The Bichon Frise is a descendant the Barbet or Water Spaniel and the Standard Poodle. These little powder puff dogs were early favourites of sailors in the 14th century, who carried them from one continent to another, as barter, while also using them as companions on the ships. It is believed that Spanish seamen introduced the breed to the Canary Island of Tenerife and Italian sailors are credited to bringing them back to Italy where they became favourites of Italian nobility. The peaks of popularity were in France during the Renaissance, in the court of Henry III (1574-89) and in Spain during the same tine period.
During the rule of Napoleon III, popularity was again renewed for a period of time, and then in the 19th century it became a more common breed that wasn’t just reserved for royalty. They could be found running the streets, accompanying organ grinders of Barbary, leading the blind and performing tricks in circuses and fairs. In March 1933, the official standard of the breed was adopted by the French Kennel Club, the Société Centrale Canine.
The Bichon Frise is a small puffy looking dog with button like dark eyes. The nose is round and black. The curly double layered coat is usually white, but may have some grey or apricot colouring. Ears are drooped covered in long hair. The outer coat is 7-10cm long and is coarser and curlier than the soft dense undercoat. This breed is described as hypo-allergenic, being one of the breed that may be suitable for allergy sufferers.
These fluffy little dogs love human companionship and are far from being nervous yappy dogs. They are playful and affectionate and carry themselves with confidence. Independent and curious of their surroundings, these dogs are bright and happy. They do well as apartment dwelling dogs, however will need daily walking.
They do need rules and directions to follow. Without these rules and regular exercise they may develop behavioural problems. Owners also have to be careful not to let them get away with behaviours they would not allow in a large dog, just because they find it cute. They may be difficult to housebreak and require patience. Because of their heritage, these dogs love water!
Bichon Frise should be groomed frequently and bathed monthly. Hair should be trimmed around the eyes and ears. This breed is very sensitive to flea bites. A Bichon Frise can be expected to live a long life, typically fifteen years or more.