Dog Breed Group: Companion DOg
Life Span: 12-15 years
Weight: 12-18 pounds
Height: 9.5-11.5 inches
Origin of Name: A Bichon Frise from French: bichon à poil frisé, French pronunciation: meaning 'curly haired dog' is a small breed of dog of the bichon type.
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Bichons are members of the clan of small white dogs formally known as the Barbicon type. (They also include Bolognese, Havanese and Maltese.) These ancient breeds are believed to have begun their modern development on Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. One of these breeds became so popular with island sailors that it was known as Bichon Tenerife, the primary ancestor of today's Bichon Freese.
The breed's close association with European nobles began in the 13th century. Most notably, he rewarded himself for the royal courts of Spain, Italy and France and came into his own during the Renaissance.
With the arrival of the French Revolution in 1789, Bichon's days as the pampered and fragrant lapdog of the aristocracy came to an end. One by one the miscreants of the breed were sent to prison and guillotine, and their bitches lost their positions of privilege. Many people had to throw themselves on the road. Street entertainers took in bright, agile dogs and trained them to caress one or two passers by their antics. Soon, Bichon was earning his status as a circus artist. Trainable, impenetrably lovable, and always in his best form when in the spotlight, Bichons was an outstanding candidate for showbiz success.
The Bichons again faced a difficult time in the 20th century due to scarcity and austerity brought on by two world wars. And again, many Bichons found themselves out in the cold. Thanks to the few fanatics who gather the Bichans from the streets of France and Belgium, the breed survived and was recognized in France under the auspices of the Societe Centrale Canine in 1933 as Bichon a Poile Frette - "curly hair bichon.
The Bichon Freeze Club of America was founded in 1964 in San Diego. The AKC accepted Bichon in the miscellaneous category in 1971, and a year later the non-sporting group gained full breed recognition.