One of the cutest and friendliest dog breeds you’ll ever come across has been a popular pet for numerous centuries. Often considered to be one of the best lapdogs in the world, they have been great company for humans for as long as they exist.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting and fun facts about the Bichon Frise, a distinctively adorable dog breed that has some fascinating features.
1. Its English name was derived from a French word
The word Bichon is believed to have derived from the same word in Middle French between the 14th and 16th centuries and simply means “small dog.” This is a reference to the small size of the Bichon Frise.
The full English name of this cute little dog was derived from the French term “bichon à poil frisé” which translates to “small curly-haired dog.” Although “frisé” is pronounced differently in French, it was turned into “frise” in English.
Yes, the name of the Bichon Frise is simply a description of this dog’s appearance, how lovely.
2. They are one of the 7 breeds of an adorable dog breed
This dog breed is one of the 7 members of the bichon type of dog, distinctively small toy dogs that are known for their generally happy and curious nature.
Apart from the bichon frise, other dog breeds that belong to this type are the Bolognese, Bolonka, Coton de Tulear, Havanese, Löwchen, and bichon Maltese.
Their curly hair and playful nature make it easy to recognize these types of dogs, although some of them look quite different. Havanese, for example, have long and silky hair, and many dogs can come in many colors other than white.
3. It didn’t originate from France despite its French name
The exact origin of this dog breed is relatively obscure, although it’s certain that they are descendants of poodle-type dogs. Their distinctive curly hair can’t hide their ancestry, that’s for sure.
It’s unsure whether or not they descended from the Barbet of water spaniel class of dogs, but they can be classified as a type of water dog. These are gundogs that were originally used to retrieve game from the water.
Despite their French name, they didn’t originate in France but in Spain around the 11th century. More specifically in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands of Spain. This is why they are also sometimes referred to as the “Bichon Tenerife.”
4. This dog breed was popular among European monarchs
The original Bichon frise dogs often traveled along with sailors and this is how they spread across Europe. They were used by Italian sailors and were sometimes used as a form of barter on other continents
Their friendly nature came to the attention of the highest ranks of European society around the 13th century. They made their way to the royal courts of Europe where they became popular pets and lapdogs.
One of the most remarkable facts about the Bichon Frise is that despite their popularity in Europe, they weren’t brought to the United States until the year 1955. Breeding programs eventually started in the late 1950s.
5. Are these dogs great pets?
The Bichon frise is both an intelligent and playful dog. This combined with their curiosity and the fact that they enjoy going out for a walk makes them great pets to have around.
They were popular pets among French and Spanish royalty since the 13th century and exploded in the 16th century during the reigns of King Francis I and King Henry III of France.
The Spanish princesses enjoyed playing with these dogs and they have even been included in art, including by Romantic artist Francisco Goya in 1795 when he depicted “The White Duchess” or “The Duchess of Alba” with her favorite pet.
This simply means that these are some of the greatest pets you can have around, especially if you can take them for a daily walk.
More interesting facts about the Bichon Frise
6. The Bichon Frise is a small dog that stands anywhere between 23 and 30 centimeters (9 and 12 inches) tall and weighs between 6 and 11 kilos (10 and 20 pounds).
7. These dogs have white curly hair and a dense coat with little shedding, a feature they inherited from their poodle ancestors. There might be some color variations on several parts of their bodies but this doesn’t exceed 10% of it.
8. Several of the bichon types of dogs are associated with islands that sailors would visit. These include the Bichon Frise on Tenerife, the Maltese on Malta, and the Havanese on Cuba.
9. The generally accepted etymology of the name Bichin is the translation of the Middle French word for “Little Dog.” It’s also possible that it was derived from the word “Barbichon” which means “little Barbet”, a reference to their possible ancestors.
10. Although they were kept as pets by monarchs all across Europe, their popularity remarkably diminished after the reign of Napoleon III in the late 19th century. This was a period in which they were simply common dogs that roamed around the streets.
11. The Bichon Frise was officially recognized as a breed by the national kennel club of France, called the “Société Centrale Canine,” in 1933.
12. The main reason why they were recognized in France was because of the popularity of a comic book that featured a similar type of dog (albeit if a fox terrier). This Belgian comic book is called “The Adventures of Tintin” and this fictional dog was referred to as Milou.
13. The American Kennel Club didn’t officially recognize the breed until the early 1970s. This was the same time that the breed was introduced in both the United Kingdom and Australia. They have been popular in these countries ever since.
14. The fact that they generally do not shed a lot of hair makes them suitable pets for people with allergies. This doesn’t mean, however, that their hair can’t irritate people with a serious pet allergy.
15. The average life span of this dog breed is similar to the other Bichon types of dogs and is anywhere between 12 and 13 years.