A Bichon Frise (French, meaning curly white lap dog) is a small breed of dog of the Bichon type. They are popular pets, similar in appearance to, but larger than, the Maltese. They are a non-shedding breed that requires daily grooming. This lack of shedding makes the Bichon Frise a very good dog for people who have allergies.
The Bichon Frise descended from the Barbet or Water Spaniel and the Standard Poodle. The word bichon comes from Middle French bichon ("small long-haired dog"), a diminutive of Old French biche ("bitch, female dog"), from Old English bicce ("bitch, female dog"), related to Old Norse bikkja ("female dog") and German Betze ("female dog"). Some speculate that the origin of bichon is the result of the apheresis, or shortening, of the word barbichon ("small poodle"), a derivative of barbiche ("shaggy dog"); however, this is unlikely, if not impossible, because bichon (attested 1588) is older than barbichon (attested 1694). The Bichons were divided into four categories: the Bichon Malteise, the Bichon Bolognaise, the Bichon Havanese and the Bichon Tenerife. All originated in the Mediterranean area.
Because of their merry disposition, they traveled much and were often used as barter by sailors as they moved from continent to continent. The dogs found early success in Spain and it is generally believed that Spanish seamen introduced the breed to the Canary Island of Tenerife. In the 14th century, Italian sailors rediscovered the little dogs on their voyages and are credited with returning them to the continent, where they became great favorites of Italian nobility. Often, as was the style of the day with dogs in the courts, they were cut "lion style," like a modern-day Portuguese Water Dog.