Want a breed that is small, but WONDERFUL around small children? Love the idea of having very minimal shedding? The Bichon Frise could be what you are looking for!
The Bichon Frise (pronounced BEE-shon Free-ZAY) is a French dog from the 14th century, but its ancestors originated from the Mediterranean region during the Middle Ages. The Bichon Frise is part of the "Bichon" group which also includes the Maltese, Bolognese, and the Havanese which all came from the Mediterranean region as well. These breeds traveled well on ships and sailors would often barter the Bichon for other goods during their travels.
This little breed was bred for companionship and in the 1800's was commonly used in circus acts.
The Bichon Frise height is 9.5-11.5 inches and they can weigh between 10-14 pounds. The Bichon coat is curly, typically white, and although it is considered hypo-allergenic (there is no such thing), they do shed, however it is very minimal. Hypo-allergenic is a term that is very misleading to many want to-be dog owners that don't want a shedding breed. They do require regular grooming that helps remove loose hair, however the curly coat helps prevent dead hair and dander escaping, which helps control the dander allergen. Other colors of the coat may be apricot, or gray. Their tail is long and curls over their back end. They have dark eyes with a black nose and their ears hang downward.
The Bichon is cheerful, gentle, affectionate, and playful! Wow, these are fantastic qualities! This little breed LOVES to be around people and they make a great traveling partner. They are very intelligent and learn quickly (making them an excellent "entertainer." ;-) The Bichon enjoys other animals, small active children, and just has an overall GREAT disposition! They typically are not big on barking or digging. Early socialization and training will ensure that your little Bichon continues to carry these wonderful qualities. Although they are considered to be a very smart dog, they lack in the area of potty-training. This breed can sometimes take up to 5 years to "get it" on the potty-training. Using a crate and starting at 8 weeks old with the potty-training will be imperative for early success with this breed.
Their activity level is moderate. They will require one 30-45 minute walk a day. This little breed is active and will be happy to play with children all day long. Because they enjoy being around people, this breed does very well with off-leash training. They do make great traveling partners and will be happy (and prefer) to go with you at a moments notice. This breed does well in apartment, condo, or suburbia living.
A typical life span for the Bichon Frise is 12-13 years. Health concerns are: Hematoma (ear infections caused by lack of grooming), Autoimmune disease, bladder problems, cancer, eye disease, kidney problems, liver shunts, luxating patellas, and skin allergies.
As you begin looking for a Bichon Frise, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized, not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescues. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe