The origins of the Bichon Frise have probably been lost in time. But it is fair to say that all who have delved into their past in an effort to find out the history of the breed have similar tales to tell.
The Bichon Frise, it appears, descends from the Barbet (or Water Spaniel). It is believed to have been imported into France by Francis I, King of France, during the time of the Rennaissance, coming from Italy from the court of Rome. All the Kings of France had these little white dogs until the French Revolution. Marie Antoinette was thought to have had three dogs at the time of the Revolution, but those, along with others owned by the aristocracy were exterminated at that time.
The Bichon Frise was extremely popular in the times of French Royalty and was much doted on. Henry III was thought to be very fond of the breed. In paintings of the 17th and 18th century little white dogs resembling the Bichon are seen in the company of Lords and Ladies.
When the French Royalty fell from favour however, so too did the little dogs. The aristocrat Bichon Frise became the democratic (or peoples) Bichon Frise and in this way became very popular in the streets. He accompanied organ players, distracting passers-by with his clown like antics and expression.
The first world war dealt a serious blow to the breed and between the two great wars the breed practically disappeared. It was only the dedication of those breeders in France and Belgium that kept the breed alive. And how grateful are we today that they did.
What would life be like without our little "people' to share our lives with.
The Bichon Frise is a wonderfully intelligent dog. He easily learns to shake hands, play dead, bow, wipe his feet on the mat, carry his dish etc. He can do obedience very well, and he can do "disobedience" very well when it suits him.
But his affectionate nature, and his love of life make him a joy to behold. Whether he is in his show coat, or just his scruffy every day coat, the Bichon Frise is beautiful.
THE BREED TODAY
The Breed gained a real international boost when it was "discovered" by other countries including USA, UK, Australia and when given a bath and a trim showed everyone just what a beautiful dog it really is.
Sadly the French have not yet warmed to the idea of their dogs being beautified in this way, but Belgium certainly has and from this perspective the breed should maintain acceptance worldwide of its gorgeous presentation. Hopefully the French will discover that a Bichon is a Bichon with or without a bath and a trim, and that it looks better with, than without - but sometimes these things take a little longer to come to fruition.
Today the Bichon Frise is exhibited throughout the world and it would be fair to say that it is a big winning breed in every country it is exhibited.
This is in no small way due to the dedicated effort of those breeders throughout the world who have strived to maintain and improve the quality of the breed.
In the pages of this website we have listed many of the Top Show Dogs of today and yesteryear - Bichons Frises that have helped shape the way in which the breed has developed to be where it is today.
But it is not just as a show dog that the Bichon Frise has excelled. What a wonderful companion this breed makes. Many thousands of people have experienced the joy of sharing their home with a Bichon and the pleasure that this little dog brings to people is amazing.
A typical email received is shown below.
"I often think how wonderful you both were to give him to me and how happy he has made me. He has been mining, shearing, fishing, working cattle, minding kittens, babysitting dogs, and heaps of other amazing things. His nature is amazing - I babysit these other two "bichons" (among other things) from time to time and he takes them into his house, sleeps with them, shares his food and plays with them and never shows a hint of jealousy".
Yes this is the Bichon Frise. Truly gods gift to mankind.