Bichon Frise

If you are a fan of dog show’s, then you already know a little about this breed of dog, the Bichon Frise. This small dog won the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Show at Madison Square Garden in New York for the Non Sporting Group.

But the Bichon Frise isn’t just a pretty face capable of winning on the big stage. They are cuddle bugs, that are relatively new to the United States, but for good reason continue to grow on the heart of many Americans.

So what does this dog have that makes them such a popular breed?

This is what you need to know about the Bichon Frise.

History

One of the more popular searches for this breed is the pronunciation of the dog. Pronounced, “Bee-shon, free zay,” one may be lead to believe the dog hails from France. Close but not quite.

Actually, this little cotton ball originates from the Mediterranean. More specifically, this breed belongs to a group called, Barbichon. That is because their ancestry is from Barbet or Water Spaniel. Furthermore, they could also belong to the standard Poodle.

At one point,, this dog belonged to a group of four breeds that included: Bichon Bolognese, Bichon Havanese, Bichon Maltese, and Bichon Tenerife. The Bichon Frise descends from the Tenerife.

It is believed that the Frise traveled from the Mediterranean to the Canary Island, and more exclusively to the Island of Tenerife.

It was during the 1300’s, that this breed first became popular with the Italian sailors. Immediately, the Italian’s love for this dog was incorporated among middle class merchant and royalty.

The French enter the picture during the time they decided to invade Italy around the 1400’s. Around that time, Italian artists and scholars fled north with their Bichons to serve in the French court. 

In the mid 1500’s, the great King Henry is believed to have owned a few Frises and to show his admiration and love for the dog, the King would court about with his pet all pampered. In fact, many European paintings from artists display a great level of affection towards their Bichons.

Over time, however, the Bichon Frise grew less “glamorous,” and the breed’s more “refined” lifestyle was replaced with shows and tricks at the circus or on the streets. 

France does get some credit for bringing this breed into prominance, when in 1933, they established the official breed standard for the Bichon Frise. The following year, the French Kennel Club admitted the Bichon Frise as a recognized breed. 

During World War 1, American soldiers were said to have grown infatuated with the fluffy little cotton ball and were bringing them back as pets. Although, they didn’t receive the same arousing attention as the Shiba Inu did, when they brought the breed back around the second World War.

However, they didn’t catch on as a breed until the mid 20th century, when Mr and Mrs. Francois Picault immigrated to  Milwaukee.

The couple is credited with establishing the breed as we know it today. It was their enthusiasm and organizing among fellow Bichon Frise breeders, that led to the Bichon Frise Club of America forming in 1964.

It didn’t take long for the American Kennel Club to take notice. They officially recognized the breed in 1972. The AKC in 1973, allowed the breed to compete for championship points at shows.

Today, the small size and medium energy dog in the Non Sporting Group is listed as the 45th most popular dog.

Size

The Bichon Frise is listed as a small sized breed, which should stand anywhere from 9.5 inches to 11.5 inches, according to the American Kennel Club.

As far as weight, the Bichon should weigh between 12 and 18 pounds.

Personality/Temperament

This powder puff loves to exert itself into the picture, and who can blame it with that cute face? Naturally, the dog loves to be the focal point of attention. They aren’t afraid to earn your recognition either. Don’t be surprised if you find your Bichon Frise doing goofy acts, tricks, or whatever it may take to gain your attention.

They are a lovable dog that will return the love right back to their masters. They love their family, and would like nothing more than to be incorporated into all of the family’s events.

With proper socialization and training early on, this is a great dog around small children and other animals or pets. 

The Bichon Frise can get a little stir crazy if they are left alone for longer periods of times. They do suffer from separation anxiety, so it always best to at least give them a pal or attention if possible.

The American Kennel Club describes them as feisty at times, with a streak of energy bursts on occasion. They may be somewhat mischievous at times. 

Energetic and playful, they will want some walking time or playing around the yard to break up the boredom. You can also get away with owning this bred in an apartment, but keep in mind, they shouldn’t be left around without activities or mental stimulation.

True to form, they can also be quite adventurous and nosey. You should have a proper fenced in area with this little bugger. Don’t worry about annoying the neighbors, this breed barks when they have to.

Health

A Bichon Frise is listed as a reasonable healthy dog with a life expectancy rate of 14 to 15 years. There aren’t a lot of life-threatening issues found with this breed, but there are some serious health concerns to pay mind to.

You can avoid much of the drama, if you buy from a reputable breeder, who will have the proper documentation and papers you need for certain health clearances.

