Breeds

Bichon Frisé Breed Information Guide: Photos, Traits, & Care

Written by: pdm

July 11, 2022

Is it a giant cotton ball? A marshmallow? No, it’s a bichon frisé! These pups—or more accurately, puffs—are instantly identifiable by their fluffy white coats, looking like the Michelin man’s companion dog from a distance. Of course, there’s more to these pups than their fluff. They’re also highly playful, a bit mischievous, and totally lovable. 

Bichon Frisé


With their slight build and dark black eyes, bichon frisés could spend all day staring at their favorite people. Perfect lap dogs and highly adaptable to small spaces, this breed loves nothing more than spending some quality time with their owner, chomping down on some chews, and taking a nice walk in the park. Sounds like a perfect day, right? Why not bring a little Frenchy fun into your life and consider adopting a bichon frisé dog?

Breed Overview

  • Height: 9.5–11.5 inches
  • Weight: 12–18 lbs
  • Lifespan: 14–15 years
  • Breed Size: Small
  • Colors: White, white & apricot, white & cream, white & buff
  • Good With: Kids, other dogs, cats
  • Temperament: Playful, sensitive, affectionate

Also Known As…

Un bichon à poil frisé, the French translation for the highly apt, “curly lap dog.” Previously: Bichon Tenerife, Tenerife dog, the Canary Island lap dog. The Michelin Dog. Cute as a bichon. Petit boule de coton. 

What Is The History Of The Bichon Frisé?

Definitely one of the cutest fluffy dog breeds, the closest ancestor of the bichon frisé is thought to have hailed from the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco. This breed, despite its French name, is actually of Spanish origin, serving as companions to Spanish sailors and exchanged at various ports. In the 13th century, the breed made its way into the courts of various European countries, just in time for the Renaissance.

These pups couldn’t remain confined to the laps of aristocrats for long. By the 17th century, it was normal to find them on the streets of Paris, adopted by families and even street performers looking to partner up with a cute pup.

20th-century publications looked to trace the roots of the bichon frisé dog to the American water spaniels as well as the Maltese breed, among others. By the end of World War II, the breed became an international star, and by the 1950s these dogs made their way to America. It wasn’t until 1973 that the bichon finally earned its official recognition from the American Kennel Club. By then, the breed was primed to compete and excel in a range of international dog shows1—and in capturing the hearts of dog lovers all over.

Bichon Frisé

How Big Do Bichons Frisés Get?

Height: 9.5–11.5 inches

Weight: 12–18 pounds

How Long Do Bichons Frisés (Generally) Live?

A small dog with plenty of gas in the tank, bichons frisés typically live 14 to 15 years.

What Is A Bichon Frisé’s Temperament & Personality Like?

Feisty and playful, this breed’s personality matches its light and fluffy look. Like many smaller dogs, bichons frisés love to be the center of attention and are eager for affection. This means they can also be highly sensitive to their owner’s mood and behavior. A bichon frisé can become lonely and anxious if left alone for too long.

Are Bichons Frisés Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?

Bichon frisés are particularly gentle dogs and can make ideal family pets. That said, bichons are small, fragile dogs and could be injured by too much rough housing. Supervision is advised when introducing children to any pet for the first time, but as long as you teach any kiddos how to properly care for and handle this breed, everyone should be in for a great time.

This friendly breed is also known to get along with other dogs and cats as well. Given time to bond in a stress-free environment, you could look forward to watching all your furry friends play together in harmony.

Bichon Frisé

Are Bichons Frisés High Energy? 

As they say, big spirits come in small packages. At barely a foot tall, bichons are still bundles of energy when given the opportunity to run, walk, and play. Plus, they’re one of the dog breeds that get along with cats. Though they only need about 30 minutes of exercise per day, they’re highly playful and surprisingly athletic. You won’t need a massive yard to keep your bichon happy. A quick zoom around the house might be all they need to exhaust themselves.

Once they’ve had their fill of high-energy fun, you can expect your bichon to snuggle up and snooze with you until it’s time for another carefree day.

Are Bichons Frisés Hard To Train?

