Breeds Category IconBreeds

Bichon Frise vs. Poodle: Breed Differences and Similarities

Comparing the Bichon Frise vs. Poodle for your next cuddly canine companion? Both of these pups are fluffy bundles of joy, but they have different personalities and aren't the perfect fit for every family. Find out what to expect from both breeds!

Kelly Wilson

Last Updated: July 7, 2021 | 9 min read

Bichon Frise vs. Poodle Outside

Comparing the Bichon Frise vs. the Poodle for your next fluffy canine companion? Both dog breeds closely resemble one another in appearance, but there are many differences to consider, before adopting either dog breed. So just how different or similar are they?

Unless you closely analyze both breeds inside and out, you may actually mistake one for the other. Both dogs are considered hypoallergenic (although no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic), which makes them an excellent dog for families. Their signature corresponding frizzy hair might make you do a double-take and gasp at the adorable little pets.

But believe it or not, while these two breeds have a lot in common. They are in fact, are often mixed together to make a unique little hybrid called the Bichpoo. But, there are also some key differences to consider. So, whether you’re looking for a new furry companion, or you happen to be a curious dog-lover, here are some of the critical similarities and differences between these two breeds.

Breed Comparison

Bichon Frise

  • Height 9-12 Inches
  • Weight 7-12 Pounds
  • Temperament Sensitive, Friendly, Loving
  • Energy High
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 12-15 Years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up

Poodle

  • Height 10-22 Inches
  • Weight 6-70 Pounds
  • Temperament Easy Going, Intelligent, Friendly
  • Energy High Energy
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 12-15 Years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up

Breed History

This point, in particular, is probably the most neglected consideration when looking to buy a pet. A dog’s breed history can reveal a lot about its overall personality and behavioral traits. Dogs have been bred for generations with specific traits and jobs in mind.

If you pick a highly active breed like the poodle but are a somewhat less active family, you can expect to run into some trouble. Let’s take a look at the history behind both dogs before looking at breed traits to determine which is better for your lifestyle.

Bichon Frise

Small White Furry Dog
The Bichon Frise may look like a poodle, but they are not quite the same dog.

The history of the Bichon Frise is a complicated one. Unfortunately, the exact origin of this dog is unknown. Many believe the dog descends from the Barbet, a medium-sized French water dog. There’s also speculation that the name “bichon” stems from the word “barbican,” which is a diminutive form of Barbet. The Barbet was crossbred with small white lapdogs, resulting in four bichons: Bolognese, Havanese, Maltaise, and Teneriffe.

The Teneriffe Bichon was later shortened to Bichon Frise. Though the exact time is uncertain, many speculate that in the 1200-the 1300s, Italian sailors came across the furry animals in the Mediterannean and brought them back to Italy, where they became widely popular amongst the wealthy upper class and nobility.

Breeders specifically bred them to be a companion canine. Some Renaissance paintings even featured them alongside their noble owners. But by the end of Napoleon’s reign in the 1800s, the Bichon Frises royal status dropped, yet it’s adoration for being a companion did not.

In the 1900s, the Bichon Frises’ popularity grew. French breeders rediscovered them and later brought them over to America, where The American Kennel Club officially admitted them in 1973. Because of their laid back personalities, the Bichon Frise is often mixed with other dog breeds to make designer dogs.

Poodle

White Poodle Dog
The Poodle has a relatively well-known history, originating in Germany.

Poodles have a much more straightforward history. While the animal is the national dog of France, it originated in Germany. The name Poodle stems from the Germanic word “pudel” or “puddling,” which means “to splash in the water.” In France, many refer to the Poodle as “Caniche,” which is French for “duck dog.”

In England, they referred to them as “rough water dogs,” where the British often used them as hunting companions. Many experts believe Poodles are among the oldest water retrieval dogs. As time went on, breeders bred the poodle down in size. Today, this breed comes in three different varieties: standard, toy, and miniature.

