Bichon Frise – Everything You Need To Know

Bichon Frises are a petite, loving, cheerful bunch of joyous canines. They are black-eyed with a fluffy white coat that sweeps off their beholder’s feet. They are prudent canines who always burst with energy and are playful. The Bichons have become a popular family addiction with their soft and inquisitive expression, adorable companionship, and versatile nature. 

Bichon Frise Pros and Cons

Highly trainable High grooming needs 
Kid-friendly dogs. Suffers from separation anxiety
Suitable for novice owners, apartment dwellers, and people with allergiesProne to urolithiasis

Bichon Frise Basic Information 

  • Name: Bichon Frise
  • Origin: Mediterranean area
  • Group: Companion dogs 
  • Size: Small 
  • Height: 9 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder
  • Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
  • Coat: Medium, curly 
  • Color: White with shadings of cream, buff, or apricot
  • Energy: Medium
  • Activities: Obedience, agility, rally, and therapy dogs 
  • Barking Level: Medium
  • Shedding Level: Low to medium
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Litter Size: 1 to 3 puppies
  • Other Names: Bichon Tenerife, Bichon a Poil Frise
  • Breed’s Original Pastimes: Companion dogs 
  • Life Span: 12 to 15 years


Initially, the Bichon Frises were from the Mediterranean region. When large water dogs like Barbets were crossed with a small coated white dog, it resulted in a family of dogs. These included the Maltaise, Bolognese, Havanese, and Tenerife. It is believed that the Bichon Frise originated precisely in the Canary island as a descendant of Tenerife. The Spanish sailors hold the credit for introducing Tenerife in the 13th century. Initially bred for companionship, these dogs soon earned the favor of the French and the Italian nobility. The people of Spain also pampered them for their appealing nature. However, when their favor faded, they became typical street dogs, performing tricks in collaboration with peddlers and organ grinders for money. 

Despite their ability to survive, the advent of World war I and II further deteriorated their popularity, and the breed was nearing extinction. However, a few soldiers who brought these dogs back home helped reinstate the breed’s lost legacy, resulting in its publicity in the 1960s. As a result, the AKC recognized the breed in 1971.

Bichon Frise Highlights 

  • They are prone to separation anxiety and must never be left alone for a more extended period.
  • Crate training is recommended as the breed poses a challenge to housebreak.
  • Obedience training is recommended for Bichon Frise due to their intelligence and devious nature. 
  • Allergies and skin infections are rampant in this breed.
  • Dental care must be prioritized for these canines to prevent early tooth loss and gum infections.

Bichon Frise Personality 

Bichon Frise is a vibrant humorist with a charming beauty and compassionate heart. They are blessed with an elegant, glossy, and white hypoallergenic coat. Their rounded hairy head contains a pair of large black eyes that stand out with a leathered nose and lips. They wear inquisitive They are blessed with slightly longer bodies than a taller stature. They love their owners and thrive well with people who can pay attention to their canines and drench them with love. They gel well with children and other pets. However, they can get snappy with children sometimes; hence, constant monitoring is necessary to prevent untoward occurrences. 

Friendliness Overview

Affection level High 
Family-friendly High 
Kid-friendly Medium to High 
Pet-friendly Medium to High 
Stranger -friendly High 

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment living High 
Good to new owners High 
Sensitivity level High 
Tolerates being alone Low 
Cold-tolerance Medium
Heat-tolerance Medium to high 

Bichon Frise Physical Features 

Head: Bichon Frise wears an alert and curious expression with dark, large, black eyes set into the skull, surrounded by black or dark brown skin. Their ears hang down from the head and are covered with long flowy hair. Their skull is slightly rounded, allowing for a forward-looking eye. Three parts of the muzzle and five parts of the skull make up the animal’s head, measured from the nose to the stop, which is slightly accentuated. They have a strong lower jaw accompanied by teeth that meet at scissors bite. They are blessed with prominent black noses and lips. 

Neck: Bichons have slender, well-arched neck that blends into their shoulders. 

Topline: Their topline is leveled except for a slight arch over the lion. 

Body: Their body has well-developed, broad chests that allow effortless movement of the front legs. The lowest point of their chest extends to the elbow, with a moderately sprung rib cage that extends to the back. 

Tail: A well-feathered tail is set at par with the topline, gracefully carried over the back while on rest. The length of the tail, when extended from the head, reaches at least halfway to the withers

Forequarters: The shoulders are laid back at a forty-five-degree angle, with the shoulder blade, upper arm, and forearm almost equal lengths. The upper arm is extended to place the elbow directly below the withers. Legs are medium bone with no curvature, while the elbows are carried close to the body. The pasterns slope vertically with tight, round feet containing black pads and short nails. 

