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The bichon frise is incredibly popular with dog show enthusiasts, largely thanks to its remarkably fluffy coat. So it should come as no surprise that the uniquely hair-like coat requires much maintenance. Alongside frequent brushing, bathing forms an essential part of this breed’s grooming regimen.
Join us as we take an in-depth look into everything you need to know about bathing your bichon frise.
How Often Should You Bathe a Bichon Frise?
It depends on how active your bichon frise is and where it plays. For example, a bichon that spends much time in the garden will likely require a weekly bath. On the contrary, a bichon that spends its days indoors might go a month without needing a bath.
That said, as a rule of thumb, you should try and keep, at the minimum, a bi-weekly bathing routine. Even if your bichon frise stays indoors, they could still suffer matting. Matting is when the soft hair-like fur begins to mat together in what one might think of as similar to “dreadlocks.” Once matting occurs, while detangling is possible, you will most likely have to shave your bichon’s coat short.
Alongside bathing, you should employ all the recommended bichon frise grooming techniques. For the latter, it may be prudent to use the services of a professional dog groomer.
The bichon frise’s coat does not change much with age. At most, a more mature bichon frise will suffer a slight loss of coat density. They might also become less active. Therefore you might bathe a mature bichon less frequently, but never less than once a month.
What Are the Risks of Keeping Your Bichon Frise Dirty?
The primary reasons to keep your bichon frise clean are obvious. A well-kept bichon is one of the most handsome dogs you will ever see. The first noticeable side effect of leaving your bichon unwashed is matting. Matting can occur surprisingly quickly due to the bichon’s incredibly fine, hair-like fur. As mentioned earlier, once the hair mats, there is little hope of untangling it, and the affected area will need trimming.
Bacteria and fungal infections are always a risk too. Washing your bichon frise frequently enough counteracts bacterial and fungal growth. Unchecked bacterial and fungal growth can cause several problems, ranging in severity. Rashes caused by bacterial infections can cause you bichon a great deal of discomfort. Without intervention, such rashes will continue to get worse, spreading across the skin.
Fungal infections usually cause severe skin conditions that can spread deeper than just the epidermis. Therefore, a fungal infection can quickly lead to serious conditions. Fungal infections are also prone to causing hair loss. If the damage to the hair follicles is severe enough, the hair in the affected area will not grow back again.
How to Bathe a Bichon Frise
With that out of the way, let’s get to the actual bathing process.
Step 1: Preparation
First, you need to get your bichon frise ready for its bath. You want to remove any tangles and knots using a soft brush. Do the preparations in a different room from where you normally groom your dog. That way, the preparation lets your dog know what is coming so that they are not caught off guard with a bath.
Before the bathing can commence, you also need to prepare the bath. First, you need to ensure that the bath or sink you are using is safe. The most important safety measure is a non-slip rubber bath mat. Slipping presents a risk of injury, and even the slightest bruising could put your bichon frise off of bathing for good.
Test the water temperature. Dogs prefer a lukewarm temperature, ranging between 75°F to 85°F. Fill the tub to the desired level before starting the bath. Running water might make your bichon frise anxious if they are not used to baths.
Before starting the bath, the last thing to do is insert doggy earplugs into your bichon’s ears. Some people recommend cotton balls in a pinch, but purpose-designed earplugs are a safer option.
Step 2: Tub Time
Gently place your bichon frise in the water. If it is all new to them, your bichon might put up a bit of a fuss. It is handy to have someone assist you with baths until your dog is more comfortable with the idea.
Next, you will use the sprayer head to wet your bichon’s fur, except the head area. If your tub does not have a sprayer head, you can purchase a removable one online. Be sure not to spray water directly into your bichon’s face or eyes.
Once your bichon is thoroughly soaked, gently apply some doggy shampoo (see my recommendations for the bichon frise). It would be best if you lathered the soap in your hands first so that it spreads more evenly across your dog’s coat. Then, starting at the neck, work your way down to the tail. Ensure that you wash every nook and cranny. That includes under the pits, between toes, and between folds in the skin. When done washing your dog’s body, it is time to move on to the head.
Gently work around the ear, washing only the outer side. Wet your hands to apply a very small amount of shampoo to the face, rinsing it immediately. Avoid the eye area.
Once done, it is time to rinse off all the shampoo. Be thorough in leaving no soap in your bichon’s coat.
The next step is optional. If you choose, you can apply gentle doggy conditioner to your bichon’s coat. The process is the same as washing the body. However, you will completely avoid the face and ears. Once again, rinse your bichon thoroughly.
Step 3: Drying Up
Once bath time is over, it is time to get your bichon’s coat dry. Wrap your bichon in a towel as you pick them up out of the tub. Then, retreat to a quiet area in the home and gently dry them off with a towel. Be prepared for the shaking down that your dog will do as they attempt to dry themself.
Once you have your dog as dry as possible, use a low-power hairdryer to blow out your bichon’s coat to get it nice and fluffy.
Next, it’s time for a thorough brushing to ensure no small tangles remain in your bichon’s coat. Small tangles can quickly grow to large knots.
There are hundreds of different after-bathing products that you can purchase, ranging from detanglers to products that promise extra softness and shine. Of course, it is up to you whether you choose to use any such products, but for the most part, they aren’t essential.
The bichon frise is a distinctly handsome dog thanks largely to its iconic fluffy coat. How frequently a bichon needs bathing depends on its lifestyle. While we recommend bi-weekly bathing, the absolute maximum interval between baths is one month.
The sooner you can get your bichon used to bathing, the better. A bichon frise bathed since it was a puppy will be far easier to bathe as an adult. Several products claim a variety of bath time benefits, but the basic bathing technique that we have covered will suffice for most bichons frises.