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Their round, black buttoned nose, inquisitive dark piercing eyes, and intoxicating smile compliment the circumferenced white puffy face and fluffy body of the Bichon Frise.
Bichon Frise’s are one of the most beautiful and peaceful breeds. They get along with other dogs and other critters. My little Harley (above) grew up with 2 guinea pigs and they became her little brothers. As she got bigger, they stayed the same size and Harley adored them with kisses and motherly love. Wherever the piggies went, she was next to them. This is just an example of how Bichon Frises get along with other creatures, including cats.
What are the Characteristics of Bichon Frises?
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Bichon Frises belong to the non-sporting group, weight anywhere from 10-18 pounds, and are “bred to be hypoallergenic” because their puffy coat rarely sheds. And AKC identifies Bichon Frises by the following characteristics:
- Height: 9.5-11.5 inches
- Weight: 10-18 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 14-15 years
- Shed Infrequently
- Easy going and lovable
Although most Bichon Frises are usually sold by reputable breeders who are responsible and devoted to their breed, there are many Bichon Frise rescues where you can adopt a puffball. If your intent is to get a Bichon for shows, then make sure to research the owners/breeders and validate their status through the AKC. Don’t fall for kennels and report anyone who pretends to be a reputable Bichon Frise breeder but is actually manufacturing a puppy mill.
If you intend to adopt a Bichon as a pet, then visit the many rescues and provide a little Bichon Frise with a warm and lovable home.
What are the Temperaments of Bichon Frises?
Most Bichon Frise parents will tell you that if you have children or have other pets, Bichon Frises will form a bond with the other members of your family. With their cheerful disposition, lovable demeanor and need for human companionship, Bichon Frises are very sensitive creatures. It’s in their nature to bond with their human family, mom or dad. They love to please and are submissive.
Giving your Bichon lots of praise and conversations will keep him/her happy. Bichons long for interaction between their human mom or dad and will respond to strangers with smiles and kisses. They also love to snuggle, cuddle on the bed or couch, and perch on the couch near a window to look outside. Others love to perch on top of pillows on a bed so they can view the world in your perspective.
And although they are a mild, and calm breed, Bichon Frises will break into explosive bursts of energy and run about the place smiling and barking by themselves and even ask you to join in the fun. These bursts of energy are called “blitz” and are considered their utmost stage of euphoria.
What to Feed Your Bichon Frise
There are major factors to consider before buying food for your Bichon. Bichon Frises tend to develop dental problems if they do not receive the correct diet. They are also prone to develop food allergies, and easily gain weight. For this reason, Bichon’s must be fed premium dog food that meets all their dietary needs. Generic food brands vary but may contain ingredients not healthy for your Bichon.
According to the Bichon Frise Club of America Bichons should be fed dry/kibbles in order to keep their teeth healthy. Kibbles are considered to have a more balanced combination of vitamins, minerals, and the fat to protein ratio of carbohydrates.
Can food is not recommended because it alters the mineral and carbohydrates balance and will make your Bichon a fat little ball. I learned years ago that the canned food Harley ate gave her diarrhea and upset her belly. I was a new dog/Bichon Frise parent so Harley’s vet taught me how to read the labels on the food and look for meat, barley, brown rice, oatmeal, probiotics, vegetables and other real ingredients.
Today there are many pet stores that sell premium food. You can also find premium food online. Wellness is one brand that offers real dry and canned food. Harley used to eat the deboned chicken and oatmeal kibbles and loved it.
Wellness’s Core Grain Free food is made from 100% grain-free and free animal by-products. The foods contain antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and probiotics. As Bichons reach senior status, they may develop digestive issues. Their appetite changes and may need special diets. Some Bichons like my Harley, develop an allergy to poultry. Salmon is one meat product they can eat but it needs a required taste. My little Harley did not take to salmon so she was prescribed Hills d/d, Potato & Venison Formula. This formula worked great for a few years. She loved the taste and it made her bowel movements normal.
