Well-balanced dogs with smart appearances, Bichons are small and solid. Their jet black eyes and noses contrast against their snow-white coats and their tails are like plumes which are curved and carried over their backs. Their silky coats, which consist of spirally formed hair, give them the appearance of powder puffs. Adult males and females measure 23-28cm and weigh approximately 3-6kg.
Centuries ago, the Bichon Frise dog breed was popular in France and Spain, and the Bichon has been depicted in portraits of the royal families of both countries. Bichon-type dogs were developed on different islands in the Mediterranean, and Tenerife is where the Bichon Frise is thought to have originated. The Bichon of Malta (known as the Maltese today) is a close relative. 14th-century sailors are thought to have taken them over to Europe from Tenerife.
These lively, happy little dogs adore family life. They love to accompany the family on all outings but can be taught to be left alone occasionally. They socialise well and are fine in the company of other dogs and pets in the household.
Bichon Frise dogs are generally very healthy little dogs. However, in common with many other breeds, they can suffer from some hereditary eye problems and kneecaps that may temporarily slip out of place (luxating patellas). They are also prone to developing watery eyes, and predisposed to a type of bladder stone.
Bichon Frise dogs will adapt readily to the amount of exercise available from the family circumstances, but half an hour should be considered the minimum daily requirement - along with a chance to exercise their brains!
Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.
The non-shedding coat should be combed thoroughly every day. Trimming is required occasionally to prevent it becoming too long. To keep the show-ring appearance of a 'powderpuff', it is recommended to use a professional groomer every five to six weeks.