The Bichon Frise is a small breed of dog whose name means curly lap dog it is a member of the toy dog group in the U. K , but classed in the non sporting group in the U.S. Often thought of as a French dog the Bichon Frise is actually Mediterranean in origin.

The Bichon type arose from the water dogs, originally Spanish they were used as sailing dogs, before being turned into lap dogs by the French, it is descended from the Poodle and the Barbet, or one of the other water Spaniel breeds. The modern Bichon as developed into four different breeds, the Bichon Frise, the Maltese, the Bolognese and the Havanese, although they are often treated as a separate breeds.

It is widely believed that Spanish seamen introduced the early breed to Tenerife in the Canary Islands during the 14th century, where they were found by Italian sailors on their voyages, who introduced them to continental Europe, for this reason the Bichon Frise is sometimes referred to as the Tenerife. They became great favourites with the Italian nobility, where, like most dogs in the courts at the time its coat was cut non style, like the modern day Portuguese water dog.

Its popularity spread to France during the 15th century, it was regularly seen in the courts of Francis and Henry III, with the French nobility taking a real liking to it. The breed was also still popular in Spain, especially amongst the infantas, and painters from the Spanish school often included them in their works. The Bichon Frise can be seen in a lot of the paintings by the famous Spanish artist Francisco de Goya.

Interest in the breed continued until after the reign of Napoleon III, when it started to decline dramatically, the breed was rarely seen again until the late 19th century, it became the common dog, running the streets and accompanying the organ grinders of Barbary, leading the blind and doing tricks at the circus and fairs. After, World War I they began to become popular again with the French breeders.

On March 5th 1933 the breed was accepted by Societe Centrale Canine, the National kennel club for France, the Bichon was taken to the United States in 1955, where it is now included in the top 50 most popular breeds.

The Bichon Frise is usually between 5-10kg in weight and stands 23-30cm at the withers, it as a black nose and dark round eyes, its coat is white, curly and dense, similar to the poodle.

Gentle mannered, sensitive, playful and affectionate, are words often used to describe to temperament of the Bichon Frise, very socialable they make an excellent companion dog and family pet as they get along well with children and other animals, they are also obedient and easy to train.

The coat of the Bichon Frise requires regular grooming, it needs to be brushed and groomed several times a week, even daily and should be trimmed every for to six weeks. If the Bichons coat gets severely matted they may develop a haematoma, usually in the ear, they are more prone to ear infections than other dogs. Diabetes, cataracts and heart disease are other common conditions that the Bichon may suffer from. The average lifespan is 12-13 years which is similar to other dogs of its size.

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michael simpson

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