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Bichon Frise

Country of Origin: France

Height: 9–11.5 inches

Weight: 7–12 pounds

Coat: Double coat with coarse, curly outercoat and soft, dense undercoat

Colors: Solid white; shadings permissible

Registries (With Group): AKC (Non-Sporting); UKC (Companion)


The exact origin of the Bichon Frise is unknown, mostly because so many colonies of other small, light-colored dogs thrived throughout the world. These milky white dogs included the Maltese from Malta; the Bolognese from Bologna, Italy; and the Bichon Tenerife from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain. The Bichon Tenerife was instantly popular with visiting sailors, who traveled with him and probably traded the small, fluffy dog in their ports of call. He became a favorite of the 16th-century French royals, including King Henry III of France (1551–1589), who is said to have carried Tenerife dogs in a tray-like basket hung from his neck from ribbons. When the fate of the aristocracy took a downward turn during the French Revolution, Bichons were tossed out on the streets and soon became a pet of the commoner. But this playful and capable breed soon became employed as loyal companions of organ grinders and circus performers.


The Bichon is an outgoing, merry, personable dog. He is self-assured and congenial, making him a delight as a companion. Affectionate and gentle, he will want to be with his owner as often as possible. The perky Bichon loves to be the center of attention and will often think up fun games to entertain his family. His signature outlook on life is his cheerful attitude. He is well mannered and loves to be around people, children, and other pets.


  • Exercise: The Bichon is happy to have his exercise needs met by playing with the family and accompanying his owner everywhere. He doesn’t need a great deal of exercise, but a daily walk and a fun game in the yard will keep him stimulated.
  • Grooming: Though Bichons shed very little, their skin and coat need regular attention. His coat requires daily brushing and combing in order to prevent matting. Bichons will also need monthly coat trimmings, which many owners leave to a professional groomer. The area around their eyes needs regular attention, too, so that discharge doesn’t discolor or irritate the skin.
  • Life span: is 13 to 16 years.
  • Training: Eager to please, the Bichon responds well to training, although housetraining can be a challenge. He is not fragile, and enjoys participating in canine sporting competitions like agility and obedience. 

Find a Nylabone chew, treat, or toy for your Bichon Frise or small dog!

Excerpt from World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Edition. © 2009 TFH Publications, Inc.

World Atlas of Dog Breeds

World Atlas of Dog Breeds Book

Other Books on this Topic:
Chihuahuas (Animal Planet™ Pet Care Library)
The Chihuahua (Terra Nova)

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