How to Care for the Coat of a Bichon Frise

Prepare to serve as daily hairdresser to maintain his fluffy locks.
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If you are thinking of welcoming a bichon frise into your family, consider the amount of time that will be required for maintaining his snow white, powder puff appearance. Bichons do not shed, which makes them excellent companions for allergy sufferers, but because the curly coat grows continuously, diligent grooming is essential to prevent mats and tangles. Once you get your bichon buddy accustomed to grooming, his healthy coat can be maintained with a combination of daily brushing and monthly professional trimming.

The Well-Groomed Bichon Look

The bichon’s double coat should be white, with or without minimal shading of cream, apricot or buff. His undercoat is thick and soft, and his outercoat is naturally curly and coarse. His coat should not feel wiry or silky to the touch and should spring back into place when petted. Brushing out his coat removes the tight curls and enhances the powder puff appearance. Trim his coat to enhance the natural outline of his body and round off the contours. His head exhibits a slight pouf, his mustache is defined and the hairs on his beard and ears are kept longer than the hairs of his legs and torso. His tail should resemble a plume that rests over this back.

Start Him Off Young

It is important to begin grooming your bichon while he is a puppy to get him used to being handled and fussed with. This is an opportune time to play with his ears and paws as much as possible so that he is accustomed to having them handled when it comes time to clean his ears or trim his nails. Always take the opportunity during grooming sessions to feel for any new lumps, bumps, sores, fleas, ticks or skin irritations that require veterinary attention. His puppy coat does not mat as easily as his adult coat will, but use this time to establish the habit of regular grooming.

Daily Brushing Eliminates Knots

Brushing your bichon’s coat on a daily basis with a pin brush will untangle the hair and remove knots. That will prevent them from snowballing into larger mats. As mats increase in size, they become painful to remove and can lead to skin infections. If a knot is not easily removed by brushing, use the end tooth of a comb to gently divide the knot and pull it apart so that it can be brushed out more easily. Brush out the entire coat, taking extra care where the hairs are longer and more likely to tangle, such as on his ears and tail. His beard, which can trap saliva or food particles, is also a common area for knotting. Mats often form where there is friction from movement, such as where his legs meet his chest and abdomen. Use extra caution when brushing and combing your bichon’s face so that you do not accidentally poke his eyes if he moves suddenly.

The Monthly Trim

Most bichon owners rely on professional groomers to keep their dog's coat trimmed. Once you find a reputable groomer, she can shave your dog’s coat each month to achieve the typical bichon style, and will use grooming scissors to shape the rounded contours of his coat and to trim excess hair growth from around the pads of his paws. She also will trim your bichon’s nails, pluck the hairs from his ear canals to reduce the incidence of ear infections and bathe him.

Bathing Your Bichon

If you need to give your bichon a bath at home in between professional grooming sessions, be sure to brush his coat before wetting the hair. Wet mats become tighter and more difficult to comb out. Use a pet whitening shampoo on your bichon. The pH level of human shampoo can be too harsh for his sensitive skin. Take care not to get shampoo in his eyes or water in his ear canals. After the bath, use the cool setting on a blow dryer to dry his coat while brushing it out with a slicker brush.

While You Are Grooming

Brushing your bichon’s teeth as part of his daily grooming session will help to remove plaque, slow the progression of tartar development, reduce the risk for periodontal disease and preserve his internal organ health. When brushing your bichon’s coat, take the opportunity to lift his ears and observe the ear canals for redness, inflammation, unusual odor, black or brown debris or skin irritation. This inspection will enable you to catch potential problems, such as skin allergies or ear infections, so that your veterinarian can provide prompt treatment. Conclude all grooming sessions with a rewarding treat and plenty of praise so that your bichon looks forward to his spa treatment.