The Bichon Frise is a small but sturdy dog that is often referred to as a little powder puff. This comes from their double coat of fur. The qualities that are most characteristic of this dog are his plumed tail, which is carried over the back and their dark brown or black eyes that always seem to have an inquisitive expression. They are a very sound dog with an excellent sense of balance. The neck is long and arched and carried very high as this dog walks with a proud appearance. Their ears drop down and are covered with long flowing hair. This dog may only be about 12 inches tall, but they are very muscular.
The name, Bichon Frisé, is a French name that means 'curly lap dog'. This dog is a small dog that is very popular as a pet and companion. They are very similar to the Maltese dog in appearance only slightly larger. They are a happy-go-lucky dog. They make excellent housedogs that, although they need grooming regularly, do not shed.
The Bichon Frise has a furry soft coat that requires regular maintenance and brushing to avoid tangles. They don't shed, but they still need grooming and regular brushing to avoid the skin conditions that they are so prone to developing.
The Bichon Frise is white although some may have some cream or apricot around the ears.
The origin of the Bichon Frise started as far back as 600-300 B.C. in the Mediterranean area where they came from the Barbet or Water Spaniel, Poodle. They were considered a lap or ladies dog. There were actually four different groups of Bichon: Bichon Maltais, Bichon Havanais, Bichon Bolognais, and Bichon Tenerife.
They were very well liked because of their cheerful personality and often used by sailors as barter as they moved from one continent to another. In the 1300s, they were rediscovered by Italian sailors, who put them to work as Spanish boat dogs. Their only job was to meet and greet people, a task they did cheerfully. They wanted the dogs to make the people like the Spanish.
The popularity of this dog soared through the years in France, Spain and especially during the time of Napoleon III. Shortly thereafter, you didn't hear or see much of them until the 1800s, when they became popular friendly dogs doing tricks in fairs and circuses or leading the blind. In the 1930s, they were acknowledged as a standard breed and given their present name, Bichon Frisé, by the International Canine Federation, with Frisé referring to their soft curly hair.
The breed was brought to the United States in 1955 and recognized in the AKC in 1973. The first litter to be born in the United States was in 1956. In 1959 and 1960, two separate breeders in different areas of the United States acquired Bichons. It is said that this is how the breeds got their start in the United States.
The temperament of the Bichon Frise can be described in many ways, all of them good. They are very energetic and feisty as well as being playful. They are known for experiencing a "blitz" or "buzz", where they'll suddenly have a burst of energy. When this happens, they'll run around in circles. The first couple times they do this, you'll think its funny and wonder what's going on with them. After a while, you'll get used to this taking place with the Bichon Frise. They are very playful dogs with a cheerful personality. They do have a tendency to playfully nip when they're playing. This is something that needs to be dealt with during their training. This is not a habit you want to continue if you have young children in the home.
The Bichon enjoy socializing with people, children and other dogs. Although they can be stubborn at times, they also have a lot of patience. They're great with children and friendly with everyone, even people that are not in the family. In spite of their friendliness, they still make excellent watchdogs.
One of the main health problems with the Bichon Frise is the many allergies they are prone to developing. Between 25-50% of Bichons suffer from allergies and skin problems. Many of these allergies are caused by also caused by inhalants. Other health conditions the Bichon Frise may suffer from are bladder and kidney stones, dental disease, cruciate ligament tears and patellar luxation (knee cap dislocates).
Because of their long floppy ears, they are very prone to ear mites and ear infections. It's very important to keep their ears clean all the time. In spite of some of the health problems that plague this dog, most of them live a long life, with most of the deaths caused be either old age or cancer. Hematologic problems such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia also affect this dog as well. Symptoms of this disease are loss of energy, weakness, vomiting, and lack of appetite, diarrhea, dark urine and rapid heart rate. If any of these symptoms show up in the Bichon Frise, they should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Good grooming habits are very important for your Bichon Frise, particularly because of their susceptibility to allergies and skin problems. At least once every three months, they should be professionally groomed. If they are being shown in conformation, they will need to be professionally groomed in a full-volume cut. However, dogs that aren't being shown will have their coat cut shorter.
It's important that their grooming begin at an early age so they get used to the process. Their hair tends to get tangled easily so it should be brushed a couple times a week. The best way to prevent it from tangling is to keep it clean by thoroughly brushing it and making sure it's completely dried after bathing. You may want to use a dog hair dryer. The fur on their face by their eyes needs to be trimmed to make sure eye discharge doesn't stick to the hair. Make sure you remove any excess hair from the ears and between their footpads. The anal area should also be cleaned frequently with this dog. Their nails grow very fast so they should be trimmed regularly to prevent them from being ripped and breaking a vein. Their eyes tend to tear a lot and this should be washed or wiped clean.
All dogs need exercise for their overall well-being and this includes the Bichon Frise. Even dogs that have an entire pen outdoors to run around all day need some sort of exercise, specifically in the form of walk or run. Many enjoy playing catch with a ball or Frisbee, which provides excellent exercise. The Bichon doesn't require a lot of exercise because of their lively personality. In fact, it's possible to over exercise them, especially if they've been doing their "buzz" frequently. They will often let you know with their stubbornness when they don't want any more exercise.
The Bichon Frise is a very easy dog to train because they are so intelligent and happy to be with people. They love pleasing their owners. They do tend to be stubborn occasionally and the use of treats during training often helps them enjoy the training more.
The Bichon was used to perform tricks at circuses and fairs years ago, which is testament to their ability to learn, agility and intelligence. They are sometimes difficult to housebreak for some reason. Crate training is the most effective way of house training this dog. They will come to look on the crate as their home and "space". They thrive on positive reinforcement and praise, but above all, are firm and consistent and start at an early age.