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10 Bichon Frise facts that are as charming as they are

Bichon Frise facts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Their unique appearance and lively personality makes them a popular breed, but how well do you know these charming pooches? These Bichon Frise facts might just surprise you! 

The Bichon Frise is an iconic all-white dog breed that is very popular around the world due to its adorable face, small stature, and medium-length coat with corkscrew curls. Rarely weighing more than 15 pounds and standing around 11 inches tall, they're the perfect dog for city and country life, for car rides and for cuddles. 

Bichon Frises make surprisingly good watchdogs, but they're also a highly affectionate dog, so if you're considering the breed, you'll be happy to know they're pretty versatile. Here are 10 Bichon Frise facts you may not know. 

1. Bichon Frises are centuries-old dogs

The Bichon Frise has survived through the ages. It has remained a constant throughout civil war, world wars, and the fall of empires. The Bichon breed type originated in Spain (Tenerife, to be exact), where they were used as sailing dogs, but it's the French that developed them into the lapdog we know today. 

Bichon Frise dogs were associated with nobles in Spain, Italy, and France as early as the 13th century. The breed became a favorite dog of Italian nobles in the 14th century King Henry III of France was in love with them and used to carry them wherever he went in a basket around his neck, which ladies of the court reportedly adopted as a new dog-based fashion. 

two Bichon Frise dogs sitting side by side

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. The Bichon Frise is a work of art - literally

The Bichon Frise has been depicted in many different works of art throughout history, especially since they were royal lap warmers. Bichon Frises can be found in a ton of art from 16th century Europe by artists like Francisco de Goya, August Renoir, Titian, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. These adorable dogs were always ready for their close-up. 

4. They don't shed much 

Considered a 'hypoallergenic dog breed', the Bichon Frise has a fairly low-shedding coat, so those who suffer from the sniffles should be very interested in the breed. They aren't completely hypoallergenic (no dog technically is), but they have a plush, dense white coat that looses little hair. Their coat tends to catch any hair that sheds, so they don't leave a huge mess around the house. Their coat does, however, require regular grooming because of it is a double coat that is quite dense.

5. The US only got the Bichon Frise in the '50s

The Bichon Frise may have been around Europe since the 13th century, but the dogs didn't make their way to America until the 1950s. The first American-born Bichon Frise litter came in 1956, and later two breeders in different areas of the country acquired the breed, which began the development of a line in the US. The Bichon Frise wasn't recognized by the AKC until 1972. 

Two Bichon Frise dogs standing side by side outside

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. There are many kinds of Bichon dogs

As mentioned earlier, the Bichon breed originated in Spain as a sailing dog, and was then adopted by the French and turned into the Bichon Frise, or the royal lap dogs we know today. Bichons were actually developed into four categories: the Bichon Frise, the Maltese, the Bolognese, and the Havanese. 

The Bolognese originated in Italy (hence the name), the Havanese may have come from cross-breeding with poodles, but is now the national dog of Cuba, and the Maltese is believed to come from south-central Europe.

7. They inspired a French word

Bichon Frise were so beloved by royals and were treated so extravagantly by them (they were carried around in baskets by a king, after all) that they inspired a new French word. The word "bichonner" is a verb in French that means "to pamper." No wonder those pups can be a bit spoiled. 

8. They were used as circus dogs

In the late 1800s Bichon Frises were used as circus dogs, after many of the nobles that owned them were either imprisoned or executed. Street entertainers took a liking to the adorable dogs, and found they were incredibly easy to train. Even now, you'll find it pretty easy to teach a Bichon Frise how to do tricks, as they're natural-born performers.

Bichon Frise

(Image credit: Getty Images)

9. Celebrities love them

Many celebrities have owned a Bichon Frise, showing that they maintain their elevated status centuries later. Celebrities who have had a Bichon Frise dog as a pet include High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale, Thelma and Louise's Susan Sarandon, Wicked's Kristin Chenowith, Funny Girl's Barbra Streisand, Calamity Jane's Doris Day, and Desperate Housewives' Eva Longoria. 

10. The Bichon Frise has won best of show at Westminster more than once

It may have taken them a little while to become members of the AKC, but the Bichon Frise breed performs very well at shows. In 2001, a Bichon Frise named J.R. won Best of Showe at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and in 2018 a Bichon Frise named Flynn took the top spot for the breed again. 

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