Bichon Frise: Meet one of the cutest dogs in the world!

Last Updated on April 26, 2023

Adorable and fluffy, the Bichon Frise is a little white dog with round, expressive eyes that can draw smiles wherever it goes.

Also called Bichon Tenerife and Bichon a Poil Frise, this purebred is noticeably good-looking with a heart-warming and confident personality.

a smiling Bichon Frise lying outdoors
A comfortable Bichon Frise lying on a cushion

Thinking about getting a Bichon Frise because of your love for small breeds? Is this the right pet for you, though? Keep scrolling and find out!

Where did the Bichon Frise originate?

Some believe that they came from the Canary Islands, primarily in Tenerife.

Bichon Frises are part of Barbichons – a group of dogs with Mediterranean roots that descended from the Barbets or Water Spaniels.

It also includes other small white dog breeds like the Havanese, Bolognese, and Maltese.

Between the 13th and 14th century, Italian seafarers were pleased having these dogs on board because of their cheerful nature, but they’re actually often used as barters.

These sailors were credited for bringing Bichons to continental Europe, where they became companion dogs of kings, queens, nobles, and even France and Italy’s royal courts.

King Francis I and his successor, Henry III, had several Bichon Frises as pets.

Spanish royals also had a particular affinity for this breed. They were often given a fancy lion cut with a puffed head and shaved body.

You can even see Bichons in portraits of Spain’s nobility done by the famous artist Francisco de Goya.

However, when the French Revolution crumpled these top monarchies, many pampered Bichons ended up with street performers who found them easy to train and very entertaining.

Soon, these dogs were performing in circuses and alongside organ-grinders for handouts.

Unfortunately, World War I and II again put a threat to the breed. But they survived, thanks to some Belgium and French breeders.

Here they were recognized by the Bichon a Poil Frisé, or the “Bichon of the curly hair,” by the Societé Centrale Canine in 1933.

In the US, the Bichon Frise Club of America, Inc. was founded in 1964. It became the official parent club recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

The AKC themselves formally recognized the breed in the miscellaneous class in 1971, and a year later, they were added to the non-sporting group.

What does a Bichon Frise look like?

a stark white Bichon Tenerife patiently waiting

According to the AKC breed standard, this sturdy and resilient breed is characterized by its well-proportioned body that’s slightly taller than it is long.

They have a plumed tail that sits high over the back, an arched neck, a straight, muscular topline, and a well-developed, broad chest.

The feet are small and round, like those of a cat, and they have naturally floppy ears that hang low.

One of the more defining features of this breed is its large, dark, almond-shaped eyes. They don’t bulge but are very expressive with black eye rims, as well as a black nose and lips.

Size: Is a Bichon Frise a small or medium dog?

Most people would think they’re a small dog breed, but Bichon Frises are toy- to small-sized canines with a height of 9.5 to 11.5 inches (24 to 29 cm) and a weight of 12 to 18 pounds (5 to 8 kg) when full-grown.

These are the accepted measurements if you want your Bichon to join a dog show, but some males and females can be smaller or bigger.

Good news to apartment dwellers who want this pooch because they make the ideal city pet. Although, a home with a fenced-in yard would be better due to their energy levels.

What type of coat hair does Bichon Frises have?

Bichons have a double coat fur that’s medium in length.

Their outer coat has a coarse texture with tight corkscrew curls and an undercoat that’s softer and denser. Together the coat feels soft but springs back when petted.

Its white coat gives a powder puff look, but you can also find them in other colors like white and apricot, white and cream, or white and buff.

Temperament: Are Bichon Frises good family pets?

Two lovable Bichon Frise dogs bonding on a coffee shop
Suorce: @noonnu / IG

These little dogs are well-liked for their fantastic and charming personalities.

They love being around their humans and crave cuddles, making them ideal companions for families and lapdogs when they aren’t bouncing around and full of energy.

It’s no wonder that they’re known as canine comedians because they will spend hours entertaining children and other dogs.

Looking for breeds that make excellent watchdogs? Consider the Bichon Frise. They’ll quickly alert their family whenever something gets them curious.

Don’t expect Bichons to put up much of a defense because they’ll probably show their friendly side to strangers.

And if you think training would be a hassle, not with this intelligent fido. They love performing new tricks and learning new commands fairly quickly, so it’s safe to say that they’re relatively easy to train.

You may have trouble housebreaking a Bichon, though. We recommend crate training to help potty train your furry friend.

Do Bichon Frise dogs bark a lot?

Since they’re clingy pups, it’s best to know that they hate being left alone for long periods of time, which can lead to separation anxiety.

