Bichon World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This post may also contain other affiliate links and Bichon World might be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on them.
The bichon frise is a standout favorite among many dog owners, even though it has little variety in coat colors. According to experts, the perfect bichon frise has a puffy, fluffy coat of pure white.
But is that the only color a bichon frise can have? Are there bichons with unique and various color patterns?
Bichon Frise Coat Colors
The bichon frise has many qualities that make it a fantastic pet. However, most of these traits get completely overshadowed by the one thing that bichons frises are best known for: their fluffy, incredibly puffy white coat. Their coat is dense and often compared to cotton candy, making the bichon one of few virtually hypoallergenic breeds. That’s because, very little allergy-causing dander can escape that mass of fluff—a mass of fluff that is almost always pure white.
So, do bichons frises only come in white, or are there other options? If so, why don’t we see different colored bichons frises more often?
Unfortunately for those eager to own a boldly colored bichon frise, most are plain white. However, there are some subtle exceptions. A purebred bichon frise can have shadings of cream, buff, or apricot in their coat.
But why only these subtle color accents?
It’s all in the genes.
A few animals in nature get their color from their environment or diet. For example, pink flamingos are not born with genes that make them pink. Instead, they get their color from the beta-carotene in their diet. Unfortunately, we really shouldn’t feed our dogs loads of plant pigments to change their color. Instead, we must rely on a dog’s genes for their color and color patterns.
But dogs come in all sorts of colors and color combinations. Some dogs are so grey that they look nearly blue, while others are a deep, rusty red. Sadly, the bichon frise can seem a bit dull in this regard.
Dogs with rich coat colors didn’t just show up that way. Rather, selective breeding reinforced certain genes responsible for the number of pigments a dog will produce. In some cases, it was intentional, but for the most part, dogs got selectively bred for physical traits that made them good at specific jobs.
So, what is the deal with white dogs like the bichon frise?
The heritage of an aristocratic canine.
The bichon frise did not gain popularity thanks to any aptitude at any physical labor. It was neither hunter nor herder. Instead, the bichon found its place in the royal courts of pre– and post-renaissance Europe. The earliest recorded ancestors of the bichon were simply called ‘little white dogs.’
It was they who would capture the hearts of royals and secure a comfortable place as companions to the princely.
Years of selective breeding favored the little white dog’s characteristic fluffy white coat. And it was a preference that lived on when the earliest true bichons frises graced the palaces of a pre-revolutionary France. The bichon frise’s puffy white coat was the breed’s hallmark, making them valuable and exclusive.
Noone in the lower social classes had food to waste on a dog that does nothing practical. Nor did they have the time to maintain such a high-maintenance grooming regimen while they struggled to survive.
Warm colors, muted.
Pheomelanin is the pigment responsible for warm colors like reds, oranges, and yellows. There is no doubt the pheomelanin could make for bichons of all sorts of warm tones. However, even this remaining active pigment is repressed in the bichon bloodline.
That means that when the pigment does show up in a purebred bichon frise, the most the pigment can do is add a touch of cream, buff, or apricot to the bichon’s coat. It cannot change its color completely.
Bichon Frise Eye Colors
When talking about a breed with a pedigree like the bichon frise, it should be no surprise that their eyes’ color has specific standards. Even a purebred bichon frise can get severely penalized and even disqualified from dog shows if its eyes don’t follow breed standards.
First, their eyes must be round and almond-shaped. Any deviation in shape is considered a flaw, and the eyes must sit perfectly positioned in the skull. Furthermore, there can be no additional color in the eyes. A white outer eye is a must, and the iris must be black or dark brown. Then, the area surrounding the bichon frise’s eye must be black or brown, with no deviations. The darker the eyelid, the more the bichon frise’s eyes pop.
Speaking of the eyelids, the rim of the eye has to be black, with no blemishes. The American Kennel Club posits that any deviation in the color of the rim leads to a blank stare. They reckon that this is not a good representation of the breed.
Are There Brown Bichons Frises?
If you are looking for a purebred brown bichon frise, you are out of luck. There is no combination of pure bichon genes resulting in a brown bichon frise. Once again, this is down to centuries of selective breeding. A bichon frise can only be diluted shades of brown, such as buff or apricot.
