Scratch Dog or Not – Are Bichon Frise Dogs Hypoallergenic?

Over 50 million Americans suffer from some sort of allergy and while they are not all caused by pets many can't be in the same room as man's best friend without experiencing the classic symptoms:

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  • Coughing
  • Hives
  • Itchy/runny eyes
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Sneezing

Not fun! The good news is there are some low and non-shedding breeds, that can be the perfect canine companion for allergy sufferers and the Bichon Frise is definitely one of the cutest.

Is It True, Are Bichon Frise Dogs Hypoallergenic?

The Bichon Frise is classed as a hypoallergenic breed but as with any of these dogs, reactions can differ depending on the severity of allergy, so it is important to spend some time with your chosen pooch before making that final decision.

What does hypoallergenic actually mean?

Many people mistakenly believe that hypoallergenic means; something, be it a dog, face-cream or food causes no allergic reaction at all. Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth. The term was originally used in the 1950s during a cosmetic campaign and actually means there is a reduced risk of allergies.

So, for all those who are keen to point out "There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic breed of dog" Wrong! There are quite a few which is great news for allergy sufferers across America.

Bichon Frise and allergies - What should I do?

As we have established it depends on the severity of the allergy as to whether any particular breed is a suitable addition to the family. Even dogs that are considered hypoallergenic breeds like the Bichon Frise can cause reactions to some and with so many dogs in rescue shelters across the country it is essential you verify your new four-legged friend will not cause problems before bringing them home. The good news is; there are ways to do this:

  • Any reputable breeder will be happy to arrange visits with the pup of your choice to ensure they are going to a good home. This is a great way to spend time with your new best friend and discover if you can have a cuddle without suffering a simultaneous sneezing fit or breaking out in a rash.
  • You can go online and find a local Bichon Frise club. They usually run activities, group walks or breed specific fun days where you can spend time with the breed and if you don't break out in hives one of these adorable powder-puffs may just be the perfect breed for you.
  • You could also contact a Bichon Frise rescue and offer to become a fosterer this gives you the opportunity to bring one of these cheerful little dogs into your home on a temporary basis. You never know, you may fall in love and be able to provide a second chance for an unwanted, abandoned or neglected dog.

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of an Allergic Reaction from your Pooch

  1. Consider a HEPA filter - Pet dander floats around in the air you breathe so a HEPA filter can help by reducing the particles and limiting your exposure to harmful allergens. The price for a stand-alone unit can range from $75 upwards depending on the area of a room and is a small price to pay for the dog lover.
  2. Learn to love housework - Vacuuming and dusting regularly will reduce the amount of allergens around the home. Wash dog bedding frequently and limit the places allergens can build-up like upholstery and carpets. Replacing carpets with hard-flooring can significantly help allergy sufferers.
  3. Antihistamines - If you only suffer a mild allergic reaction to your pet it may be worth considering over the counter medications. Although they won't help with wheezing and asthma-like symptoms they can relieve mild symptoms like runny eyes and nasal congestion.
  4. Grooming - Grooming your Bichon Frise, on a daily basis, will not only create a bond between dog and owner, it will keep her coat in tip-top condition and keep those pesky allergens under control. Try a conditioning spray as you groom it will remove any tangles along with moistening the hair preventing the dander from becoming airborne.
  5. Don't let your dog lick you - The number one dog allergen Can f 1 is found in a dog's saliva so never let your dog lick your face. Always wash your hands thoroughly after giving treats and hard as it may be, restrict those kisses.

All about the Bichon Frise - Origin of the Breed

The Bichon Frise dog or Bichon Tenerife as it is sometimes known originated in the warm climate of the Mediterranean. They descended from the water spaniel or Barbichon and it is thought crossed with a poodle giving them their curly coat. A sailor's dog, they excelled in pest control and were companions to the crew on many voyages of exploration.

Renowned for their sunny disposition these little characters were often bartered by the sailors and became firm favorites of the nobility often seen in the royal courts of Spain, France and Italy where they were pampered and beloved pets. They were also commonly seen in the circuses and traveling fairs of the time.

At the end of the first world war 4 French breeders recognized the potential of this merry little breed and began a breeding program to establish their lines and the breed was recognized by the French kennel club in 1934.

The first Bichon Frises in the USA arrived courtesy of Mr and Mrs François Picault who settled in the mid-west where the first litter was born. Recognized by the AKC in 1972 they have seen an increase in popularity due to their gentle, playful natures and the fact they are considered a hypoallergenic breed. The Bichon Frise currently stands at #44 in the most popular breeds in the USA.

General Appearance

Source: smalldogbreedssdb.com

A small jaunty little dog the hypoallergenic Bichon Frise stands between 10-12 inches and weighs between 10-16lbs. Although similar to his relatives the Havenese, Bolognese and Maltese, the Bichon differs because he has a double coat, which comes in one color only; white. He has a plumed tail which is carried in a curve over the back and dark expressive eyes which add to his considerable appeal.

Temperament

The Bichon Frise temperament is a happy one, cheerful, affectionate little dogs, they are alert, attentive and make good little watch dogs. They love the company of humans and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time. Definitely, not the breed for people who work full-time or travel a lot.

They are loyal and gentle getting along equally with other pets and children. Although some can suffer from "small dog syndrome" this can be avoided with early socialization and training. Intelligent, they learn tricks quickly and love to show-off, however they are notoriously difficult to house train so you may need some patience in that department.

