Our Choice of Family Dog - The Bichon Frise

Alfie the Bichon Frise

Choosing a dog is something that many families can find difficult, especially those with young children. As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons we decided to make this website was because of the difficulties we encountered when researching for a suitable dog for our family. In our quest for finding the best family dog, we opted for a Bichon Frise (pronounced beeshawn freezay). We bought ours, named Alfie, just over 4 years ago, and he's since proved to be an excellent choice. Although it's sometimes tempting to explain that he's not a poodle to interested passers by (nor a Frize, Frese, Friese, or even Bishon!), it is thought that the breed originated in 14th century Tenerife as the result of crossbreeding between the Poodle and the Barbet Water Spaniel. After reaching other parts of Europe, the Bichon became popular in France and Spain and was a favourite of the royal courts in the 16th century. By the 1700s, however, the Bichon Frise was more commonly associated with organ grinders and the circus. This small dog with loads of character seems to be at home in any company.

The Bichon Frise

The Standard Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a small but sturdy dog with a black nose, dark round eyes and white hair consisting of a silky undercoat and a curly outercoat. Its ears and tail are natural (not cropped or docked), and often the coat is trimmed to make the hair appear to be even in length. However, note that the picture above left is reality for a regular family dog (although he was overdue a brushing), whilst the picture on the right is considered the standard Bichon Frise (for shows).

Why we chose a Bichon Frise

We felt that a dog would be a great complement to our family, and with 3 young kids, we knew we had to choose carefully. We'd chosen badly before, buying a Springer Spaniel. As beautiful as she was, her energy level and needs were completely wrong for us back then as we were both working full time (before the kids came along). So this time we did our research, needing to find the best family dog, and two dogs seemed perfect: A King Charles Spaniel, and a Bichon Frise, which I'd never heard of (a Bichons what...?).

After learning of the congenital heart defects and other health problems associated with the inbreeding of the misfortunate King Charles, we opted for the Bichon Frise (French for curly lap dog), and for the following reasons:

Equivalent dog years for a Bichon Frise
Human0123456 7891011121314151617181920
Canine0152428323640 4448525660646872768084889296
 PupAdultSenior
Well groomed Bichon Frise

In fact the only downside we found initially was the grooming. Alfie needs brushing most days as his hair continues growing but this is painless; it doesn't take long and he sits patiently until it's finished. Take comfort from the fact that, unless you intend showing your dog at Crufts, then there's little point brushing to the standard shown on the right! See the page on Dog Grooming for grooming tips.


Summary of The Bichon Frise
Energy levelsLow
Compatibility with animalsHigh
Suitability for childrenHigh
Tendency to barkLow
Level of aggressionLow
Ease of transportationHigh
Exercise requirementsLow
Distress caused if left aloneMedium

All in all, it would appear that Bichons Frises (the correct plural) can fit into virtually any household, something that shouldn't be surprising really considering their interesting and varied history - from being the pampered pets of nobility to humble street urchins and circus entertainers. Our Bichon, Alfie, is just as happy to sit quietly while we watch TV as he is to romp in the park, follow the kids around and chase sticks. He is a valued addition to our family. In addition, being a submissive and friendly breed he poses absolutely no threat either to our authority or to the kids, who simply adore him. This isn't something that can be said about many breeds. For us, he's definitely proved to be the best family dog we could have chosen. It is worth mentioning that we didn't simply choose a dog based upon looks, as my favourite in that deparment is the Basset Hound!