Bichon Frise is a small breed of dog of the Bichon type. They are popular pets, similar in appearance to, but larger than, the Maltese. They are a non-shedding breed that requires daily grooming.
The Bichon Frise
By David Beart
A little white dog with a big heart wrapped in a coat that can vary from pet to show dog, the Bichon is a study of contrasts in some ways. They are a smaller dog but active. They shed little but need regular grooming. They’re a sturdy dog often confused with a poodle and although most recognized in white they can be white with apricot, buff or cream also.
This is a gentle incredibly loyal dog that is affectionate. They often remain playful for a long time and are highly sensitive to owner’s moods. Playing can take care of most of their exercise but they can use regular walks also.
The Bichon is feisty but it should be remembered as a small dog children might be too rambunctious for them. They can be somewhat stubborn to train with it common they will nip in playing. They’re adorable inside and out and living with a Bichon means being adored the way no human deserves!
They are good watch dogs to alarm you in case something is out of the ordinary but they are not guard dogs. They are social with people and other animals. They can go from couch potatoes to running laps around the room playing and enjoy playing with children that are considerate of the Bichon’s size. Many need the consistency of timing, persistence and a crate in order to housebreak.
Bichons need regular grooming. Because they are low shedding dogs brushing removes the dead hair as well as keeping tangles and mats from taking hold. The face should be trimmed and clean to keep the eye discharge from accumulating in the hair at the corners of their eyes. The Bichon has a soft undercoat with a curly outer coat. There’s a thickness to the coat that serves warning grooming is needed to keep it in good condition. A powder-puff look without excess sculpting is desired. Trim around the eyes and ears with a blunt pair of scissors and regular professional grooming is recommended.
Although credited with a French origin their earliest appearance is in the Mediterranean as early as 600 BC. Descending from water spaniels and poodles as a lap dog they originally had four divisions. Spanish sailors used the happy little dogs as barter items. The Bichon was employed as a canine greeter of people. Due to their high intelligence and willingness to learn they appeared in circuses in the late 1800s. In the mid 1960s the Australian mini-series Meweth featured a Bichon. Although making their way to the USA in 1955 it was 1973 before they received AKC recognition and are in the non-sporting group.
This is a good breed for someone who wants to take the time to teach the dog rules and misbehavior. They have few issues with excessive barking and destructive behavior if taught early proper behavior. They must be taught early, however, that excessive barking isn’t acceptable. Left unchecked they can be destructive - a crate helps not only in housebreaking but in giving a place with toys to pass the time you are out of the home. They NEED consistent discipline and guidance. They NEED rules and careful handling.
By the standard this is a breed 9 ½ to 11 ½ inches ideally with only slight variance allowed on superior dogs. They are compact with medium bone and a happy temperament with a plumed tail carried up over his back. The cheery attitude that won him favor in years past is still a factor for the breed today. They’re gentle and affectionate and should be rewarded with a constant home life. They need interaction as well as daily care.
Skin conditions and allergies can be a problem. Cataracts, skin and ear issues, eye problems, epilepsy and luxating patella are a few things that can affect Bichons. They need a daily walk for physical as well as mental health. Bladder issues can also affect the Bichon.
Regular dental care is needed to prevent not only teeth issues but bladder and kidney infections. Keeping your Bichon on a good diet can eliminate many issues but also keep an eye out for signs of allergies some have an issue called Kartagener’s syndrome that can show as symptoms of respiratory problems and infections. Plenty of water helps keep bladder and kidney problems at bay and keeps the system working. Don’t let your Bichon get too heavy - this places excess weight on his legs as well as shortens his life.
Allergies can be caused by food but also in the environment and can express itself with excessive licking and chewing especially on the feet. Make sure when bathing to rinse the coat extra efficiently and keep the grooming regular to avoid having to do a high level cleanup. Many allergies can be seasonal. Flea allergies take extra effort to keep the dog and home flea free. Reverse sneezing affects several little dogs and although it isn’t fatal it does get your attention.
Canine Ideopathic Thrombocytoenia results when there aren’t enough blood platelets circulating in the blood. These platelets are what clots the blood and they are important to the clotting capabilities of dogs as well as other animals. Von Willebrands disease is another blood clotting disorder. Immune Mediated Hemlytic anemia is a condition when the dog’s immune system begins attacking its own red blood cells, resulting in overwork of the spleen, liver and bone marrow. The dog has no energy and may have no appetite or vomiting. Urine is dark, gums are pale, sometimes with fever and yellowish tinge to the whites of the eyes. This is clearly a sick little dog and needs immediate assistance.
Canine gallbladder, hepatitis and liver disease can also be a factor. Epilepsy, white shaker dog syndrome and Bichon dyskinesia are neurological issues that can affect the breed.
Congenital heart disease can affect Bichons. Cancer has become an increased threat to all dogs including the Bichon. Deafness is another issue to watch for although not common. Cushing’s syndrome, glaucoma, corneal dystrophy, retinal dysplasia and liver shunts can all affect the breed. Many of these things can be tested for and if you are serious about breeding Bichons testing the breeder dogs makes sense.
Fortunately buying from reliable breeders who breed dogs that do not pass along genetic issues increases your chances of a healthy, happy pet that will be with you for many years.
As with any breed, consistent training and preventative care go a long ways towards a lifelong healthy pet. Careful selection can mean testing for things that may not show physically in that adorable puppy you are considering. Be prepared for more grooming than some breeds and a small dog that sometimes is "too smart." They can be a challenge but are also a wonderful, loyal dog that love people and create a bond beyond a "normal dog" for the right people.