20 Cool Facts About the Bichon Frise Breed

The adorable Bichon Frise has become a popular breed of dog across the globe. The cute appearance of this breed is what initially attracts people to buy a Bichon Frise, but they also have a fantastic personality that makes them ideal for loyal family pets. Their personalities are described as smart, loving, and sweet-natured. They will also develop a deep bond with their owner. Each of these characteristics has contributed to the Bichon Frise becoming a popular dog breed. While this is a well-known breed of dog that most people can recognize, it is likely that there are many things that you do not know about them. Here are 20 cool facts about the Bichon Frise that may surprise you to learn.

1. Its Name is a Source of Debate

Bichon Frise is the name by which this breed is now best known. However, how it came to have this name and the meaning of the name is a source of debate. The word ‘bichon’ is a French word that means ‘small dog’ and come from the Old French term ‘biche’ which is the word used for a female dog. This is also where the English word ‘bitch’ comes from. For this reason, many believe that the origin of the name is French. However, there are others who believe that the name derives from a shortening of the word ‘barbichon’ that means small poodle. In turn, this term derives from ‘barbiche’, which means shaggy dog. The French created the term ‘bichon à poil frisé’ for this breed, which the English have shortened to Bichon Frise and removed the diacritic but have retained the French pronunciation of the words.

2. They Do Not Originate in France

This dog is most typically associated with France and many people assume that this is its country of origin. This is not the case as it is most likely that they originate in Spain and were used as sailing dogs by the Spanish. It is also believed that they are descendants of the water dogs, poodles, and either the water spaniels or the Barbet. Despite their Spanish origins, it was the French that developed the Bichon Frise into a lap-dog, which is more closely associated with the perception of the modern breed. The exact period from when this breed originates is undocumented, but their history began before the 15th century as, by that time, there were already Bichon Frises who had traveled to Italy and become popular amongst the Italian nobility.

3. There are Four Categories of the Modern Bichon Frise

There is actually more than one type of Bichon Frise as four breeds have been grouped together into this category. The reason for the four different breeds of Bichon Frise is that the original Bichon Frises traveled around with sailors and began to breed in countries away from mainland Spain. The original Bichon Frise is also known as the Tenerife. The other three breeds are the Maltese, the Bolognaise, and the Havanese. The Maltese dog was first bred in Malta and is also known as the Maltese Lion Puppy. It has a longer coat than the original Bichon Frise. The Bolognaise originates from mainland Italy and is named after the Bologna region. The Havanese is the national dog of Cuba and was developed by the breeding of the Bichon Tenerife and the Blanquito de la Habana, which is now extinct.

4. They Are Usually Classified in the Toy or Non-Sporting Group

All dogs are classified into groups by dog organizations and this is usually in relation to either their size or whether they had a working role. The Bichon Frise is one of the smaller breeds of dog and for this reason, it is generally classified into the toy group, although this varies from one country to the next. Organizations that include the Bichon Frise in the toy group are the UK Kennel Club, the Australian National Kennel Club, and the New Zealand Kennel Club. On the other hand, the American Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club classify this breed in the non-sporting group. The United Kennel Club has grouped this dog into the companion category and the FCI have categorized the Bichon Frise in Group 9, Section 1.1 Bichons #215. A healthy adult Bichon Frise will usually grow to between nine and eleven inches and weigh between 10 and 20 pounds.

5. They Have Been Featured in Works of Art

The Bichon Frise has appeared in many works of art by famous artists. Many of these works of art are from 16th century Europe. At that time, the Bichon Frise was popular in Spain and they were a favorite subject of the Infantas and painted from the Spanish school. This was possible because of their cute appearance and also because their calm nature meant they were more likely to sit still while they were painted. They often included a Bichon Frise as the main subject of a piece of art. One particularly famous painter who was fond of using this breed was Francisco de Goya. He created several pieces of artwork that featured a Bichon Frise.

6. The Bichon Frise Came to the United States in 1955

Although this breed has a long and interesting history in Europe, it didn’t actually make its way to America until 1955. The first Bichon Frise litter whelped in the United States was born in the following year. It was possible to develop the breed further in the United States when two breeders from different parts of the country acquired a Bichon Frise each in 1959 and 1960. However, it wasn’t until 1971 that the Bichon Frise became eligible to enter into the Miscellaneous Class of the American Kennel Club and a further year before they were registered in the American Kennel Club Stud Book. By 2001, the Bichon Frise was eligible to participate in American Kennel Club dog shows in the Non-Sporting Group. In 2013, the Bichon Frise was listed as the 40th most popular breed of dog in the United States.


