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Bichon FrisÚ

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Bichon FrisÚ
Alternative names
Bichon Ó poil fries
Tenerife Dog
Country of origin
Belgium / France / Mediterranean region
Common nicknames
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 9 Section 1 #215  
AKC: Non-sporting  
ANKC: Group 1 (Toys)  
CKC: Group 6 - Non-Sporting Dogs  
KC (UK): Toy  
NZKC: Toy  
UKC: Companion Breeds  
Not recognized by any major kennel club
This breed of dog is extinct

A Bichon FrisÚ (French, literally Curly lap dog; often spelled Bichon Frise in English) is a small dog that is the size of a large domestic cat. They are popular pets, similar to poodles. The Bichon FrisÚ is the best known member of the bichon family of dogs.


Bichons weigh between 7 and 18 lb (3 to 8 kg) and stand 9 to 12 inches (23 to 30 cm) at the withers. They have curly, soft, white fur that must be groomed regularly and carefully to maintain a neat appearance and avoid matting. Professional grooming is recommended to achieve your best looking Bichon. Their tails are usually left longer in length, and carried curled over their backs. Black eyes, nose, and lips provide a striking contrast to the all-white fur. Often times, Bichons appear to be smiling.

Bichons do not shed their fur, as a result these dogs are one of the hypoallergenic dog breeds popular to people with allergies. Though they are not nonallergenic, it is still possible to have an allergic reaction to a dog of this breed, it is simply less likely than it would be with some other breeds.


Bichons are intelligent little dogs and demonstrate an inquisitive personality. They are very energetic and enjoy going for long walks, climbing on furniture, and chewing bones. However, Bichons are most comfortable being close to their owners regardless of the activity, and enjoy lounging as lap dogs. Bichons are easily housebroken using the crate method, but males tend to be a bit easier to train than females. They may become territorial, and sometimes jealous of attention given to other household animals, but generally get along well with other dogs (particularly other Bichons). Bichons are extremely friendly dogs and are easily excited when encountering people. There is a mutual fondness between Bichons and children, and therefore they make great pets for families. The Bichon Frise exhibits a trait called the "Bichon Buzz" - suddenly the Bichon will put its ears back, start growling and run feverishly around in obstacle-course fashion for a few moments.


Although many all-white breeds suffer from a variety of ailments including ear infections and skin problems, Bichons have, for the most part, escaped these problems. Bichons live an average of 12 to 14 years.

Care must be taken to keep the face of a Bichon FrisÚ clean and trimmed, as eye discharge and mucus tend to accumulate in the fur that grows in front of their eyes. Bichons do not tolerate the heat well. It is not unusual for members of this breed to have problems with luxating patellas and cataracts.


An unbrushed bichon frise. An unbrushed bichon frise.

The breed has existed since the Middle Ages. Its exact origins are uncertain, although it is fairly clear that they originated in the Mediterranean region. Sailors had transported it to the island of Tenerife by the 14th century. They were further bred as lap dogs for the French royalty and were a court favorite by the 15th century. The dogs ended up on the streets during the French Revolution, where they were caught and trained to be circus dogs.

They are a versatile, intelligent, and hardy dog despite popular use as a companion animal and lap dog; farmers in Norway have recently used the Bichon for rounding up sheep, which is not a commonly mentioned breed use.

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