CURLY, PLAYFUL, GENTLE
History & Origin
Bichon Frise (pronounced as Beeshawn FREE-say), which is French for small, curly-haired dogs, are soft, white clouds of cuteness that are known for their gentle, playful and human-loving nature. Even the royals could not resist these energy-packed powder puffs! It is said that King Henry III loved his Bichons so much he wore them around his neck like ‘bichon bling’! The lively tufts love to show off and entertain people and there are few who could resist their adorable factor and are great companions that are bursting with unconditional happiness.
Bichon Frise first appeared in the Mediterranean (Canary Islands) in the 14th century and is a descendant of the poodle and the Barbet or water spaniel. They are divided into 4 categories: Bichon Maltese, Bichon Bolognese, Bichon Havanese and the Bichon Tenerife.
Due to the canine’s cheery and friendly disposition, they were great as traveling companions and would usually accompany sailors on their voyages. They were also used as barters during these ventures. Bichons were highly loved in Spain and were introduced to several other places by Spanish people.
At some point in the 14th century, the Italian sailors also became intrigued by them and took them home where they found a great home amongst the royals who took a liking towards them. Although Bichon Frise was not a retriever or water dog, it shows great affinity to water due to its ‘sailing days.’
Bichon found great success in France during Henry III’s and Napoleon’s rule. Due to Henry III, Bichons received great attention and their popularity skyrocketed during his era. Later, it became a common street dog and lost its stardom used for tasks like guiding the blind, doing tricks as a circus dog or accompanying the organ grinders of Barbary. However, it re-found its rightful place as the life of the party in the 18th century when a famous French Author, Herge, revived them in his book ‘The Adventures of Tin Tin’, which was recently adapted into a movie.
The breed became common in the US in 1955 and in Australia in the 60s. The American Kennel Club ranks Bichon Frise the 40th most popular breed of canines and they are eligible to compete in the non-sporting group at the AKC dog shows.
PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT
Being the 40th most loved dog, the Bichon Frise has several lovable qualities that keep it in the spotlight. The Bichon Frise is highly affinitive to humans and demands attention. They are intelligent, sociable, charming and affectionate. They love being walked by their owners and snuggling into their owner’s laps and pillows, playing games, and perching on a comfortable spot to peer out of the window.
Exercise needs are simple and easy to meet. A small yard to trot around and stretch their legs is good enough. Bichons are highly peaceful beings and are perfect companions for both children and other animals with their gentle, playful nature that comes encased in a small, soft, curly and white gift-wrapping. They can be a bit shy and timid so they need to feel welcomed and comfortable from the beginning to develop their confidence.
Bichons can be easily tamed, especially if training is started early and continued. They prefer learning tricks instead of professional obedience. They are obedient dogs and are highly responsive to positive reinforcement, like being offered treats. Bichons do not take harshness and forcefulness well and it only makes them spiteful. Their training can go well over adulthood sometimes. Bichon also comes with a few behavioral tendencies that must be kept in mind:
Housebreak: It is usually difficult to break the ice when it comes to Bichons and make them feel at home.
Social Anxiety: They can also be a bit clingy and possessive and are unable to be alone for more than 3-4 hours. Being alone for too long could cause them to develop emotional disorders and the start biting them if the conditions are aggravated.
Vocal: As Bichons are highly vocal, they can be great alarm clocks but could also cause trouble for the neighbors, because if left alone for too long or if they are distressed, they resort to barking. Moreover, they have a high-pitched bark! So, make sure your neighbors understand.
Territorial/Possessive: Bichons can be feisty little things that could become territorial. When Bichons are made to feel safe and comfortable they form a bond with everything that is associated with it. Therefore, they may invade their owner’s personal space like his/her spot on the couch, chair or bed. They do not like to be pushed out of their comfort spot and tend to become snappy and growly.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
Do not be fooled by your canine friend’s little size because when it comes to eating, these small, high-powered powder puffs have a huge appetite! This is to fuel their high energy and maintain their high-activity levels. Therefore, selecting the right combination of foods for your pet’s diet is crucial.
