Types of Bichon Breeds: It’s Not Just the Bichon Frise

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Bichon BreedsAs a friendly and outgoing charmer and a mischievous personality, the bichon frise is a popular dog in many countries. However, bichons frises are often confused with other breeds like the Maltese, or Havanese. This is because there are actually several bichon-type dogs that are closely related, with similar histories.

So let’s have a look at the different types of bichon breeds you can encounter.

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What Makes a Dog a Bichon?

A bichon is a special breed of dog that is typically kept as a companion pet. The word bichon means “small long-haired dog” in French. Royals and aristocrats have been fascinated by the informal categorization of what can only be described as “little white dogs” for so long that it’s unknown where it all began.

Nevertheless, bichon’s origins can be traced back to the Mediterranean region of Europe more than a century ago. It is believed that the Barbet, a breed of water spaniel, descended from a group of small, mostly white lapdogs known as the “Barbichon,” later abbreviated to “Bichon.”  As bichons spread through the world, they often became popular in different places. This gave rise to different bichon breeds based on where they developed.

Bichon Maltais (Maltese), Bichon Bolognais (Bolognese), Bichon Havanias (Havanese), and Bichon Tenerife are the names of the first four emerging bichon types. Barbichon-type dogs, an umbrella term for these dog breeds, is the more formal name given to members of this canine family.

Despite their small stature, the AKC does not classify them as a toy breed. They’re members of the non-sporting group instead. Additionally, the white coats and long hair of bichons are also distinctive features. Some have all-white coats, while others have a mix of white and other colors.

7 Different Bichon Breeds

There are numerous bichon breeds available today. While they all share similarities as cousins, they are also very different from one another.

Bichon Frise

Bichon FriseBichons frises are a small, cute breed with a sweet disposition and fluffy white hair that gives them a baby-doll appearance. This particular bichon was first developed in Tenerife of the Canary Islands. Due to its double coat, which has a soft, dense undercoat and a coarser, curlier outer coat, the bichon’s fur stands out and even springs back when rubbed against it. In addition, their black noses and eyes stand out against their all-white hair. This dog has an insatiable desire to play. Even when left alone for extended periods, he maintains an upbeat and affectionate demeanor.

Bichons are often recommended for people with allergies because they don’t shed as much as other breeds. They are also ideal pets for apartment dwellers due to their small stature. However, their energy level is quite high, so they must be given daily exercise including walks and games.

Despite their playful and intelligent natures, these dogs will get along well with even the most inexperienced pet parents. The bichon frise’s upbeat and playful demeanor makes them a popular choice for families. A child-friendly dog, this breed is also friendly to strangers and other dogs and pets. However, they will alert you when a stranger is at your front door.

They are extremely intelligent and eager to learn new things. However, they have a reputation for having difficulty adjusting to new situations. Bichons frises can bark a lot and don’t like being left alone. Bichons are notoriously difficult to housebreak.

To stay healthy and happy, a bichon needs daily exercise, whether it’s a vigorous game of fetch in the house or a short walk on a leash. In addition to daily brushing and combing, the white powder puff coat requires professional grooming once per month. Even though this dog is hypoallergenic and does not shed, its coat is susceptible to matting because of loose hairs that get caught in the coat.

See how the bichon frise compares with: Beagle | Bolognese | Boston TerrierBrussels GriffonCavachon | Cavalier King Charles Spaniel | CavapooChihuahua | CockapooCoton de Tulear | French Bulldog | German Shepherd | Golden Retriever | GoldendoodleHavanese | Labrador RetrieverLhasa ApsoMaltese | Maltipoo | Papillon | Pomeranian | PoochonPoodle | Pug | Samoyed | SchnauzerScottish Terrier | Shetland Sheepdog | Shichon | Shih Tzu | West Highland TerrierYorkshire Terrier

See the best alternatives to the Bichon Frise


Maltese DogThe Maltese is a sensitive and friendly breed of dog that likely comes from somewhere in the Mediterranean, not necessarily Malta as the name suggests. Their white coat gives them a regal air. Aside from being a companion and therapy dog, they are also skilled competitors in dog sports such as agility, obedience, rallying, and tracking.

