Compact, white as snow, and fuzzy as can be, the pint-sized Bichon Frise dog is a popular lap dog. He ranks number 45 out of 194 on the American Kennel Club (AKC’s) registry of America’s most popular dog breeds! With his playful disposition and curious nature, a Bichon Frise puppy or adult is the perfect pet for singles and families alike.
What’s In This Guide
- Breed At A Glance
- In-depth Breed Review
- Bichon Frise Training And Care
- Pros And Cons Of Getting A Bichon Frise
Bichon Frise FAQs
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about this breed.
Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: 45 in AKCs ranking
- Purpose: Companion
- Weight: 12lbs to 18lbs
- Temperament: Playful, friendly and loving.
Bichon Frise Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose
- Fun facts about Bichon Frise
- Bichon Frise appearance
- Bichon Frise temperament
- Training and exercising
- Bichon Frise health and care
- Do Bichon Frise make good family pets
- Rescuing a Bichon Frise
- Finding a puppy
- Raising a Bichon Frise puppy
- Popular Bichon Frise breed mixes
- Products and accessories
History and original purpose of the Bichon Frise
Although typically seen as a French dog, did you know that this breed initially had a Spanish origin?
That’s right! The Bichon is one of four types of what was formerly called the Barbichon group, with the other three members being the Maltese, Havanese, and the Bolognese.
Believed to have developed on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, this breed is said to be a descendant of the Bichon Tenerife, a sailor’s favorite traveling dog!
Fun facts about Bichon Frise
In fact, this dog’s fame truly skyrocketed in the late 1500s, when it became the preferred breed in the court of Henry III.
Despite this pup’s renowned charm and loving nature, he did have somewhat of a trying history, going from rags to riches to rags, then riches again!
During this time he enjoyed lounging on the laps of royalty, running around the streets with commoners, and even wowing audiences with spectacular tricks in the circus!
Bichon Frise appearance
The size of this breed may be small, but he is tough as can be!
Sure, an adult may grow up to only be 9.5 to 11.5 inches and weighs about 12 to 18 pounds, but don’t let his miniature stature fool you.
The full grown Bichon compensates for his tiny size with his big personality!
But we’ll get into that a bit further down.
For now, let’s go into more detail about what this curly cutie looks like.
Bichon Frise Coat
A defining characteristic of this breed is his long white coat. Although, sometimes a bit of cream or apricot color can gather around the Bichon’s ears, nose, and paws.
However, this “off-white” fur should only cover about 10% of his body.
While many Bichon Frise dogs have dense, curly hair comparable to the poodle, others may have straighter hair.
What you get will really depend on the litter and your Bichon’s genetics.
Bichon Frise temperament
Described by the American Kennel Club as being a “canine comedian,” this little dog is spunky, silly, highly energetic, and very playful!
Though they make good watchdogs since they enjoy using their voices, they are all bark and no bite. They have never met a stranger and their bark is pretty much always a “hello,” and never “go away.”
Remember, the Bichon was bred to be a companion dog, and he won’t tolerate being left alone for long periods of time. He can become very attached to his people and can suffer separation anxiety.
Still, because he was bred primarily as a companion dog, the Bichon does great with families and is excellent with children as he is so curious and spirited.
However, he is a smaller dog, so he may not be the right fit for very young toddlers or rougher kids.
Bichon Frise Personality
The Bichon’s personality also makes him an ideal dog for those who enjoy exploring the world and are looking for a traveling companion.
Considering that his ancestors were famous for their traveling exploits, this is a great dog for nomads who are constantly on the move!
The easygoing nature of the Bichon makes him wonderfully adaptable to all kinds of living, whether it is larger home types, smaller apartments, or even RVs that are traveling across the country!
Training and exercising your Bichon Frise
Dog training should be a breeze, as this breed is very intelligent and is eager to please his owners.
With any breed, you should always utilize positive training methods and be consistent and patient. The positive reward system works best with all dogs, and the Bichon is no exception.
The Bichon is sensitive and this will only hinder the training sessions instead of helping him to learn the lessons you are trying to teach him.
As we mentioned above, we recommend early socialization and obedience training to help ensure your pup is a happy and well-rounded dog.
We especially recommend early socialization and obedience training in your Bichon Frise if you plan on traveling with him often.
Since he is such an adaptable dog, he should make a wonderful traveling companion.
Still, it will be easier on him and you if he is properly socialized from an early age, since he does have it in him to become territorial or hyperactive.
Although they can have a lot of energy, he is small enough that a nice run in the yard or a brisk walk down your street should do the trick to keep him happy.
Bichon Frise health and care
There are some inheritable health conditions to be aware of with this breed. These include skin and allergy issues, bladder stones and bladder infections.
Some health concerns are:
- patellar luxation
- disc degeneration
- early tooth loss
He can also be prone to the following:
- lung, hemangiosarcoma, and liver cancers
- mitral valve disease
- liver shunt
- gastrointestinal problems
- pancreatic diseases
- Cushing’s disease
To help avoid or prepare for the above health conditions in your Bichon, we recommend early health screening and testing.
Keep in mind that, when going through a breeder, reputable breeders should be able to offer certificates proving their dogs have been screened for any generational health issues and are healthy and adoptable. Remember, vet bills will add to the longer term Bichon Frise price.
