The Bichon Frise is a breed of dog descended from early versions of the Barbet, Water Spaniel, and/or the Standard Poodle.
Before the Bichon Frise, the Bichon group of dogs had four different categories; Bichon Maltese, Bichon Bolognaise, Bichon Havenese, and Bichon Tenerife. These dogs originated in the Mediterranean area of the world, and found success traveling thanks to both Spanish and Italian sailors in the 13th and 14th centuries. During this time, their designated use was simply as a companion animal.
The Bichon later found success in France, during the Renaissance era under Francis I. However, its popularity grew most during the mid 1500’s under Henry III. This dog was also quite adored in Spain at this time. For instance, Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya, often used these dogs as subject in his works. The Bichon Frise was popular in several countries, although this is one of the more famous examples.
Unfortunately, even though its popularity continued to grow, it did see a downfall towards the end of the late 19th century, when many strays of this breed were seen running the streets. However, it was revived and, in the year 1933, the breed standard was officially recognized by Société Centrale Canine, the French national kennel club.
The breed’s popularity began to spread once again and it finally hit the United States in 1955, being recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1973. By this time, the Bichon Frise had also made its way to Australia and other parts of the world.
The Bichon Frise is typically a small dog, although slightly larger sizes are not as uncommon as one might think. Usually, though, the Bichon Frise measures about 9 to12 inches and weighs between 10 and 20 pounds. Gender does have influence on these measurements, as females tend to be the smaller of the breed.
The skull of this breed is slightly rounded and the muzzle is not pointy, unlike many other breeds. It also has a black nose and very dark eyes.
The Bichon Frise’s coat is most often white, but can be either apricot or gray as well. Very slight amounts of buff, cream, or apricot colors may also be seen around the ears, snout, paws, and other parts of the body, although this very rarely exceeds 10% of the coat color. The coat is also very curly, which also helps give them their hypoallergenic qualities. The curls help keep loose hairs and dander intact, so people who are generally allergic to dogs will have no, or very slight if any, allergic reactions to the Bichon Frise. They also do not shed, unlike many other breeds of dogs. However, these dogs do require frequent grooming; brushing, bathing, trimming, etc.
The average life span of the Bichon Frise is similar to other small dogs, approximately 12 to 13 years. It is, however, a somewhat longer life span than other breeds can be expected to have.
The average litter size, although it can vary, is usually around 4 puppies per litter.
The Bichon Frise is a very playful and energetic breed of dog. They often partake in what is known as a “blitz” or “buzz”, where they experience short bursts of energy, running around in circles, barking, etc. and then collapse onto their backs for a rest. While they do tend to nip a bit when they play, the Bichon Frise is considered a very gentle dog breed. These features drive many families with children to adopt them, since they also do so well with children. They are also sensitive and patient.
Overall, the Bichon Frise is a very happy breed. They usually have a merry, cheerful, and easy-going disposition. Not only this, but they are also very social. These dogs love to join their owners on walks or outings, and are almost always very well behaved. Furthermore, not only do they get along wonderfully with their owners and their children, but they also do well around strangers and other animals. They are very affectionate creatures.
One downside, however, to them being so affectionate and sensitive is that they require a great deal of attention from their owners. Physically, again, they need to be groomed frequently, if not everyday. They can also be very obedient, but frequent training is necessary. This training must also start at a young age and continue throughout life. Simple behavioral reinforcement exercises, socialization activities, etc. will do the trick. Again, frequency in training is important because these dogs have a tendency to be very stubborn if not trained correctly. They are energetic and playful, so they will not always be willing to choose training over having fun, such as being trained to remain calm for an extended period of time.
Another downside to the Bichon Frise is that they can become very territorial if they are not socialized at a young age. They have the potential of getting along well with others, but only if they have been exposed to it enough. While the Bichon Frise is not an overly aggressive breed, territorial dogs tend to get very stressed out and will possibly bark or bite depending upon their level of fear or annoyance with another person or animal in their home.
Since the year 1973, when they first became eligible, the Bichon Frise has been used in dog shows and competitions. One famous dog show that the Bichon Frise is entered in quite frequently is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. While many of these shows base most of their criteria on appearance, many Bichon Frise owners also opt to enter them into obedience competitions. They can be very successful in both types of shows, but only if groomed and trained well enough.
However, the Bichon Frise’s most common modern day use is as a companion animal. Many people own these dogs as pets. Again, families with children especially enjoy these dogs because they are so gentle, playful, and energetic. They are overall great dogs to have in the home no matter the family style.
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