Puppy Frequently Asked Questions
Here are our most commonly asked questions about puppies and dog care.
How can I properly house train my Bichon?
The use of a crate is the best method to insure success. This
means the pet is crated whenever he is unattended, including
nights, until he can be counted on to be clean in the house.
As to the mischief (meaning at least moderately destructive
behavior to furniture and drapes), you will find that same crate
will be handy to prevent the chewing that pups go through when
?Are Bichons normally healthy
Good veterinary care is essential and your vet will advise you
on vaccinations, the need in your area for heartworm preventive
medication and when to have your pet’s teeth cleaned
professionally. The Bichon is known to suffer early tooth loss
and sometimes complications from gum infection if dental care
is not a priority.
Other health problems are allergies, including skin reactions
and flea allergy; bladder infections; ear infections if the ear
canal is not kept clean and free of hair; weakness in knee
joints (patellar luxation); and genetic cataracts and other eye
disease. Study your pet’s pedigree. If the parents have been
registered with Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) or
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), the parents names
will be followed by registration numbers which include these
prefixes. There are articles on Bichon health on our website at
Reading these articles can help you to offset potential problems
by being alert to symptoms and will help you know how to care
for your Bichon should any of these conditions occur.
Can my Bichon ever be used for breeding?
If you purchased your Bichon as a pet from a show breeder,
you were probably asked to sign a contract agreeing to neuter/
spay your Bichon. There is a very sound reason for doing this.
The breeder has spent years learning the health background,
the temperament and the physical attributes of your Bichon’s
ancestors and has determined your animal is of companion
quality and should not be used for breeding.
Even if you have not signed a contract to do so, it is in the
animal’s best interest healthwise to neuter him or spay her.
Unneutered males suffer prostate problems, including cancer,
at an extremely high rate. For every season that the female goes
through, her chances of mammary gland cancer will increase.
Both of these conditions tend to occur in what would be
midlife, possibly shortening the life of the Bichon by at least 6
years—or more! Why risk it—or risk producing unhealthy pups
that come from combining genetic problems in the parents?
The Bichon gene pool is quite small and the health problems
increase with every generation of poorly planned matings! If
you have purchased a show quality Bichon and wish to consider
breeding, we encourage you to seek guidance and direction
from the Bichon Frise Club of America, Inc., directing your
questions through the Information Chairman listed below.
What do I do with all this hair?
You probably learned before purchasing your pet that this is
a breed needing a lot of grooming! You can learn to take care
of the coat entirely at home or you can combine home care
with professional grooming. The Bichon does not shed and the
hair grows constantly. Regardless of which choice you make,
daily brushing and combing is needed to keep the coat free of
mats (which can lead to additional skin problems). Bathing,
blow drying the coat and scissoring can be done monthly or as
needed but the daily care is up to YOU!
Does my puppy need a playmate?
If he is left alone a lot, a friend would fill the lonely hours. For
ease of training, the pups should be of different ages (train the first before bringing in another puppy) and different litters (a littermate may try to dominate the other). Obviously you will want to neuter both at the earliest possible age to avoid health problems and “marking” territory and these dainty little girls will also “mark” unless spayed.
I need to take care of the coat, the teeth and the health of my puppy. What else should I do to keep him happy and healthy?
Every dog benefits from obedience training. There are books
available for home training but a short obedience course with
a qualified training instructor can make a difference in many
ways. Bichons are “show-offs” and love to perform. The work
they do in obedience becomes a game—but the obedient dog is
also a safer dog! The Bichon is a very fast little guy (a fenced
yard is also a good thing) and the trained dog is less likely to
run into the street. Unfortunately not all Bichons are natural
heelers and their curiosity can be their doom! Your dog should
never be off lead in a public area—many cities have extremely
strict leash laws which entail heavy fines. (You are also
expected to clean up after your pet!)
My puppy seems very friendly.
Will he stay that way?
The natural temperament of the Bichon Frise is to be outgoing
and friendly (though he may initially seem somewhat aloof in
some situations). The puppy that is fearful, extremely shy or
shows any sign of aggression is not exhibiting typical Bichon
behavior! These Bichons need obedience training and careful
socialization and can usually be taught to trust. The earlier the
training, the better. Forceful correction is not appropriate but
neither is cuddling the pet and allowing it to shrink into the
arms of the owner. The idea is to socialize him until he learns
that his world is safe and obedience training is a good start.
Puppy kindergarten is an excellent beginning and should be
investigated very early for all pups.