If you buy a Bichon Frise puppy, it's a good idea to have cards about him made up. Give them to strangers you meet while walking the dog who compliment you on your lovely poodle. The cards save you the task of explaining he's a bichon frise.
Like all puppies, bichon frises are born blind and deaf, completely dependent on mama. Within the first 3 weeks, the eyes open and ears tune in to sounds, and he starts investigating the world. At 6 weeks, his baby teeth come in, and he can begin eating solid food. His breeder will probably let you take him home after the age of 8 weeks. He will probably have his initial puppy vaccinations by the time you get him, but bring him to your vet for a checkup and the additional vaccinations he'll need.
While the adult Bichon Frise is white, your puppy's coat may exhibit shades or cream or tan. Don't worry—by the time he's grown, those shadings disappear and he'll be that lovely white dog with the black button nose and eyes. With a curled double coat, Bichons don't shed, but require a lot of grooming. Figure on brushing him at least 15 minutes a day to avoid matting. Start brushing your puppy early on so it becomes part of your daily routine. Unless you're an experienced amateur dog groomer, he'll need professional grooming at least every two months for bathing and haircuts. If you intend to show your pup, he'll make monthly visits at a minimum.
If there's one drawback to this adorable, friendly breed, it's housebreaking. Bichons are notorious for difficulty in this area. That doesn't mean it can't be done, of course, but it's likely to take some time and effort. Be patient and consistent with your puppy. He lives for your praise, so praise like crazy when he eliminates where he's supposed to. Don't set him up to fail. If you're out, confine him in a crate so he's not peeing or defecating in the house. Sooner or later, he'll get the hang of housebreaking.
Bichons put the "companion" in companion dog. Your dog really does want to be with you all the time. Think twice about getting a bichon puppy if your schedule is such that you're away much of the time. That doesn't mean a working person can't have a bichon, but this is a breed that really needs your time. They are friendly, sweet little dogs. Bichons also get along well with other dogs and cats.
When your bichon reaches the age of one year, he's no longer a puppy but a full-grown dog. Adult bichon frises stand between 9.5 and 11.5 inches at the shoulder, with males slightly larger than females. Healthy bichons weigh between 10 and 18 pounds.
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.