Bichon Frise - Information and NZ Breed Standards

Membership ID

Bichon Frise

General Information - Bichon Frise



12-15 years




Watchdog Ability:

Protection Ability:
Very low

Area of Origin:

Date of Origin:
Ancient times

Other Names:
Tenerife dog, Bichon Tenerife, Bichon A Poil Frise

Original Function:
Companion, performer


The Bichon Frise is an old breed that can be traced to the 1300's, but it is likely to be far older (some people say it pre-dates the Common Era). Its oldest recognised ancestor is the BarBichon cam, or "water spaniel," which evolved into four breeds: the Bichon Bolognese, the Bichon Havanese, the Bichon Maltese and the Bichon Tenerife. Today's Bichon Frise, named in 1933, is directly descended from the Tenerife. The Bichon Tenerife attracted the attention of Europe's nobility, particularly those in Italy, as well as wealthy merchants. As Italian influence spread, the Tenerife happily followed. The dog became part of the court of the French King Francis in the early 1500s. By the late 1500s, the Tenerife had become a favorite of France's King Henry III, who reportedly had a Tenerife travel with him wherever he went. The dog was pampered, perfumed and beribboned, giving rise to the French verb, "Bichonner" (to pamper). The Bichon Tenerife was soon given a prominent place in other countries, and artists included a Bichon-like dog in many of their portraits. The Spanish artist Francisco Goya was one famous artist who favored the Bichon Tenerife. The dog gradually lost his aristocratic favor and became a street dog, performing in circuses and fairs. The breed survived and in 1933, the name was changed to Bichon a polio Frise (Bichon with the curly coat). The name was shortened to Bichon Frise.


Although small, the Bichon is an active dog and needs daily exercise. Its needs can be met with a vigorous indoor game or, better, a romp in the yard or a short walk on leash. The white powder-puff coat needs brushing and combing every other day, plus scissoring and trimming every two months. It doesn't shed, but the loose hairs become entangled in the coat and can mat. It may be difficult to keep white in some areas. This is not a dog that should live outdoors.

Bichon Frise Links

View Breed Standard

Print General Info

View list of breeders

View available litters

View list of clubs

Select another breed

Select another litter