Be mindful when your Bichon Frise reaches adulthood and senior status. Their digestive system may become more sensitive and develop the inability to process and digest his/her food. Therefore, due to the failure to digest protein or develop a lack of digestive enzymes, some Bichons end up with an unhealthy digestive tract. Maintaining the ability to build and repair tissues or gain energy comes from a healthy dietary intake. There are Bichons who develop severe allergies to meats and their stomach is not able to absorb the protein.
Prescription foods are given to Bichons to soothe and maintain their digestive tract. These foods contain microflora used to reduce the risk of urinary stones. Prescribed food also maintains the Bichon’s immune system active by the added omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and controlled minerals. My Harley is now on Hills Digestive Care I/d and doing well. Her weight is back to normal and she is able to digest her food.
Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Low Fat Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food 8.5 lb
Treat or No Treat?
We are all guilty of giving our pooch too many treats. The high level of sugar in those sweets/treats will produce inappropriate levels of fat in your dog’s blood. If the fat increases to a dangerous level, then your Bichon will need to undergo a major diet. Don’t be tricked by a label that says “all natural foods”. Make sure to check the sugar and saturated fat percentages.
Greenies keep a dog’s mouth clean. They help scrape off the tartar from your pooch’s teeth and all dogs are addicted to them. Fruit and vegetable biscuits are healthy too. However, these treats have a high rate of sugar. Feeding your Bichon one or two a day is ok. However, if you fall for their frown, sad look and whimper you’ll be duped each time and end up with a fat fuzzball.
The best treats to feed your bichon are real fruits and vegetables. As with food, moderation is the key. You may feed your Bichon these veggies or fruits by themselves, or mix a few with their kibbles. The Bichon Frise Club of America advises that you not place any other treats or food with the kibbles. This is true for a young pup. They agree that an occasional raw apple, cooked egg, carrot, etc., won’t upset their digestive tract. However, once your Bichon reaches their senior status, their appetite changes and so does their routine. If your Bichon Frise is healthy, your vet may allow you to put some fruits with their kibbles.
I found out my Harley loves to eat her kibbles mixed with little pieces of red peeled apples. Sometimes she’ll eat the kibbles alone and ask for her treat, other times she’ll let me know she wants the apples mixed in. This has kept her at a healthy weight, healthy digestive system and happy at age 14.
- Brussel Sprouts
When & How to Feed Your Bichon
Feeding your Bichon depends on its age. Puppies and adults eat at different hours and must follow different food portions.
Bichons Frises eat one cup of meal a day. Puppies that have just left their mother or have been weaned must be fed four times a day with 5-hour intervals between feeds. The food must be divided into 1/4 cups and should follow a routine schedule similar to the one below:
- 1/4 cup after waking up and taking their walk
- 1/4 cup midday
- 1/4 cup late afternoon (5-6 P.M.)
- 1/4 cup in the evening
Puppies always start teething. Therefore, give your Bichon crunchy treats, bones and dental treats. The crunchy exterior will make their teeth grow, develop strong enamel, and keep their gums clean. Follow a similar program below:
10 Weeks Old
- 1/3 cup 6-8 A.M.
- 1/3 cup midday
- 1/3 cup 6-7 P.M.
A Year Old
After your Bichon reaches a year old, he/she will lose interest in the midday meal. Follow a similar program below:
- 1/2 cup when they wake up
- 1/2 cup in the evening
When your little Bichon reaches old age, he/she may not eat at the same time. When Bichons reach the age of 12 they tend to nap around the clock. They will get up briefly and have occasional bursts of energy. Your Bichon Frise will develop a new routine and may even tell you when he/she is hungry. Set your baby’s meal out in the morning, call him/her. If he/she doesn’t eat then cover up the food and introduce it again when your little one is out and about. You’ll find that sometimes your Bichon Frise will rather eat late at night and sleep during the day.
