You'd love to have a dog, but coming into contact with canines means itchy eyes or wheezing. Is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic dog? Well, no, but the bichon frise doesn't shed and might not trigger your allergies the way other breeds do. Plus, they're so cute!
While the bichon frise might have less dander than the average dog, she's acquired above-average affection and adorableness. Pure white, with eyes like black buttons, this little dog easily steals her way into your heart. At maturity, bichons stand between 9.5 and 11.5 inches high at the shoulder, with males larger than females. That makes the breed the perfect size for a lap dog -- which is where they want to spend their time.
According to the American Kennel Club standard for the bichon frise, "The texture of the coat is of utmost importance." It's this coat that gives the breed its alleged hypoallergenic qualities. The bichon's undercoat is soft and dense, while the outercoat is of a coarser and curlier texture, according to the AKC. The dog's coat has a velvety feel. Bichons are called "powder puff dogs" because that's what they look like after bathing and grooming.
Your bichon requires daily grooming and regular bathing to keep her coat in good condition and sparkling white. She'll also need trips to the groomer every couple of months to maintain that distinctive Bichon look. Otherwise, she'll be mistaken for an unkempt poodle. Bichons often develop brown tear stains, marring their little faces. These are easily removed with a gentle, commercial product developed for this purpose. If you show your dog, she'll require much more maintenance to appear show-ring perfect.
Keeping Allergens at Bay
If you or a member of your household have allergies and want to bring a bichon into your home, other ways of combating allergens can make life easier for the allergy sufferer. Don't let the dog sleep in your bedroom, as tempting as that might be. Vacuum the house frequently. Install air purifiers with a high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filter to get rid of allergens in the environment. You might also want to talk to your doctor about allergy shots, which can desensitize your reaction to dog dander.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.