Bichon Frise is a type of Bichon, a group of related dog breeds characterized by large, dark eyes, short snouts, tails curled over the back, and hair that does not readily shed. All Bichons were bred as small, gentle companion animals and are thought to have originated somewhere in the Mediterranean. The term Bichon Frise translated from French means “curly lap dog.” Bichon Frises gained popularity during the reign of King Henry III as court companions and lap dogs for the French nobility.
Originally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1971, today the Bichon Frise is ranked number 46 in popularity of the 193 recognized breeds and categorized in the Non-sporting Group.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BICHON FRISE
What characteristics define the Bichon Frise? Read on to discover what physical attributes and personality traits make the Bichon Frise such a unique breed.
Bichon Frises are easily identified by their diminutive size, baby-doll faces and plush, white coat. Bichon Frises are hypoallergenic, making them an ideal choice for potential dog owners with allergies. Bichons may be cream or pale yellow at birth, and the AKC additionally recognizes the double-coat in shades of White & Apricot, White & Buff, and White & Cream. The most popular cut for a Bichon Frise follows the line of his or her body giving him or her an overall “poofy” look. Noses and eyes of Bichons should always be black.
Bichon Frises weigh between 12 and 18 lbs and stand approximately 9 to 11 inches high at the withers (top of the shoulder).
The Bichon Frise is known for its happy-go-lucky personality and friendliness towards strangers.
Bichons are playful, curious, and make excellent family dogs. Their small size and tolerant nature make them excellent companions for children and adults alike. Bichons’ gentle nature, small size, and easy-going personality can also make them ideal companions for the elderly. Bichons get along well with other dogs and most pets if proper training and socialization occurs from a young age. This breed is not known for aggression, but has been known to experience separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time, so crate training is highly recommended. Bichon Frises, like most smaller breeds, have a longer life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, and can make excellent apartment and city dogs.
CARING FOR A BICHON FRISE
Understanding and maintaining a Bichon Frise’s particular needs will lead to a longer, healthier life for your dog and a more enjoyable partnership for both dog and owner. Read on to learn more about the nutrition, exercise, training, and health requirements of a thriving Bichon Frise to ascertain whether or not this is the right breed for you.
Bichon Frises thrive on a high-quality dog food specially formulated for small breeds. Diets should be appropriately tailored to an individual based on age (puppy, senior, etc) and activity level. Many dog foods have serving suggestions on their packaging, but monitoring food intake and body condition, as well as consulting with your veterinarian, are all simple ways to make sure your dog is receiving the nutrition he or she requires. Bichon Frises can be prone to obesity, so use treats sparingly. This breed can also suffer from food allergies, so owners may consider a specialized diet catered to their sensitive digestive systems.
Bichon Frises usually exhibit a calm demeanor interspersed with brief bursts of high energy. These can be mitigated by quick play sessions in the house or yard. Daily walks should be accompanied by play sessions to keep the active and inquisitive mind and body of the Bichon occupied and engaged. Bichons play well with children and other dogs as long as they are receiving adequate individual attention. Bichons have been known to participate in obedience, agility and rally competitions.
As with all breeds, training and socialization during puppyhood are essential. Puppy classes are a great way to start training and socializing a new Bichon Frise puppy early on. At minimum, your Bichon Frise should learn basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and come. Bichons are typically intelligent and eager to please, making them easy to train. Due to their sweet nature, they do not respond well to harsh training methods or hard corrections. They respond best to positive reinforcement training with treats and kind words.
Due to their strong familial ties and tendency towards separation anxiety, Bichons left alone for long periods of time can resort to undesirable behaviors. Some of these behaviors can be mitigated by providing access to puzzles and interactive toys.
Although generally healthy, Bichon Frises have been known to experience bladder issues, allergies, and juvenile cataracts.
Bladder issues such as stones and infections are not uncommon for the Bichon. These issues can be caused by diet, prolonged periods without urination, or bacterial or viral infections. Allergies stemming from diet or flea bites are common. Juvenile cataracts, or cataracts occuring in relatively young dogs, are thought to be hereditary.
The idea that Bichons “don’t shed” is a bit misleading. In reality the Bichon Frise’s outer coat sheds but the hair becomes trapped by the undercoat. As a result, the Bichon’s silky white hair requires regular grooming with a dog brush to prevent matting, as well as regular baths and trimming to maintain the health and bright color of the coat. This can be done at home or by a professional groomer every 4-6 weeks. Special care must also be taken to clean under the eyes and around the mouth of the Bichon to prevent eye irritation and maintain hygiene.
Other breeds similar to the Bichon Frise include:
- Coton de Tulear
- West Highland Terrier
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