Breed of the Month: Bichon Frise

Description: The Bichon is a small and sturdy dog. It has two coats, a soft undercoat and curly outercoat. The color of their coat is white, cream, or grey, with white being preferred among show dogs. The Bichon’s tail is long and curly and held over the back. The Bichon has dark round eyes and a black nose. The ears and tail are seldom, if ever, cropped or docked. Dewclaws are typically removed.

History: Bichons were bred from Poodles and Barbet Water Spaniels and date back to the 13th century. Due to their waterdog and sailor companion ancestry, modern Bichons enjoy the water and retrieving. In the 14th century they were popular with Italian nobility at the time and often groomed in the “lion cut”. The Bichon was popular during the renaissance and gained even more popularity in the court of King Henry III. The famous Spanish painter Francisco de Goya was known to include a Bichon in several of his paintings. The Bichon finally made its way to the US in 1956 and during that time became popular in Australia in 1960’s due to a popular television mini-series, Meweth, where a Bichon appeared on the show. In 1933 the breed was accepted into the French Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club in 1972.

Size: Males: 9–12 inches at the withers, weighing 7–20 pounds. Females: 9–11 inches at the withers, weighing 7–20 pounds.

Temperament: The Bichon is affectionate, lively, sociable, and excellent with children. While play usually takes care of all the exercise requirements, the Bichon still needs a pack walk like any other dog. Like all small dogs, if not properly trained they will develop small-dog syndrome and have behavior issues. The Bichon is not prone to excessive barking and is not likely to be aggressive. This breed will generally get along with other dogs and animals. As the Bichon was bred to be a companion dog, it loves human interaction and can be demanding of your attention. It’s all-around friendliness and sociability makes this dog a perfect lap dog.

Grooming: Bichons need daily brushing to prevent matted fur. They need professional grooming about every eight weeks and require a bath every month.

Health: The Bichon is prone to cataracts, epilepsy, and watery eyes. These dogs are also sensitive to flea bites. Bichons are also susceptible to hematological diseases.

Lifespan: 15 or more years.

Trivia: Famous owners of the Bichon include Barbara Streisand and Kathy Lee Gifford. A Bichon made an appearance in the movie Shrek 2.