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Bichon Frise: King Henry III's Favorite Pet

Feb 2, 2008
The Bichon Frise is very like a stuffed toy dog that has descended from the Barbet or Water Spaniel and though once known as the Barbichon, his name was later compacted to being just Bichon. The Bichon Frise, originally from the Mediterranean region, has four different categories broken down as Bichon Maltais, Bichon Havanais, Bichon Bolognais or Bichon Tenerife. The history behind the Bichon Frise goes back a long way and he has risen from being a bargaining chip to becoming the favorite of nobility and royalty and is today the favorite of the working class.

The Bichon Frise is a descendent of the Barbet or Water Spaniel and is mostly white in color and considered a ladies dog that originates from the Mediterranean region dating as far back as 600-300 B.C. Originally, it was referred to as a Barbichon though this name was later compacted to Bichon of which the four main categories are the Bichon Maltais, the Bichon Havanais, the Bichon Bolognais and the Bichon Tenerife. The Bichon Frise is also a very charming creature that belongs to the non-sporting classification of the American Kennel Club and is in fact mostly used as a companion or show dog.

From the time it first began to be reared, the Bichon Frise has always been used as a companion dog and is not one that retrieves fowl from the water as its ancestor the Water Spaniel did, and instead, this toy sized breed is thus ideally suited for being a companion dog and not a hunting dog.

The Bichon Frise was forgotten and only rediscovered in the fourteenth century by Italian seamen. It was they who brought this breed back to the Continent and the Italian nobility immediately developed a strong liking for the Bichon Frise. And it was only during this time that the Bichon Frise got its characteristic lion style cut. A century or so later the Bichon Frise came to France during the reign of Francis I who was the major figure of the Renaissance.

However, it was only during the reign of Henry III when the Bichon Frise got to be pampered, and also perfumed and even beribboned. Then it even became popular once more in Spain and was greatly loved by the Infantas and was often the subject of painters, as witnessed in the works of Goya. Sad to say, the Bichon Frise was soon to become a commoner in France, and soon descended from being a favorite of the nobility to roaming in the streets in France.

The current development of the Bichon Frise starts towards the end of the nineteenth century when this tiny toy breed began to be associated with circuses that traveled about from one place to another, and though it had lost some of its royal stature and became the catch-penny dog of street beggars, it continued to thrive despite royals such as Queen Victoria preferring the Pekinese and Queen Elizabeth II being partial to Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

However, the Bichon Frise wins over hearts because he is very docile and also affectionate and this has ensured his continuing success in finding good homes, even if they are not those of aristocrats and royalty. He is also seen in road shows as a canine clown dog and he is capable of performing very interesting tricks as well as routines that keep him much in demand all over the world. Bred to be a companion dog, this breed makes a great family pet.
About the Author
Mary Stevenson is a breeder par excellence and has raised and cared for and brought up dogs for many years. The history behind the Bichon Frise goes back to ancient times, and so there is a lot to learn about how it has survived the many ups and downs over the years. This article aims to provide you with complete Bichon Frise information regarding the history of the breed.
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