7. The Breed Standards Were Influenced by ‘The Adventures of Tintin’

Bizarrely, the breed standards for the Bichon Frise were influenced by the popular children’s book ‘The Adventures of Tintin by Belgian author Herge. The dog featured in this book is a small, white fox terrier called Milou in the French and Belgian editions and Snowy in the English adaptation of the book. Although this dog was a different breed, it highlighted the popularity of small, white dogs and led to the official standard for the Bichon Frise being adopted by France’s national kennel club in 1933. At that time, the breed was known as both the Bichon and the Tenerife, but it was suggested that they shared a name that reflected their characteristics and both dogs became known as the Bichon Frise. In 1934, this breed was admitted into France’s national kennel club studbook for the first time.


8. Australia Did Not Have a Bichon Frise Until 1976

If you think that United States were latecomers to the Bichon Frise party, then Australia were even further behind. The first Bichon Frise did not arrive in Australia until 1976. This seems amazing considering so many families emigrate to Australia and take with them their family pets. Am Ch Beaumonde was the very first Bichon Frise to arrive. She was closely followed by another Bichon Frise called Snowdrift of Lander. This dog was imported by a couple called Harry and Margaret Bogg. The first Bichon Frise litter was born in Australia in 1977 and these had been Diane Crosby-Browne. The litter was sired by a dog called Ch Leander Snow Cap out of Leander Snow Bubble.

9. They Are Good Travelers

The Bichon Frise has become associated with travel, especially with sailing, and this has played an important role in their history. As already mentioned, they were originally used by Spanish sailors as ship dogs. They were then adopted by the Italian sailors who took them on long voyages across the sea. The fact that they traveled so much by boat is significant to the history of this breed as this is how they expanded from Spain to other areas of Europe and their popularity in this continent grew. If you travel a lot and plan on taking your pet on your travels with you, then a Bichon Frise is a good choice as it is historically in their nature to make good traveling companions.

10. They Have a White Curly Coat

One of the Bichon Frise’s most distinctive features is its coat. The coat is thick, dense and curly, although how curly the coat is can vary between one dog and the next. The tail hair is usually longer, but this is groomed and carried over the back of the dog. The coat of a Bichon Frise is often trimmed to make it appear an even length. Unlike many other dogs that have a wide range of color and pattern variations, the only official color of a Bichon Frise is white. Although some dogs come in darker shades of white, such as cream, apricot, and gray, these are not recognized by official organizations. With the white dogs, there is sometimes a different shade around the ears, paws or snout, such as apricot, buff or cream. These areas of shade do not normally exceed 10% of the body surface area. In competitions, completely white dogs are favored in the ring.

11. Bichon Frises Require a Lot of Grooming

One of the downsides of owning a Bichon Frise is that they need much more grooming than many other breeds of dog. Due to fact that this breed has a relatively long and curly coat, it means that the owner must groom them regularly or hire the services of a professional dog groomer. It is recommended that they are brushed daily as this will reduce the risk of the fur matting. If they become matted, it can lead to hematomas and infections of the skin, ears, and eyes. They also require frequent bathing due to the light color of their coats. If an owner does not take care of a Bichon Frise’s coat properly, they are more prone to chewing and scratching their skin and fur and this can lead to other health problems. The easiest way to avoid such problems is to put the effort into caring for your dog’s coat.

12. The Bichon Frise is One of the Most Hypoallergenic Dogs

Although the coat is one of the downsides of this breed due to the extensive grooming needed, it is also one of the advantages as they are listed as one of the most hypoallergenic dogs. It is important to note that no dog is completely hypoallergenic as they will all lose some hair and some people are allergic to their spit rather than their fur. However, the Bichon Frise is one of the better choices for those who suffer allergies to pet hair as they are known to molt very little. Another reason why the Bichon Frise is considered hypoallergenic is that the regular grooming required by owners of this breed reduces the presence of saliva.

13. The Bichon Frise Can Suffer from Allergies

While they are a great choice for pet owners who are prone to allergies because they are one of the breeds least likely to cause a reaction, they are actually prone to suffering from health allergies themselves. Some of the allergies from which they are known to suffer include allergies to flea bites, dust, pollen, and chemicals. Most reactions can be avoided by making sure the dog is free from fleas, cleaning your home regularly with natural products and keeping the dog indoors during times when there is a high-pollen count in the atmosphere. Treatments are available from a veterinarian to help dogs that suffer from serious allergies. Further health conditions to which the Bichon Frise is prone include heart disease, cataracts, ear infections, loose knee joints, and diabetes.

