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Bichon Frise

purebred bichon
Other names Bichon à poil frisé
Bichon Tenerife
Country of origin Spain / Belgium(was then taken into France)

A Bichon Frise (French, literally meaning curly lap dog) is a small breed of dog of the Bichon type. They are popular pets, similar in appearance to, but larger than, the Maltese. They are a non-shedding breed that requires daily grooming.





The Bichon Frise is a small cute but sturdy dog that weighs approx. 7-15 lbs and stands 23–30 cm/9-15in at the withers, but slightly larger dogs are not uncommon. It has a black nose and dark round eyes, and its white hair consists of a curly outercoat and a silky undercoat, although many of the breed do tend to have less curly hair than others. A small amount of buff, cream, or apricot color may be seen around its ears, snout, paws or body, but normally these colors do not exceed 10% of its body. The head and legs are proportionate in size to the body, and ears and tail are natural (not docked or cropped).[1] Often the coat is trimmed to make the hair seem of even length. Bichon Frise's can be medium-high intelligence[citation needed].


The AKC refers to the Bichon Frise as "merry" and "cheerful", and the breed standard calls for a dog that is "gentle mannered, sensitive, playful and affectionate"[2]. Bred to be companion dogs, the Bichon Frise tends to get along well with both children and other animals.

Bichon Frises are very obedient if training is started early and continued consistently.[citation needed]

Bichon Frise with a Puppy Cut (also known as a Teddy Bear or Pet Cut)

Hypoallergenic qualities and shedding

Bichon Frises often appear on lists of dogs that do not shed (moult),[3] but this is misleading. Every hair in the dog coat grows from a hair follicle, which has a cycle of growing, then dying and being replaced by another follicle. When the follicle dies, the hair is shed. The length of time of the growing and shedding cycle varies by breed, age, and by whether the dog is an inside or outside dog. [4] The grooming required to maintain the Bichon Frise's coat helps remove loose hair, and the curl in the coat helps prevent dead hair and dander from escaping into the environment, as with the poodle's coat. The frequent trimming, brushing, and bathing required to keep the Bichon looking its best removes hair and dander and controls the other potent allergen, saliva.[5]

Bichon Frises are suitable for people with allergies, as they are bred to be hypoallergenic. However, it is important to note that, human sensitivity to dog fur, dander, and saliva varies considerably. Although hair, dander, and saliva can be minimized, they are still present and can stick to "clothes and the carpets and furnishings in your home"; inhaling the allergens, or being licked by the dog, can trigger a reaction in a sensitive person.[6]

Cody - a groomed, male Bichon Frise

Mortality (Longevity)

Bichon Frise in (combined)UK and USA/Canada surveys had an average life span of about 15–20 years, with Bichon Frises in the UK tending to live longer than Bichon Frises in the USA/Canada.[7] This breed's longevity is similar to other breeds of its size and a little longer than for purebred dogs in general.[8] The longest lived of 34 deceased Bichons in a 2004 UK survey died at 16.5 years.[9]

The oldest Bichon Frises for which there are reliable records in various USA/Canada surveys have died at 19 years.[10]

In a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey, the leading causes of Bichon Frise death were old age (23.5%) and cancer (21%).[9] In a 2007 USA/Canada breeders survey, the leading causes of death were cancer (22%), unknown causes (14%), hematologic (11%), and old age (10%).[10] Hematologic causes of death were divided between autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP). AIHA and ITP were responsible for the greatest amount of Bichon Frise "years lost." "Years lost" is a measure of the extent to which a condition kills members of a breed prematurely. While cancer is a more common cause of death than AIHA/ITP, Bichon Frises that died of cancer died at a median age of 12.5 years.[10] Hematologic deaths occurred at a median age of only 5 years. Bichon Frises in the UK survey had a lower rate of hematologic deaths (3%) than in the USA/Canada survey (11%).[9]

Bichons are also prone to liver shunts. These often go undetected until later in life, leading to complications that cannot be fixed, and therefore liver failure. Bichons who are underweight, the runts of the litter, or have negative reactions to food high in protein are likely to be suffering from a shunt. When detected early, shunt often can be corrected through surgery. However, the later in life the shunt is detected, the lower the likelihood of surgery being a success becomes. Shunts can be kept under control through special diets of low protein. (Hill's Prescription diet K/D or L/D), and through various medications to support liver function, help flush toxins that build up in the kidneys and liver, and control seizures that often occur as a symptom of the shunt. Without surgery, Bichons with shunts on average live to be 4–6 years old. If you own a smaller than average size bichon please consult your vet. Other symptoms include dark urine, lethargy, loss of appetite, increase in drinking. Also seizures come in all forms; episodes of seizures can begin early on but go undetected. Early seizures can appear to be seeing the bichon in a hypnotic state (staring at something not there), or to be experiencing an episode of vertigo, or being drunk. Shunts are a serious condition of smaller breeds, and often not associated with Bichons. But more and more bichons are being afflicted by this condition.


