This snowy-white, baby doll-faced breed is one that has been a favorite for many generations. The Bichon Frise is a small dog with fluffy white fur and a very bouncy personality. Back in the 14th century when they were first introduced to the country of Europe, the Bichon became court companion dogs to the royalty of that time; specifically, a favorite to King Henry III who actually carried the little dogs around in a special basket that hung around his neck. No one really knows where the Bichon Frise originated from, some believe it was from the Canary Islands brought back by French sailors, while others think that the Italians were actually the ones to discover the fluffy white dogs first. Regardless of who actually brought the dogs to Europe, they became a hit almost immediately. These dogs are well known for their cheerful personality and charming spirit. There is nothing that a Bichon Frise loves more than to be the center of attention! This is one reason why, on top of being great companions for the royal family, they also made wonderful show dogs. Now, these dogs are still used as show dogs and companions.
The Bichon Frise (pronounced bee-SHAN-free-ZAY) was originally dubbed a “Barbichon” which was then shortened to “Bichon” which literally means “curly coat” in French. There are four distinct groups of Bichons: the Bichon Maltais, the Bichon Bolognese, the Bichon Havanese, and the Bichon Tenerife. As well, the Coton de Tulear is thought to have ties. All of these dogs are believed to have originated in the Mediterranean. When they first came to Europe in the 14th century the Bichon Frise dogs were royal companions and much loved for their playful yet cuddly personality. In fact, the King adored them so much he owned many of the breed and carried his favorites in a basket that hung around his neck. Around the 19th century however, the playful breed was used for their intelligence and charm as performers. They worked either as companions to street peddlers or even in the circus as show dogs. The Bichon Frise had become a common dog at that time and fell out of favor with the royalty. Thankfully, their intelligence and positive spirit saved them from becoming extinct altogether. After World War I, some French breeders became very interested in the Bichon Frise and preserved the breed, which was then adopted by the International Kennel Club of France in 1933. Because of this, the fluffy white breed became popular once again and moved on to the United States in the year 1956. Now, the Bichon Frise is used as a companion dog and a showman. They are excellent family dogs, and while they can get a bit nippy when nervous, they do wonderfully around kids and other pets as long as the Bichon is well socialized at a young age. The Bichon Frise Club of America was recognized by the AKC in 1975.
Even though the Bichon Frise doesn’t shed very much, the grooming regime is not for the faint of heart. This is because, due to the double coat and white color, the owner of this breed will need to brush their dog at least twice a week and give him a bath any time that he gets dirty. It is important to brush your dog before bathing in order to remove any mats or tangles that may be lurking in the fur, otherwise the mats will get tighter during the bath and be nearly impossible to brush out. Besides regular brushing and grooming, it is advised to check your dog’s ears often and check that they are clean and free of any wax build up. With this breed it is sometimes necessary to pluck any stray hairs that are farther down within the ear canal. This is because wax build up and mites cling to hairs lower within the ear and can cause redness and irritation. If you are not comfortable with plucking the hairs in your Bichon’s ear, a professional groomer can do it for you. Finally, it is important to keep the face of your Bichon clean. Because of the long hairs around the mouth and eyes, mucus and discharge from the eyes can leave stains and cause eye problems if left unchecked.