Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
This small and super fluffy white dog has been a favorite choice of lap dog for centuries. Originating in the Mediterranean and further popularized in Spain and France, the Bichon Frisé can now be found worldwide. With a soft curly coat, button-like black eyes, and a cheery personality, this breed is great for those searching for a loyal friend. Their mischievous nature also makes them endlessly entertaining. If you’re looking for a medium-energy dog who adapts well to apartment living, the Bichon Frisé may be for you.
Also Known As…
Bichon. Bichón Tenerife. Bichon à Poil Frisé. Love Dog (centuries ago, sailors gave Bichon Frisés to their sweethearts upon docking, thus earning them this nickname). “Hey look! It’s one of those beautiful fluffy cloud dogs!”
This little tyke likely originated in the Mediterranean from mixing together Poodles and Water Spaniels. Due to their popularity with sea merchants and sailors, Bichon Frisés were then popularized across continental Europe—particularly in Spain. During the 1500s, the breed also became a favorite of royalty in France. These sea-faring pups were even groomed in a “lion style,” like you might see on a modern day Portuguese Water Dog.
After becoming a common household companion in Europe, the breed was brought to the U.S. for the first time in 1955. Roughly 15 years later, the Bichon Frisé was recognized by the AKC.
The Bichon Frisé is often characterized as a merry, charming, and engaging dog. Frequently used as circus dogs in Europe in the past—as well as the companion dogs of sailors—this breed knows both how to entertain and provide comfort. While they’re apt to bark and warn you of strangers, this little pup is reputable for its social nature. Meaning, a Bichon Frisé is more likely to befriend a new human than remain cautious.
As their mannerisms are usually sensitive and polite, this breed is also thought of as an “easy” dog. Yet, without the right exercise and training, their troublemaking excited side can rise to the surface. Although the Bichon Frisé isn’t known for barking or anti-social behavior, a frustrated pup—like any other breed—can wreak havoc on your peace and quiet. Still, with the right care and attention, they should be a sweet and fun-loving companion.
Intelligence / Trainability
This breed is often described as intelligent and easy to train. Due to their gentle nature, training should always remain positive and focused on rewards. Bichon Frisés often aim to please. If you’ve bonded with your pup through exercise, play, leadership, and good caretaking, this dog will be your loyal companion without much need for direction.
Keep in mind that those who are potty training a Bichon Frisé puppy in a dwelling without a yard should take frequent walks outside. Why? Due to their small size and medium energy levels, this breed is commonly mistaken for being hard to house train. Instead, it’s more likely that they’re simply not given an adequate outdoor routine.
Due to their size and status as a lap dog, this breed does very well with apartment life. That said, they have a long and fascinating European history with boats, docks, royal palaces, the countryside, and even city streets. The takeaway? The Bichon Frisé is adaptable and easy to care for no matter where you live. Just remember, this size of dog should never be left unattended in natural areas. They’re susceptible to coyotes and other wild animals.
Good For Families And Kids?
Yes, but with precautions. This highly playful and cheerful dog is a favorite of families with kids young and old. But like any breed, they can become snappy, territorial, or insecure around children without proper socialization and training – especially children who aren’t respectful of their space.
Although generally healthy, this dog is increasingly prone to health issues due to irresponsible breeders and puppy farms. If buying from a breeder, it’s suggested to screen for luxating patella, eye conditions like cataracts, allergies, and a history of bladder infections. As the Bichon Frisé has minimized in size slightly over the years, it’s also smart to check for healthy, non-crowded teeth.
The AKC classifies the Bichon Frisé as being “somewhat active,” although they acknowledge that this level is an average. Some Bichon Frises may have small spurts of energy throughout the day; others may be constantly on the go. Either way, at least one walk a day plus plenty of playtime is necessary to keep this clever pup happy.
Friendly With… (Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
While responsible and frequent socialization is important, this breed is often naturally social with dogs and cats. They also relish the company of humans, despite the fact that they’ll first yap at anyone new who arrives at the door.
Coat & Grooming
The cotton ball-like coat of the Bichon Frisé is perhaps their most high maintenance aspect. While relatively hypoallergenic, the small amount of hair that these dogs do shed often gets caught in their undercoat. Thus, they need to be brushed 2-3 times a week. Most people also take this breed to the groomers every 4-6 weeks for a haircut.
Toys Bichon Frisés Would Like Best
These playful dogs enjoy a range of toys. Bouncy balls – like the “Best Balls Ever” – and other Fetch Toys are great for helping your Bichon get some energy out. Meanwhile, Tug Toys are a great way for you to interact with them, and Plush Toys with squeakers are a great way for them to stay busy on their own.
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Bichon Frisés are small pups and it’s not hard to keep them physically fit. A daily walk will help keep off the weight, but don’t forget to take care of your pal internally, too!
There are supplements you can give your pooch to help them function at their highest level. A supplement, made specifically to ease joint pain can be a great way to support mobility, especially as Bichons get older. As always, consult your vet before administering anything to your dog.
This joint supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Bichon Frisé with joint issues. ($32.99.)
BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with joint issues, pain relief, and ease aggression in dogs during stressful situations. ($17.99-22.99.)
For Bichon Frisés, or other pups who love to lie around, a nice comfortable dog bed is definitely a good idea!
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed is great for supporting your pup’s small body and giving them a designated place to rest. A high quality combination of ergonomic memory foam and gel foam helps ease body aches, joint pain, and arthritis. This bed offers the best therapeutic support for your favorite buddy. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Bichon Frisé Of Your Dreams
- Bichon & Little Buddies Rescue is a non-profit rescue located just outside of Milwaukee, WI. Their facilities house other small breed rescues too, including Chihuahuas, Pugs, Poodles, and many others. Interested in adopting? Make sure to schedule a visitation appointment in advance.
- The Bichon Frisé Club of America Charitable Trust is also dedicated to rescuing dogs that have been relinquished or abandoned.
- Adoptable Bichon Frises on Petfinder
Notable Instagram Bichon Frisés
@angel_thebichon is a Bichon Frisé just living his best life with his family!
@bowiethebichon is a fluffy, sylish-as-heck Bichon from L.A., making new puppy pals and going on all kinds of adventures.
@bichon_tori is a Bichon Frisé in South Korea who rocks a perfectly-groomed white afro. Adorned in a variety of custom clothes, Tori is often seen strutting around the local park or hanging out with other oddly fancy canine friends.
@hi_chonbon is an account featuring three Bichon Frisé friends who live in—you guessed it—South Korea. Harkening back to their days as companions for sailors, these pups are often seen swimming in the pool or lounging on beach towels.
***Looking for a gift to blow your Bichon’s mind? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂
Featured image via BowieTheBichon/Instagram