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Bichon Frisé

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Bichon frisé can literally be translated as ‘curly lapdog’ from French. The bichon frisé resembles the Maltese (bichon Maltais) in appearance; however, a bichon frisé is a bit larger.

In the old times this breed often worked on ships greeting guests, making sure the able seamen were in good spirit, and tried to leave a good impression of the ship’s crew with the local people. In the light of these actions the dog was often referred to as ‘The Little Ambassador’.

History of the breed
Bichon frisé is a small white lapdog (toy dog) that is said to derive from water spaniel and poodle. The bichon frise can be dated back to 600-300 BC in the Mediterranean. This is where it got its name ‘Barbichon’, which was later shortened to bichon.

The bichon breeds were divided into four categories: Bichon Maltese, Bichon Bolognaise, Bichon Havanese, and Bichon Tenerife – all deriving from the Mediterranean.

At a later time bichons gained ground as a royal dog in Spain. The bichon frise was also a popular companion on ship journeys because it hardly sheds, does not need a lot of exercise, is easily trained, and is a very social dog.

This breed was standardized in France and enjoyed a great deal of popularity because of an appearance in the Tintin books. During the renaissance the breed was very popular in France, Italy, and Spain. This popularity was renewed under Napoleon, but slowly decreased up until the end of the 19th century when it became popular again.

In 1933 the National Kennel Club in France determined the official standard. The standardization resulted from the popularity derived from the Tintin books in which a small curly dog, called Milou, accompanied Tintin. The breed was in general known as both ‘Tenerife’ and ‘bichon’ and the president of Federation de Cynologique suggested the name bichon frise due to its curly coat. Frise means curly in French.

Appearance, grooming and health
A bichon frise needs regular grooming and a haircut every other month depending on how you want it to appear. The hair in the face should always be clean and trimmed as fluid and slime get stuck in the coat underneath the eyes. Like with other white breeds miscolouring on the hair around the eyes do occur.

The bichon frise is one the least shedding breeds. However, it is a bit misleading to call it allergy safe. Every hair grows from a hair follicle with its own cycle. When the follicle dies the hair is shed and a new cycle begins. The life cycle of a follicle depends on breed, age, and indoor or outdoor living.

This means that there are no breeds that do not shed. A bichon frise does shed less than other breeds but is not allergy safe. Always consult your doctor and visit the dog in question before bringing it home.

The bichon frise is a happy, playful, intelligent, and mischievous dog. It prefers spending time with its owner and other people instead of being alone. It is easily trained. However, it can be difficult to housetrain a bichon frise. It is a small but robust dog that weighs between 9 and 18 pounds. It is 8-11 inches tall. It is an all white dog with a black nose. The outer coat is curly and the inner coat is silky and soft.

What you should know about the breed:

  • A small light dog, which is easy to bring with you
  • Does not need a lot of exercise
  • Curly coat that does not shed heavily
  • Good at alerting, but not a good watchdog
  • Likes other animals and people
  • Difficult to housetrain
  • Very social. Not happy being alone
  • Can be stubborn.
  • Reserved towards strangers if not socialized sufficiently
  • May be inclined to suffer from skin problems
  • Tendency of barking a lot

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