Showsight Presents The Bichon Frise

W hen asked to write an article discussing my breed, I thought to myself, “What can I say that people don’t know about my breed? What is different about the Bichon? What makes them unique? What quality stands out above the rest that makes me point to a particular dog when I judge?” While I don’t profess to know everything about the Bichon, I will try to share what I have learned. As a breeder, you never know everything. Each litter surprises you with something new and different; we all have experienced this. But being in the breed for over thirty years (and producing almost one hundred champions, including the breeding program of the infamous “JR”), I do have a depth of knowledge. As a judge, I have been most fortunate in that I have judged National Bichon Frise Specialties in the United States, Canada, China, Japan and, next March, in Finland. I have seen magnificent dogs all over the world. Lastly, I am the JEC for the Bichon Frise Club of America. I just gave the AKC Webinar last month. So here lies the real challenge...What am I going to write that most of you haven’t heard from me before? The first line of our standard paints the entire picture: “ Th e Bichon Frise is a small, sturdy, white powder pu ff of a dog whose merry temperament is evidenced by his plumbed tail carried jauntily over the back and his dark-eyed inquisitive expression.” The next part of our standard states, to paraphrase…the breed has no gross exaggerations and therefore there are no reasons for lack of balance or unsound movement. So, when I first read this to teach myself about the breed. I simply put, if I put these first two paragraphs together. I want a Bichon that is happy, holds his tail, and has sound movement. I didn’t know what gross exaggerations meant and, honestly, I still don’t. (Maybe a Poodle body?) Then I came to balance. Now, having been a gymnastics judge since the 1970’s, I was certainly comfortable with this part…not so short in body as to be restricted in movement, nor too long to appear clumsy and ungainly. A dog that stands well over his front, neck arched [with] head, neck and tail carried proudly. To me, this sounds like balance. Proportions was next. I learned that Bichons are not a square dog, and when I heard the term “off-square” it was another language. Never having been good at math, I didn’t have a clue what that meant, but I learned. The body is 25% longer than tall (this 25% includes the forwardmost point of chest to the point of the rump), and is 1/4" longer than the height at the with- ers. In essence, the measurement from withers to tail, or length of back, would be a 1/4" shorter than the dog’s height at the withers. I know this sounds complicated, but if you were in front of me I could show you how to do this with just a simple movement of your fingers. The first line says “small dog.” But the actual standard says for both dogs and bitches: “9 1/2 to 11 1/2 inches.” (If an outstanding representative of the breed, it could be a half inch taller, but never under 9" or over 12".) Now I Bichon Frise the



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