If the decision is made correctly, it will not only keep him fueled up but also provide him health to keep his systems running perfectly, inside out. Bichons usually live up to 16-18 years of age and feeding them right will ensure your canine lives a long, healthy and full life and give you a great, lasting company.
You should also know some specific foods that are beneficial for protecting your pet from canine-related and Bichon-specific health issues.
An Extra Large Value Meal of Meat, Please
Bichon’s nutritional intake must contain a large portion of proteins. The best way to keep that covered is to provide him with high-quality meat. You could buy commercial food or cook at home. Bichon’s favorites include venison, poultry, lamb, and fish. Fishes are rich in omega-3, e.g. wild salmon are the best choice as they help in fighting skin problems like inflammation resulting from allergies. Bichons are prone to skin issues and allergies.
Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and veggies come second in the Bichon nutritional pyramid. Like humans, dogs can be quite selective in choosing what they want to eat. Canine favorites from the veggie section are melon, broccoli, peas, carrots, and zucchini. Most fresh products, especially green veggies and fruits, contain anti-oxidants that boost immunity and can help protect your Bichon from skin allergies and diseases.
Fruits and veggies usually make up 25% of a Bichon’s diet but if you ever find yourself stuck at a fork and cannot decide, you can always make yourself Bichon-smart by just a bit of research.
Do not forget to add fat as they aid in healthy digestion that allows maximum nutrient absorption. Also, essential fatty acids extracted in the form of oils from safflower, sardines, and salmons help to heal the skin and reduce allergy-induced inflammation and other diseases. Fat should make up 15 to 20% of the Bichon’s diet.
Keep it Organic as Possible
The leading cause of Bichon mortality is cancer, which arises from toxins and unnatural ingredients in their diet. As a loving and responsible owner, make sure you keep it au naturel. Avoid preservatives, artificial flavors, and chemicals, which include propylene glycol, ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxyanisole, and butylated hydroxytoluene (all present in most pre-packaged pet foods). Bichons find it difficult to digest wheat gluten, soy, and corn so it is best to keep to the basics so your little puff could age gracefully.
Keeping in mind the size of your Bichon, you should select the correct formula that caters to the digestive requirements of the breed through the different stages of their life. Some companies offer formulas that are breed-specific for all sizes.
Fundamentally, it is up to you to feed whatever you like to your dog but it is important to consult a vet or a breeder to give the best diet to your Bichon that suits his age and health and maximizes longevity.
Important Note: Keep your dog properly hydrated.
COAT AND GROOMING
Bichons come with a double coating of fur that does not shed and are one of the few breeds that people with canine allergies can keep. However, when it comes to taking care of them, they can be a bit high maintenance due to excessive hair growth.
When it comes to your curly, furry Bichon partner, you know not all that swag comes easy. They have a lot of fur that does not shed so it is a definite plus for the housekeeping and for those who are allergic but then it also means frequent visits to your dog’s salon. It is important to groom your Bichon by removing his old fur every 6 weeks. Do not wait to do it until your dog looks like a giant puffball like a Westminster show dog! Make sure to clip them as short as possible to minimize maintenance and intensify his already-intense cuteness.
Daily brushing (teeth and hair) and a bath every month is necessary. You should make sure to keep their nails trimmed and to avoid them from cracking and especially from overgrowing if you have a child in the house! You should regularly check their ears to avoid accumulation of wax and other particles that can lead to infections.
As your soft, white fur ball has droopy ears, the only droopiness your lovable, smiley canine possesses, it makes sunlight difficult to enter causing microbe-friendly environment (warm and dark) underneath those folded ears that could cater to bacterial infections. Make sure you wipe your pup’s soft, delicate ears with cotton swabs dipped in antibacterial ointments to keep those annoying germs at bay and save the puppy-love-of-your-life from torment.
Important Note: Do not go beyond the outer ear while you are at it because the inner ear canal could damage.
