11 Fluffy Facts About the Bichon Frise
These small canines have big personalities. Get to know the dog under all that white fluff.
1. The pronunciation is French.
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.
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.
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.
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.