Bichon Frise

AKC Non-Sporting Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Bichon Frise first appeared in the fourteenth century, a cross between the Barbet Water Spaniel and the Poodle. The Bichon was traded by Spanish sailors and became a favorite of sixteenth-century French royal courts. In the nineteenth century, the breed fell from favor and earned its keep as a street performer. It was a popular organ grinder’s dog and a circus performer. The Bichon came to America in the 1950s and joined the AKC ranks in 1971. Today the Bichon Frise is primarily a show dog and companion.


The Bichon Frise is a pure white dog with a curled double coat consisting of a textured outer coat lined with a soft undercoat, the whole resulting in a springy feel to the coat. The Bichon is shown trimmed for a rounded appearance. Show dogs are trimmed with scissors; the body of pet dogs may be clipped with electric clippers though the rest of the dog still must be scissored. When properly groomed, the dog looks like an elegant powder puff. The ears are pendant. The nose is black, the eyes dark with a curious expression. The plumed tail is carried loosely over the back.

Key Facts

  • Height: 9 to 12 in.
  • Size: Small
  • Weight: 10 to 18 lbs.
  • Availability: Moderately easy to find
  • Talents: Watchdog, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks


This breed should be groomed frequently and bathed every 10 to 14 days. Professional grooming every four weeks is recommended. The coat is virtually hypoallergenic. Watery eyes, cataracts, and skin and ear ailments are sometimes a problem. Bichon Frises can be difficult to housebreak. Some are very sensitive to flea bites. Some might have slipped stifles. Does better with walking than with jogging.


The Bichon Frise is a most appealing little white dog. Charming and lively, cheerful, bold, gentle, dignified, intelligent, and self-assured. Playful and affectionate, with a happy temperament. Easy to live with.


  • Children: Excellent with children
  • Friendliness: Loves everyone
  • Trainability: Easy to train
  • Independence: Needs people a lot
  • Dominance: Low
  • Other Pets: Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise: Can bark a lot
  • Indoors: Fairly active indoors
  • Owner: Good for novice owners


  • Grooming: Daily grooming is best
  • Trimming and Stripping: Extensive trimming and shaping are needed
  • Coat: Medium coat
  • Shedding: Very light
  • Exercise: Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging: A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space: Does all right without a yard
  • Climate: Does well in most climates
  • Longevity: Long (15 or more years)

Useful Links

AKC® Bichon Frise Breed Standard

Bichon Frise Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise Gifts