The Bichon Frisé: Introducing A Top Dog

If the name or the look of this canine breed seems familiar, that is because he has earned the dog world distinction of winning Best in Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club dog show. The winner answers to the name Flynn, and he is a bichon frisé. He is the second of his breed to win this Best in Show title. The first bichon frisé winner, named JR, was declared the superlative in 2001.If you're looking for a winning personality to fill the role of entertaining companion in your household, make your acquaintance with the bichon frisé.


The bichon frisé, also known simply as a bichon, is a small and sturdy dog that resembles a cotton ball. He weighs between 12 and 18 pounds, and he is 9.5 to 11.5 inches tall at his shoulder. Bichons are noted for their characteristic white and curly coat. Their white faces are adorned with dark-colored eyes and black noses, and they carry plumed tails that curve up to rest over their hindquarters. There are actually four shades of the bichon's white-hued double coat that are recognized by the American Kennel Club, and those shades are pure white, white with cream, white with buff and white with apricot. Bichon coats shed very little hair or dander, which makes them a good companion choice for families with dog allergies. The bichon coat grows continually. The longer those curly locks grow, the more intense the grooming requirement will be. A professional groomer can keep the dog's coat at a manageable length that will still give him that puffy snowball appearance.


Bichons harken back to the Mediterranean region about 2,000 years ago, where they were desired trade commodities. Their companionship appeal earned them homes in the royal European palaces and elite homes during the Renaissance period. Years later, this popularity declined sharply, and they were used instead as entertainment in circus shows and alongside organ grinders. It was not until the early 1900s that dog breeders in France made it their mission to officially name the breed and establish a set of breed standards for the bichon frisé. The breed name is French, and it translates to curly coat in English. The first bichons to enter the United States were brought to Michigan by a French family during the 1950s. The little white dog did not earn official breed recognition by the American Kennel Club until 1972. The bichon is a member of the non-sporting group of dogs, which also includes such popular pooches as the bulldog, the Boston terrier, the French bulldog and the poodle.


Straight from the circus tents of his past heritage to your living room, the bichon is an entertaining dog that will keep the family amused with his silly antics. This is a playful, cheerful and lively little dog that is happiest when he is the center of attention. A bichon will display a wild burst of energy that sends him tearing around the house or backyard for several minutes, followed by a period of downtime when he seeks out a cuddle session with his human family members. Bichons are friendly and affectionate. In fact, a behavioral problem that some bichons suffer from is separation anxiety. Bichons are curious and intelligent dogs that are amenable to learning tricks, but housebreaking can be a challenge with this breed. Bichons make good family members in apartment settings, but they aren't shy about barking when they feel the need to alert their owners to things that catch their attention. Bichons get along with cats and other dogs, and they also get along with children who treat them with respect.

Health Problems and Care

As is the case with many canine breeds, there are a few health problems that a prospective bichon owner should be aware of. Your veterinary service can manage some of these conditions with medications or diet, while others may require specialty veterinary services or surgery. Some of the problems that animal hospitals have observed in the bichon include the following:

  • Patellar luxation
  • Allergies
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Bladder stones
  • Cataracts
  • Primary ciliary dyskinesia
  • Periodontal disease
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hyperadrenocorticism

Discuss these health problems with a breeder before you decide to purchase one of their dogs. A reputable breeder screens their dogs for some of these conditions before breeding, so if you have fallen in love with a puppy, ask the breeder about the parents' health history.

Periodontal disease can be prevented if you are diligent with a home dental care routine. Bichons require grooming on a daily basis to keep their curly coats from matting. Conclude each of these grooming sessions by brushing your bichon's teeth. With proper care and regular veterinary examinations, bichons have respectable average lifespans of 14 to 15 years.

If you are looking for a small dog that will charm his way into your heart every day with loving companionship and entertaining behavior, consider the winning personality known as the bichon.