Alternatively, suppose you don’t care too much about the whole ‘purebred’ status. In that case, several bichon frise crossbreeds result in brown pups. Some of these hybrids also have personality traits that might make them a better fit for you and your family.
Below are just two examples. For more, read my article about what to do if you want a brown bichons frise.
The fox terrier bichon frise mix is a more active bichon crossbreed. They are renowned for their upbeat, quirky personality and a curly coat of brown or white, or a mix of the two.
This little dog is ideal for an active owner living in a small home or apartment. However, they are a pretty high-energy little dog, meaning that the fo-chon is not for the faint of heart and needs an experienced dog owner to keep them in check.
The poochon is perhaps the most sought-after of the many bichon mixes. It’s a stunning combination of two of the most fashionable breeds, which explains why pups can carry a hefty price tag for a hybrid breed.
It makes perfect sense considering how many of the great traits of both parent-breeds the poochon retains. They are as close to hypoallergenic as it gets. Furthermore, they have the super fluffy coat of the bichon frise combined with the voluminous fur of the poodle.
The poochon can also come in various color combinations thanks to their poodle parentage, including a dusty brown.
Are There Black Bichons Frises?
Unfortunately, there are no purebred black bichons frises either. As with brown, purebred bichons do not have the corresponding genes to produce pigments for a black coat.
That said, there are a couple of crossbreeds that come out black and maybe the perfect match for your home. Those are extremely rare, though. To learn more, read my article about why there is no purebred black bichons frise.
We’ve mentioned the poochon as a cross resulting in brown pups, but the same mix can also lead to black puppies.
Their popularity is not for nothing, as we have mentioned, they are very intelligent. Poochons also share the thick coats of both their parent breeds and are virtually hypoallergenic. Aside from its stunning looks and variety of coat colors, the poochon is also a highly trainable dog, making it ideal for less experienced pup parents.
Furthermore, they are a good choice for an active owner who wants a small dog that is better at keeping up with the action than a regular bichon frise.
The pomachon is a mix of the bichon frise and the pomeranian. The resulting pup is incredibly affectionate and can grow extremely attached to its owners. Depending on which parent breed is dominant, they might not be a good fit for a family with small children.
The pomachon is one of few bichon frise crossbreeds that can come with an all-black coat.
Are There Black and White Bichons Frises?
As with black and brown, purebred bichons frises can’t be black and white. They lack those genes thanks to selective breeding, and any bichon that sports these colors is a mix.
That said, there are mixed breeds that can be a good alternative to a black and white bichon frise.
Mixing two breeds as sensitive to their owner’s emotional needs can only have one result. The bostchon is a cross between the Boston terrier and bichon frise, and it might just be the very definition of a companion animal.
The devoted little dog doesn’t closely resemble either of its parent breeds. Instead, the combination of their traits results in a unique dog in its own right. For example, the bostchon has a more pronounced muzzle than the Boston terrier, which greatly benefits its health.
The shichon is a cross between a Shih Tzu and a bichon frise. The result is a friendly, fun-loving little dog. They make for great companions, and like many other toy hybrids, they are prone to getting very attached to their owners.
A purely black and white shichon is a pretty rare find. That said, the shichon is becoming more popular, making it easier to track down the color of your choice.
Does Your Bichon Frise’s Color Matter?
That depends on whether you are interested in showing your bichon frise in official dog shows. If that is something you are interested in, it’s best to stick to the pure white bichon.
If showing is not a priority, it doesn’t matter whether your dog is white with cream, apricot, or buff. That said, any other colors or color combinations mean that your bichon frise is actually not a bichon frise. Instead, it is either a crossbreed or a completely unrelated breed.
Whether that matters or not comes down to how important the ‘purebred’ status is to you.
When you picture a bichon frise, you likely envision a white-as-paper bundle of fluff. Indeed, this is the popular image of the breed and aligns with the stringent breed standards for bichons. However, not all purebred bichons frises are white. They can also come in a combination of white and apricot, buff, or cream.
That said, outside of these colors, a purebred bichon can’t be another color. Any time you read about a brown, black, or black and white bichon frise, you’ve read about some bichon frise cross combination or a completely unrelated breed.