Bichon Frise As Pets: History And Health

It's a resilient breed that has survived for thousands of years.

The history and health information of the Bichon Frise.
Olga Kuzyk / Shutterstock

It's a resilient breed that has survived for thousands of years.

Bichon Frise as pets can be quite rewarding with proper knowledge of their history, health, and how to care for them. The Bichon Frise is a relatively well-known breed, especially to those who like watching or keeping up to date with renowned dog competitions. These white, curly-haired dogs are beautiful, elegant animals that have earned their place at dog competitions and in the home.

Bichon Frise History

According to the American Kennel Club, the Bichon Frise has a tumultuous past. The breed has had its highs and lows but has survived it all. Vet Street estimates the breed to be at least 2,000 years old.

There is some debate as to where the Bichon originated. Some believe that the breed is originally from Europe while there is strong evidence that it hails from the Mediterranean. It is clear, however, that the earliest sighting of the Bichon Frise was when French sailors brought the dogs over from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands found in the Mediterranean. As such, the breed is believed to be part of a group of dogs called the Barbet or Barbichon which included breeds like the Bolognese, Havanese, and Maltese, reported Dog Time.

After arriving in Europe, Bichon Frise quickly became the favorite of nobles and royals in France, Italy, Spain, and England. They were the companions of royals like King Francis I of France and King Henry III of England. They also inspired artists, like Goya.

During the French Revolution, the Bichon Frise’s luck turned. As commoners and the middle class killed aristocrats and royals one by one, the breed lost its place in high society and was driven to live on the streets.

Being ever resilient, the Bichon Frise survived thanks to street entertainers who took the breed into their homes and trained them. From then on, the Bichon Frise was seen as a commoner’s dog, one that performed in the circus.

The Bichon Frise was once again thrust into the spotlight after World War 1 when French breeders became interested in preserving the breed. On March 5, 1933, an official breed standard for the Bichon Frise was adopted by Société Centrale Canine in France. By 1934, the breed was included in the studbook of the French Kennel Club.

Bichon Frise Health

Like all dog breeds, the Bichon Frise is prone to certain health issues and diseases. For this cuddly breed, the most concerning health issues include patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, hip dysplasia, and juvenile cataracts.

Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap is dislocated. According to Dog Time, patellar luxation is common among small dogs, like the Bichon Frise. Given that the breed is also prone to hip dysplasia, displacement of the thigh bone from the hip bone, the Bichon Frise seems to destined to suffer leg complications.

The Bichon Frise has an extraordinary history.
  Olga Kuzyk / Shutterstock

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease also affects the breed’s lower body. This disease causes the head of the thigh bone to shrink by reducing its blood supply which causes the dog to limp. According to Vet Street, Legg-Calve-Perthes occurs in Bichon Frise puppies. Luckily, the disease can be treated with surgery.

Bichon Frise puppies are also apt to develop juvenile cataracts for hereditary reasons. As such Dog Time advises animal lovers to buy Bichon Frise puppies that are certified by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation or CERF.