The Bichon Frise, also known as the Tenerife Bichon, originated from France. It belongs to the UKC; Non Sporting Group, and has been around since the 14th century. It is thought that the Bichon first arrived in Tenerife with Italian traders who traded their dogs for goods.

Brief History

The Bichon Frise was bred in the Mediterranean region during the Middle Ages. It was named the Tenerife Bichon, and was a favorite among the French nobility during the 1500’s. By the 1800s, the Bichon was a popular companion dog in France, and was also used for circus performances.

The Bichon arrived in the U.S in the mid-twentieth century. During the 20th century, the Bichon faced difficult times during both wars, and became less popular. The Bichon became popular again when the breed was recognized in 1933 under the “Society Central Canine as the “Bichon with the curly hair.” In 1964, the Bichon Frise Club was formed in the U.S. The AKC accepted the Bichon in 1971 under the miscellaneous class, and in 1973 as a Non-Sporting Group.

Physical Features

The Bichon Frise is a small and sturdy dog. The Bichon has a rounded skull, with a short muzzle, and a strong lower jaw. With curious rounded dark brown or black eyes, the Bichon has high-set drop ears that are set forward on its head. This breed carries a medium-length plumed tail that curls over its back.

Bichons have double-coats with a very soft undercoat, and a medium-length outercoat. They have lots of hair on the head, beard, mustache, ears and tail. The coloring of this dog breed is white, but the Bichon can also be found with a buff, cream, or apricot color around ears and body.

Average Height:

9.5-11.5 inches

Average Weight:

10-14 pounds

Life Expectancy:

12-15 years


The Bichon is gentle and affectionate. This breed is always cheerful and playful, and makes for a great companion dog. The Bichon has a positive attitude, but may be difficult to housebreak. Positive dog training and early socialization is recommended. Bichons are good with children, and need to be around family. They enjoy daily trips in the car, and love sitting on your lap when out and about. They are also very easy to manage in restaurants, or when out shopping.

Special Needs

The Bichon is prone to weight problems, and should be kept at the correct weight. Avoid feeding bits from the dinner table. It’s hard to resist the affectionate Bichon begging at the dinner table, but be sure to feed only healthy foods. Bichons need regular grooming, socialization and housetraining.

Possible Health Concerns

The Bichon is an active and healthy dog breed that may be susceptible to the following:

  • Autoimmune Disease refers to the abnormal functioning of the immune system. The Bichon may be predisposed to this. Consult with your veterinarian for more advice.
  • Bladder Problems. Some Bichons may be predisposed to urinary stones (uroliths). The best way to try and prevent this is to always supply lots of fresh water. The most common uroliths found in the Bichon Frise is the magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite) and calcium oxalate uroliths. Medical, dietary, and surgical options are three options that your vet will discuss with you.
  • Eye Diseases that are common in Bichons include Cataracts, Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome, SARDS, Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA, Glaucoma, and Keratitis Sicca.  Consult with your veterinarian for ophthalmic care.
  • Luxating Patellas. This is a hereditary condition that is caused by the abnormal development of the kneecap(patella). X-rays will aid in seeing the severity of the displacement. Treatment usually involves surgical options. 
  • Dental Problems. The Bichon Frise needs proper dental care, including preventative methods like daily tooth brushing, which will help prevent gum disease, periodontitis and endodontic disease.


The Bichon Frise needs daily exercise every day to stay fit, and to not pick up weight. This breed enjoys being indoors with their pet parent, and is such an easy keeper. Additionally, this breed is moderately active meaning that daily walks suffice, though dog park visits are always welcome. Bichon’s love quality time with their pet parent, so be sure to take them on your adventures when possible!


Pet parents should never underestimate the importance of a well-balanced diet for this small and short breed. The Bichon picks up weight very easily, and can get to be obese rather fast. Feed a complete and balanced food for the appropriate life stage of your Bichon. Always consult with your veterinarian if your dog develops food allergies, and needs a change of diet.


The Bichon has a wonderful coat that needs to be maintained daily. Bichons suffer from sensitive eyes, and the hair close to the eyes will need to be trimmed regularly. The Bichon should be bathed once a week, and tends to enjoy a visit to the groomers. Most Bichon pet parents find it easier to take their Bichons to a professional groomer every 4 weeks. This is a hypoallergenic dog breed, and suits pet parents that suffer from allergies.

Ears also need to be checked often for signs of infection. As usual, teeth need to be brushed daily, and a twice yearly dental cleaning at the vet is recommended to prevent dental disease.

Bichons are a popular dog breed to adopt. These pups enjoy apartment living, and are easy to keep. With its gentle demeanor and playful nature, the Bichon does not bark a lot and gets along with everyone they encounter.

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