They can be quite anxious and fearful dogs, so early socialization is essential to prevent destructive behaviors, like snapping and barking.

The only time that these dogs will bark more is to get their human’s attention and to warn their family that there’s an intruder. Some pups will even be yappy when they feel like someone’s getting too close to their food.

How to take care of Bichons?

Bichon Frises may be an easy-going breed, but they require some level of maintenance. They will need daily exercise, and grooming is an absolute must!

You might also need to consider the costs of having professional groomers keep your dog looking good. And if you live in the city, you’ll need to make sure that there’s a place for her to exercise, like a doggy park.

Exercising your Bichon Frise

a Bichon Frise wearing a pink harness and enjoying her walk
Source: / IG

Bichon Frises have moderate energy levels. They mostly have short bursts of energy where your dog will love to romp around the yard, engage in a play session or go for a walk.

Having a dog brother or sister can help keep your Bichon entertained, but she’ll also enjoy getting some quality time with you – around 30 minutes to an hour of exercise daily.

These dogs have a keen eye for adventure, and they’re surprisingly fast! When on the go, keep your doggo on a leash.

Recall is important, too. However, this trait does make them well-suited for agility training and even dog sports and rally competitions.

Grooming: Do Bichon Frise dogs shed?

No, they don’t. In fact, they’re one of the breeds that are considered hypoallergenic, which makes them an excellent choice for allergy sufferers.

But that doesn’t mean those locks don’t need tending. Bichons require daily brushing and combing. Other than giving your pooch a clean look, you’ll also be able to get rid of dead hair that can cause matting.

Baths should be given at least every month because dirt is very visible in that beautiful white coat. While washing your pet, wipe around the eyes to prevent yellow or brown tear stains.

If unsightly stains are still noticeable after drying her up, you can use a tear stain remover.

Then, you can bring your Bichon to the groomer every four to six weeks for a clip to keep her looking and feeling at her best.

You can do a monthly trim of her nails, but her ears should be cleaned and checked weekly because this breed’s floppy ears can trap moisture that can lead to ear infections.

And to avoid tartar build-up that can lead to various dental issues, brush her teeth at least twice a week.

a Bichon Tenerife with a perfect haircut sitting in a dog mat
Source: @henry.poo / IG

How much should a Bichon Frise eat in a day?

The recommended amount of dog food to give Bichon Frises is about ½ to 1 cup daily, then split it into two meals – one in the morning and one in the evening.

Puppies will benefit from frequently eating more, like three or four times a day until they reach six months of age.

Still, it will also depend on the dog’s dietary needs, weight, and metabolism.

It’s best NOT to free-feed your fido because this breed tends to overeat and develop obesity.

With that said, other health issues like allergies, liver disease, and bladder stones could influence what kind of diet you can feed your dog.

Bichon Frises will also love treats, which play a vital role in their training. However, be cautious on how many snacks you give your dog.

Make sure to keep it within the recommended daily calorie intake for your dog’s size and energy level.

It is best to keep your dog’s diet consistent and try to avoid giving her human food, no matter how much she stares at you with those big, puppy dog eyes.

What common health problems do Bichon Frises have?

a Bichon Frise wearing a dog cone

Although they’re a generally healthy breed, there are a few health concerns that could plague them during their lifetime.

These include patellar luxation, which affects the kneecap, bladder infections, allergies, and eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, or progressive retinal atrophy.

Some more severe health conditions that affect this breed include Von Willebrand’s disease, epilepsy, and liver disease.

Many premature Bichon Frise deaths are linked to Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) and Immune-mediated Thrombocytopenia (ITP).

These rare diseases of the blood attack the immune system and make dogs weak, anemic, and lethargic. Some signs of this are yellowed gums and canines that seem to bruise or bleed very easily.

Also, Bichons are prone to heart diseases, including Patent Ductus Arteriosus, in which too much blood is carried to the lungs, putting pressure on a dog’s heart.

Some symptoms of heart illnesses that dog owners have to watch out for include coughing, shortness of breath, weak hind limbs, and weight loss.

While dental disease is widespread in dogs, Bichon Frises are more prone than other breeds to develop severe problems with their teeth.

Since these dogs are prone to obesity, it’s essential to keep a close eye on their calorie consumption because overweight dogs are also at a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Bichons are also prone to developing stones in the urinary tract, known as urolithiasis. This condition can also be controlled by keeping a close eye on your dog’s weight and increasing his water intake.

The National Breed Club recommends that any Bichon Frise used for breeding is given an Ophthalmologist Evaluation and a Hip Evaluation and Patella Evaluation.

On average, Bichon Frises can enjoy a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. The longest living Bichon in the US made it to a ripe old age of 21!

