11 Fluffy Facts About the Bichon Frise

David Ramos/Getty Images
David Ramos/Getty Images

These small canines have big personalities. Get to know the dog under all that white fluff.

1. The pronunciation is French.

 Bichon Frise sits in a cart
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

According to the American Kennel Club, the correct pronunciation is bee-shon free-zay.

2. There are many different kinds of bichon dogs.

The fluffy white dogs originated in the Mediterranean. Their ancestor is the barbet (water spaniel), which gave them the name barbichon. This moniker was later shortened to just bichon, which means lap dog in French. From there, the group was divided into four subsets: the bichon Bolognese, the bichon Havanese, the bichon Maltese, and the bichon Tenerife. Each name refers to the region where the type was bred. 

The bichon Tenerife eventually became the bichon frise. Frisé means "curly" in French and refers to the pooch’s locks.

3. Sailors took them overseas. 

Italian sailors kept the companion dogs to be used for bartering. They eventually found their way into the hearts of Spaniards, and flourished on the Island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where the bichon Tenerife originated. Italian sailors eventually rediscovered the dogs in the 1300s, and brought them back to mainland Europe. The tiny dogs were a big hit among Italian nobility, who would give the pups lion-style haircuts. 

4. The French loved them, too.Bichons made their way over to France during the Renaissance under Francis I, where they enjoyed a new burst of popularity. Their admiration only grew under Henry III, who loved the fluffy lap dogs. Rumor had it the king even wore a ribbon-clad basket around his neck so he could take his pets everywhere with him. The French court doted on these dogs, lavishing them with everything from satin bows to perfume. 

5. Their fancy lifestyle led to a new word.

The treatment of bichons was so extravagant, it inspired the word bichonner, a French verb meaning “to pamper.” 

6. But the party didn’t last forever.

Eventually, the love affair with the bichon faded and the little dogs were turned loose in the streets. Thanks to their intelligence and sunny disposition, the canines were used in street performances and circus acts. Gypsies favored the dogs for their ability to do tricks and charm audiences.

7. They’re always white.

bichon frise
iStock

Bichons are entirely white, with just a small amount of apricot, buff, or cream by the ears. Black eyes and a little black nose complete the look. 

8. Artists have been painting them for years. 

Famous artists from Albrecht Dürer to Auguste Renoir loved to add these dogs to their paintings. You can peruse a whole curated collection here

9. There’s no need to grab the allergy pills. 

While there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog, some breeds come close. The bichon frise does not shed and produces less dander than other dogs. As a result, sufferers of allergies might have little to no symptoms in the dogs' company. 

10. You still need to pamper them. 

prepares a Bichon Frise prior to judging
Jens Schlueter/Getty Images

Your bichon frise may not be living it up in the royal courts, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need some primping. To keep your dog’s fur white and fluffy, occasional brushing and baths are needed. Regular combing will keep their fur from getting matted or tangled.

11. One probably has more Facebook friends than you. 

Ozzie the bichon frise

can skateboard, do laundry, and melt your heart. Owner Kayleigh Langdon set up a Facebook page to show fans what the dog is up to. Thanks to a wide array of props and tricks, the dog never disappoints his 4000+ followers. “Ozzie has always been a diva so it's great that he finally has the fans to go with it,” Langdon said.


Beyond Tiger King: 10 Fascinating Animal Documentaries You Can Stream Right Now

A scene from Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018).
A scene from Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018).
Markham Street Films

By now, you've probably already binged Netflix's bewilderingly bonkers docuseries Tiger King (2020). If you're ready to dive deeper into the animal kingdom, there are plenty more documentaries out there. From wildcats to whales, these 10 films will take you on a cinematic adventure around the world, introducing you to captivating creatures and the people who love them.

1. The Tigers of Scotland (2017)

The Tigers of Scotland (2017) brings viewers as up close and personal as possible with a small but mighty feline: the Scottish wildcat. The film delves into the efforts to conserve the disappearing Highland tiger, as well as the history and mythology surrounding the UK’s only “big cat.”

Watch it: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes

2. Ghost of The Mountains (2017)

This 2017 Disneynature documentary will transport you to the world’s highest plateau in search of a family of snow leopards. These cats are famously tough to find, so Ghost of the Mountains offers viewers behind-the-scenes footage of what it’s like to track the elusive beasts.

