Now who can possibly resist cute puppy dog eyes, a fluffy little body that goes pitter-patter on its paws and evokes an irresistible need to cuddle? That’s a Bichon Frise for you, lovingly called Bichon. They are the cutest balls of fur, the most amazing companions for any and everyone. When you are on the lookout for a dog that is not just amicable but also quite fun loving and yet does not shed much, choosing a Bichon might be the perfect solution.
But then before you make an informed decision, you are sure to look them up, know these little fluff balls a little better…here’s helping you accomplish just that!
The Bichon is essentially a French breed which had undergone many stages of crossbreeding to emerge as the present day Bichon or Bichon Frise. In fact, as Wikipedia informs,
“The Bichon Frise descended from the Barbet or Water Spaniel and the Standard Poodle. The word bichon comes from Middle French bichon (“small long-haired dog”), a diminutive of Old French biche (“bitch, female dog”), from Old English bicce (“bitch, female dog”), related to Old Norse bikkja (“female dog”) and German Betze (“female dog”)”.
In fact, when it comes to the origins of the term ‘Bichon’, you come across several significant speculations.
- ‘Bichon’ is taken to be the abbreviation of the term ‘barbichon’ which means ‘a small poodle’.
- It is also believed that the term ‘barbichon’ is a derivative of the term ‘barbiche’ which, in English, means ‘shaggy dog’.
- However, a point to be noted in this context is that the term ‘barbichon’ itself is a later coinage, 1694 to be exact; whereas the term ‘bichon’ itself came into existence sometime around 1588.
The Bichon has been divided into 4 categories:
- The Bichon Maltese
- The Bichon Bolognaise
- The Bichon Havanese
- The Bichon Tenerife
The origin of all these sub-breeds can be traced back to the Mediterranean region. Now how come they spread all over the world, you might ask. There is a cute story behind this: given their merry disposition, Bichons became companions to sailors and were used for barter, thereby securing their pass across the sea. Moving from continent to continent, the Bichon coaxed people everywhere into accepting it as a loving companion.
Indeed, the Bichon has a very colorful history, given their debut in Spain. It was the Spanish folks that introduced this breed to the Canary Island, Tenerife.
These little dogs were rediscovered by Italian soldiers in the 14th century, making their way back to their homeland, only to become great favorites with Italian Royalty. They even had special ‘lion style’ hair cuts to declare their royal status!
The ‘Tenerife’ variety garnered acceptance in France during the French Renaissance (Circa. 16th Century), thanks to the patronage of Francis I, but it was in the court of Henry III, (around 1574 to 1589) that the Tenerife Bichon had a real slice of heaven. (Although, given how cute and adorable the Bichon is, seems like it was the Royalty that tasted heaven!)
In Spain, they were popular among a different class of people altogether – apart from becoming a favorite with the Infantas, the Bichon became a model for the Spanish painters. It is a feat seldom accomplished by other breeds…in fact, a Bichon became the subject of a number of masterpieces created by the famous artist Francisco de Goya!
Bichons were being adopted with renewed interest during the reign of Napoleon III. But interest waned and they were reduced to being a household or ‘common’ dog sometime during the 19th century. It was not until 5th March 1933, that the breed was given an official status by the Société Centrale Canine, the French National Kennel club. It was not before 18th October 1934 that the ‘Bichon Frise’ or Bichon made its way into the Stud Book.
The Bichon made its way to the U.S.A around 1955, and earned recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1973. By then, the Bichon had started to be bred in the United States of America and taken its different states by storm.
“The Bichon Frise became eligible to enter the AKC’s Miscellaneous Class on 1 September 1971. In October, 1972, the breed was admitted to registration in the American Kennel Club Stud Book. On 4 April 1973, the breed became eligible to show in the Non-Sporting Group at AKC dog shows. In 2001, a Bichon Frise named JR won best-in-show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.”
In Australia, the Bichon gained popularity due to the Channel Nine mini-series called Meweth in the mid 1960s.
Purpose: The Bichon has always been known as a companion dog, given its friendly nature and amicable characteristics.
Life Span: The Bichon has a long lifespan, longer than most pure-bred dogs. Combined statistics from U.K and U.S.A/Canada show that the Bichon has an average lifespan of 12-13 years. The ones in U.K tend to have a longer life span when compared to the ones in the U.S.A. The longest living Bichon that died at the age of 16.5 years belonged to U.K.
Appearance: The Bichon reminds most people of teddy bears, thanks to their heads usually cocked to one side and their amazingly furry bodies.
- Bichons are sturdy little animals.
- When the Bichon is clipped, it shows off a rounded body, with a prominently round skull.
- The muzzle is shorter than its skull, though slightly less pointed.
- They have round black or brown eyes.
- The ears are droopy and covered with fur.
- The teeth usually meet in a ‘scissors bite’ that is, the outer edges of the bottom front teeth should touch the inner edges of the top front teeth.
- Their straight well proportioned legs are medium boned.
- The tail carries over the back and is usually groomed to curl at the end.
- The outer layer of the double coat is approximately 3-4 inches thick. The undercoat is soft and dense in comparison to the longer and slightly coarser hair of the outer coat.
- Their dewclaws are generally removed.
- Bichons are generally snow white in color.
- However, patches of cream, buff or apricot can be seen near the ears, paws, snout or body.
- But the total amount of other color patches are never spread over more than 10% of the body.
Bichon Vital Stats:
|Height||9-11 inches at the shoulder|
|Weight||7-12 pounds average|
|Size:||ideal height is approximately 23-28 cm, making it a perfect toy breed|
Grooming needs: The Bichon needs a lot of work to maintain its beauty and cuteness quotient. So make sure to groom them properly to avoid having a scruffy little fellow on your hands. The Bichon needs professional grooming at least every fortnight, and you can cut and clip his nails with electric dog clippers.
Training wants: Crate training is a must, and though they are usually obedient by nature, their playful side can often take over. So regular obedience training is recommended. They also need a bit of exercise, so you need to take them for a walk if only to satiate their primal instincts for a walk.
Feeding requirements: A Bichon needs the adequate amount of food to grow into a healthy dog. But don’t over feed them or you will have an obese fur ball on your hands.
- Power package: Bichons are playful and love having fun. They like to play around with their master and simply thrive on being petted regularly. They also take to small apartment spaces quite well, and are perfect for those living in apartments.
- Clingy pup: Bichons love being cuddled, and at the same time they suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for a long period of time. At the same time, you shouldn’t coddle them too often because they might turn out to be shy or disobedient with too much pampering.
- No sharing with kids: Bichons are lovable, but not quite ideal to have around little kids. Don’t get them wrong, they have nothing against kids as long as they are not asked to share your love and affection with kids.
- Good with other breeds: Bichons are fine with sharing their owners with other breeds. In fact, to their credit, they get along with other species quite well. A Bichon has no problem befriending a cat, really.
Health issues: They do not shed and are perfect companions for people having allergies. Unfortunately though, Bichons themselves are susceptible to some health issues that you need to know about.
- Hip dysplasia
- Bladder issues
- Juvenile cataracts and watery eyes
- Patellar Luxation
- Vaccination sensitivity
These are the basic health issues that a bichon can suffer from. But none of these issues are incurable, and they are not really very different from other breeds in terms of health considerations.
Now you’ve reached a point where you can decided whether you want a Bichon in your life, or you want to move on to another breed. But in all fairness, Bichons are extremely lovable and with a furry little bundle of joy to liven up the atmosphere…there’s never a dull moment. Swearing on Bichon’s pride!!