Ultimately, you should always have your dog familiar with the Vet’s office.

Some of the bigger concerns affiliated with this breed is Allergies. Yes, even the dog’s hypoallergenic coat does it no favors. Most of this is considered minor, but there can be some serious allergen issues that lead no infections, hair loss, or irritation. If you find your dog licking itself or scratching incessantly, you may want to get them checked out by the Vet.

Patellar Luxation is also known with this breed, a ligament issue that happens when the knee is dislodged. If this isn’t treated or ignored, Patella Luxation can lead to arthritis and possibly paralysis.

Hyperadrenocorticism, also known as Cushing’s Disease, has been linked to this breed. Much like other breeds such as Boston Terriers or a Dachshund, the Bichon Frise’s pituitary gland will produce too much cortisol, which can lead to distending and other health issues due to the hormonal imbalance.

You should also keep an eye out for Hip Dysplasia, a hip deformity that can lead to pain, lameness and serious issues down the road. Therapy and surgery can prevent the issue from getting worse.

Ear infections and gum diseases are other health complications to be mindful of when dealing with this Bichon Frise.

Care

If you are thinking about purchasing a low maintenance breed and you think that the Bichon Frise is it, think again. You will need to put in some effort with this dog, especially their coats.

Trimming their nails once a month to avoid cracking and overgrowth is advised. Just as bathing them once a month is as well.

They should get regular exercise and proper socialization early on. This will help produce a much more friendlier dog down the road.

You can teach this dog a bag of tricks very easily. The American Kennel Club listed this breed at 96% on training ease.

You’ll want to check their face, wrinkles, under the ears and inside them to make sure nothing is growing inside such as irritations or infections. Many breeders recommend cutting the hairs inside the ear often, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing that yourself, then hiring a professional will be your best move.

Feeding

How you feed your pet will go a long way in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Bichon Frises can be quite active, especially show dogs, and if that’s the case, they will require a higher calorie intake than non active dogs. Of course, that along with metabolism, whether the dog is spayed or neutered will play into consideration. 

For an active dog, you will want to feed them between 400 to 675 calories per day. A regular active dog will only need an intake of 290 to 500 calories per day.

You should always provide high quality dry kibble or wet canned food. AAFCO recommends a daily diet of 18 percent protein for an adult  and 22 percent for a puppy.

Speaking of pups, you can feed them slightly more than your adult dog. Try three or four meals per day, until about 6-9 months, or when they reach over 80 percent of their adult sized body.

Fish oils, fish, poultry or white meat, and beef should be their first ingredient. 5 to 8 percent fat is suffice as recommended. 

You can feed them twice per day as an adult. The advisable amount is a half cup to 1.5 cups of food per day. Once in the morning and once in the evening seems to work best for most Bichon Frise owners.

As always, you should leave clean drinking water for your dog.

Coat

Although the American Kennel Club lists the Bichon Frise’s coat as long, curly that barely sheds, the experience from many breeders and owners is different. It only appears that their double coat doesn’t shed as heavily as other breeds, but in reality, the shedding seems to trickle down to their undercoat, which can get stuck and cause dead hair to mat over in time.

Matting can be a pain to deal with, so in that respect, you will want to brush this breed three to four times per week. However, it’s not a bad idea to do some daily grooming to make it easier on yourself later on.

The Bichon Frise coat can be found in all white and zero markings. These colors can be a blend of all white, white and apricot, white and cream, or white and buff.

Their outer coat is coarse, while the undercoat is dense and soft.

Fun Bichon Frise Facts

  • Flynn, the Bichon, was the dog who won the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Show.
  • This breed is great for people with allergies, as their coat is hypoallergenic. 
  • Bichon Frise is French for “fluffy white dog.”
  • Centuries ago, this dog was used as an international bartering method.
  • Very popular with Spanish painters, the Bichon Frise was featured in several Fransico de Goya paintings.
  • Barbra Streisand owned a Bichon named Sammy. It was said after the dog died, she dedicated a song in Sammy’s memory.
  • Ozzie the Bichon became a social media hit back in 2015 with a following of over four thousand fans because of some hilarious pictures. 

Closing Words

The recent success of Flynn, who won 2018’s Westminster show will undoubtedly garner interest for this funky and fluffy looking breed.

Every bit of it deserved. The Bichon Frise has been making people curious about them for centuries and was even used as a bartering tool.

Once they arrived here in the States, however, they found a role that was easy to flourish in. A companion that will do whatever it take being the natural show dog  it is to win your attention and love.

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