How to Groom a Bichon Frise

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How to Groom a Bichon FriseKnown for their iconic puffy double coats, you might be wondering how to groom your bichon frise. After all, grooming is probably the only really challenging part of taking care of what is otherwise an easy-going breed. It’s no wonder that bichons frises need a strict and experienced grooming regime.

If their grooming needs aren’t met, you could end up with a matted mess. To help you out, we have put together a complete guide on how to groom your bichon frise.

Things You Will Need to Groom Your Bichon Frise

A majority of bichon frise owners bring their dog to a groomer every 4 to 6 weeks for a professional bathing and grooming session. If you want to trim your bichon’s hair perhaps as a way to reduce the care costs for maintenance, be sure to always use professional grooming tools.

There are four major steps to grooming your bichon frise:

Here is a list of the items you will need for each step:

Bichon Frise Slicker Brush Daily or Intra-Weekly Grooming

  • A slicker brush or a pin brush: These brushes have fine short wires and are used on medium- to long-haired or curly-haired dogs
  • Medium toothed comb like a Greyhound comb: In general, the wider the teeth on a comb, the easier it is to get through stubborn knots using the comb
  • A steel comb: This is commonly a fine-toothed comb that you use to fluff out your bichon after you have gotten most of the tangles out using a brush
  • Detangling spray: Slightly dampens your bichon’s hair to ensure knots get brushed out with ease
  • Dog toothbrush and toothpaste: Bichons frises are prone to dental issues which makes it especially important to keep their teeth clean as dental issues are linked to more problems than just the mouth; they are linked to issues like heart disease and even diabetes
  • Doggy nail clippers: Nail clipping should be done at least once a month, and more often if nails are already overgrown; overgrown nails are a source of discomfort, pain, and cause stress to your bichon’s ligaments, paws, and tendons

Bichon Frise Shampoo for GroomingBathing Your Bichon Frise

  • Pin brush or slicker brush
  • A medium-toothed brush (if there’s too much matting)
  • Deshedder: This is a tool that protects the coat for future growth by allowing hair that has already been detached from the hair follicle to be discarded; it does not cut hair
  • Shampoo for white dogs: Be sure to use a shampoo that is dog friendly because human shampoo could damage your bichon’s hair; look for no-tear shampoos and soothing ingredients like aloe vera and oatmeal (you can see my recommendations here)
  • Dog conditioner (optional): Smoothes your bichon frise hair by closing the hair follicles.
  • Cotton balls: Ensures water does not get into your bichon’s ears; damp ears are a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi which we want to avoid
  • Towel; It absorbs excess water as you get ready to fluff dry your bichon frise
  • Vet-approved ear cleaning solution: It is a good idea to clean the outer surface of your bichon’s ears after every bathing session to prevent ear infections. Never push any liquid into the ear canal.

Bichon Frise Hairdryer “Fluff Drying” After a Bath

  • Towel: You will need a highly absorbent (preferably microfibre) towel
  • High-velocity dryer: It is not advisable to use a normal human dryer because it will not dry your bichon frise properly without possibly burning your dog’s skin; doggy high-velocity dryers also remove dead hair
  • Slicker brush: This brush comes in handy in ensuring your bichon’s coat looks fluffy as it dries
  • Steel comb: This further fluffs out your bichon’s hair when you comb it outwards
  • Spray bottle: Contains water that you will use to rewet your bichon’s hair when it dries too fast
  • Hand dryer: A free-hand dryer is easier to use as you brush your bichon’s hair dry for the puffy signature look of a bichon frise

Bichon Frise Hair Clipper Cutting and Trimming

  • Stainless steel scissors
  • Electric clipper: The best can fit several blade sizes made for animals
  • Blades: Look for blades #4, #5, and #7; #7 will give the closest shave.
  • Snap-on combs: These combs snap over the blades to give your bichon a fluffy finish
  • Cool lube for blades: This is to cool down the blades after use
  • Grooming table: It should be long and wide enough for your bichon to fit comfortably

How to Groom Your Bichon Frise: A Step-by-Step Guide

Grooming your bichon may seem like a daunting process at first which is why in this section, we break down each of the activities related to grooming your bichon frise. Bichons can be prone to skin allergies which is why it is important to keep their coat as clean as possible. They can be washed about once a month or when they get dirty.

