Bichon Frise: A Quick Guide

little white Bichon Frise sits and stares

The Bichon Frise (pronounced as /ˈbijon ˈfriz, meaning curly lap dog) is a small breed of dog that has its roots in several countries coming from the north-western part of the Mediterranean. It dates back as far as the 13th century. These dogs are descendants of the Barbet or Water Spaniel and the Standard Poodle.

The word ‘bichon’ comes from the Middle French word bichon (“small long-haired dog”), a diminutive of the Old French word biche (meaning “bitch, female dog”). The Bichon was traded all over the world by Spanish sailors.

Although it is not considered a retriever or water dog, the Bichon, due to its history of being a sailor’s dog, enjoys the water and any retrieving activity. The dog eventually became popular in France during the Renaissance period (1515-1547) and was a favorite of the French royal courts. The Bichon Frise was first recognized by the AKC in 1972.

Traits and Behavior


A Bichon Frise is easy, docile, affectionate, friendly and very sociable. They are good towards small animals and strangers, especially if they’ve been socialized at a very young age.

Most Bichon Frise dogs adapt completely to the routines and chores of their human family. The breed is however sensitive, so the dog owner mustn't treat the dog harshly or unfairly.

The breed should preferably be with its human family as often as possible for it doesn’t like to be left alone at home. 

These dogs belong to an intelligent breed that’s why they learn simple basic obedience training in no time. Also, they can be easily trained for more advanced circus acts and tricks.

Pet Care and Diseases


The dog breed is hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic is a term that was first used in marketing to describe allergy-friendly cosmetics and textiles. The word comes from Hypo, which in Greek means below normal. Bichon Frise releases minimal allergens therefore, it is a breed that is good for allergy-sufferers.

Unfortunately, some of these dogs have experienced few health concerns as reported by dog owners. Some Bichon Frise are prone to:

  • Watery eyes
  • Cataracts
  • Skin problems
  • Ear ailments
  • Epilepsy
  • Kneecap injuries
  • Hypersensitivity to flea bites

A cataract is a plague which the Bichon Frise often gets. This is a plague in the eye. The disease destroys the lens of the eye in varying degrees. Ear infections and skin diseases are also common in Bichon Frise.


The animal requires normal grooming and should be bathed at least once a month. Trim the hairs around the eyes and ears with a blunt pair of scissors and clean the eyes extensively to prevent staining. The Bichon Frise can live in an apartment if it gets enough exercise. A long daily walk or jog is enough to keep it activated. Dogs that aren’t able to get daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems.


Bichon Frise is a medium-sized breed. Males are about 23 to 30 cm tall. Females are around 23 to 28 cm tall but are smaller than their male counterparts. Fully grown, both genders can weigh up to 3-5 kg. These dogs have large hanging ears that are covered in thick fur. The round eyes are black or dark brown.

bichon frise after grooming

The tail is groomed to be long and curly and is carried over the back. The double coat is soft to the touch. The outer coat is 3 to 4 inches (7-10 cm) long and is coarser and curlier than the soft dense undercoat. The coat comes in different colors such as solid white, apricot or grey.

General Information

The estimated life expectancy of a Bichon Frise is 15 to 19 years. The average litter size is about 1-6 puppies. Other names for this breed include Tenerife Dog, Bichon Tenerife, and Bichon à poil Frise.

Breed Club

Visit this dog club website dedicated to Bichon Frise. Click this link:

Pet Portraits

Custom pet portraits of your Bichon Frise are available now from Printy Paw.

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