Watch it: Netflix, Google Play, Youtube

3. Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018)

This delightful documentary takes you deep into the competitive cat show circuit. Both charming and at times cutthroat, the film brings viewers on a journey to see which of the many cool cats and kittens will be crowned Canada's top cat.

Watch it: Netflix

4. Kingdom of the White Wolf (2019)

Follow along as a National Geographic explorer and photographer embeds with a white wolf pack in the high Arctic. These wild wolves aren't used to seeing people, giving the filmmakers—and audience—an intimate window into the pack's daily lives and familial bonds. In addition to showcasing captivating footage of the animals, the three-part docuseries also features sweeping views of the starkly beautiful Ellesmere Island.

Watch it: Disney+, YouTube TV

5. Dogs (2018)

This docuseries, which highlights various dogs and their humans from around the world, celebrates the bond between people and their pups. But it’s more than just a montage of feel-good moments about humankind’s best friend: Each episode tells a broader tale about the human condition, crafting an emotional narrative that pulls at the heartstrings like a puppy tugging on a toy.

Watch it: Netflix

6. Dancing with the Birds (2019)

These birds will put your dad moves to shame. Watch the male avian performers shimmy, shake, and flash their feathers while attempting to woo their female mates. The documentary, narrated by Stephen Fry, offers a colorful look at the wonderfully wacky world of bird mating rituals.

Watch it: Netflix

7. Honeyland (2019)

This documentary follows Hatidze Muratova, one of the last wild beekeepers in a remote village in North Macedonia. She lives with her ailing mother, nurturing a traditional way of beekeeping passed down through the generations and striking a balance between making a living and maintaining ecological balance. But everything changes when a nomadic family settles nearby, threatening Muratova’s way of life. The resulting story is both sweet and stinging.

Watch it: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

8. Virunga (2014)

This 2014 documentary highlights the park rangers fighting to protect the Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla. As poaching and oil exploration threaten the park, the rangers and conservationists risk their lives to guard the rare creatures that inhabit it.

Watch it: Netflix

9. Harry & Snowman (2016)

In the 1950s, Harry deLayer bought Snowman, a run-down plow horse destined for slaughter, for just $80 at an auction. Within months, the two were taking the show jumping circuit by storm, launching both horse and rider to new heights. This documentary tells the story of the friendship the two developed, and chronicles their lives both in and out of the competitive spotlight.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

10. The Whale and the Raven (2019)

The waters around Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest are a haven for whales, who feed and find refuge in the quiet channels. With stunning visuals, this documentary highlights the tension of a community’s push to protect its wild places against the pressures of the ever-encroaching natural gas industry.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

Why Cats Like to Shove Their Butts in Your Face, According to an Animal Behavior Expert

This cat might be happier showing off its butt.
This cat might be happier showing off its butt.
Okssi68/iStock via Getty Images

Cats are full of eccentric behaviors. They hate getting wet. Their tongues sometimes get stuck midway out of their mouths, known as a “blep.” And they’re really happy hanging out in bodegas.

Some of these traits can be explained while others are more mysterious. Case in point: when they stick their rear end in your face for no apparent reason.

Are cats doing this just to humiliate their hapless caregivers? What would possess a cat to greet a person with its butt? Why subject the person who gives you food and shelter to such degradation?

To find out, Inverse spoke with Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. According to Delgado, cats don’t necessarily perceive their rectal flaunting as anything aggressive or domineering. In fact, it might be a cat’s way of saying hello.

“For cats, it’s normal for them to sniff each other’s butts as a way to say hello or confirm another cat’s identity,” Delgado said. “It’s hard for us to relate to, but for them, smell is much more important to cats and how they recognize each other than vision is. So cats may be ‘inviting’ us to check them out, or just giving us a friendly hello.”

For a cat, presenting or inspecting a butt is a kind of fingerprint scan. It’s a biological measure of security.

Other experts agree with this assessment, explaining that cats use their rear end to express friendliness or affection. Raising their tail so you can take a whiff is a sign of trust. If they keep their tail down, it’s possible they might be feeling a little shy.

If you think this situation is eased by the fact you rarely hear cats fart, we have bad news. They do. Because they don’t often gulp air while eating, they just don’t have enough air in their digestive tract to make an audible noise. Rest assured that, statistically speaking, there will be times a cat giving you a friendly greeting is also stealthily farting in your face.

[h/t Inverse]

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