Grooming & Teeth Cleaning
Brushing & Grooming
Before you decide on adopting a Bichon Frise, you must decide whether you can commit to daily brushing and grooming. Bichon Frises are known for their elaborate, massive white puffy head and legs. Their hair grows fast and long and requires to be brushed. If you don’t have time to learn and master the grooming techniques, then decide whether you can afford the monthly visits to the groomer. Groomers usually bathe your Bichon, clean the hair inside the ears, trim the nails, clean the anal glands, clean the eyes, cut and trim your Bichon to look like their puffy self.
Daily brushing includes combing through their coat in order to prevent their hair from matting. Some Bichons love water and love to get wet. I have a theory that Bichon Frises do their best to get wet so they have an excuse to get brushed and blow dried. If you start the daily brushing when your Bichon Frise is a pup, your little one will come accustomed to it and look forward to getting brushed. Using a pin brush helps remove the small knots the brush does not pick up. Keep in mind that if you don’t brush their hair, their coat will get matted and pull on their skin. This is equivalent to you growing your hair, never brushing it and then trying to run a comb or brush through it. If it hurts you, then you can bet it hurts your Bichon.
NEVER SHAVE YOUR BICHON FRISE ALL THE WAY.
Groomers who are experts on breeds will not comply with your request to shave your Bichon bold. Groomers usually leave at least 1/8 of an inch of hair on their body. The only time any respectable groomer will shave your Bichon bold is if they determine that your Bichon Frise is matted beyond repair. Rather than brush the knots out, the groomer will shave them bold and give you a scolding. They will remind you that your dog was in pain.
Moreover, Bichon Frises have sensitive pink skin and their heavy coat protects them from the heat and from the cold. Some Bichons don’t like to be brushed in their belly. This has always been my little Harley’s no touch zone. She loves belly rubs but the touch of the brush is not permitted. This is because her skin is sensitive. Her groomer usually shaves her belly so it’s smooth.
It is vital to remember that the Bichon Frise’s heavy coat isolates the chilly weather and provides heat for him/her during the winter. In the same aspect, their coat also isolates the heat in summer and keeps your pooch cool. This does not mean your Bichon should be left in the heat. Just like any sensitive animal, Bichons must be protected from extreme changes of weather. Those Bichon parents who shave their pooches are contributing to sun cancer on their baby’s skin. A Bichon Frise’s coat can be associated similar to that of a polar bear’s coat. The coat keeps the polar bear cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It’s vital to their survival.
Just like humans, Bichon Frises need good dental hygiene. You should check their teeth weekly for tarter. Brush their teeth with a veterinary-approved toothpaste. Vets usually recommend starting off brushing their teeth 3 times a week and slowly moving in to daily. Some Bichons are sensitive to the toothpaste, so it’s always good practice to start slowly.
Virbac’s C.E.T. ‘s enzymatic toothpaste comes highly recommended by veterinarians because it is formulated for safety and efficacy. The toothpaste comes in different flavors including but not limited to poultry and malt.
Once you meet and hold a Bichon Frise, you’ll fall in love. Their diverse personalities and emotions match their facial expressions. Just like a little human, you’ll know when your Bichon is happy, sad, worried or not well. Bichons are expressive not just with their face, but with their body and curly puffy tail.
Throughout the years, I’ve learned that Bichon Frises are affectionate with humans and creatures alike. They don’t discriminate. There are times when they will show you their naughty side, and other times when they can’t get enough of you and award you with kisses. Bichon Frises don’t like to be left alone for a long time. You will find that if you do leave them for hours and cover your entire room with doggie pee pads, a Bichon will find the one little space where the pads did not cross and poop right on it. Mischievous at times, ingenious and always forgivable.
I have been blessed for 14 years with my little Harley who was trained to be a service dog and help me with my disabilities. She has been my constant, my companion and my life saver. As a Bichon Frise parent, I am honored to still have her in my life healthy, happy and bright (Harley is below).