Health

These gorgeous balls of fluff are a relatively healthy breed and have a long lifespan of 12-15 years. There are some health issues to be aware of including

  • Allergies/ skin conditions
  • Urinary infections and urinary stones
  • Ear Infections
  • Luxating patella
  • Cataracts

The most common health issues in the Bichon Frise are allergies and skin conditions with as many as 50% suffering at least one skin problem, dogs with less pigment and mainly pink skin seem more susceptible. While us humans usually cough and sneeze in reaction to an allergen signs a dog is suffering are usually exhibited in the skin, these include:

  • Scratching
  • Licking
  • Hair loss
  • Sores
  • Excessive chewing

Although Bichons can have a genetic propensity towards allergies many are caused by the environment, fleas, food and household chemicals to name a few. Prevention is better than cure so if your Bichon Frise is itching constantly, always make sure your canine companion is up to date with flea and worm treatments, use a hypoallergenic shampoo when bathing your pet and feed the correct diet.

Many of the commercial dried kibbles available are not suitable for the sensitive Bichon, as the fillers they use can contribute towards Bichon Frise food allergies.

Food

Source: Petcha

The single most important factor that affect your Bichon Frise's health is the food you give them. Small dogs use a lot of energy and need a premium food that provides the correct calories and nutrients for the various stages of their lives. Beware, Bichon Frises are notoriously fussy eaters.

A puppy needs 4 meals a day reducing this to 2 as they get older. They need around 1 cup over a 24-hour period and it is recommended to feed the best food you can afford. Premium foods are catered for your dog's needs and the extra cost is offset by the reduction in vet bills later.

As mentioned, the Bichon Frise has a tendency to suffer from allergies and this can be reduced by strengthening his immune system. Probiotics can help digestion and inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes diseases, these can be given as a supplement or a daily dose of yoghurt.

Another supplement to consider is garlic which has healing properties, can combat infections and gives off an odor that repels fleas avoiding the need for chemical treatments which can cause allergic reactions in these sensitive dogs.

Finding A Good Bichon Frise Breeder

So, you have done your research, can devote the time and patience required and believe the Bichon Frise is the breed for you. Great, now how do you go about finding one? When looking for Bichon Frise puppies for sale a good starting point is the Bichon Frise Club of America who have a breeder's directory on their website.

A reputable breeder will be happy to discuss their breeding program with you, answer any questions or concerns you may have about the suitability of their pups for allergy sufferers and agree to arranged visits. They will want the best for their litters and should provide a sales contract stating the puppy can be returned rather than re-sold or put into a rescue in the event of any problems.

A responsible Bichon Frise breeder will have all the health screening certification available and will have questions of their own about the life you will provide for their puppies. These conversations will help them match the right pup to the right owner.

3 Red Flags To Look Out For When Searching A Bichon Frise Breeder

  • Avoid breeders where there are multiple breeds and litters on the premises. These are just in it for the money and breeders who make a living selling puppies often do not have the time to socialize them all an important factor in the Bichon Frise.
  • Do not buy from breeders who offer 2 prices one with papers and one without. It is simple to register a litter and only costs $25 + $2 per puppy so not having papers is an indication the breeder has not adhered to the regulations either by breeding too many litters, not keeping correct records, or worse-case scenario been banned by the registry
  • A fancy website is nice but do not feel obliged to buy a puppy if you are in any way concerned about the environment or health of the litter when you visit. It can be tempting to feel sorry for a pup in bad conditions but it is better to walk away and wait for the right one at the right time.

Adopting a Bichon Frise from a Rescue or Shelter

It is worth considering whether an adult dog might be better suited to your home and lifestyle after all puppies cute as they are can be hard work. If so there are a number of options. Petfinder and Adopt a Pet offer dog charities the opportunity to showcase dogs in their care. My search on Petfinder offered 255 Bichon Frise, Bichon Frise crossbreeds and Bichon Frise mix puppies in the New York area alone.

You could also check out The Bichon Frise Club of America who also run an adoptions program and are always looking for volunteers (A great way to spend time with the hypoallergenic Bichon to see if you have a reaction)

Talk to local professionals both off and online, groomers, vet nurses etc, they may have knowledge of a Bichon Frise that needs rehoming in your area.

Be aware that some of these dogs may have been neglected, abandoned or had a poor start in life so may have some issues, the number one reason Bichons are placed in rescues is housebreaking. While puppies are great fun there is no better feeling than giving these unwanted dogs a second chance and a loving forever home.

How Much Will a Bichon Frise Set You Back?

Source: Pets4homes.co.uk

Puppy prices vary from state to state and breeder to breeder but a pedigree Bichon Frise will set you back on average around $500 rising to $2,000 for a show-dog with quality lines. The Bichon Frise price might seem a lot but for this you will receive a healthy pup with all relevant health screening.

A good tip to save money is to widen your search to cover neighboring states. Of course, adoption is also a way of saving bucks you can expect to pay an adoption fee and this can vary ranging from as little as $25 to between $200-$300. That being said many Bichon owners will tell you the upfront cost of this breed is irrelevant as a healthy Bichon Frise with fantastic temperament is priceless.

It's a Wrap

So, there you have it, great news, these adorable, little dogs with a big personality are not a scratch dog and are a fantastic breed for the sneezers and wheezers

Those suffering from severe allergic reactions might still be sensitive so it's important to spend some time with any potential pooch before making a decision and there are tips that can reduce allergens in the home.

Owning a Bichon Frise will provide you with the unconditional love that 44% of households in the USA experience. These feisty furballs will fill your days with fun and be your devoted companion for years to come.

Now, if anyone asks you "Are Bichon Frise dogs hypoallergenic?" you can give them a definitive answer: Yes they are!

John Devlin
 

Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!

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