14. The Longest Living Bichon Frise was 19 Years of Age

For some reason, the lifespan of a Bichon Frise is dependent on where they live. For example, in the United States and Canada, the average life expectancy of this breed is between 12 and 13 years. However, in the UK, they tend to have a longer lifespan. A survey conducted regarding the lifespan of dogs in the UK showed that the Bichon Frise could live up to 16 years. Despite the fact that the Bichon Frise will generally have a longer life expectancy in the UK than in the United States or Canada, the oldest Bichon Frise on record was actually from North America. There are records that show dogs that have lived in excess of 19 years. The lifespan of a Bichon Frise is comparable to other breeds of a similar size and the most common cause of death in this breed is simply old age.

15. There Are Some Health Conditions to Which This Dog is Prone

Like most breeds of dog, there are some health conditions to which the Brichon Frise is more prone than other breeds of dog. The two main problems they are likely to experience are autoimmune hemolytic anaemia (AIH) and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP). These conditions are one of the leading causes of premature deaths in the Bichon Frise. AIHA is a condition where the immune system of the dog attacks its own red blood cells and this leads to a life-threatening form of anaemia. ITP is a condition where blood platelets are destroyed and this leads to haemorrhaging of the mucus and skin membranes. Between 20 and 80% of the dogs who suffer from this condition will die. A further condition which is relatively common amongst Bichon Frises is liver shunts and they are often not detected until later life.

16. There Are Many Celebrities Who Own a Bichon Frise

Following the trend for keeping cute, smaller breeds of dog, there are many celebrities who own a Bichon Frise. British actress and comedian Miranda Hart is the proud owner of a Bichon Frise called Peggy. She got her puppy from the costume lady while she was working on the sitcom ‘Not Going Out’. She hadn’t intended to have a dog but was overwhelmed by the cuteness of the little balls of fur. Another celebrity Bichon Frise owner is Daisy Lowe who has an adorable Bichon Frise called Monty. Politician George Osborne also has aa Bichon Frise called Lola. Brazilian supermodel Alessandra Ambrosia cause controversy with her pet Bichon Frise. She decided to punk up the fur a little by adding shades of pink and blue to her naturally white coat. After getting in trouble with PETA for her actions, she made the sensible decision to change her pet’s coat back to white.

17. They Were Performers in the 19th Century

The popularity of the Bichon Frise has had its ups and downs throughout the breed’s history. Historically, they were at their height of popularity during the French Renaissance period under the reign of Francis I and then later under the reign of Henry III, both in the 16th century. Although their popularity then waned a little, they were popular once more under the reign of Napoleon III. One of the lowest points in the popularity of the Bichon Frise was during the 19th century when they fell out of popularity and people were discarding their dogs onto the streets. At this time, the Bichon Frise became known as the common dog. As they are intelligent dogs with a sunny personality, they were able to adapt to this situation and soon became street performers or members of a circus. While they had fallen out of favor with nobility, they became popular amongst traveler communities who favored them for their ability to do tricks and attract an audience.

18. A Bichon Frise Has Won the Best in Show at Westminster Twice

There are just two Bichon Frises who have had the honor of winning the Best in show title at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in the United States. The first was a Bichon Frise was called J.R. and he won the title in 2001. The second Bichon Frise to win the title was a five-year-old dog called Flynn. He won the Best in Show at the 142nd Westminster Dog Show in New York in 2018. His trainer is Bill McFadden. They admitted using shampoo and hairspray to keep the dog’s coat in place for the competition.

19. Ozzie the Bichon Frise is a Social Media Sensation

One of the most famous Bichon Frises is Ozzie as he has become a social media sensation. This talented canine can do a whole repertoire of tricks, including skateboarding and helping with the laundry. His proud owner, Kayleigh Langdon, set up a Facebook page for Ozzie as she wanted to show people what her talented Bichon Frise can do and he became an instant hit. He is now so popular that he has over 4,000 followers on his Facebook page. His owner is delighted with the response to his page and pleased that his talents have been recognized by so many fans.

20. ‘Oliver’ the Brichon Frise is the Star of a Children’s Book

Another famous Bichon Frise is Oliver. His owner made him the star of a popular children’s book. His owner, Candyce J. Corcoran, is a writer who is involved with an organization called the Bichon Frise Rescue in the United States. She rescued Oliver from a center for rescue dogs and he became her loyal pet. Sadly, Oliver was diagnosed with hypothyroid disease. As a result of his condition, he will require medication for the disease for the rest of his life. Despite his illness, he has a cheerful disposition. Corcoran was inspired by this and decided to write a book for children featuring her dog and even called the book ‘Oliver’ after him. She dedicated the book to her grandson. Just like Oliver, Austin also suffers from a thyroid condition that means he will require thyroid hormone treatment for the rest of his life.

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