This elegant dog breed’s entire body is covered in silky white hair. They usually have a very long coat. Maltese used to be available in various colors, but they are now only available in white. Because they lack an undercoat, they shed very little, which contributes to their reputation as a hypoallergenic breed.

Regular brushing is required to keep Maltese dogs’ coats from becoming matted. However, if you groom them every few months, you can get away with bathing them once every three weeks unless they get themselves into something particularly messy.

They enjoy spending time with their family and friends, and they are ideal for first-time pet owners and apartment dwellers. However, small children or other dogs can cause some Maltese dogs to become abrasive, especially if they have been overly pampered. If they feel threatened in their relationship with their human family, they may become overly protective, barking and even biting.

Because they are smaller, their activity requirements are lower than those of larger breeds. In general, they can get by with 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day.

They are easy to train and can learn new skills quickly because they are so personable. It will take time and dedication to house train them, but it will be worth it in the end. They also have a reputation for being picky eaters. To top it all off, they’re extremely alert and have a penchant for reacting quickly to unusual noises or people.

See how the Maltese compares with: Beagle | Bichon Frise | Bolognese | Boston TerrierCavachon | Cavalier King Charles Spaniel | Cavapoo | Coton de Tulear | Golden Retriever | Havanese | Lhasa Apso | MalshiMaltipoo | Miniature Schnauzer | Morkie | Pomeranian | PoodleShih Tzu | Yorkshire Terrier

See the best alternatives to the Maltese


Bolognese DogThis bichon-type breed is named for the Italian city of Bologna, where it originates. The friendly nature of the Bolognese breed makes it popular. Because they are a rare breed, finding a Bolognese puppy can be time-consuming and costly. Even though these dogs are small in stature, they still need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation.

Separation anxiety can set in if they are left alone for a long time. These dogs, despite being well-behaved, may not be suitable for families with small children. Young children who harass or pull on their tails can irritate them just like any other dog.

A small, stocky breed, the female Bolognese dog is a bit smaller than the male. The females are typically between 10 and 11 inches, while the males are typically between 11 and 12 inches. These animals can reach a weight of 5.5 to 9 pounds when they are fully grown.

They have a small face, short, stocky legs, and dark brown, round eyes. Contoured tails and floppy ears give them a rounded appearance.

The Bolognese dog breed is widely regarded as either low-maintenance or high-maintenance. Their coats don’t need to be trimmed as frequently as the bichon frise. As a result, some dog owners choose to shave their pets during the summer months. If you don’t want to clip your Bolognese, you’ll have to groom them every day. To avoid tangles and mats, these doggies will need daily combing because of their long curly coats.

In order to raise a Bolognese dog that is both mentally and socially balanced, it is critical that you begin socializing them as puppies. They have a lot of brainpower. Unfortunately, despite their love of learning, they quickly become bored. The most effective training is positive reinforcement, but patience is essential.

See how the Bolognese compares with: Bichon Frise | Coton de Tulear | Havanese | Maltese

See the best alternatives to the Bolognese


Havanese DogHavanese dogs are intelligent, outgoing, and don’t require a lot of space to run around in. With their long, silky hair, expressive eyes, and cuddly size, the Havanese dog breed has won many admirers. Originating in Cuba, they are devoted to their owners and cannot tolerate being left alone for long periods. If you provide your dog with constant companionship, you’ll have a well-educated, eager-to-please member of your family.

It’s easy to overlook the tiny stature of Havanese dogs and puppies due to their thick, fluffy coats. The average height and weight of the breed are 7–13 inches and 8.5–11 inches, respectively, at the shoulder. With its long body and arched tail, it stands taller than him. It is common for the hair to be “corded” or braided into dreadlocks.

When puppies are a year old, Havanese puppies’ coats can change from light to dark or completely different hues. As a result, it’s impossible to know exactly how a puppy will grow up.

