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Bichon Frise

All about Bichons!

Bichon (+)

Highly adaptable and incredibly cute
Playful well into their senior years
Bichons are low shedders
Highly intelligent and in the right environment easy to train
Not high maintenance on the exercise front
Often have long life spans with some Bichons living till they 17+ years old
Forms strong ties with owners and families

Points to Consider

Hates being left on their own
Bichon often suffer from separation anxiety
High maintenance when it comes to grooming with Bichons benefitting from being professionally groomed every 4 to 6 weeks or so
Can be difficult to house train
Bichons often suffer from allergies

Background facts about Bichon Frise!

The Bichon is one of the most popular breeds in the world and for good reason. They are adorable little dogs that boast wonderful, affectionate and loveable personalities. Bichons are known to be good around children which is another bonus as many smaller dogs find it hard to cope when there are kids around. The Bichon is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean region of Europe and is often referred to as the “Tenerife Dog” thanks to sailors in the 14th century having found them on the island of Tenerife and over the following centuries, Bichons found their way into the hearts and homes of people the world over.

The Bichon Frise loves being the centre of attention and although they are small in stature these little dogs are extremely confident and outgoing as well as being highly intelligent making them so entertaining to have around. The downside to sharing a home with a Bichon Frise is that they thrive on being with people and hate being left on their own which often sees them suffering from separation anxiety. It is also worth noting that Bichons are high maintenance in the grooming department because their coats benefit from being professionally groomed every 4 to 6 weeks or so which can add to the cost of their upkeep considerably.

Tell me more about their Origins?

As previously mentioned it is thought the Bichon Frise originates for the Mediterranean region of Europe and that they are descendants of the Barbet or Water Spaniel. They were given the name Barbichon after the Barbet which was then shortened to simply “Bichon”. Back in the day, the breed was divided into four separate types, namely the Bichon Maltais, the Bichon Bolognais, the Bichon Havanai and finally the Bichon Teneriffe, but all four varieties were found in various regions in the Med.

Sailors visiting the island of Tenerife found these little dogs and named them “Tenerife Dogs” back in the 14th century. The seamen took them back home with them and often used to trade them for other items. The Bichon soon found favour with the upper classes in many European countries thanks to their adorably cute looks and bright, sunny dispositions. They were particularly popular with ladies of the Spanish and Italian courts during the 14th and 15th centuries.

Bichons found their way to France when Francis I was on the throne, but it was under the reign of Henry III that the breed really came into its own. In Spain, too, Bichons were a firm favourite with the Infantas as well as the Spanish school of painters who often depicted these little white dogs in their paintings. By the late 1800’s, Bichons were owned by commoners too and many dogs used to accompany organ grinders and circuses as performing dogs because they were so quick to learn new tricks.

It was not until the end of the WWI that a renewed interest in the breed saw enthusiasts establish breeding programmes and through careful, selective breeding, they managed to re-establish good breeding lines for the Bichon. In 1933, a breed standard was set up by the President of the Toy Club of France which was established with the Friends of the Belgian Breeds. At the time, these lovely little white dogs went under two names which were the “Teneriffe” and the “Bichon” so it was decided to amalgamate the two by calling the breed, the “Bichon Frise”.

At the time and under their French Kennel Club registration France, Belgium and Italy were the countries of origin for the breed. A little later in 1956, French breed enthusiasts called M and Mde Picault moved to the States where they bred their first litter of Bichons which caught the eye of American breeders who set about developing the breed further in the States.

By the mid-1960’s, the Bichon found favour in Australia too thanks to a TV series in which a Bichon named Molly starred alongside an actor called Bruce Gyngell. Thanks to the series the number of Bichons grew in many of the country’s Eastern states and the breed has remained popular ever since.

Today, the Bichon Frise is one of the most popular breeds in Ireland not only as companions and family pets, but in the show ring too thanks to their adorable looks and their kind, even-tempered and loyal natures which when added together makes these little white dogs the perfect crowd pleaser.

Interesting facts about the breed

Is the Bichon Frise a vulnerable breed? No, they are among the most popular dogs in Ireland and elsewhere in the world thanks to their adorable looks and kind, loving natures.
There were 4 varieties of Bichon namely the Bichon Maltais, the Bichon Bolognais, the Bichon Havanai and the Bichon Teneriffe
They were introduced to Europe by sailors who traded Bichons for other goods
They were popular little dogs often seen performing in circuses and with organ grinders because they are so quick and clever when it came to being taught to do new tricks

What should my Bichon Frise look like?

Height at the withers: Males 23 – 28 cm, Females 23 – 28 cm

Average weight: Males 3 – 5 kg, Females 3 – 5 kg

The Bichon Frise has a pure white, soft coat that boasts having corkscrew curls in it. They are compact and nicely proportioned little dogs. Their heads are slightly rounded with a defined stop and hair that accentuates the shape of their heads quite noticeably. They have large, black, soft and shiny noses that adds to their overall cute appeal. A Bichon’s eyes are dark and round boasting striking black rims surrounded by haloes. These little dogs always have a keen and alert expression in their eyes which people find so endearing.

Their ears are well covered with long, flowing hair and they hang close to a dog’s head. They are set high on the head and dogs carry them forward when excited. The Bichon has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their lips are totally black in colour and quite tight.

Dogs hold their longish necks slightly arched which gives these little dogs their proud look. Their shoulders are oblique with nice straight strong legs. They have very well-developed fore-chests with a deep brisket and well sprung ribs. They have well-muscled bodies with broad loins that are very slightly arched and nicely tucked up. Their back-ends are broad with slightly rounded croups and well-rounded thighs and strong back legs. Feet are tight and well-rounded with black nails and pads. Bichons carry their tails raised up and they curve them over their backs although never curled.

