A well-groomed ball of fluff or a scruffy bundle of mischief – here’s the low-down on the Bichon Frise…
The most important tip for potential Bichon Frise owners is be prepared for lengthy toilet training and most of all – have patience! Bichon’s are notoriously difficult to house train but persist you must – if you don’t, you’ll pay the price and your little curly-haired chap will take a leak (and worse) wherever he pleases. A cage or confined area will help get the message across that he has to do is business where you want – not where he wants!
If you’re not one for Hollywood poodle look, a newly-short Bichon is a sight to behold – he will look like a new-born lamb! There is no medical reason for keeping his hair short, but it’s important to keep his eyes as clear as possible so he can see so trim occasionally in-between professional grooming. His coat will need regular brushing to avoid knotting which can become painful for him if left to fester. Two grooms a week and a professional groom once a month will do the trick and it is important to begin brushing from an early age so he gets used to it and even looks forward to his beauty treatment!
A Bichon Frise makes a wonderful companion – as good as any dog you can think of – and his bubbly nature and energy will keep you on your toes – but his high pitch yapping might not go down well with everyone (particularly neighbours). If you have cats, chances are if he thinks they are after something that he wants (food/toys/treats), he will crank up the yap to annoying levels. He has a strong personality and likes to be the centre of attention, so be warned!
Bichon’s need to be with people and love kids – but if you can’t commit time with him, he may become an unhappy little fellah and spend much of his time wistfully parked on top of the sofa, scanning the outside world for your return. If you work long hours, he may not be the dog for you. That said, babies and toddlers will be viewed as competition for his attention and he may become jealous. He may nip and therefore only get this breed if your kids are perhaps aged five and upwards.
A Bichon is an ideal dog for those with allergies – his short, not shedding fur makes him an ideal pet for anyone who struggles with dog fur.
Keep his diet, as much as possible, to vet recommended foods. Part of his diet should consist of meat with freshly prepared chicken, beef and lamb suitable and vegetables and fruit will certainly not do him any harm. If in doubt, check with Bichon specialists or your local vet. He can eat and then some, so vary the diet with some recommended dry food – this will keep his stools firmer. Omega 3-rich foods are particularly good and helps him avoid skin complaints. He will sell his soul for a treat, so keep a bag at hand, particularly for when you’re training as a reward will go down particularly well.
Spend time teaching him tricks – he’s bright and playful and very intelligent and he will pick up commands very quickly. One of his most endearing traits is walking on his hind legs and waving his front paws – he can pirouette, dance and if you’re not careful, steal your heart!
Regular bathing is important for white Bichon’s and beware of fleas as they can drive the poor chap to distraction. He will bite himself sore and it’s worth remembering this is a breed that is susceptible to skin irritations. Regular flea treatment and de-worming is essential.
Some common problems in Bichon’s are bladder stones and ear infections. A Bichon that is house trained but forced to hold his wee could develop bladder stones – the symptoms are frequent urination, blood in the urine or even loss of appetite. Bichon’s have drop ears which prevents air circulation so it’s vital the ears are kept free of as much hair as possible – a vet may also recommend a special ear wash periodically.
As with all purebreds, check the paperwork and if possible, ask to see the parents! Bichon’s don’t come cheap, but make sure you buy from reputable breeders and that everything checks out. If in doubt, don’t part with your money.
A Bichon will happily claim your favourite chair or bed as his own – and he’ll let you know if he’s not happy at being moved with a growl or angry yap. Expect him to lie on your bed on his back, paws aloft during the night hours – a veritable immovable object!
Buy dog wet-wipes to regularly clean his eyes which often have brown areas around them – this can be caused by a poor diet but regular wiping helps avoid this becoming a problem and is also important for keeping his eyes clear of infection.
Some Bichons like long walks, but some don’t like to go too far from home. Early training can get the type of Bichon you prefer. They can be protective of their owner and can be aggressive towards strangers – this can be a big problem and if they are of a nervous disposition, this can become stressful for both the dog and the owner.
Plenty of exercise, companionship and a healthy diet will see your Bichon live to between 13 and 17 years.