Additionally, the Havanese is indeed a small dog, but he packs a lot of punch. Every day, a long walk or a vigorous game of fetch will do the trick. The Havanese has a surprising amount of energy for a small dog, and if you’re looking to compete, the Havanese will gladly take on any competition.

Most people find it relatively simple to train a Havanese because of their eagerness to please their owners. Taking puppy classes is a good place to start. On the other hand, a Havanese is notoriously difficult to housebreak.

As long as the Havanese is an indoor dog, he can thrive in any home, from a small apartment to a large house with a backyard. This type of dog isn’t meant to be kept in a backyard. The place where he is most content is with his family. However, if your house has noise restrictions, this breed may not be right for you because they get easily distracted by noise.

See how the Havanese compares with: Bichon Frise | Bolognese | Bolonka | Cavachon | Cavalier King Charles SpanielCavapoo | Cockapoo | Coton de Tulear | GoldendoodleHavapoo | Labradoodle | Lhasa Apso | LöwchenMaltese | Maltipoo | Miniature SchnauzerMorkie | Pomeranian | Poochon | Poodle | Shih-PooShih Tzu | Yorkshire Terrier

See the best alternatives to the Havanese

Coton de Tulear

Coton de TulearThe Coton de Tulear hails from Madagascar. They are intelligent, loving dogs that are great with children and make devoted companions for their owners. There is a lot of heart and personality in these little dogs. There is nothing Cotons de Tulear enjoy more than playing with their owners or taking part in agility trials.

Coton, which means “cotton” in French, is a fitting name for these adorable puppies. Because their long, soft coat is made of hair rather than fur, they are nearly hypoallergenic. In general, they shed very little, but the puppy coat may shed before the adult coat does.

As puppies, they can be born with spots of yellow, brown, or black, which fade or disappear as the dog matures. A bright demeanor and dark, round, wide-set eyes distinguish them from other breeds of dogs. Grooming this breed on a regular basis is a must if you want to keep it that way. Bathing and brushing them should occur every one to three weeks at the very least, as well as regular ear, nail, and teeth cleaning.

When it comes to their personality, they are soft dogs in the purest sense. They are devoted to their owners, but without proper socialization, Cotons can be wary of new people and situations. For a smooth transition into adulthood, introduce him to other animals and people as early as possible.

Cotons have a gentle temperament that makes them good with other animals, including cats and children. With their keen intellect and eagerness to please, they make excellent pets that are also great for training.

This breed is known for its playful nature and active lifestyle. It’s not necessary for Cotons de Tulear to have a large yard to play in, and even a small one will suffice. As long as they have plenty of opportunities to get outside and see the world on a leash, they can enjoy living in an apartment.

See how the Coton de Tulear compares with: Bichon Frise | BologneseHavanese | Lhasa Apso | Maltipoo | Poodle | Shih Tzu

See the best alternatives to the Coton de Tulear


Löwchen (Little Lion Dog)Originally bred as a companion dog most likely from the Mediterranean, the Löwchen (or “little lion dog”) continues to serve that purpose today. These dogs excel in obedience and agility competitions, exceeding the expectations of many people looking for a dog as a family companion.

The coat of the Löwchen is dense, long, and slightly wavy, with a supple feel. Löwchen come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and no one has a favorite. Additionally, they can have their coats clipped or left in their natural state. To prevent tangles, brush their coat on a regular basis.

These dogs are extremely lovable and playful, and they’ll fit right in with any home, even if you live in an apartment. However, they enjoy barking, which may not be to everyone’s liking in the immediate area. Nevertheless, even the most inexperienced pet parents will have no trouble training a Lowchen with positive reinforcement.

It’s not uncommon for them to be shy around strangers. It is possible, however, to overcome this trait through proper socialization. Any household, regardless of the presence of dogs, will be a good fit for the Löwchen.

They thrive in social settings and can live comfortably in either a small apartment or a sprawling estate with their owner or owner’s family. As a result of this, Löwchen’s health and temperament will be adversely affected, as well as their reluctance to socialize. Nevertheless, they are excellent apartment dwellers, but they have a tendency to bark excessively. It is important to consider this characteristic before bringing a Löwchen into your home, as some apartment complexes and neighborhoods have noise restrictions in place.

