One of the most popular breeds of companion dog is the bichon frise. Unlike many breeds of dog bred to herd, hunt or track scent, the bichon frise was bred to be a pet. According to the "ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs," this is an ideal breed for people living in apartments, for children and for the elderly.
It is unknown just how old the bichon frise breed is, according to "Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds." They were already an established breed in the Mediterranean by the 1500s, when French invaders of the area became enchanted with the dogs and took them back to France. They rapidly spread around Europe's wealthy until World War I, when the breed was nearly wiped out. French breeders brought the breed back in the 1930s. The first bichons came to America in the 1950s.
Bichons are always white, although they sometimes have cream or light yellow on the ears and face. They average 10 to 15 pounds and are generally less than a foot high. They have a poodle-type double-layered coat, a black nose, dark eyes and floppy ears. The tail normally curves over the back.
This is a breed that needs to be groomed often or matting in the coat becomes a problem. A bichon needs brushing and combing at least every other day. The fast-growing coat needs to be trimmed about every six weeks to keep it manageable. The coat can be trimmed to a variety of shapes, although the powder-puff head is necessary for show dogs. Keeping the coat white is a constant challenge. However, the bichon frise does not shed as much as a short-haired dog like a beagle.
This breed is playful and usually has a lot of energy. They are athletic dogs with a fearless personality. This is a vocal breed, which can make it good to be a watchdog, although they can pick up the habit of barking to friends and strangers just to get attention. Also, they have a tendency to get along with other animals, other dogs and strangers.
Bichons are prone to getting allergies, knee problems and Cushing's syndrome, according to "Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds." They sometimes get eye problems and liver disease. With luck, they can live to be about 15 years old.