Because autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA, also called immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, or IMHA) and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP) are responsible for premature Bichon Frise deaths, Bichon Frise owners should be particularly alert to the symptoms of these conditions. In AIHA, the dog's immune system attacks its own red blood cells, leading to severe, life-threatening anemia. Symptoms include weakness, loss of energy, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, dark urine, and pale or yellow gums.[11] Thrombocytopenia often accompanies AIHA.[12] In ITP, blood platelets (which cause blood clotting) are destroyed. The most common clinical signs are hemorrhages of the skin and mucus membranes.[12] Owners of Bichon Frises showing suspicious symptoms should seek immediate veterinary care as these diseases can strike with little or no warning and kill very quickly. Mortality rates of 20% to 80% are reported.[11]


Bichon Puppy

The Bichon Frise descended from the Barbet or Water Spaniel, from which came the name "Barbichon"[13], later shortened to "Bichon". The Bichons were divided into four categories: the Bichon Malteise, the Bichon Bolognaise, the Bichon Havanese and the Bichon Tenerife. All originated in the Mediterranean area.[13]

Because of their merry disposition, they traveled much and were often used as barter by sailors as they moved from continent to continent. The dogs found early success in Spain and it is generally believed that Spanish seamen introduced the breed to the Canary Island of Tenerife. In the 1300s, Italian sailors rediscovered the little dogs on their voyages and are credited with returning them to the continent, where they became great favorites of Italian nobility. Often, as was the style of the day with dogs in the courts, they were cut "lion style," like a modern-day Portuguese Water Dog.

Though not considered a retriever or water dog, the Bichon, due to its ancestry as a sailor's dog, has an affinity for and enjoys water and retrieving. On the boats however, the dog's job was that of a companion dog.

The "Tenerife", or "Bichon", had success in France during the Renaissance under Francis I (1515–47), but its popularity skyrocketed in the court of Henry III (1574–89). The breed also enjoyed considerable success in Spain as a favorite of the Infantas, and painters of the Spanish school often included them in their works. For example, the famous artist, Francisco de Goya, included a Bichon in several of his works.

Interest in the breed was renewed during the rule of Napoleon III, but then waned until the late 1800s when it became the "common dog", running the streets, accompanying the organ grinders of Barbary, leading the blind and doing tricks in circuses and fairs.

On March 5, 1933, the official standard of the breed was adopted by the Société Centrale Canine, the national kennel club for France.[14] (This was largely due to the success of the French-speaking Belgian author Herge's "Tintin" books, which featured a small, fluffy, white dog named Milou.) As the breed was known by two names at that time, "Tenerife" and "Bichon", the president of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale proposed a name based on the characteristics that the dogs presented - the Bichon Frise. ("Frisé" means "curly", referring to the breed's coat.) On October 18, 1934, the Bichon Frise was admitted to the stud book of the Société Centrale Canine.

The Bichon was popularised in Australia in the mid 1960s, largely thanks to the Channel Nine mini-series Meweth, starring Bruce Gyngell alongside his pet Bichon, Molly. The show ran for one season only, however it gained a cult following. In subsequent years Bichon ownership, especially in the Eastern states, climbed dramatically.

The Bichon was brought to the United States in 1955, and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1973. The first US-born Bichon litter was whelped in 1956. In 1959 and 1960, two breeders in different parts of the USA acquired Bichons, which provided the origins for the breed's development in the USA.

The Bichon Frise became eligible to enter the AKC's Miscellaneous Class on September 1, 1971. In October, 1972, the breed was admitted to registration in the American Kennel Club Stud Book. On April 4, 1973, the breed became eligible to show in the Non-Sporting Group at AKC dog shows.

Bichon Frises in fiction

  • in the episode "Dog Day Aftergroom" from That's So Raven the dog snowflake that appears in the episode is a Bichon Frise.
  • a Bichon Frise features in an episode of Dogs 101
  • Paul O'Grady's dog Buster was a Shih Tzu/Bichon Frise which is a cross breed.

See also


  1. ^ Fédération Cynologique Internationale breed standard
  2. ^ AKC MEET THE BREEDS: Bichon Frise
  3. ^ Go Pets America: Dogs that do not shed - Retrieved September 7, 2008
  4. ^ Skin & Hair Anatomy & Function in Dogs, by Race Foster, DVM, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc. Pet Education
  5. ^ Hair vs Fur,
  6. ^ Mayo Clinic, Pet allergy
  7. ^ Dog Longevity Web Site, Breed Data page. Compiled by K. M. Cassidy. Retrieved August 18, 2007
  8. ^ Dog Longevity Web Site, Survey Comparisons page. Compiled by K. M. Cassidy. Retrieved July 5, 2007
  9. ^ a b c Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee. 2004. Purebred Dog Health Survey. Retrieved July 5, 2007
  10. ^ a b c Bichon Frise Club of America, Health Web Site, Health Survey Reports Last accessed August 18, 2007
  11. ^ a b Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia, Nancy McDonald, Bichon Frise Club of America Health web site. Last accessed August 18, 2007
  12. ^ a b Merck Veterinary Manual online. Immune System chapter, Immunopathologic diseases section. Last accessed August 18, 2007
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


A Bichon Frisé

Alternative spellings

  • Bichon Frise


From French bichon (à poil) frisé.


  • IPA: /biʃɔnfɹiseː/


Bichon Frisé

Bichons Frisés

Bichon Frisé (plural Bichons Frisés)

  1. A small bichon with white fur and dark eyes and nose, originating first in Spain, Belgium and France.


Simple English

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