The Bichon Frisé is a small breed of dog that belongs to the Bichon family. This family also includes other breeds like the Maltese, Havanese, and Bolognese. The Bichon's roots trace back to the Mediterranean region, where dogs of this type were popular in Spain and Italy as far back as the 1300s. The Bichon Tenerife, a popular Canary Island breed among sailors, is the primary ancestor of today’s Bichon Frise. Eventually, the Bichon Frisé became a favorite among French nobility in the 16th century, during the reign of Francis I. By the 19th century, however, the breed's popularity had waned, and they were commonly seen as circus or street performance dogs. The breed's fortunes improved again in the 20th century, when French breeders took an interest and began refining the breed standard.
Bichon Frisé Dogs are prone to hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), kidney and bladder stones, allergies, hip dysplasia, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (LCPD), portosystemic shunt (a liver disorder). They can also be prone to heart disease and are susceptible to patent ductus arteriosus. Bichon Frisés should be tested for von Willebrand Disease I, and genetic testing for this condition and others such as degenerative myelopathy, and chondrodystrophy and intervertebral disc disease (CDDY and IVDD risk) with or without chondrodysplasia (CDPA) can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
The Bichon requires moderate daily exercise. They are a cheerful, friendly, and playful breed. Bichons are known for their sociability, and enjoy being the center of attention. They can be quite intelligent and are often good at learning tricks. They are generally good with children and other pets, making them suitable for families.
However, like all breeds, they have some potential behavior issues. Their social nature means they may suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. They can also be stubborn at times and can be a bit challenging to housebreak.
The Bichon Frisé was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1971.
The name Bichon Frisé is French and translates as "curly lap dog".
This breed descended from the Barbet or Water-Spaniel, whose name evolved into "Barbichon", and this was eventually shortened to Bichon.