When it comes to their coat, the Bichon Frise boasts a fine, soft and silky white coat that’s made up of corkscrew curls that measures anything from 7 – 10 cm in length. Dogs can be left untrimmed or trimmed which is perfectly acceptable as a breed standard.

Their coats are completely white, but dogs can have apricot or cream markings right up to when they are around eighteen months old. Their skin is dark which is highly desirable under their KC breed standard even though these dogs are white although they can have various coloured markings on their skin too which includes blue, beige and black all of which are acceptable.

 How should my doggy move?

When Bichons move, they do so with a nice balanced and easy-going gait with dogs always having a level and steady topline. Their legs move in a straight motion along the line a dog is travelling with their back pads clearly visible.

What about showing Bichons?

The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and the seriousness of a fault would be judged on how much it affects a dog’s overall health and well-being as well as their ability to perform.

Male Bichons should have both normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

It is also worth noting that a Bichon Frise can be slightly bigger or smaller as well as a little lighter or heavier than stated in their breed standard which is given as a guide only.

Does the Bichon Frise have a good temperament

The Bichon Frise is renowned for being a happy, lively and fun-loving little dog. They are very confident and outgoing characters, always friendly and rarely do they show any sort of aggressive behaviour. They are real clowns and love nothing more than to “perform” and play which is why they are such fun to have around. They are intelligent and therefore quick to learn new things and they are always ready and willing to please their owners which means it’s extremely easy to train them to do all sorts of tricks.

Although they are lively and energetic characters, they are quite calm too unlike many other breeds of a similar size. They are particularly good around children which means they make great family pets. They are also a great choice of dog for first-time owners although it is worth noting that these little dogs are quite high maintenance in the grooming department. In short, owners need to have the time and the know-how to keep a Bichon’s coat looking great and in good condition.

Although highly trainable, the Bichon can be a little difficult to housetrain, but with perseverance, understanding and patience, they can be taught to be clean around the home and to do their “business” outside. It can just take a little longer than with many other breeds. With this said, they are best suited to households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out so that a Bichon never spends too much time on their own, which is something they hate and which often sees these little dogs getting stressed out because they suffer separation anxiety.

Is a Bichon Frise a good choice for first time owners?

Bichons are a great choice for first time dog owners because they are so affectionate and eager to please with an added bonus being that they are incredibly social by nature. Bichons get on with everyone and everything, more especially if they are well-bred and socialised from a young enough age.

What about prey drive?

Bichons do not have a high prey drive, but this is not to say they won’t chase a neighbour’s cat when they get the chance just for the fun of it. As a rule if a Bichon has been well socialised, they won’t take off after anything that moves or that takes their interest.

Are Bichons playful?

Bichons are renowned for their playfulness, enjoying nothing more than to be the centre of attention entertaining their owners and guests alike. In days long past, Bichons accompanied organ grinders and performed in circuses because they learned new tricks so easily and because they thrive on human contact.

What about adaptability?

The Bichon is a highly adaptable little dog and one that fits in easily to most people’s lifestyles. They are just as happy living in an apartment in town as they would be living in a house in the country providing they are given lots of attention because if there is one thing the Bichon does not like, it’s finding themselves on their own for any length of time.

Does a Bichon bark a lot?

Some Bichons like the sound of their own voices a little too much and can be quite “yappy” at times. The key to preventing a Bichon from turning into a dog that barks for the sake of it, is to educate them when they are still very young and to do so gently but firmly before it becomes a real headache.

Do Bichons like swimming?

Bichons might not be a “water dog” breed, but they do have an affinity with water and most dogs enjoy retrieving and getting their feet wet whenever they can. With this said, it’s important not to let dogs swim in a pool because of all the chemicals found in them which could prove harmful to a dog and care should always be taken when walking a Bichon off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case they leap or fall in.

Are Bichons good watchdogs?

Bichons may be small in stature, but they are good watchdogs and are always quick to let an owner know when there are strangers about and when they don’t like something that is going on in their environment.

Will a Bichon be easy to train?

The Bichon Frise is known to be a quick witted little dog that’s always eager to please. As such they are easy to train, providing they know who is the boss in the household. Their training must be consistent and although it is easy to let a Bichon get away with a few things because they are so cute, it’s better not to because it could lead to a dog developing some unwanted behavioural issues. Providing a Bichon knows the boundaries and limits, they can be taught to be a well-behaved. If allowed to get away with too much, a Bichon being so clever would soon take on the role of alpha dog which often sees them being harder to manage because they develop a condition known as “small dog syndrome”.

It’s worth noting, however, that Bichons can be harder to housetrain than some other small breeds. As previously mentioned, housetraining one of these little dogs can take time, patience and perseverance, but in the end most Bichons get the message and don’t mess in the house unless they are left on their own for too long.

The first command a Bichon puppy should be taught as soon as possible so they understand ground rules and boundaries as well as who is the alpha dog in a household are as follows:

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Is a Bichon good with Children and Other Pets?

The Bichon has a natural affinity with people and therefore they generally get on well with children thanks to their playful and fun-loving personalities. However, it’s important that any interaction between dogs and the kids is well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could end up with a child being frightened or in a worst-case scenario, injured albeit by accident.

Bichons generally get on with other dogs and if they have been well socialised from a young enough age. They also get on with the family cat and will live happily alongside each other. However, when it comes to smaller pets, it’s best to keep an eye on a Bichon because they might see them as prey with disastrous consequences although they do not have a very high prey drive, it’s just best to err on the side of caution whenever a Bichon meets a smaller animal or pet for the first time.