Descended from the Barbet or Water Spaniel, the Bichon Frise originated in the Mediterranean region. This dog was often used as barter by Spanish sailors and by the 14th century had been introduced to the island of Tenerife. For a time the breed was also known as a Tenerife Dog. By the 15th century, Bichons were favored by French royalty. By the late 1800’s, the breed had become very common in Europe and the dogs were used as performers with organ grinders. Bichons are intelligent and capable of learning tricks and often performed at fairs and circuses.
With a puffball appearance, the Bichon Frise has a topcoat of corkscrew curls and a soft, thick undercoat. The coat is usually all white although it is not unusual to see some cream, gray or apricot shading. The head is slightly rounded with flat cheeks and a large black nose. The dark eyes of a Bichon are forward looking and are rimmed with dark skin. Long, feathery hair covers its drooping ears. The tail is curled loosely over the back. The Bichon Frise’s lack of shedding makes it a popular dog with allergy sufferers. It is often recommended for people with mild allergies although someone with severe allergies might not be able to share a home with this breed.
If you are looking for a pet that loves human company, a Bichon Frise is a great choice. Most are cheerful and active and get along exceptionally well with other animals and children. Intelligent and affectionate, a Bichon is happiest when it is the center of attention. Dogs of this breed are lively and self-assured. They do not have a tendency to be yappers as is the case with many small breeds. They can be used as watchdogs and taught to perform tricks. They are easy to train, except when it comes to house training, which can be difficult with Bichons.
Some Bichons are prone to watery eyes as well as skin and ear ailments. They are very sensitive to flea bites. Having been overbred at times, some lines can be snippy. The Bichon Frise should be groomed frequently to keep the coat from becoming tangled. The eyes should be cleaned often to prevent staining. Bichons love to take walks and romp in an open area. However, they are playful dogs and will usually get enough exercise through their normal play, making them popular dogs for city dwellers and people without yards.
With their happy, outgoing and playful attitudes, Bichon Frises make wonderful family pets, reaching an average height of 9 to 11 inches and an average weight of 6 to 13 pounds. With good care and grooming, these small, clean, low-shedding dogs can live to be about 14 years old, providing many years of affectionate companionship.
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