A cotton ball with a bark, the Bichon Frise is cuddly, curious and a bit of a clown.
The Bichon developed in the Mediterranean area. Sailors and traders took them abroad, distributing them in coastal ports like the Canary Island of Ternerife where they became a distinct breed, the Bichon Tenerife. They later became darlings of Italian and French nobility for centuries. But in the late nineteenth century, they fell from favor and ended up as street performers, earning a living doing circus tricks. Recovered by dog lovers, the breed made a comeback and came to America in the 1950s. Their cute looks and personality proved irresistible, and they quickly gained popularity. Always playful, the Bichon loves to entertain---especially if toys are involved.
By the way, Bichon" means small, long-haired dog" and Frise, which came much later, means "curly."
Very young Bichon puppies should eat a puppy food designed for small dogs. When they are extremely young, they should be fed small amounts often---more than larger dogs---because tiny puppies can't store glucose efficiently. They can easily develop hypoglycemia if they are active and have gone without food for too long. Puppy food for small dogs combats hypoglycemia because it is high in protein, fat and complex carbohydrates. If your puppy becomes sleepy to the point of being hard to rouse, or unresponsive, it's an emergency. Rub syrup on his gums and get him to the veterinarian immediately. Because Bichons aren't tiny, most quickly outgrow the danger.
Some Bichons can develop knee problems. If you see your small dog skipping for a step or two, he may have a condition your veterinarian needs to check. He may also eventually develop arthritic changes in his knees. To combat this, add a glucosamine-chondroitin supplement to his diet as soon as he shows any signs of hopping or lameness.
It's not easy to grow the profuse coats you see in the show ring. To do so you must feed a nutritious food with vitamin and fatty acid supplements. You must keep the coat free of parasites and dirt.
Most people take their Bichon to be professionally groomed, but you still need to do your part at home. Use a pin brush or metal comb to gently work through the coat in layers, making sure to reach all the way to the skin. When brushing or combing, spritz the coat lightly with a combination of water and conditioner; this prevents static electricity and breakage. Tease apart any mats, spraying them with a detangler or conditioner.
You may need to bathe between groomer visits. Use a deodorizing shampoo if your Bichon tends to get smelly; otherwise, try a whitening shampoo. If your dog tends to scratch, use an avocado oil or oatmeal based shampoo. Follow with a conditioner. You can let the coat air dry into ringlets, or blow it dry while brushing it for a full powder-puff coat.
Bichons are slightly more prone to ear infections compared to other breeds. Check the ears regularly for dark secretions. Apply an ear cleanser weekly. Such cleansers change the pH of the ear canal to make it less hospitable to fungus and yeast, and also have a bacteria-killing and ear drying effect. Any time you must apply ear medication, use the ear cleanser first to remove thick secretions that would block the medication from reaching the surface of the canal. But never put any cleanser or medication in a severely infected or painful ear because of the possibility of a ruptured ear drum.
Bichons are prone to dental problems and eventual tooth loss, so it's especially vital to brush their teeth daily.
Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a medium duty dog nail clipper.
Bichons are perpetually young at heart, but sometimes age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, can slow them down. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him bubbly and bouncy.