Hindquarters: The hindquarters are of medium bone with well-spaced and wide muscular thighs. The upper and lower thigh are of equal length, meeting at a stifle joint. The upper and lower thigh is almost equally lengthed, meeting at a well-bent stifle joint. Paws are compact and round with black pads. 

Coat: The texture of the coat is soft and dense on the underside, whereas the overcoat is coarser and curlier. Together, they give a plush or velvety texture. A powder puff appearance is the characteristic trait of the breed, which stands out, especially when bathed and brushed.

Color: The coat is predominantly white but may have shades such as cream, buff, or apricot around the ears or scattered on the body. 

Gait: Their movement is effortless and free-flowing, with forelegs and hind legs extending equally to maintain a sturdy topline. His neck and head are erect while in movement, and his legs seem to meet towards the center at greater speed. 

Bichon Frise Temperament 

A burst of happiness and optimism is the trademark characteristic of the breed. They are alert, curious, adventurous, playful, sensitive, and affectionate. They crave affection and love to draw attention. They are excellent watchdogs who are friendly with strangers. Their size and confidence enable them to be adaptable and are the most suitable for an urban lifestyle. They are independent but cannot handle loneliness for a longer time. Therefore they aren’t the right choice for people who are frequently out of their houses. They are challenging to house break but train well and love to entertain their family with their tricks. 

Bichon Frise Training 

Bichon is an intelligent breed who loves to learn and imbibe the techniques you throw at him. However, the training sessions must be short and fun to retain his attention. As with all dogs, a positive reinforcement technique works well for these canines. They are difficult to housetrain, but it is achievable through consistent crate training. Bichons also require early socialization and puppy training classes at eight weeks. This way, you can prevent headstrong behavior in your canine. Further, you can enroll him in kindergarten as early as 12 weeks.  

Trainability Overview

Easy to train High 
Intelligence Medium to High 
Mouthiness tendencies Medium
Barking and Howling tendencies Low to Medium
Prey drive Medium to High 
Wanderlust tendencies Low to Medium

Bichon Frise Exercise Needs 

The Bichons are moderately active and require daily play sessions and walks due to their smaller size. Their day is filled with periods of calm and brief bursts of high activity, like running around the house or the yard. They partner well with other dogs but may want playtime with their pet parent. Although a fenced backyard is suitable for a fast runner like Bichon, they adapt well even to apartment life, provided they stay active. They enjoy participating and unleashing their energy in obedience, agility, and rally competitions.

Exercise Needs Overview 

Energy level High 
Exercise needs Medium
Intensity Medium
Playfulness High

Bichon Frise Grooming

Bichon Frise is a high-maintenance breed that requires frequent grooming for a healthy and lustrous coat. They shed very little and are hypoallergenic. Nevertheless, the shed hair is caught up in the undercoat resulting in matting. To prevent this, brush them twice or thrice a week and bathe them as their coat gets dirty. Alternatively, you can take them to a professional groomer for a bath every four to six weeks, brush, haircut, nail trimming, and ear cleaning. Further, you must care for their nails, teeth, and ears in the following ways: 

Nails: Your dog’s nails are subject to breakage if they grow too long. Since broken nails are very painful, trim your pet’s nails regularly. 

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Teeth: Regular brushing your dog’s teeth with dog-formulated toothpaste can prevent tartar buildup and periodontal diseases. Additionally, you have to schedule an annual appointment with the veterinarian.

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Ears: Your dog’s ears accumulate wax that must be removed using a cotton ball dipped in pH-balanced ear cleaner. However, ensure not to damage his ear canal and check for signs of ear infection during the annual appointment with the vet. Finally, ensure to take them for their yearly vet visits. 

Eyes: It is vital to clean their tear stains to keep your bichon away from staining and maintain its comfort. Tear stains could lead to infections if not cleaned appropriately. Here are the reasons for tear stains: 

  • Blocked tear ducts
  • An overproduction of tears from irritants such as eyelashes rubbing against the eye
  •  Eyelids that turn inward (entropion)
  • Allergies

Grooming Overview

Easy to groom Low 
Drooling tendency Low 
Amount of shedding Low to Medium

Bichon Frise Health 

Generally, Bichon Frise is a healthy breed. However, like other breeds, they are prone to certain health conditions such as:

Health Overview

Overall health High 
Weight gain tendencies Medium to High
Size Low to Medium

Dental Disease: The Bichon Frise breed is the most prone to dental diseases. If you fail to clean your dog’s teeth regularly, tartar buildup leads to gum infection, affecting the roots of the teeth. This can lead to the loss of teeth further damaging your dog’s kidneys, liver, heart, and joints. 

Infections: Bichons are prone to viral or bacterial infections. However, to prevent this you must regularly vaccinate your canine. 

Obesity: Obesity in dogs negatively impacts their health and predisposes them to conditions such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. A perfect combination of physical exercise and a healthy diet will help your dog maintain a healthy weight. 