Curious what are the common causes of death for this purebred? They’re old age, hematologic conditions, and cancer.

We’re not trying to scare you, but as paw parents, it’s better to be aware and be prepared for the illnesses our fur babies may have.

One of the best things you can do for Bichons is to have them spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering can drastically reduce the risk of cancer, while of course, eliminating the risk of any unwanted puppies.

How much does a Bichon Frise puppy cost?

Three Bichon Frise puppies inside a basket
Adorable and cute three white Bichon Frise puppies in a brown woven basket

The price range for Bichon Frise puppies is from $250 up to $2,500, where the average cost is around $600. You’ll also need to consider other expenses like veterinary costs, food, bedding, accessories, and more.

This could set you back around $2,740 for the first year and about $1,270 for every year after that. These costs add up to a total spend of around $20,000 for your dog’s entire lifetime.

Some people wonder why Bichon Frises are so expensive. Other than being relatively rare, it’s also due to aesthetics. The demand for accessory breeds such as Yorkies and Chihuahuas is just really high.

Finding Bichon Frise breeders

Always do your research before buying a Bichon Frise from a breeder to ensure that it didn’t come from a puppy mill.

We highly recommend that you visit the kennel to meet the parent dogs, see where the puppies are being kept, and look at the environment’s standards.

The Bichon Frise Club of America has a Breeder’s Directory where you can find members in good standing with the organization. You can also browse through the AKC’s Marketplace.

But here are some breeders to get you started in your search for a Bichon of your own:

  1. Brereton Bichons (Birmingham, AL)
  2. Destiny Bichons (Marietta, GA)
  3. Hollyhock Bichons (San Diego, CA)

Bichon Frise dogs for adoption

Unfortunately, there are always Bichon Frises from rescue shelters looking for a good home. Sometimes, these are older dogs whose owners simply cannot care for them anymore or have passed on.

Others get these cute dogs as puppies, thinking they will make a nice ‘toy’ for their children without any clear idea of what goes into owning one.

If you’re looking to adopt a Bichon Frise, be sure to check out these rescue organizations. You may even find a Bichon Frise mix that you might like:

  1. Bichon Frise Club of America Rescue (Countrywide)
  2. Bichon Rescue of Orange County (Placentia, CA)
  3. Bichon & Little Buddies Rescue (Mukwonago, WI)
  4. Bichon Frise Rescue of New Jersey (East Hanover, NJ)
  5. Bichon Rescue Brigade (Southern California)

Bichon Frise vs Poodle 

Three Poodles sitting and enjoying the outdoors

Bichon Frises are often compared to Poodles because of their curly, hypoallergenic coat, and that alone makes them a top choice for those with allergies. Still, they both have high grooming needs.

However, unlike Poodles, which can be found in brown, silver, or black, the Bichon Frise only comes in white, cream, apricot, and buff.

Bichon Frises only come in one size, while Poodles can come in various sizes – Standard, Miniature, and Toy Poodle. They will be closest to a Miniature Poodle in height and weight.

The two breeds do, however, share some very similar personality traits.

They’re both highly intelligent, love to be around their owners, get on well with children and other animals, and have a fun-loving, comical side. They also make good companions for families and older people.

Curious about Bichon Frise mixes?

a curly and cute smiling Cavachon sitting on a wooden floor
Source: @mistertofu_ / IG

These adorable teddy-bear-like canines are often mixed with other breeds to create playful, spirited, and utterly charming designer dogs.

This practice of crossbreeding has reached new heights in recent years, creating various hybrids for pet owners to choose between.

Here are some of our favorite Bichon Frise mixed-breeds:

  • Bichon Poodle – Bichon Frise and Poodle mix
  • Cavachon – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bichon Frise mix 
  • Zuchon – Shih Tzu and the Bichon Frise mix

Check out our article about Bichon Frise mixes for more cute designer pups!

Pros & Cons: Who should get a Bichon Frise?

a Bichon Frise wearing an fleece sweater smiling

Mischievous, loveable, and cute, the Bichon Frise is one purebred pup that you can’t help but love.

They make excellent first-time dogs and companions for families and homes with other pets, while their confidence and small size mean they can adapt well to any environment.

However, they do need lots of love and care, so if you’re often away from home, this might not be the best dog for you.

So what is your verdict about Bichon Frises? Are you going to get a pup, or do you already have one? Share with us your experience with this breed by leaving a comment below.

Further reading: similarly breeds to the Bichon Frise

Looking for a breed similar to the Bichon Frise? Then be sure to check out these other dogs that are also cute, happy, and fun with a curly white coat that makes them very adorable:



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