Breed Group:
Companion Dogs

Middle Age: 6 years

Geriatric Age: 12 years

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

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Bichon Frise Breed Info & Background

The Bichon Frise breed originated in France, sometime before the 14th century. While the exact origin of the canine remains unknown, popular belief says that it’s a direct descendant of the Barbet, a mid-sized wooly water dog. How they made their way to France is an argument up to for discussion. Many say traders brought them from Italy and Spain along trade routes, while others believe the French Navy brought them back after they invaded Italy in the 16th century. Despite how it occurred, what we know is that the breed rose to popularity in Europe during that time period.

Adored by nobility and royalty, the dog was favored by kings, royalty, and famous artists. The Bichon Frise held its stature well through the reign of Napoleon but declined in popularity afterward. With so many breeders producing variations of the dog, they became a common pet and lost their exclusivity.

Once WWI reshaped the world, French breeders worked to preserve their lineage. Similar to Labradors, this breed actually almost went extinct in this reclamation period. However, breeders were able to streamline the breed, rebuild their reputation, and export them to other continents. The Bichon Frise breed made its way into the US in the middle of the 20th century, and was recognized by the AKC in 1975.

Bichon Frise Personality & Temperament

The Bichon Frise is an affable, polite dog that loves to be loved. Often the center of attention, they thrive by charming those around them and prove themselves time and time again as socialites. Despite being a toy dog, they’re quite bright. So much so that they can often challenge their owners and find their way into trouble if they see fit to.

The playful and loving Bichon Frise personality creates an aura of contagious happiness. They love to do anything with their family, love to interact with others, and are generally welcoming. They can tend to be a bit independent, but those moods are streaky and often temporary. By in large, they’re a happy dog with an even temperament that makes a great addition to any family.

But they are sensitive. A lot of toy dogs are purchased because they can be kept at home throughout the day with no real worry, and don’t require a massive amount of time. This Bichon Frise, however, suffers horribly from separation anxiety. This is not a canine that should be kept indoors for long periods of time without their owner. If this is the case, they can turn destructive, anxious, and aggressive.

How to Train a Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a very trainable dog. They’re eager to please, love attention, and are bright enough to learn quickly. These dogs benefit immensely from puppy classes and early socialization. They actually love puppy class, because not only are they receiving attention, but they’re being stimulated (something they crave).

At home, the reward system is the key to a Bichon’s heart. As mentioned before, they’re a sensitive breed, and naturally docile, so there’s no need to assert yourself as an alpha or use a punishment system. Rather, hold a firm hand, establish the relationship of master and pet, and give them with praise, treats, their favorite toy, and playtime to reward good Bichon Frise behavior.

However, there is a downside; these dogs are notoriously difficult to housebreak. While they respond well to obedience training, they just want it their way. This a toy breed that’s used to being pampered. Teaching them the rules of the house is one thing, having them act accordingly is another. It takes quite a bit of time to housebreak a Bichon Frise. Which means you have your work cut out for you.

Exercise Requirements for a Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise’s don’t need much exercise, but that doesn’t mean they should be stagnant. Around 20-30 minutes of exercise per day should suffice, with perhaps a few brisk walks sprinkled between. These dogs love to play. It’s their favorite past time. Throw a ball around the yard or chase them and they’ll light up with glee.

Do expect a Bichon Frise to exercise at their own speed. As should be obvious by their size, these aren’t adventure buddies. They prefer to trot along your side on your short walks around the block, rather than sprint through a field or go on a hike. They’re not built for that.

Also, these dogs can be prone to obesity. Since they have zero prey drive and don’t often care to exercise, the older they become the less they’re motivated. It’s important as their owner to motivate them and ensure that they’re receiving daily exercise, as health problems can arise in the future if not.

Bichon Frise Lifespan & Longevity

A Bichon Frise life span typically ranges anywhere from 12-15 years.

Bichon Frise Breed Popularity

The Bichon Frise is 45th on the AKC’s most popular list of 155 dog breeds. They’re popular for their charming presence, loveable personalities, and playful habits. However, they’re a small dog that does require quite a bit of work and attention, which often dissuades owners. But this breed is resilient. It survived two world wars when no one could afford a pet, and continues to grow its presence here in the states today.

