Other Names: Bichon Tenerife, Tenerife Dog, Bichon a Poil Frise
Dog Group Kennel Club: Toy (KC GB)
The Bichon Frise is small, well balanced, solid dog, that are well known for their cute “powder-puff” look. Their tails carry over their back. Bichons have dark eyes, nose and lips which beautifully contrast with their white coats.
They have a white coloured double coat which is loosely curled. The textured outer coat is lined with a soft, fine, silky undercoat. Bichon’s can be shown clipped like a poodle or long-haired with clippings only at the feet and muzzle.
Weight: 7-12 lbs
Average Life Span: 12 – 15 years
Bichon’s are lively happy little dogs which have a cute and cuddly appeal to them. They are friendly, bold intelligent dogs with an independent spirit. They adore people and love to be involved in family life. The are well suited with children and other dogs and animals making them ideal family pets.
Bichon’s are intelligent so are relatively easy to train. As with most toy breeds however, they can be difficult to house train.
The Bichon sheds little to no hair and is good for allergy suffers. Their coats are also virtually odour free. These two above points do not mean bichon’s are easy to maintain. They require daily careful brushing of their coats to prevent matting and subsequent skin problems. Professional grooming is also recommended every 4 weeks to keep their coats trimmed. The eye area needs to be regularly cleaned to prevent tear staining.
Bichon’s, although having low exercise requirements, do love their walks. They should have a daily short walk to keep them fit and healthy.
Bichon Frise Health Issues
Luxating patella: is a dislocation of the small, flat, moveable bone at the front of the knee. An inherited tendency, luxating patella can be aggravated by excess weight. The condition can be corrected by surgery. Because dogs with luxating patella dogs often produce dogs with this same disease, buyers should ask if both the sire and the dam of the puppy in which they are interested have been rated clear of luxation by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
Hip dysplasia: is a malformation of the hip joint resulting in a poor fit between the head of the femur bone and the hip socket, in which the femoral head normally lies. This condition can be alleviated by surgery. Because dysplastic dogs often produce dysplastic puppies, buyers should ask if both the sire and the dam of the puppy in which they are interested have been rated clear of hip dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or by Penn HIP.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): is the wasting away of the vessels in the retina. Initially manifested as night blindness in young dogs, as PRA progresses, its victims become totally blind. Conscientious bichon breeders test the eyes of their breeding dogs every year. Therefore, a conscientious breeder should be able to produce current CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) test results for both parents of any puppy offered for sale.
Bladder stones: are linked to excessive protein, magnesium, and phosphorus in the diet and with long confinement that forces the dog to hold his urine. Symptoms of bladder stones include frequent urination, bloody urine, straining to urinate, and loss of appetite.
Ear infections: occur in many breeds that have drop ears that do not allow air circulation. It is important to keep Bichon ears clean and free of inside hair.
Bichon Frise History
Like many of the European curly-coated dogs, such as the Poodle, the Bichon Frise is descended from the Barbet or Water Spaniel. The Bichon Frise’s original purpose was not to retrieve, hunt or herd animals like other spaniels. Its main purpose was simply as a companion dog.
Since the time of the Renaissance, the breed has been known as the Bichon Tenerife, the name taken from the largest of the Canary Islands. Spanish sailors were thought to have brought this Mediterranean dog with them to the Canary Islands, where the exotic name “Tenerife” became attached to it. Bichon’s then became popular as pets for Italian and Spanish noblemen.
Under Francis I (1515-1547) the Bichon became established in the French royal court. Its peak of popularity came, however under the reign of Henry III (1574-1589). The King, unhappy to be separated from his beloved dogs for any length of time during the day, fashioned a basket in which to hold them, and tied it around his neck with ribbons. Carrying the little white dogs with him the King could carry out his royal affairs without leaving his dogs behind.
The ladies of the royal court soon began to carry these little dogs themselves, by clutching them under their arm or wrapping them in shawls. Treated almost as though they themselves were of royal blood, the royal court Bichons had loving attention lavished on them.
During Queen Victoria’s reign the bichon began to loose its popularity as other dogs such as the Pekingese were introduced into the royal court. Despite the apparent fall from grace, the bichon continued to captivate the hearts of those who came to know it.