Bichon Frise Information


Easy to recognize with its round, snow-white, cotton ball-shaped hairstyle, the Bichon Frise has earned a reputation as being a tiny package full of fun. As a long-time favorite pet that is currently ranked as the 26th most popular breed in the United States by the American Kennel Club, the Bichon Frise is an excellent choice for families seeking a compact, cuddly friend who will love them to pieces. Read on to find a full breed description and determine whether this powder-puff sweetheart is the right match for your household too.

Bichon Frise
Basic Info
NameBichon Frise
Other NameBichon Tenerife, Purebred Bichon, Bichon à poil frisé
OriginSpain , Belgium, France
Size Type Small Dog Breeds
Breed Group Non-Sporting Breeds
Life Span12 - 15 years
TemperamentGentle, Sensitive, Cheerful, Feisty, Playful, Affectionate
HeightMale: 9–12 inches; Female: 9–11 inches
Weight10 to 18 pounds
ColorsWhite & Cream, White, White & Buff, White & Apricot
Puppy PriceAverage $450 - $600 USD

Bichon Frise

Physical description

Body Type

As a small, compact, and sturdy dog breed, the Bichon Frise has a body with a rounded appearance with a slightly rounded skull and short muzzle distinguished by a slightly pronounced stop. The head and legs are proportionate to the body size, with the ears and tail kept natural with no docking or cropping. The dogs have round eyes that are usually black or dark brown in color, dropped ears that are covered with long fur, and teeth that meet to make a scissors bite. While the legs are straight and medium boned, the tail is curved or curled and carried over the back of the hindquarters. Bichon Frise males are typically between 9 to 12 inches at shoulder height with a weight between 11 to 16 pounds, but the females are slightly shorter ranging from 9 to 11 inches with a weight between 10 to 15 pounds.


Although a white coat is strongly preferred within the show ring for dog competitions, the Bichon Frise can have coat colors of apricot, grey, or cream as well. A small amount of these accent colors may be noticeable around the dog’s ears, paws, or snout, but the breed standard indicates that these colors must not exceed ten percent of its body.


The Bichon Frise possesses a double coat with a thick, coarse, and curly outer coat that consists of hairs between three to four inches in length as well as a soft, dense undercoat. Often appearing on lists of dogs that do not shed and are hypo-allergenic for dog allergy sufferers, the natural curl in the coat helps prevent dead hair and dander from escaping. While the dog can be shown with its coat clipped similarly to a poodle, some keep a long, puffy coat with only the feet and muzzle trimmed.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  Yes


With its fluffy thick double coat, it is no surprise that the Bichon Frise must be brushed daily to prevent matting and avoid the development of hematoma. It is highly recommended that owners take the dog for professional grooming at least every four to six weeks. The dogs must be trimmed around the eyes and ears with a scissors, whereas the body may be trimmed with either scissors or electric clippers. In order to keep the coat in good condition, owners are encouraged to bathe their Bichon Frise on a monthly basis. Furthermore, the eyes must be extensively cleaned to avert staining and ears must be freed from hair growth to prevent the occurrence of debris causing infection.


Originating in the Mediterranean area, the Bichon Frise dates back as far as the 1400s as a distinctive descendent of the Barbet Water Spaniel and Poodle. Due to its merry disposition, the dogs traveled often and were used as barter by sailors in their journeys from continent to continent. In the 14th century, Italian sailors rediscovered the small breed on their voyages to the far reaches of Tenerife on the Canary Islands and returned them to Italy for the nobility. Though not considered a water retriever dog, the Bichon Frise has an affinity for water because of its rich history accompanying sailors.

Along with gaining considerable success in Spain as a favorite of the Infantas and painters of the Spanish School, including the famous artist Francisco de Goya, the Bichon Frise rose to fame for its appearances in the court of King Henry III and Napoleon III. However, interest waned considerably in the 19th century as the breed became a “common dog” that was often seen wandering through the streets, doing tricks in circuses, and accompanying organ grinders. Eventually in 1955, the Bichon was brought to the United States and the first American-born litter was whelped within just one year. While the breed was officially recognized in the non-sporting group by the American Kennel Club in 1973, it was not until 2001 that the first Bichon Frise named JR won the coveted best-in-show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.


Often described as gentle mannered, sensitive, cheerful, playful, loyal, and affectionate, the Bichon Frise is an independent spirit with a merry disposition that is pleasing to live with. With a high level of intelligence, happy temperament, and bold personality, the breed loves human company and is naturally sociable with every member of the family, including other dogs and pets. Requiring the guidance of an assertive, confident, and gentle human leader, the Bichon Frise needs clearly established limits to ensure they do not develop Small Dog Syndrome, which can cause obsessive barking, guarding, separation anxiety, or snapping. However, when properly trained, the Bichon is known as a stabled-minded, trustworthy, and loving breed.

Since the breed is competitive and obedient for use as a watchdog or trick performer, the Bichon Frise is an active little dog that requires at least one walk daily. While playtime may satisfy their exercise needs, walking is preferred for fulfilling their primal instincts. The Bichon Frise may be suitable for apartment living because they are fairly active indoors, but it is essential that they still receive sufficient exercise. It is recommended that owners have at least a large fenced-in yard for a safe romp in an open off-lead area to work off energy that may otherwise cause behavioral issues.

Interesting Bichon Frise Facts


  • For the first few weeks of life, Bichon Frise puppies sleep for around 90 percent of the daytime. Born completely toothless, deaf, and blind, the pups do not fully open their eyes until they are at least 12 days old.
  • The success of the Bichon Frise in France in the early 20th century was largely due to the French-speaking Belgian author Herge’s “The Adventures of Tintin,” which featured a small, fluffy white dog named Milou.
  • With its fine silky corkscrew curls that never stop growing throughout the dogs’ lifespan, the name Bichon Frise loosely translates into French meaning “curly lap dog.”