Bichon Frise Food Recommendations

The recommended amount to feed a Bichon Frise is 1-1.5 cups of dry food a day, broken into two even meals. While these canines aren’t necessarily glutinous about their food, they can become lethargic later in life. To ensure optimal Bichon Frise health, it’s important to monitor their food intake versus their activity level to ensure they don’t become obese.

Age, metabolism, and weight are important characteristics that need to be considered when creating a diet for your Bichon Frise. No two dogs will ever eat the same, nor will they have the same metabolisms, and thus it’s important that you keep a keen eye on the way they respond to their meal plan.

How to Groom a Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise sports a white double coat. The inner coat is thick and soft to the touch, while the outer coat is often a bit rougher in texture. The two balance to create a soft, yet full-haired canine. Their coats are often their most identifiable trait, known most commonly for their poofiness. The hair tends to curl and is often groomed to follow the curves of the body, in which the thick texture poofs out.

Although one would think, by looking at the coat, that these dogs are huge shedders, it’s not the case. While they do shed, they don’t shed much. When their hair falls out, it slips through the first coat but is trapped by the second. This doesn’t mean they don’t require grooming, as a weekly brushing should be done to avoid any tangles, wipe away dead skin and hair, and keep their coats healthy.

In fact, grooming a Bichon Frise to keep them in their ‘proper form’ is often a work best fit for professionals. They need to be routinely bathed, brushed, and trimmed to keep their attractive coats in the best condition. Not to mention that their hair often grows wild. If it is not properly cut, bacteria can get in their eyes and can cause eye problems.

Be sure to check their ears, eyes, nose, and mouth for anything suspicious (redness, rashes, inflammation, parasites, infection). Trim their nails monthly and brush their teeth 2-3 times a week to avoid tartar or bacteria buildups.

Are Bichon Frises Good with Children?

A Bichon Frise does well with children. They’re often gentle, patient enough, and playful. But it’s important to remember that they’re small dogs, and if a child plays too roughly they could easily injure the canine. That’s why it’s important to not only introduce both child and dog early on, but to establish ground rules from the get-go.

Teach them both how to properly interact with each other, boundaries, and the appropriate way to play. In the initial introductory phase, it’s important that you always supervise their interactions. A Bichon Frise is a friendly animal, but they can nip and show aggression if they feel their security has been removed, or in any way threatened.

Bichon Frise Health Problems

The Bichon Frise life expectancy well exceeds a decade, meaning these dogs are built to last. They’re generally healthy, but not immune to health problems or illness. That’s why it’s important that a breeder can provide health clearances for the parents. These clearances should be given by a certified establishment and made available upon request. However, some possible Bichon Frise health issues are as follows:

Bladder Complications: a Bichon Frise is prone to both infections and stones in their bladder. There is a long list of factors that contribute to the development of this condition, and it’s usually treatable. If your Bichon is having to urinate more frequently than usual, if there’s blood in their pee, or if they have a major loss of appetite, take them to a vet to make sure it doesn’t have something to do with their bladder. A simple urine test can usually diagnose the problem.

Patellar Luxation: this condition often occurs in small dogs, and to state it simply, it occurs when the knee cap frequently dislocates. Due to a misaligned patella, the knee joint will constantly slide in and out of place. This can cause extreme pain, lameness in the leg(s), and at worse immobility. There are treatments available for this condition.

Vaccination Sensitivity: some smaller dogs often fall victim to this condition, which occurs once they’ve been vaccinated. Basically, they have a reaction to the vaccination. This can be as mild as a rash and hives, and as severe as sudden death. Your veterinarian should be aware of this condition, but it’s important to watch your Bichon Frise carefully once they’ve received their first round of shots.

Hip Dysplasia: usually a condition found in heavier-set dogs, this too can affect toy canines. It occurs when there’s displacement between the thigh bone and the hip joint. It causes extreme pain when walking, an abnormal gait, lameness in the leg(s), and, at worse, immobility. This condition can be screened for, however, only adding more importance to ensuring the parents of your canine received health clearances. There are treatments available for this condition, and it isn’t life-threatening.

Other Resources

National breed website: Bichon Frise Club of America
Rescues: Bichon Frise Rescue Brigade