Bichons are so smart, they might just convince you otherwise. While these dogs are highly trainable, they can be notably stubborn when it comes to learning new tricks and commands. They’ve also been known to put up a fight when it comes to housebreaking.

When it comes to their bark rather than their bite, some bichons have a small problem with barking, though their yap is far from ferocious. To curb any bad behavior, begin training at a young age and consider enrolling with a professional trainer to ensure your bichon minds their manners.

Do Bichons Frisés Have Health Issues?

All dog breeds can be affected by dog health conditions, many of which have advanced screening options and preventative measures. For peace of mind, ask your vet about conducting knee, hip, and eye exams to rule out issues including cataracts and canine hip dysplasia.

Additionally, bichons frisés are susceptible to dog health problems. You should watch for symptoms of:

  • Hyperadrenocorticism – Also known as Cushing’s disease, this medical issue can result in an excess of the stress-related hormone, cortisol.2 
  • Allergies – Food or environmental allergies could cause skin irritation and discomfort for your bichon. 
  • Patellar luxation – Joint problems related to the hind legs can result in pain and mobility problems.3
Bichon Frisé

Do Bichons Frisés Need To Be Groomed? 

Looking like a picture-perfect puffball requires a little bit of work. Although they are one of the breeds least likely to make you sneeze, bichons frisés require regular trims, weekly maintenance, and baths at least twice per month to prevent matting, snarls, and other coat problems. 

And don’t forget about ear cleaning, toenail clipping, and teeth brushing either. Every pup deserves to feel and look their best, and these simple acts go a long way.

How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Bichon Frisé?

Open your heart (and your wallet) to the bichon frisé and you’ll have a long-term companion that can make every day brighter. Expect to spend around $1000 per year after adoption fees to keep your bichon frise puppy in good health.

Bichon Frisé

Food

A bichon frisé only eats about ½ to 1 cup of food per day, netting an average cost of $20 to $50 per month, depending on your food choice. 

Feeding your bichon is even simpler when you sign up for BARK Eats. This dog food subscription service is customized especially for your breed and perfectly portioned to make mealtime as easy as playtime. Purchase food formulated by veterinary nutritionists and beloved by dogs across the country. Now, you can even enjoy 50% off your first month!

Routine Vet Care (Healthy Dog)

Your standard veterinary checkup will cost around $50 per visit. You may have to tack on a couple hundred more each year for bloodwork, medication, veterinary dental care, and diagnostic tests if you or your vet notices any strange behavior or lingering health concerns.

Preventative Medications For Bichons Frisés

It will cost around $40–$100 per year to keep your bichon flea-, tick-, and heartworm-free. Without these crucial medications, you could be looking at a steep veterinary bill and unnecessary discomfort for your pet.

Bichon Frisé Grooming

Combs, brushes, clippers, and shampoos will only cost you about $20 to $50 per year. Professional grooming services, on the other paw, will eat up a bit more cash. You can expect to spend $50 to $150 going to the groomer, depending on your area and the services you need.

Bichon Frisé

Toys, Treats, Beds, & Accessories

Cute, tiny dogs deserve cute, tiny toys. Pick up the essentials (and some non-essentials, since they’re such a good boy) to keep your bichon in good spirits. Some pint-sized chew toys, the perfect collar, and a range of treats are all great places to start.

Better yet, try BARKBox, the monthly puppy delivery service that brings 2 toys, 2 bags of treats, and a yummy chew straight to your door ($23 a month). Plus, you can DOUBLE YOUR FIRST BOX FREE!

With treats and toys taken care of, don’t forget about the bichon frise puppy essentials, including:

  • Small dog bed ($30–$60)
  • Small dog crate ($60–$100)
  • Food and water bowls (~$25)

Sources

  1. Bichon Frisé Club of America Inc. History and Origin of the Breed. https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/bichon-frisé/
  2. Pet MD. Cushing’s Disease in Dogs. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/endocrine/c_dg_hyperadrenocorticism
  3. VCA Hospitals. Luxating Patella in Dogs. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/luxating-patella-in-dogs
  4. American Kennel Club. Bichon Frisé. https://bichon.org/about-bichons/history/
Written by: pdm

July 11, 2022