Bichon Frise lifespan
A healthy Bichon Frise lifespan can range from 14 up to 20 years!
Grooming a Bichon is considered to be a bit higher maintenance than one would expect with a hypoallergenic dog. This is primarily due to the Bichon’s very thick and curly white coat.
Be prepared to brush your Bichon at least three times a week, although many owners recommend you do it daily to avoid knots or matting in their curly hair.
The Bichon will also need a bath and regular trimming at least once a month.
Of course, as with all dogs, the Bichon will need his nails trimmed regularly to avoid painful cracks or splits.
He will also need his ears cleaned regularly to keep moisture and wax from building up, as that could lead to ear infections.
Grooming For Show
If you are planning to show your Bichon, you will either need to learn how to groom him to show standard or have him groomed by a professional.
Do Bichon Frises make good family pets
This loving little creature gets along well with all sorts, including adults, children, and even other animals!
However, although the Bichon is a very social dog, without proper training he can have a tendency to become hyper and overly excited.
He can also become territorial, but this behavior can be easily discouraged with proper training and early socialization.
Rescuing a Bichon Frise
Since this is a purebred, he may be more difficult to find at a shelter, especially if you are looking to get a puppy.
Still, there are benefits of getting your dog at a shelter or rescue. Aside from offering a home to a dog in need, the price is going to be a fraction of what breeders will charge. The Bichon Frise price, like any purebred dog, might be a bigger concern than you first imagine.
Also, shelters and rescue centers will often cover the initial veterinarian fees, helping to ensure your Bichon is as healthy as can be and ready to be adopted.
You can find a list of Bichon rescue centers at the end of the article by clicking here.
Finding a Bichon Frise puppy
These puppies are pint-sized and oh-so-cute, but how much are they and where can you get your hands on one?
The Bichon Frise price will vary depending on where you plan on getting one from. If you have your heart set on a rescue or a shelter, keep in mind that adoption fees could be anywhere from $50 to $100.
However, you might have your heart set on a Bichon Frise puppy from a breeder. In that case, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to over $1000. This will depend on the breeder and the parent dogs of the Bichon.
If the parents are show quality, the price of your puppy is always going to be more.
Be sure to check out our Puppy Search Guide.
One of the benefits of going through a breeder is that you have the ability to ask questions about the parent dogs and previous litters and ask about health and temperamental issues.
Remember that reputable breeders should be able to offer health certificates proving their dogs have been tested and health screened for certain inheritable health issues.
And of course, as previously mentioned, you should always consider health screening your dog on your own, whether you go through a breeder or through a shelter.
If you are unsure of how to find a breeder, you can always attend local dog shows. Events such as dog shows will offer a large networking opportunity.
Raising a Bichon Frise puppy
Caring for vulnerable puppies is a big responsibility. There are some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training.
You’ll find them listed on our puppy training page
Popular Bichon Frise breed mixes
If the idea of mixing things up a little appeals to you, there are a number of Bichon crosses that are growing in popularity.
- Zuchon – a Bichon Frise x Shih Tzu,
- the Havachon – a Bichon Frise x Havanese mix,
- and the Bich Poo – a Bichon Frise x Poodle
Other dog breeds you might want to consider:
Pros And Cons of Getting A Bichon Frise
Keep in mind that grooming a Bichon could be a daily task and he will not do well if left alone for too long.
There are quite a few genetic health concerns that might trouble your pooch.
The Bichon is an easy-going dog who is very adaptable and loves both people and other household pets!
Because of his compact size, he will enjoy laying on your lap as much as he will enjoy running about in the yard or playing with his toys.
If you are a consistent traveler looking for a traveling companion, this would be the perfect dog for you!
He is said to be delightful company with a happy-go-lucky disposition and easy-going nature.
Bichon Frise products and accessories
Bichon Frise Breed Rescues
- Rescue Me!
- Bichon Frise Club of America Charitable Trust
- Virginia Bichon Rescue
- Bichon Frise Rescue of Northern New Jersey
Do you know of any other great rescues for these puppies? Let us know in the comments below.
References And Resources
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell
- O’Neill et al. 2013. Longevity and Mortality of Dogs Owned In England. The Veterinary Journal
- Schalamon et al. 2006. Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years. Pediatrics
- Duffy D et al. Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2008
- Strain G. Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk. The Veterinary Journal 2004
- Packer et al. 2015. Impact of Facial Conformation On Canine Health. PlosOne
- Adams VJ, et al. 2010. Results of a Survey of UK Purebred Dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Kirk N. Gelatt, Margaret R. Wallace, Stacy E. Andrew, Edward O. Mackay, Don A. Samuelson, Cataracts in the Bichon Frise, Veterinary Ophthalmology
- Richard G. Beauchamp, The Bichon Frise Handbook
- Ross D. Clark, DVM, Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Risk Factors of Bichon Frises
- Tiffani J Howell, Tammie King, Pauleen C Bennett, Puppy Parties and Beyond: the role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior, Volume 6, pages 143-153
- Nathan B Sutter and Elaine A Ostrander, Dog Star Rising: The Canine Genetic System, Nature Reviews Genetics, Volume 5, pages 900-910