Bichon Frises are happy, active, intelligent, and usually friendly. They learn well with reward-based training techniques, allowing them to enjoy a vast array of activities including learning tricks, retrieving, agility, and obedience as sport that helps them bond with their family. Bichon Frises also bond with people by being animal-assisted therapy dogs. Because of their reputation as a good family dog, they are allowed around children; however, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the child or dog and avoid the dog's subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression.
The Bichon Frise has been in existence since the Renaissance period and is thought to have descended from the Barbet or Water Spaniel. Spanish sailors brought the dogs with them to the Canary Islands, where they were re-imported into Europe as a pet for Italian and Spanish noblemen. The early popularity of the breed is evident, as the French invaders of Italy in the sixteenth century brought many of the dogs home with them. The Bichon Frise became established in French royal court society. Its peak of popularity came under the reign of Henry III. Treated almost as though they themselves were of royal blood, the royal court Bichons had loving attention lavished on them. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Bichon Frise was associated with traveling circuses and served as catchpennies for street beggars, somehow having fallen out of the favor of the royal court. At the end of World War I, the Bichon Frise became popular again in France. The first litter was born in the United States in 1956 and the Bichon Frise was officially admitted to the American Kennel Club Studbook in 1972.