Parasites: Your dogs can inflict bugs, fleas, worms, and ticks that can get into their systems through unclean water, contaminated soil, or mosquito bites. Signs include pain, discomfort, and even death.

Spay or Neuter: In spay, the ovaries or uterus in females is removed, and in the neuter, the testicles of the male dogs are removed. It eliminates the possibility of pregnancy or fathering unwanted puppies and decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancer.

Heart Disease: Dogs often suffer from cardiac problems. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the signs or symptoms that could lead to cardiac problems in dogs. The most common cardiac issue is left ventricular hypertrophy, an enlarged heart’s left ventricle. This enlargement can be caused by many factors, including high blood pressure, obesity, and old age. Owners need to know how to recognize these symptoms and take their dogs to the vet for treatment. Dogs with a history of heart disease may show signs like coughing or breathing problems, fatigue, lethargy, and vomiting. These signs are often accompanied by decreased appetite and weight loss.

Liver Problems: As dog’s age, they are more likely to develop liver problems. It’s sometimes a matter of genetics. However, illness or damage to the area can also cause it. In addition, certain disorders and drugs might harm your dog’s liver.

Glaucoma: An eye condition affecting both dogs and humans and requires medical attention. Symptoms such as squinting, pain, watery eyes, and redness can indicate glaucoma, leading to blindness. Regular health tests can aid in recognizing and curing glaucoma early. 

Entropion: Entropion is a condition in which the eyelid rolls inward, irritating the eyeball from eyelashes rubbing on the surface. In critical cases, entropion can cause a corneal ulcer. The treatment for this disease is surgical.

Distichiasis: Distichiasis is prevalent in canines. It results from the abnormal growth of eyelashes. It occurs when eyelashes emerge from the eyelid margin instead of the skin. Most dogs don’t undergo any adverse symptoms due to soft hairs. However, in severe cases, this condition can lead to corneal ulcers. 

Cataracts: The condition causes cloudiness on the eye lens, which can lead to blindness. 

Von Willebrand’s disease: The most prevalent hereditary bleeding problem in dogs is Von Willebrand’s disease (VWD). It’s caused by a lack of a specific protein that helps platelets (blood cells that aid with clotting) adhere together and form clots to close damaged blood arteries. Von Willebrand factor is the name of the missing protein (VWF). 

Bladder or Kidney Stones: Bladder stones or kidney stones are the most familiar problems with bichons. It is caused by hormonal changes, dehydration, kidney infections, and diet changes. Signs include fever, abdominal pain, blood, and pus in the urine. 

Allergies: Your dog can be prone to allergies which can appear in the below ways: 

  • Food-based allergies: If your pet is allergic to certain food ingredients, you can adopt an elimination diet that involves deliberately removing the suspected ingredients to which your dog may be allergic.  
  • Contact allergies: When your dog’s immune system reacts adversely to certain topical substances such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals, he suffers from contact allergies. However, eliminating the cause of the allergy reduces the symptoms.   
  • Inhalant allergies: If your canine accidentally inhales airborne allergens like pollen, dust, and mildew and suffers from any symptoms, he is said to have inhalant allergies. Treatment for these allergies varies with the severity of the disease. Often, ear infections accompany these allergies.

Diabetes: Dogs can suffer from diabetes as humans. It cannot be cured but can be managed if your dog is kept under proper diet and supervision. 

Bleeding Tumor Hemangiosarcoma is a type of bleeding tumor that commonly forms in the spleen and can be found in other organs as well. These tumors are volleyball-sized or larger before signs of sickness. When the tumor breaks open, it results in internal bleeding. However, this can be found only through a blood test and ultrasound performed at least yearly.

Epilepsy: Idiopathic epilepsy is a common hereditary disorder. It frequently causes seizures, ranging from mild to severe. In addition, unusual behaviors may indicate a stroke, such as frantically fleeing as threatened, stumbling, or hiding. Seizures frighten, but dogs with idiopathic epilepsy have a relatively good long-term outlook. Other than unexplained epilepsy, seizures can be induced by metabolic disorders, respiratory illnesses of the brain, malignancies, toxin poisoning, and severe traumatic injury. 

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is outwardly a painful disease that occurs when the bones of the back legs do not fit properly in the joints. While some dogs will exhibit symptoms, the majority of canines will not. Hip dysplasia is primarily genetic, although other causes, such as accidents, excessive weight gain, and inappropriate training, can also cause it. Even though this disease is fatal, therapies range from medicine to hip replacement surgery. Unfortunately, this condition causes defects or damage to the hip bones and joints and worsens without treatment. To avoid this problem, avoid breeding dogs with hip dysplasia parentage and get annual examinations.

