Bichon Frise vs. Papillon: Which Breed to Get?

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 This post may also contain other affiliate links and Bichon World might be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on them.

Bichon Frise vs. PapillonThe bichon frise and the papillon are two dog breeds that would undoubtedly make excellent companions. Before buying or rescuing a puppy, you should ensure that the breed fits your lifestyle and home. To help you do that, we have made a side-by-side comparison of the two.

They are small dogs, but they have very distinct features and personality traits; keep reading to learn more about these differences and similarities.

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

Bichon Frise vs. Papillon: A Detailed Comparison

Let’s jump right in.


First, let’s take a look at the backgrounds of these two breeds.

Bichon Frise

This is a bichon-type dog; generally, the bichons descend from the barbet or French water dog. The word “bichon” is derived from “barbichon” which means ” little barbet.” As it is with most dog breeds, the exact origin of the bichon frise is uncertain.

The earliest records of the bichons appear around the 11th century, and the specific breed, bichon frise, dates back to the 14th century. The bichon-type dogs became very popular with the French aristocracy as companion dogs. French sailors from Tenerife in the Canary Islands kept these dogs in their ships, and at this time, they were known as bichon Tenerife.

The French Revolution nearly caused their extinction due to their association with the French aristocracy. Luckily, they were kept alive by dedicated breeders.


This spaniel-type dog originated in France. Another name for the papillon is the Continental Toy Spaniel, and it is one of the oldest toy spaniels. The name papillon, which is French, is derived from the signature butterfly-like look of the long and fringed hair on the ears of this breed. Once known as the dwarf spaniel, this breed may date back to the 13th century.

The papillon gained popularity in Italy and Spain. The drop-eared variety known as the Phalene was depicted in classic paintings. Mary Antoinette and King Louis XIV of France are some of the famous early owners of this breed.

Papillons with erect ears did not make an appearance until the late 1800s. In the 19th century, they were brought to the U.S., where they rose in popularity.


The bichon frise is a small but robust dog that stands at the height of between 9 and 11 inches and weighs 7 to 20 pounds when fully-grown. They have a double coat consisting of a dense undercoat and a curly outer coat that gives them an adorable powder-puff appearance. The fluffy look of the bichon frise catches the attention of pet lovers.

Bichon frises can be white, a combination of white and buff, cream or apricot in color. The length of bichons frises is somewhat longer than their height, their tails that plume over their backs. Cleaning tear stains should be a part of the grooming process as they are given to tearing.

In contrast, a Papillon is a smaller dog that stands between 8 and 11 inches high and weighs between 3 and 10 pounds. Papillons have distinctive ears that are shaped like a butterfly. They have a single coat that is long and silky.

Their coat is generally white with red, black, tan, sable, or orange patches. Unlike most dog breeds, papillons don’t have bi-annual shedding, and their coat doesn’t mat easily, so weekly combing and brushing are advised.

Aging Profile

The quality of care provided to a dog and genetics are two of the most critical factors for the life expectancy of a canine. However, the dog’s breed also plays a role in their aging.

The papillon lives around 13-15 years, while the bichon frise is similar at 12 – 15 years. Both are susceptible to common small breed health problems, such as dental issues and patellar luxation.

Papillons are delicate but even more so as puppies since they tend to be overzealous for their age. Both papillons and bichons enter their early socialization window between 6 and 12 weeks. They reach puberty at 6 to 8 months. But this is usually not the age that a responsible breeder will consider breeding them, as they are not yet physically and emotionally mature. They will only become physical adults between 10 months and a year.

A daily dental routine needs to be part of their grooming regime because, as mentioned above, they are both prone to dental issues. Dental problems could lead to heart issues, inflammation, and diabetes. With proper care, nutrition, and exercise, they could live well into their late teens just like the oldest bichon frise in the world.


The papillon is an alert and highly energetic dog. They may seem like the perfect lap dogs, but they won’t be content sitting on the couch all day because they are very playful. Papillons tend to have separation anxiety and don’t do well alone. They are great when you spend a lot of time at home.

The bichon frise is an outgoing dog that loves affection and needs attention. The bichon frise is playful and gets along well with children and other animals. They also tend to have separation anxiety as they do not tolerate being alone.

Ultimately, they are both companion animals, and their affectionate personalities make the perfect pets. Both of these breeds of dogs need a lot of supervision, especially when they are puppies, to ensure that they do not get into trouble.


The papillon is a highly intelligent dog that is ranked 8th of the qualifying dog breeds. This makes training very easy, and they love learning new tricks.

The bichon frise is a little harder to train, but they are generally highly food motivated. Therefore, they can do plenty of learning with enough patience and treats.

Other Factors

Here are a few more things to consider:

  • The bichon frise is pretty hypoallergenic, making the breed a potentially good choice for allergy sufferers
  • Due to high energy levels, the papillon may not be the best choice for apartment living; if you want a papillon but live in an apartment, ensure you take them out for regular walks and exercise
  • The bichon frise may be harder to potty train
  • Both of these breeds must have consistent oral checkups to avoid rotten teeth
  • Both of these breeds are susceptible to patellar luxation

Bichon Frise vs. Papillon: Which One to Get?

Now that you know the basic differences between the two breeds, let’s take a look at which one you should actually be getting. Separately, you might also want to look at Papichon, a mix of the two breeds.

Get a Bichon Frise If:

  • You need a hypoallergenic dog; this is convenient for people who are sensitive to allergies
  • You need a pet while living in an apartment; the bichon frise is highly adaptable and can do well in various environments
  • You have bigger pets or children in your household
  • You have the time to spend with the bichon frise, especially in the time of early socialization and for plenty of grooming
  • You need a dog that adapts well to small spaces and does not need excessive exercise

Get a Papillon If:

  • You need a dog that will perform numerous tricks; the intelligence level of papillons is above average, making them ideal for training
  • You are at home most of the time or have a family member at home to take care of the dog
  • You prefer the long silky coat that is relatively easier to maintain than the bichon frise
  • You need an active dog that does well with a bit more exercise
  • You are a novice pet owner; in general, when all factors are considered, papillons are easier to have as pets because of their high intelligence and less demanding grooming regimes


The bichon frise and the papillon are both excellent companions. In short, the papillon is easier to groom and train, while bichons frises are more ideal as lap dogs because they have lower energy levels. Both dogs are ideal for people who are at home most of the time and enjoy spending time with their pets.

The bichon frise is hypoallergenic, an important factor for households with allergy-prone family members.

Considering Other Breeds Too?

See how bichon frise compares with: Beagle | Bolognese | Boston Terrier | Brussels Griffon | Cavachon | Cavalier King Charles Spaniel | Cavapoo | Chihuahua | Cockapoo | Coton de Tulear | French Bulldog | German Shepherd | Golden Retriever | Goldendoodle | Havanese | Labrador Retriever | Lhasa Apso | Maltese | Maltipoo | Pomeranian | Poochon | Poodle | Pug | Samoyed | Schnauzer | Scottish Terrier | Shetland Sheepdog | Shichon | Shih Tzu | West Highland Terrier | Yorkshire Terrier

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