is one of the few breeds that really has been around for at least 2,000 years, although, they were not always known by their current name. Little white dogs were found throughout the Mediterranean and made their way throughout the known world as popular trade items.
They flourished because of their small size and charming personality. During the Renaissance they could be found at the royal court of France, and they are often seen in portraits as the companions of fine ladies.
By the 19th century, Bichons had come down in the world. They accompanied organ grinders and performed on the street for the amusement of passers-by.
Some were popular circus dogs, while others had the important role of leading the blind.
French breeders took them in hand in the early 20th century, wrote a breed standard for them, and gave them their new name: Bichon Frise, meaning “curly coat” and they have remained popular companion dogs ever since.
Bichons are fairly healthy and very long-lived, sometimes living into their late teens.
His dark eyes sparkle with mischief, but like his cousins the Havanese, the Maltese and the Coton de Tulear, he pretty much uses his powers for good.
Letting your Bichon Frise have the softest bed and just one little bite of your dinner makes you both happy after all.
But experts caution that, as with any dog, you cannot expect a Bichon to be “perfect” from birth – a dog is not a wind-up toy and Bichon Frises can be a challenge to housetrain and need to be taught their place in the family.
The fact that Bichons were born to cuddle also doesn’t mean they don’t need exercise and training; they do. Suggesting that you never indulge your Bichon is pointless, but make sure that your training on the important matters — such as nipping, snapping and barking — is gentle and consistent. Don’t turn your bold, happy dog into a yappy tyrant, is something experts particularly caution over.
While the Bichon can be a wonderful family pet, this may not be the right breed for families with young children or rambunctious older ones, especially if you have one of the smaller types of Bichons. They can easily be injured if play is too rough, or even snap at a child if they’re frightened.
You may have heard that the Bichon’s non-shedding coats make him a “non-allergenic” breed, but that’s simply not true.
It’s a dog’s dander – flakes of skin – that triggers allergic reactions, not the coat. The non-shedding coat means less dander in the environment and sometimes fewer allergic reactions. But Bichons still produce dander, and can still cause an allergic reaction. Any breeder who tells you their dogs are “non-allergenic” should be avoided.
Even in a pet home, the Bichon’s curly coat requires daily brushing and occasional professional grooming.
A neglected coat becomes matted, which is painful and can lead to serious skin infections.
Train your Bichon to sit for daily brushing or combing so that both of your lives will be easier, while experts recommend you use a pin brush for the most effective grooming.