Bichons don’t shed a lot which is very convenient if you don’t have time to vacuum your house often. However, their coats become easily matted because shed hair from their undercoat gets caught up in their topcoat.

Before your bichon’s monthly wash routine it is essential to do the following often:

  • Gently brush your bichon frise daily or every other day with a pin brush or a slicker brush. This makes the grooming process easier when it’s time to bathe your bichon. When brushing the hair on your bichon’s head, brush the hair up from the base towards the face rather than down against the skin. This keeps the hair looking fluffy.
  • Brush your bichon’s teeth at least three times a week with a dog toothbrush and a dog toothpaste. This will remove plaque and tartar build-up. Bichons frises are susceptible to dental issues making it important to brush their teeth every day or every other day.
  • Clean the eyes every day. Bichons frises are prone to tearing which could stain their beautiful hair under the eyes. To avoid this, be sure to wipe off any tear stains on your bichon with a damp cloth. If there are stains already, you can use 3% hydrogen peroxide to get rid of the discoloration. Be careful not to let any hydrogen peroxide into your bichon’s eyes. A safer option is to use a paste of baking soda and water.

Now that you know the frequent maintenance requirements of your bichon frise, the next step in grooming your bichon frise is creating a monthly wash day routine. Your bichon can be washed sooner if she gets dirty. This is how to bathe your bichon frise:

  1. Brush and detangle your bichon’s hair before bathing her (pre-bathing): Bathing your bichon before detangling will only make the knots and tangles harder to work through. Thoroughly comb and brush your bichon with a pin brush, or a slicker brush and go over again with a steel comb. You could opt to use a deshedder before bathing your bichon frise for detangling and removing dead hair. This is especially true in heavy shedding seasons such as spring and fall. However, bichons frises are light shedders, so deshedders may not be necessary.
  2. Thoroughly wet the coat: Place your bichon in the tub or sink when you’re ready to bathe her and wet the hair with lukewarm water. This will help the shampoo to work much better because it is water-activated. You must use a dog-friendly shampoo because human shampoos strip the natural oils from a dog’s skin and coat. For your bichon, you can opt for a shampoo formulated for white dogs such as Chris Christensen White on White Shampoo for Pets. This will keep your bichon’s hair looking its cleanest and brightest.
  3. Lather the shampoo avoiding the eyes and ears: Pay attention to any areas that tend to get especially dirty such as the legs, feet, and rear. Be careful when you are washing your bichon’s head and face because you don’t want to irritate her ears and eyes. Be sure to cover your bichon’s ears during the bathing time because damp ears are good breeding grounds for bacteria and yeast to grow. To avoid this, you could cover your bichon’s ear canals with a cotton ball.
  4. Rinse out all of the shampoos with warm water: It might be beneficial to use a hand-held shoe nozzle in this step if your shower has one. Be sure to rinse out all the shampoo to avoid dryness, itchiness, and irritation. If you use a dog conditioner, you should rinse that out thoroughly too.
  5. Towel-dry your bichon: This removes excessive moisture. After you rinse your bichon, allow her to shake out herself and then proceed to towel-drying. Pat your bichon frise dry because rubbing the coat could cause unnecessary tangles.
  6. Blow-dry with a dog hairdryer on a low setting: Hold the dryer at least a foot away and avoid high heat settings so that you do not burn your dog.
  7. Brush the hair with a slicker brush while you blow-dry it (“fluff drying”): Blow-drying and brushing your bichon’s hair simultaneously will give her the classic “puff-ball” look that bichons are known for. This is done by getting rid of excessive curls.

For more details on the process, read my article about how to bathe a bichon frise.

