The Bichon Frise descends from the water spaniel and the standard poodle. Although their name is from middle French, they originated in the Mediterranean area. These dogs were well-known in Spain, and when discovered by Italian sailors, they quickly became popular with Italian nobility. This breed was first used as companion animals on ships, as they do not require much exercise and are known to have a merry disposition. They were also used as “ice breakers” when the ships entered various ports of call. The Bichon had great success in France during the 1500s, but its popularity truly skyrocketed during the late 1500s under Henry III. They were immensely popular as a favorite of the Infantas, and Spanish painters often included Bichons in their works. The famous artist, Francisco de Goya, included a Bichon in several of his works.
The American Kennel Club refers to the Bichon Frise as a merry and cheerful animal who is gentle-mannered, sensitive, playful and affectionate. They love human company and can demand a lot of attention. Bichons are very sociable, and will thrive with a family that takes them everywhere. They do well with children due to their playful nature and vast reserves of energy. This dog will mixes well with singles, seniors, families, city dwellers and cuddlers. They are social animals and coexist with other pets. The Bichon Frise needs rules to follow, and limits should be set. Lack of boundaries can cause “small dog syndrome”, and can lead to separation anxiety, snapping and obsessive barking. A daily walk will fulfill help the Bichon maintain his cheery disposition.
A Bichon Frise has a double coat which is soft to the touch. The outer layer is 3 to 4 inches and is curlier and coarser than the undercoat. Colors include solid white, cream, gray or apricot; white is the preferred show dog color in this breed. A Bichon has a hypo-allergenic coat, and this breed does not shed much. However, if the coat is kept long, it requires daily brushing to prevent matting.
This breed can live as long as 15 years. They usually weight 10 – 18 pounds, and are 9 – 12 inches tall. As puppies, the Bichon Frise can sleep as much as 90% of the day. Their eyes do not fully open until they are approximately 12 days old. All puppies are born blind, toothless and deaf. They have round eyes that are black or dark brown. Their ears are dropped and covered in long hair. The muzzle is short and is not pointed.
A Bichon Frise is as cute as it looks. This dog can be feisty and great company for anyone who is looking for a small companion.
Photo: Courtesy of charliekwalker via Flickr (CC by 2.0)