Other Causes of Hip Dysplasia: 

  • Injuries 
  • Excessive weight gain 
  • Wrong exercises 

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Reduced activity and movements
  • Reluctance to rise, jump, run or climb
  • Lameness in the hind limbs
  • Reducing thigh muscle mass
  • Swaying, “bunny hopping” gait
  • Grating in the joint during movement
  • Enlarging shoulders
  • Pain
  • Stiffness

Elbow Dysplasia: This disorder occurs when the elbow joint bones don’t fit appropriately. Elbow dysplasia generates abnormal pressure at the joint, leading to chronic rubbing and painful osteoarthritis.


  • Mild to moderate pain 
  • Lameness in the forelimbs 

Hip Necrosis: Legg-Calve-Perthes or hip necrosis is a painful degenerative hip condition, affecting young bichons between six and nine months of age. The correct cause of the condition is unknown. However, it is thought to occur due to a problem in blood supply to the hip, predisposing the femoral head to become brittle and fracture easily. It causes soreness and lameness in either or both rear legs and often requires surgery.

Luxating Patella: This is also known as “slipped stifles,” a common problem in small dog breeds that is caused when the patella, which has three parts-the femora (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (calf) — is not correctly bounded. This leads to lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait, like a hop or a skip. This condition is caused by birth, although the actual misalignment or luxation does not always occur much later. In addition, the rubbing caused by patellar luxation leads to arthritis. There are four patellar luxation grades, ranging from phase I, an occasional luxation causing unstable lameness in the joint, to grade IV, where the turning of the tibia is heavy, and you can realign the patella manually. This gives your dog a bow-legged appearance. Uphill grades of patellar luxation may require surgery.

Spinal Cord Injuries: Bichon Frises often face instability in the first two neck vertebrae leading to a sudden spinal-cord injury in the neck. Here are its symptoms: 

  1. Your dog is suddenly unable or unwilling to jump up or go upstairs, 
  2. Cries for no apparent reason, or 
  3. Tries to turn or lower his head when you pick him up or are in pain.

Recommended tests for the Bichon Frise

Here is what you must expect from your reader as part of health clearance certificates they include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Thrombopathia
  • Canine Eye Registry Foundation

Bichon Frise Diet and Nutrition 

Bichon Frise will enjoy robust health with high-quality dog food. It can either be commercially manufactured or homemade. However, it is good to seek your vet’s advice while going with either of the choices to know if it suits your dog’s size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. However, you must ensure you feed a calorie-conscious diet to your pet to prevent obesity. Hence, it is good to divide your pet’s meal into two and feed them 1/2 to 1.5 cups of daily food. If you suspect your dog is overweight, you can perform the tests below to confirm the same.

  • Eye test: You must be able to see your canine’s waist.
  • Hands-on test: You must be able to feel his ribs while you place your hands on his back and thumbs on his spine and not see it without pressing hard. If not, he is obese. 

In case of obesity, schedule a visit to your vet and get a mealtime and exercise plan to help him lose those extra flabs. Further, as Bichon Frise is prone to develop urolithiasis, it is always good to increase the water intake and rely on therapeutic diets to prevent this condition.

Bichon Frise Living Condition 

Bichon Frises are relatively easy to care for, as they adapt well to city and country life. They require an open space to expend their energy, but even if not, frequent walks to the doggy park can compensate. Small dogs need less food to survive and lack the doggy odor. Their petiteness aids in making air travel a breeze. They are buoyant with joy and crave to be around their families. Hence, they shouldn’t be left alone for long as they are prone to separation anxiety. 

Did You Know? 

  • The Bichons originated in the Mediterranean region and are descendants of the Water Spaniel. 
  • King Henry III of France was so obsessed with the Bichons that he carried them on a basket that hung from his neck.
  • The sailors used the Bichons to barter, introducing them to different countries. 
  • Francisco Goya is the most famous Spanish painter who loved including Bichons. 
  • Bichon Frise is an English name derived from the French word ‘bichon à poil frisé’ meaning ‘curly-haired small dog.’ 
  • According to the American Kennel Club, the Bichon Frise was ranked the 40th most popular breed in 2013.
  • The Bichons were introduced to the United Kingdom when two of them accompanied a couple of emigrating American breeders in 1973. 

Bichon Frise Club Recognition 

  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
  • UKC = United Kennel Club

Breed Rescue Groups 

Bichon Frise Club of America Rescue

Adding a Bichon Frise to Your Family

Things to Remember Before Adding a Bichon Frise

Adding Bichon Frise to your family will need proper research about their parent breeds, cost, breeders, health, and certificates. Then, purchase your Bichon Frise from a reputable breeder who will provide you with vaccination and gene testing certificates. Also, ensure the health of the puppy’s parent breeds.

Cost of a Bichon Frise Puppy

The cost of a Bichon Frise Puppy is around $1000 – $4000

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