A brief overview of Bichon Frise history, while not essential to owning a dog, will help you understand more about your Bichon Frise dog and her personality.
The Bichon Frise dog breed originally descended from the Barbet or Water Spaniel. As a result it was called the Barbichon which later was shortened to just “Bichon”.
Most people believe that the little white dogs come from the Mediterranean. We believe that the first ones were seen around 1200 A.D.
For the next 100 years or so Bichons were shipmates, traveling from continent to continent with their sailor owners. Keeping sailors company on their long voyages was right up their alley.
Legend has it that Spanish sailors took the little white dogs with them on voyages. As they travelled, the sailors left puppies and dogs in different locations. Because of this, Bichons found homes in many new places.
Bichons in Europe
The dogs then became very popular in Spain and soon after that, they were brought to the Canary Island of Teneriffe.
During the 1300’s, sailors from Italy fell in love with the Bichon Frise dog breed and took them to their homeland. As you may have guessed, Bichon Frises were an instant hit with the Italian nobility and the wealthy.
During the 1500’s, the aristocracy in France regarded these cute little dogs very highly. Because of this, Bichon Frises often lived in the courts of French kings. They were kept to entertain and delight their masters.
Information is limited after that–until they re-emerged on the coastal regions of North Africa in the 1800’s.
Bichon Frisee Dogs Performed in the Street
Lower class musical street performers, known as organ grinders, kept Bichon Frises. With their wonderful personalities, the dogs performed circus tricks on the street, earning money to support the organ grinders’ families.
Years later, in 1935, the official breed standard was adopted in France and the name Bichon Frise was officially introduced. “Frise” simply refers to their soft, curly hair.
The first recorded Bichon Frise litter in the United States was in 1956 and the Bichon Frise dog breed was accepted into the American Kennel Club dog shows in the 1970’s.