The Bichon Frise is a small dog breed that looks like a toy with his black eyes and cloudy white coat. Playful and enthusiastic, this dog is an excellent companion for first-time dog parents. 


The name Bichon Frise is French and means curly-haired small dog. This breed is of the Barbichon family that was used as sailing and herding dogs in the Mediterranean.

Other Barbichon dog are the Bolognese, Coton de Tulear, Havanese and Maltese. 

Some historians believe that as far back as the 14th century, the Bichon Frise was developed in Italy and was taken to France by French sailors from the Canary Islands. 

Others believe that the French brought the breed to France after they invaded Italy in the 1500s. 

Noble families loved the Bichon Frise including France’s King Francis I and King Henry III of England. The latter has a special basket made where he could carry his Bichons. 

The breed’s popularity among royalty declined and his purpose varied from circus performance to leading the blind. 

His appealing nature and intelligence saved him from becoming extinct. The first breed standard was written and officially recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1933.

The American Kennel Club Stud Book registered the Bichon Frise in 1972. 

Physical Characteristics

The Bichon has a compact small body, fluffy white fur and a doll face. He is sometimes mistaken for a white Poodle. 

His skull is a little round with a pointy muzzle and black nose. He carries his long curly tail over his back. 

The Bichon has a double coat that is usually white. The undercoat is dense and soft while the topcoat is harsh to the touch. The fur grows away from the body giving it the puffy look.  


A mature Bichon stands 9 to 11 inches (22cm to 30cm) at the withers and weighs 7 to 12 pounds (6kg to 11kg). It is not uncommon to find slightly larger Bichons. 

Character & abilities

This small dog breed is friendly, affectionate and gentle-mannered. He can be quite charming because he likes to be the centre of attention.

He is playful and will enjoy being included in games with the children in the home. 

He can be territorial, especially when he is not getting what he thinks is fair attention. Otherwise, he gets along well with other pets.

Trainability & Intelligence

The Bichon Frise is intelligent and a fast learner. He can be taught to perform tricks and can participate in dog sports like agility and rally. 

He requires obedience training and continued socialization training to keep him well behaved. 

The Bichon makes an excellent therapy dog because he is gentle and his appealing nature warms the heart.

Housebreaking this breed can be challenging and crate training is recommended. Some owners get indoor dog litter boxes because the Bichon is tiny. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

Despite his size, the Bichon Frise is energetic and needs daily walks and play sessions. 

Once a sailor’s dog, the Bichon loves water and will enjoy playing fetch in the swimming pool. 

This small dog breed should be fed according to his age, size, body build, metabolism and level of activity. The best quality food provides complete and wholesome nutrition. 

An adult Bichon can be provided with two meals a day that amount to ½ to 1 ½ cups of dry dog food. Fresh clean drinking water should always be made available. 


Even though this breed is categorized as non-shedding, his undercoat usually has dead hair that can be removed by regular combing.

His coat needs a lot of maintenance to keep it clean and tangle-free. Professional groomers can take up this exercise if owners are unable to do it at home.  

It is recommended to pluck the hair that grows in the ear canals which can trap bacteria and moisture, creating an environment for ear infections.

As a white-coated breed, the Bichon’s face usually gets stained by food, mucus and discharge from the eyes. His face should be cleaned regularly using a warm moist cloth. 

Daily brushing of the teeth is important using a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. This will prevent the build-up of tartar and bacteria in the mouth. 

As a companion dog, it is important to make sure the Bichon’s nails are short and neat. Long nails can scratch as well as cause him to slip and fall when running on smooth floors.  

The grooming process is an opportunity for owners to bond with the Bichon. It is also an ideal time to check him for any signs of infection that should be caught early and treated appropriately. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

This small dog breed is adaptable can live comfortably in an apartment or house with a yard as long as he gets regular physical activity. 

The Bichon Frise doesn’t like to be alone and suffers from separation anxiety when left alone for hours. He can be destructive to anything in the home.

It can be easy to treat this dog like a baby because of his size and gentle nature. He should however be allowed to interact as any other dog breed to ensure he is not spoilt or fearful. 

In the summer, the Bichon tends to scratch a lot because of the warm humid air. 


The Bichon Frise is generally a healthy breed but he is prone to health concerns like:

* Contact and food allergies

* Bladder stones and infections

* Patellar luxation

* Hip dysplasia

* Sensitivity to routine vaccinations

* Juvenile cataracts

* Ear infections

* Diabetes

* Heart disease

* Liver shunts

* Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia

* Blocked or small tear ducts

A happy and healthy Bichon Frise has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.  


The Bichon Frise is a charming beautiful dog and easily one of the most affectionate. He thrives on human companionship and is adaptable to any household as long as he gets all the love, attention and exercise that he needs. 

Adopting a dog is a rewarding experience and lifelong commitment that deserves consideration.  It is essential to choose the right dog that suits your family and lifestyle.

Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we have researched for you. We have detailed small dog breed descriptions to guide new and existing dog parents to find the ideal match.


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