The Bichon Frise is a small dog that weighs approximately 5–10 kg (10–20 lbs) and stands 23–30 cm (9–12 in) at the withers, but slightly larger dogs are not uncommon. The skull is slightly rounded and the muzzle is not pointy. The tail is groomed to be long and curly and is carried over the back. It has a black nose and dark round eyes. A small amount of buff, cream, or apricot color may be seen around its ears, snout, paws or body, but normally these colors do not exceed 10% of its body. The head and legs are proportionate in size to the body, and the ears and tail are natural (not docked or cropped). The coat is trimmed often to make the hair seem like an even length. Bichon Frises can have a medium-high intelligence.
Bichon Frises are considered suitable for people with allergies, as they are bred to be hypoallergenic. It is important to note that human sensitivity to dog fur, dander, and saliva varies considerably. Although hair, dander, and saliva can be minimized, they are still present and can stick to “clothes and the carpets and furnishings in your home”; inhaling the allergens, or being licked by the dog, can trigger a reaction in a sensitive person.
Its white hair consists of a curly, dense coat with little shedding (much like a poodle in this), although many of the breed do tend to have less curly hair than others. Coat colors are solid white, apricot or grey. A white coat is preferred in the show ring. Bichon Frises often appear on lists of dogs that do not shed (moult). The grooming required to maintain the Bichon Frise’s coat helps remove loose hair, and the curl in the coat helps prevent dead hair and dander from escaping into the environment, as with the poodle’s coat. The frequent trimming, brushing, and bathing required to keep the Bichon looking its best removes hair and dander and controls the other potent allergen, saliva.
It is best to have a Bichon Frise groomed approximately every four to eight weeks. Daily brushing of the coat helps to prevent matting.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) refers to the Bichon Frise as “merry” and “cheerful”, and the breed standard calls for a dog that is “gentle mannered, sensitive, playful and affectionate”. The Bichon Frise loves human company and demands much of your attention. They are generally very sociable and do well with an owner that takes them along on outings. They are charming, affectionate, and intelligent. Bichons do well with children because they are playful and have lots of energy. If affiliated with a particular territory and encouraged by owners, they can become very territorial. Bred to be companion dogs, the Bichon Frise tends to get along well with both children and other animals. Bichon Frises are very obedient if training is started early and continued constantly.
Bichons are also prone to liver shunts. When detected early, shunt often can be corrected through surgery. Shunts can be kept under control through special diets of low protein and through medications to support liver function. AIHA, also called immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, or IMHA, can occur. Also block tear ducts, skin ailmentm cataracts and epilepsy can occur.