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Bichon Frise

Companion Dog Group

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog s ability to perform its traditional work.


Existence of the Bichon Frise breed has been documented since the 14th century, when French sailors brought them back from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. The breed is thought to have been brought there by traders, using the Phoenician trade route, as items of barters. The breed's area of origin is thought to be Italy and the areas around that country, where most of the Bichon breeds were found.

The Bichon Frise is unique among the Bichon breeds as it is double coated, having both an under and outer coat. This gives the breed its characteristic "powder puff" appearance.

The Bichon Frise was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1981.

General Appearance

The Bichon Frise is small, compact and sturdy in appearance, with medium bone, never appearing coarse or fine. Its dense, white coat gives the breed the appearance of a white powder puff. It moves jauntily, with high head carriage and its plumed tail carried over its back.


The breed has a merry, playful temperament. It is sensitive, gentle and affectionate and has a soft, inquisitive expression with sparkling dark eyes.


The head is in harmony with the size of the body. To be considered properly balanced, measured from the nose to the stop and from the stop to the occiput, the head should be three parts muzzle to five parts skull. There is a slight stop.


The skull is slightly rounded, allowing for a round and forward-looking eye. Cheeks are flat and not very muscular.


Strong, but not thick or heavy, with fine, lean, black lips that are never heavy or pendulous. The slight degree of chiseling under the eyes does not cause the foreface to appear weak or snipey.

Serious Fault: Flesh-colored lips.


A full complement of strong, white teeth meet in a scissors bite.

Severe Faults: Undershot bite. Overshot bite.


The eyes are black or dark brown in color. They are round and are set in the skull in such a way that they look directly forward. Eye rim pigment is black. The skin surrounding the eyes (halo) is always black or very dark brown.

Serious Faults: Broken pigment or total lack of pigment around the eyes. Blank and/or staring expression. Eyes any other color than black or dark brown.


Prominent and always black.


Characteristically dropped ears are covered with long, flowing hair. They are set forward on the skull at slightly higher than eye level, framing the face when the dog is alert. In proportion, when the ears are pulled toward the nose, they extend approximately half the length of the muzzle.


The long, arched neck is carried proudly, blending smoothly into the shoulders. It holds the head erect. Measured from the occiput to the withers, the length of the neck is about one-third the distance of the body length, which is measured from the forechest (prosternum) to the point of the buttocks.


The shoulder blade (scapula) and upper arm (humerus) are about equal in length. The shoulder layback is at approximately a 45-degree angle.


The medium-boned, straight legs do not curve in the forearm or wrist. The elbows are held close to the body. The pasterns slope slightly. Dewclaws may be removed.


Measured from the prosternum to the point of the buttocks, the body is one-quarter longer than tall, measured from the withers to the ground. The measurement from the withers to the lowest point of the chest is one-half of the distance from the withers to the ground. The backline (from the rear end of the withers to the tail root) is level except for a slight muscular arch over the loin.

The well-developed chest is wide, allowing free and unrestricted movement of the front legs. The lowest point of the chest extends at least to the elbows, which are placed directly below the withers. The moderately-sprung rib cage extends back to the short, muscular loin. The well-pronounced forechest projects slightly past the point of the shoulder. The underline has a moderate tuck-up.


The pelvis is broad and the hindquarters are well muscled.


The medium-boned legs are placed moderately wide apart and are well-angulated at the stifle and hock joints. From hock joint to foot pad, the leg is perpendicular to the ground. Dewclaws may be removed.


Feet (paws) are tight and round, cat-like; they point directly forward, turning neither in nor out. Pads are black. Nails are to be kept short.


The well-plumed tail is set on level with the topline. It is carried curved gracefully over the back so that the tail hair rests on the back. The tail, if extended toward the head, measures at least halfway to the withers.

Serious Faults: Low tail set. Drooping tail. Corkscrew tail.


Coat texture is of utmost importance. The coat consists of both an undercoat, which is soft and dense, and an outer coat, which is coarser and curlier. The coat is soft, but substantial, feeling similar to plush or velvet; and springs back when patted. After bathing and brushing, the coat stands off from the body, giving an overall powder puff appearance.

The coat is trimmed only as needed to reveal the natural outline of the body. It may be rounded off, but never cut so short as to be sculpted and/or squared off. The hair on the head, beard, moustache, ears and tail are left longer. The head hair is trimmed to create an overall rounded, but not unnatural, appearance. The coat is left long enough to maintain the breed s characteristic powder puff look.

Serious Faults: Coat flat, wavy, corded or too short. Lack of undercoat.


White is the acceptable color, but shadings of buff, cream or apricot around the ears or on the body are acceptable. Pigmentation beneath the coat is preferably dark.

Serious Faults: Any color, other than white, in excess of 10 percent of the entire coat on a mature dog, (not faulted in puppies).

Disqualification: Albinism.


In the adult, both dogs and bitches 9

UKC Breed Standards: Bischon Frise

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Official UKC Breed Standard

Revised December 1, 2014

©Copyright 1991, United Kennel Club