Do not let your cute powder puff hate you just because of your lack of attention towards his lovely, curly locks of fur he likes to flaunt around! Make sure you comb his white furry Highness everyday so he has no knots to embarrass him. Especially make sure to check your Bichon is flea-free by using a flea comb and dog shampoo.
Important Tip: If you see that your dog is itchy and keeps scratching his fur, it is a clear signal for fleas or maybe something even worse.
Interesting Fact: In the old days, in France, royalties preferred giving their Bichons the ‘lion style’ cut as was the style of the day with dogs in the courts.
Make sure to keep your little Bichon pup’s tiny paws manicured and pretty. It is important to clip their nails like you would yours and just as frequently. To make sure you do not hurt them, use a properly sized clipper and do not use one that is blunt.
Precaution: Make sure not to cut too deep into the nail bed to avoid bleeding as dogs have nerve endings in and blood flowing through their nails. The first time you do this to your dog is an extremely important milestone in your dog’s life. If the experience is painful, he will cause trouble the next time you try to clip his nails.
Bichons are extremely friendly and affectionate which makes them wonderful people-dogs.
Exercise needs are simple and easy to meet. A small yard to trot around and stretch their legs is good enough, though, please keep in mind that your Bichon Frise will need a daily walk. This means that even after playtime, your puppy will still want you to take him/her out for a walk. Thirty minutes of exercise per day is highly recommended, as Bichon Frise dogs which don’t get sufficient exercise are more likely to develop behavioral problems.
They can be easily and readily trained and love pleasing people, especially their owners. They have loads of energy so they need a designated playtime where they have all your attention.
Sometimes, they might have a ‘Bichon Blitz’ and would seem like they are experiencing a sugar rush during which they sprint profusely around the house and could get on your nerves if not dealt with patience. It can usually be treated by having a cuddle session to make them feel loved.
Bichons have some health issues just like any other breed so you should just keep check of some minor tendencies. Your canine cloud could be prone to scratching and chewing itself, which could cause serious skin, conditions if perpetuated. In addition, Bichons could suffer from allergies to fleas, chemicals, pollen, and dust.
They are prone to contact and food allergies and fleabites. Scratching, licking the paw and rubbing the face profusely are all precursors and you should visit the vet. Make sure you look out for infections that could include the ears, dental, bladder (in detail below) and eyes.
If proper dental care is not provided, Bichons could lose their teeth early and suffer from gum infection. Ear infections could arise if you let ear hair overgrow and let debris and wax accumulate causing ear infections. Bichons could also suffer from genetic cataract and other eye diseases. Some things you should know and some tell-tale signs to look out for:
It is quite common for bladder stones and infections to develop in Bichons which could be because of prolonged intervals between urination and because their diet comprises of a lot of phosphorous, protein and magnesium. Bacterial infections are usually because of bacterial or viral infections. The signs would be difficulty in or frequently urinating, bloody urine and loss of appetite.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition where the thighbone does not fit into the hip joint properly. Arthritis can also develop as the dog ages. Get an x-ray of your pet if you see slow movement in one or both legs or see him limping. Mostly, dogs will not show any signs of external discomfort even if they have it.
Important Note: Make sure you ask the breeder for the proof the puppy and his parents have been tested for hip dysplasia as these dogs should not be bred.
Luxation is the dislocation of any part of the body, e.g. the bone at the joint. Bichons can suffer from patellar (kneecap) dislocation, which slides in and out of place causing pain, and eventually could lead to crippling. However, most Bichons can lead a perfectly normal life with this condition.
Vaccinations could cause hives, lethargy and facial swelling in Bichons. Monitor your dog carefully after his vaccination and inform the vet if you note anything unusual. Death due to vaccination is rare.
Important Tip: Make sure you deal with a responsible, recommended breeder. Good breeders make sure they genetically test their breeding stock to selectively reduce the probability of genetic diseases in the generations to follow.
Even if your pet is perfectly healthy, make routine visits to the vet once a month.
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