If you're a Bichon Frise owner, they likely heard your jubilant cheers all the way to Madison Square Garden when Flynn, the stunning Bichon Frise, walked away with the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club Show this year. After all, who can resist the many charms of the Bichon Frise? The Bichon Frise is a happy little white dog who is well-suited to family life. He is particularly fond of children and enjoys being wherever his family is. Long a favorite dog breed of European nobleman and even royalty, this Mediterranean-based dog breed has found great popularity throughout the United States as well.
The combination of his dashing good looks and sweet nature had you at hello, and you were excited to welcome your first Bichon Frise puppy into your home. He was everything that you had hoped for and more. But recently you noticed that Fido is bringing in more and more grass stains in his bright white coat. Closer examination revealed that he's been eating grass. Is this a behavior that is common to all Bichons, or is there something of greater concern at play? Why is your Bichon treating your yard like an all you can eat grass buffet?
The Root of the Behavior
The Bichon Frise is one of several white dogs belonging to a group known as Barbichons. They bear pride of place alongside such breeds as the Maltese, the Bolognese, and the Havanese. Each of these breeds was refined and further developed on the Canary Islands in a city called Tenerife. The Bichon Frise quickly became a fan favorite of the locals and earned the affectionate nickname the "Bichon Tenerife." It was this dog that became the earliest link to the modern Bichon Frise's pedigree. European royalty was especially fond of this attractive and genial breed in the 13th and 14th centuries and afforded them a place in palace and court life in Spain, Italy, and France. They reached the height of their popularity during the Renaissance period. During the French Revolution, the Bichon Frise was forced out of his role as the pampered lad of the salon and into the streets when their owners were seized and either imprisoned or killed. Now homeless, these dogs became companions for street magicians and other performers who thrilled at the little white dog's capacity to learn tricks and other routines where he gained a prominent position as the "en vogue" dog of the moment.
The World Wars were equally taxing on the Bichon Frise, causing the breed to nearly enter extinction. But thankfully, a few of this beloved breed remained and continued to flourish in France and Belgium. It was here that the breed was recognized and given its official name the "Bichon a Poil Frise." The American Kennel club reports that this French moniker is loosely translated as the "Bichon of the curly hair." This dog was bred purely for companionship, and he excels in his role. In conformation, he is to be the perfect picture of symmetry and balance, and his temperament is marked by his amiable personality and gentle jovial spirit. While there is nothing particular to Bichon Frises that would cause them to eat grass, grass eating is a common practice amongst all dogs at some point in their lives. So, why is your Bichon Frise eating grass? The term "pica" is the designated title for dogs with a predilection for consuming things that are not your run of the mill, ordinary food source. There are many reasons why a dog might engage in pica behaviors. Breed experts state the some Bichon Frises choose to eat grass due to a deficiency in their diet; however, it is also possible that your dog is merely frustrated or bored, and eating grass is something to do to pass the time.
Encouraging the Behavior
Grass eating is a very typical canine behavior. In general, veterinarians are not concerned by dogs who choose to eat grass, assuming it is only an occasional practice. Studies show that dogs do consume grass and other plants from time to time, so this particular activity is not necessarily a cause for panic. Most dogs who choose to consume grass exhibit no signs of ill behavior prior to eating it, and fewer than 25 percent of dogs who do eat grass later throw it up. Since dogs are very practical creatures, it may be that your Bichon Frise is having digestion issues, and he feels that a little bit of grass will provide the fiber he needs to get things moving in the right direction. Grass is a form of consumable fiber and may well help to regulate a floundering digestive system to help get things back on track again. Other dogs who may be suffering from parasites or worms in the stomach lining choose to eat grass as a means of relief and an additional food source. Parasitic infestations often lead to ravenous dogs. If your dog is not free fed, his access to his dog food is limited, thus he seeks an alternative type of food in his attempts to satiate his hunger.
Some dog owners claim they suspect their dog is not receiving all of the nutrients he needs from his food, so he is seeking some on his own through a plant-based source. While it is entirely possible that this is true, it is difficult to ascertain precisely what your dog is missing. However, it could be a powerful indicator that a change of diet is required. Of course, there is always the thought that maybe your dog just really likes grass! Tastes vary from individual to individual, and it just might be that grass is your dog's version of chips and dip on a hot summer day. To each his own. If your dog is bored, nuisance behaviors will sometimes surface. If Fido has access to a fully fenced in yard but with little to do to stimulate his mind, he might chew grass just because he can. It is a way to pass the time until you get home to entertain him. It is also possible that your Bichon Frise has an upset stomach, and eating grass helps to settle it. This is likely the most common reason dog owners cite behind seeing this behavior in their own dogs. The action generally appears one day and is gone the next.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If your Bichon Frise enjoys a little mid-day grass snacking, it isn't necessarily something that should cause you to lose any sleep at night. Most experts agree it likely has more to do with regulating digestive issues than anything. Thankfully, eating grass is not harmful to the dogs of today. In previous years, dog owners made use of chemical pesticides that could be extremely dangerous for their beloved furry companions. However, today's eco-friendly homeowners favor using all natural products for weed prevention and lawn maintenance, making grass eating a safe activity for our dogs. If you have any doubts if your dog's penchant for grass eating is normal, it is always wise to consult your veterinarian. If you suspect your dog has a parasitic infection, it is best to seek professional help. Your veterinarian can provide a thorough examination and assessment to determine the root cause of the problem and treat it appropriately.
Since grass eating comes naturally to our dogs, it is entirely possible that it is an inherited behavior or even one gained through observation of other canines in the wild. Dogs learn by studying the actions of other animals and mimicking them. If Momma ate grass and her babies watched her doing it, her babies may well begin eating grass as well. In this manner, it becomes a self-perpetuating habit. We cannot discount that our dogs are canine opportunists. In the wild, sourcing food was not always possible, and dogs became painfully aware of what true hunger felt like. Grass was always available in plentiful supply and afforded the dog a little something to ease a sore and rumbling belly. Other Bichon Frise owners report that their dogs sometimes eat grass to neutralize accumulated toxins in their bodies as grass is reportedly a natural detoxifying agent. Other theories include grass's ability to purify the bloodstream and to reduce potentially harmful bacteria within the body.
If your Bichon Frise enjoys a hearty helping of grass every once in a while, it is not cause for concern. This normal canine behaviour is something every dog engages in from time to time. It is most likely simply a way for Fido to ease any stomach discomfort he is experiencing. However, if Fido's grass eating has you concerned, it is always wise to schedule a consultation with your vet to rule out any potential injuries or illnesses facilitating the behavior.
By a Parson Russel Terrier lover Jason Homan
Published: 04/20/2018, edited: 01/30/2020