The Löwchen is not a kennel dog or an outside dog. In spite of the fact that they enjoy spending time with other dogs and going for walks, they prefer to be with their owners whenever possible.

See how the Löwchen compares with: Havanese | Shih Tzu


Bolonka DogThe bolonka is a Russian breed that is endearing, inquisitive, and spirited. These dogs are ideal as family companions because they are big-hearted and loving. This breed, however, is extremely rare. Bolonkas are a small breed with a well-balanced build in relation to their height and weight. The breed is well-known for its graceful movements, pleasant, alert expressions, and outgoing personalities.

There are two coats on the Russian bolonka. The outer coat is dense, thick, and soft, producing large curls that fall naturally. According to the breed standard, they must have beards and mustaches.

Bolonkas were originally all black, possibly to conceal dirt during a time when shampoo was scarce and expensive. The current breed specification allows for all colors except white. When it comes to markings, there are several colors to choose from, but black is one of the most common.

Bolonkas are gentle, placid dogs who enjoy spending time with their owners and are friendly to strangers. Children adore them because of their small stature and spirited but laid-back personalities. Strangers can become friends, and those who have never heard of the breed can become ardent supporters.

To keep their coats looking great, they must be groomed on a regular basis. They should detangle their hair at least three times per week with a wide-tooth comb.  Regular nail trimmings and ear cleanings are just as important as dental care. Begin a regular dental care regimen for them when they are puppies, which includes brushing their teeth at home and going to the dentist for professional cleanings. This will aid them in maintaining good oral health for the rest of their lives.

These dogs enjoy going for walks, visiting the dog park, and exploring their backyards. Simple games such as fetch or hide-and-seek can help small dogs burn off excess energy.  To keep the intelligent breed engaged and active, they require both mental and physical stimulation.

Bolonkas, with proper training, will not become an all-too-frequent barker. This intelligent breed is adaptable to a variety of environments, including apartment living.

See how Bolonka compares with: Havanese

See the best alternatives to the Bolonka

Which Type of Bichon Dog Should You Get?

Choosing the right bichon for you and your household mostly comes down to personal preference. The smallest and most delicate is the Maltese, and this breed may do better in quiet homes with adults.

Larger bichons like the bichon frise, Havanese, Löwchen, may be good choices if there are other animals or older children in the home. But in key aspects, the bichon breeds are really similar. They:

  • Are usually hypoallergenic
  • Do well in small spaces
  • Do not have excessive exercise requirements
  • Need plenty of grooming
  • Are ideal companions for people who are home a lot as they do not like being left alone

So finding the ideal bichon for you will mostly come down to which bichon breed appeals most to you personally.

Are There Bichon x Bichon Mixed Breeds?

Bichon frise mixes can also be found alongside purebred bichons. Mixed breeds tend to be friendly and outgoing, making them good for most households. Here are some bichon mixed breeds that are popular among pet lovers:

  • The maltichon is a popular choice for pet owners. Small in stature, this crossbreed is known for its closeness to its owners. They can be quite noisy, but they generally have a friendly and upbeat demeanor.
  • The bichon frise and the Bolognese are quite similar in appearance. As a result, a purebred bichon frise or purebred Bolognese dog can be created by crossing them with one another. This breed is known for its fluffy coat. They are known to be more laid back and easy-going than other breeds of canines.
  • The Havachon is playful and energetic with a big personality. This is a crossbreed between the Havanese and the bichon frise.


Because of their ability to be both playful and gentle, bichon-type dogs are regarded as excellent all-purpose pets. When it comes to getting along with other animals, bichons are excellent companions too. These are companion breeds that need to be close to their owners and are usually suited to smaller spaces.

Most have the added benefit of being hypoallergenic.

Whether you are looking for food for your dog or other pet supplies, Chewy.com has them all. Right now, they are even running a promotion where you get 40% OFF your first Instinct Raw Frozen autoship order.