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Bichon Frise Dog

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Bichon Frise Dog

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Bichon Frise Dog

As with many dog breeds, the exact origin of the Bichon Frise is uncertain. Common belief holds that the Bichon descended from the Barbet, a medium-sized, woolly water dog, and that the word Bichon is derived from barbichon, which is the diminutive of the word barbet. The Barbichon family of dogs includes the Bichon Frise, the Bolgnese, the Coton de Tulear, the Havanese, and the Maltese. All originated in the Mediterranean and have a similar look and disposition.

The earliest records of the Bichon Frise breed date from the 14th century, when French sailors brought the dogs home from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. It’s thought that Bichon Frise dogs had been taken there by traders who used the Phoenician trade route, and that the Bichon Frise originally developed in Italy.

Still other historians believe that Spanish seamen brought the breed to Tenerife and, in the 14th century, Italian (rather than French) sailors brought them back to the continent. According to this version of the story, when the French invaded Italy in the 1500s, they brought many Bichon Frise dogs back to France as war booty.

Regardless of how the Bichon Frise arrived in Europe, the breed quickly became a great favorite with nobility. Bichons were popular in royal courts during the reigns of France’s King Francis I and England’s King Henry III in the 16th century. King Henry III was so fond of his Bichons that he carried them wherever he went in a special basket that he hung from his neck. Bichons became favorites of Spanish royal families and even of such painters as Goya, who included a Bichon in several of his paintings.

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