Bichon Frisé

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Bichon Frisé
Other names
  • Bichón Tenerife
  • Bichon à poil frisé
Height Males
25–30 cm (10–12 in)
23–29 cm (9–11 in)
Coat medium length, silky, texture with corkscrew curls
Colour white
Life span 12.5 years
Kennel club standards
Société Royale Saint-Hubert standard
Société Centrale Canine standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Bichon Frisé[a] or Bichon à Poil Frisé is a Franco-Belgian breed of small toy dog of bichon type. It was recognised by the Société Centrale Canine in 1933 and by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1959.


The French word bichon comes from Middle French bichon ('small dog'), a diminutive of Old French biche ('female dog', cognate with English bitch), from Old English bicce, and related to other Germanic words with the same meaning, including Old Norse bikkja, and German Betze.[1][2] Some speculate the origin of bichon to be the result of the apheresis, or shortening, of the word barbichon ('small poodle'), a derivative of barbiche ('shaggy dog'); however, this is likely impossible, since the word bichon (attested 1588) is older than barbichon (attested 1694).[3][4] While the English name for the breed, Bichon Frise, is derived from the French bichon à poil frisé meaning 'curly haired small dog'.[5]


The White Duchess, painted by Francisco de Goya in 1795, featuring the Duchess of Alba and her Bichon[6]

The Bichon Frisé is often depicted as a French dog.[citation needed]

The dogs found early success in Spain and it is generally believed that Spanish seamen introduced the early breed to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Their association with European nobility began in the 13th century, entering the royal courts of Spain, Italy and France.[7] In the 14th century, Italian sailors rediscovered the dogs on their voyages and are credited with returning them to continental Europe.[8]

The Bichon à Poil Frisé was recognised by the Société Centrale Canine in 1933.[9] It was definitively accepted by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in October 1959.[10]

Some of the dogs were brought to the United States in 1955[11] and to the United Kingdom in 1973.[12]


The Bichon Frisé is a small dog, standing 23–30 cm (9–12 in) at the withers and weighing approximately 5 kg (11 lb), the weight varying in proportion to the height. The skull is rather flat, but may appear rounded; the muzzle tapers only slightly, and constitutes two-fifths of the length of the head. The nose is black, the eyes dark and round.[10]

The coat is loosely curled in spirals or corkscrews, with a thick soft undercoat. It is always pure white; only in dogs under a year old may it be slightly tinged with beige, this extending over no more than 10% of the area of the body. The head and legs are proportionate in size to the body.[13]

A 2024 UK study found a life expectancy of 12.5 years for the breed compared to an average of 12.7 for purebreeds and 12 for crossbreeds.[14]

An American study looking at immune-mediated hemolytic anemia found a predisposition to the condition in the Bichon Frise, with 9% of cases belonging to the breed despite being 2% of the control population.[15]


  1. ^ /ˈbʃɒn ˈfrz/ or /ˈbʃɒn frɪˈz/; from French: bichon à poil frisé, French pronunciation: [biʃɔ̃ fʁize], meaning 'curly haired dog'


  1. ^ Auguste Scheler, Dictionnaire d'étymologie française d'après les résultats de la science moderne, "bichon".
  2. ^ Donkin, Diez, An etymological dictionary of the Romance languages, "biche".
  3. ^ Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales, "bichon".
  4. ^ "French etymology of barbiche". Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. ^ "Bichon Frise Dog Breed Information". Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  6. ^ "María Cayetana de Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba", Art Hive, 2 December 2020, retrieved 8 December 2020
  7. ^ "Bichon Frise History: Time's Sociable Survivor". American Kennel Club. 14 June 2021. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  8. ^ "History of the Bichon Frise". Archived from the original on 13 April 2021. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Bichon Frise Page". American Kennel Club. 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  10. ^ a b FCI breeds nomenclature: Bichon à Poil Frisé (215). Thuin, Belgium: Fédération Cynologique Internationale. Accessed April 2024.
  11. ^ "Get to Know the Bichon Frise", The American Kennel Club. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  12. ^ James, Elizabeth (2015). Bichon Frisé: Dog Expert. Pet Book Publishing Company Ltd. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-906305-74-1.
  13. ^ "FCI-Standard No. 215: Bichon Frisé (Bichon à poil frisé)". Fédération Cynologique Internationale. 11 May 1998. Archived from the original on 31 August 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  14. ^ McMillan, Kirsten M.; Bielby, Jon; Williams, Carys L.; Upjohn, Melissa M.; Casey, Rachel A.; Christley, Robert M. (1 February 2024). "Longevity of companion dog breeds: those at risk from early death". Scientific Reports. 14 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-50458-w. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 10834484.
  15. ^ Miller, Sybille A.; Hohenhaus, Ann E.; Hale, Anne S. (1 January 2004). "Case-control study of blood type, breed, sex, and bacteremia in dogs with immune-mediated hemolytic anemia". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 224 (2): 232–235. doi:10.2460/javma.2004.224.232. ISSN 0003-1488.