HomeDog BreedsBichon Frise

Bichon Frise

These adorable white fluffy dogs originated in the Mediterranean regions of Italy, Spain, and the Canary Islands. Descended from the Barnet (or water spaniel), they were often called Barbichon, which was shortened to Bichon, and later were called Bichon Teneriffe. The breed’s small size, happy personality, and appealing coat made the dogs wonderful companions. In the 1300s, sailors brought the dogs aboard ships as companions and as barter for other goods at ports of call. Using them as barter spread the dogs’ popularity throughout the Mediterranean and into Europe. In the 1500s, Henry III was a fan of the breed, as was Napoleon III.

  • Temperament: Feisty, Affectionate, Cheerful, Playful, Sensitive, Gentle
  • Height: 9.5-11.5 (male), 9.5-11.5
  • Weight: 6.6 – 11
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Drive: Companion
  • Group: Non-sporting

The Bichon Frise stands between 9.5 and 11.5 inches tall and weighs between 10 and 16 pounds, with females smaller than males. The eyes are dark and expressive, the tail is carried happily over the back, and the white fluffy coat draws your hands—you simply must touch it. Although the Bichon is a small dog, she is sturdy, with a strong little body. At one point during the breed’s history, in the late 1800s, she was known as the cir- cus dog or organ grinder’s dog and danced and performed tricks for the amusement of onlookers. Bichons today still retain those athletic abilities.


The breed’s fluffy white coat is very appealing but does require regular grooming to keep it in shape. If the coat is ignored, it will mat (tangle). If matting is not taken care of right away, the entire coat could become matted, requiring a professional groomer’s services to shave the dog. Therefore, the coat should be brushed and combed daily. Although the Bichon’s coat does not shed, it does grow continually and requires trimming. If you wish to trim your Bichon yourself, talk to your dog’s breeder for guidance. Most Bichon owners find a professional groomer who knows the breed and then bring their dogs in for grooming every four to six weeks.

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The Bichon’s exercise requirements are not extreme. Older puppies and young adult dogs are the most active, but a good walk morning and night with a game of catch at midday will keep most of them happy. Bichons do like to play, are always open to a challenge, and have participated in obe- dience competitions, agility, and flyball.


Early socialization is important for all Bichons. Although the breed is, for the most part, happy and extroverted, some puppies can be quite reserved. With socialization, even these puppies can learn that the world is really a wonderful place. Training is important as well; this is a bright breed, and if not trained, they can easily train their owners to do exactly what they wish. House training can be a challenge; set up a routine, use a crate, watch the dog carefully, and be patient and consistent.


Bichons are alert watchdogs, barking when anyone approaches the house. With family and friends, they are very affectionate and playful. Although they are sturdy, have a happy temperament, and enjoy children, they can be too small for rough childhood play. They are good with other pets, although inter- actions with small animals should be supervised.

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Health Concerns

Primary health concerns include knee problems, eye disorders, and allergies.

Non-sporting Group Summary

Dogs in this group do not share any mutual characteristic and simply do not fit into the other groups so they’re quite diverse. Therefore, the personality and appearance features of the dogs in this group are not similar.

Behavior & Training

Dog Ownership