Bichon Frise (Bichon à poil frisé)
The Bichon Frise is a miniature companion dog native to France. This breed is famed for its feathery white fur, delightful personality and exceptional docility, and it was in high favour with French aristocracy for numerous centuries. Nowadays the Bichon Frise still retains its popularity as a companion animal in its homeland as well as outside its borders. Moreover lots of these dogs are successful participants of the conformation ring.
The Bichon Frise is a very ancient breed and therefore the question about its origin still remains open. Three distinctive theories were suggested as to what canine varieties were involved in its development. According to the prevailing opinion it was bred from the Bichon Tenerife, which was originally found on the Canary Islands, a Spanish territory situated off the Moroccan coast. This dog allegedly arrived to France with Spanish traders in the beginning of the XVI century.
Other hypothesis purports that the Bichon Frise appeared as the result of crossing miniature Poodles and/or Barbets. But its striking similarity to other types of the Bichons counts against this assumption.
The third probable forefather of this breed is a small companion dog from Northern Italy that came to be known as the Bolognese and acquired vogue with Italian nobility in the early XII century. Actually the strong resemblance of these two canine varieties and the fact that they originated in neighbouring countries serve as a convincing support of the third theory.
However the Bichon Frise was initially created, in France it became a well-known companion animal as early as in the XVI century. One of the most devoted noble fanciers of this dog was Francis I (1515-1547). The breeds’ specimens were often depicted on the canvases of famous artists of that period. Up until the end of the reign of Napoleon III only wealthy people could afford to keep canine companions although lately the French commoners also appreciated all benefits of having this small yet incredibly staunch four-legged friend. On the whole throughout its history this dog experienced several ebbs and flows in popularity in its native land.
It’s speculated that the Bichon Frise was originally brought to the United States by soldiers who had participated in World War I. However its systematic breeding in America began only in 1956 when Mr. and Mrs. Picault moved to Milwaukee with their six Bichon Frises.
This dog gained recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1972. In 1981 the United Kennel Club (UKC) followed this lead and fully recognised the Bichon Frise.
Apart from its original role of a family pet this trainable and smart dog frequently appears on stages of circuses and street performers. The Bichon Frise deserved the reputation of a wonderful therapy dog and service animal for disabled people.
The Bichon Frise has been kept exclusively for companionship for more than halve a millennia and therefore it flawlessly suites for this role. It’s famous for its cheerful and playful nature as well as for its high level of affection. Separation anxiety is a common problem of all these dogs as they more than anything in the world want to be as close as possible to their masters. A properly socialised breed member likes children and gladly accepts their each and every invitation to play. Nonetheless it isn’t a fan of too rough games and largely prefers to be gently patted while sitting comfortably on your laps.
The outgoing and kind character of the Bichon Frise is mainly responsible for its friendliness towards strangers. Naturally this dog should be introduced to various situations, animals and humans of all ages since its puppyhood otherwise it may develop issues with unreasonable fearfulness and nervousness in its adulthood. As a rule it announces about the approach of a newcomer with its ringing voice and can be trusted with the duties of a watchdog. But it stands to reason that this miniature and gentle breed will make an awful guardian.
The Bichon Frise is usually nice to other dogs and rarely becomes an instigator of conflicts with its counterparts. It does well as an only dog but it will be extremely happy to have one or several canine companions. This breed is notable for fairly moderate prey drive and usually gets on peaceably with other pets, including household cats. Be mindful though that occasionally it may succumb to temptation and give a chase to some stray cat or other small creature. That’s why it’s still better to keep this dog securely leashed during a walk.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· skin allergies
· atopy dermatitis;
· flea allergies;
· bladder infections;
· bladder stones;
· patellar luxation;
· disc disease;
· problems with teeth;
· eye problems;
· ear infections;
· congenital hyptotrichosis;
· hemophilia B;
· patent ductus arteriosis;
· shaker dog syndrome;
· von Willebrand’s disease;
· various types of cancer;
· problems with heart;
· problems with liver;
· gastrointestinal problems;
· chronic vomiting;
· metabolic diseases;
· pancreatic diseases;
· Cushings disease.
The maintenance of the Bichon Frise is a very laborious task. Fluffy and dense coat of this breed requires daily brushing to look well-groomed and stay free of tangles and mats. Furthermore the dog should be bathed at least once a month. Most of its owners chose to have their pets professionally trimmed every month or two to reduce the amount of daily home care.
The Bichon Frise is a minimal shedder and earned reputation of an excellent breed for allergic sufferers. Since it is predisposed to ears infections and irritations its ears must be regularly examined and clean with a soft damp cloth.
The Bichon Frise can be successfully trained with trivial amount of efforts. The willingness to please is in the nature of this dog so it usually excels at obedience trials and agility competitions. It’s renowned for excellent capability to learn highly sophisticated tricks. However some of its specimens are much more self-dependent than others and may occasionally become selective listeners.
Start training your dog as early as possible and use only reward-based methods and you will surely avoid majority of training challenges. Unfortunately the Bichon Frise responds much slower to housebreaking than larger canine varieties. It has too miniature bladder that needs additional time to mature so have patience with your pet in this aspect of training.
The Bichon Frise is a relatively sedentary breed with very reasonable exercise requirements. In order to remain happy and physically fit it should be provided with a 30-45-minutes’ walk on the everyday basis. Of course this dog also needs occasional chance to frisk and run freely in a well-fenced area.
Its small stature and tranquil disposition make the Bichon Frise a wonderful pet for an apartment dweller. Despite its low activity level the dog that is deprived of essential minimum of daily exercise will most likely pick up habits to unreasonable barking and destructive behaviour.