After your bichon frise is nice and clean, you are probably wondering how you can achieve the perfectly shaped and fluffy look that bichons frises are known for. That’s where the final part of the grooming process – cutting and trimming your bichon’s hair – comes into play. This is how to give your bichon frise the perfect haircut at home:

  1. Use the #4 or #5 blade to even out your bichon’s hair: After inserting the #4 or the #5 blades into the clippers, attach the snap-on comb. Do the first pass over your bichon’s hair which will give you a better surface to work with as you continue to trim the hair.
  2. Work from the head to the tail: As you trim your bichon, work in long, fluid motions to avoid ridges in the hair. Moving the clipper in one long stroke will ensure a nice even surface of hair which is key to a good cut. Aim for a rounded shape at the head and legs of your bichon. It is easier to blend their legs using scissors and not a shaver. The head can also be scissored as you do the final touches. Be careful not to cut your bichon as you shave her.  Be sure to trim the hair around the anal area, in particular, to stop poop from getting stuck in the coat.
  3. Use the clippers along with a slicker brush on your second pass: Brush your bichon’s hair against the lay of her coat. A slicker brush will give your dog’s coat a smooth finish and a fluffy texture. As you continue to clip and brush your dog, the hair should get more fluffy and full.
  4. Decide on the hairstyle you want: If you want to trim your bichon as a show dog, you can opt for the classic “show cut.” This is the classic bichon cut with long, puffed-out fur in a spherical shape. Examples of other fun bichon frise haircut styles include the “panda cut,” the “utility cut,” and the “teddy bear cut.” If your dog is a pet rather than a show dog, opt for shorter haircuts as they are easier to maintain. As you cut your bichon’s hair, take a step back and look at your dog to ensure you have achieved an even cut.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

While the above should give you a good overview of how to groom a bichon frise, there are some additional things to keep in mind:

  • Do not use water to clean your bichon’s ears. This may leave the ears damp which could cause infections. Opt for a vet-approved ear cleaning solution.
  • Not rinsing your dog thoroughly after shampoo will cause dryness and itchiness to your bichon’s coat which is uncomfortable for her.
  • Shaving your bichon during summer might seem like the right thing to do because your dog may be feeling too hot, but it’s not. Shaving your pet could expose them to harmful UV rays as bichon skins are usually pink, and lack the poignant to protect them from sunburn.
  • Bathing your dog too often could strip your bichon’s coat of its natural oils and proteins making it prone to drying.
  • Forgetting that regular nail clipping, dental hygiene, and ear cleaning is all part of a good grooming routine is a common mistake for all dog owners.

Bichon Frise Grooming: Frequently Asked Questions

Lastly, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic.

When Should You Groom Your Bichon Frise Puppy for the First Time?

You can start grooming your bichon frise puppy when they are 6 to 8 weeks old. Younger puppies have trouble regulating their body temperature which is why you shouldn’t bathe them. Regularly brushing, handling paws and ears, and touching a puppy’s teeth will prepare them to accept grooming as part of life when they are adults.

A bichon puppy doesn’t develop an adult coat until 6 to 8 months of age. A bichon cut could be hard to achieve before this age. Professional grooming should be done after your puppy is fully vaccinated.

How Often Should You Groom a Bichon Frise?

Bathe your bichon frise every 3 to 4 weeks and gently brush the coat daily or every other day. Be sure to also brush teeth, clean ears, and clip nails regularly.

Should You Groom Your Bichon Frise by Yourself?

Your bichon frise will require daily grooming for the best possible care. This means you will need to do most of the grooming yourself, even with regular visits to the doggy parlor. If you have the time and patience you can do a good job of grooming by yourself and it can be a great bonding experience for you and your dog. Letting a professional help you can get you started on the right track.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Bichon Frise Groomed?

The average cost of grooming a bichon frise regularly with a professional is around $400 per year. Grooming usually costs between $40-$50 per session, but this can vary depending on the location and the parlor.

Summary

Bichon frise is a high-maintenance dog when it comes to grooming needs. Luckily, their easy companionship and clownish personalities are more than enough to make up for the bit of extra effort.

When all is said and done, there are few greater feelings than having a bichon frise groomed to perfection. If nothing else, it will prevent your bichon frise’s fur from turning brown or pink.