Toy and Miniature Poodles have become more popular as companion dogs. Since its beginnings, the Poodle has served in various capacities, such as hunting, circus dogs, court, and companion dogs for the wealthy. They have even been used as truffle dogs (a scent-driven activity used to sniff out wild truffles, which the French often use in their cooking).

Poodles quickly grew in popularity and were officially recognized by The American Kennel Club in 1886.

Appearance

Small White Dog and Tan Dog Outdoors
While they share similar appearance traits, both breeds have some distinct differences.

Both dogs show striking similarities in appearance. They both look like tiny fluffy teddy bears, but with keen observation, you may notice differences. In fact, both breeds share appearance traits with other small dogs and are often compared to them as a result.

The main difference between the two breeds is size. While Poodles differ in size (standard, toy, miniature), Bichon Frises are consistently small. They measure close to a miniature Poodle size, reaching nine to twelve inches tall and weighing twelve to eighteen pounds.

Toy Poodles typically average in about ten inches tall and weigh under nine pounds. Standard sized Poodles are the largest, weighing between 40-75 pounds and reaching an average height of fifteen inches or higher.

Bichon Frise is most commonly white and comes in cream, apricot, or gray — similar to Poodles coat colorings. Poodles tend to have more variety in color, such as blue, apricot, black, white, gray, silver, brown, café-au-lait, and cream. Both breeds are easily identifiable by their floppy ears, curly coats, and pointed muzzles.

Temperament

Two Small and Fluffy Dogs Sitting Outdoors
Both dog breeds make excellent family companion dogs.

Both dogs are commonly known as playful breeds. While they’re both rather energetic dogs, they also love to be the center of attention, making them easy to train in many ways. Poodles are fun-loving and active, and Bichon Frises have a sweet, happy nature that makes them both so appealing for families.

When it comes to temperament, there aren’t any significant differences between the two breeds. However, something important to note is how differing sizes can affect the character.

More specifically, if you have a family with small children, you may want to go with a Poodle.  A Bichon Frise is very sensitive and can sometimes get their feelings hurt if mishandled. They are excellent family dogs, but they’re also small and fragile. This means they might not be the best fit for a family with toddlers or kids who are rough.

Exercise

Two Fluffy Dogs Exercising Outdoors
Both these pups require at least an hour of exercise per day.

Whether you choose a standard Poodle or a tiny little Bichon Frise, both breeds love exercise — and a lot of it. Typically, both dog breeds require at least 60 minutes of exercise each day.

These two breeds crave an active lifestyle and require daily activities, such as fetch games, brain-stimulating toys, or the occasional walk. Since Bichon Frises are smaller, they tend to tire out more quickly. On the other hand, Poodles are a bit more restless and enjoy long walks around the park.

Much like their ancestors, Poodles thrive in outdoor environments or houses with large living spaces. Bichon Frises are similar in that they love a pleasant excursion here and there.

If you live in an apartment, make sure you have a nearby park to take your dog to blow off some steam regularly. The last thing you want is a frustrated dog to take out its pent-up energy on your furniture. That’s why you must make sure you can give your dog the necessary daily exercise to keep them both happy and in shape.

Training

Small White Dogs Outdoors Sitting on Grass
Both dog breeds are relatively easy to train with the Poodle being slightly easier.

While both breeds are relatively easy to train, Poodles are easier to train than Bichon Frises. This can make them slightly more favorable for families with a more limited amount of training time available.

Poodles are known to be intelligent dogs and more than willing to please their owner. Due to their athletic build, they’re capable of learning new skills and tricks. They’re friendly dogs that enjoy being around other animals or humans rather than themselves. Their curiosity and eagerness make them easy to train and means they tend to get distracted easily. When training a Poodle, make sure you make the training process fun and exciting for them.

On the other hand, a Bichon Frise is more difficult to train — especially when it comes to house training. They’re highly trainable dogs outside the home, but they’re rather stubborn and difficult to deal with when it comes to housebreaking. We’d recommend you crate train during housebreaking. Make sure if you adopt a Poodle, you pick the right sized dog crate.

Though they’re both intelligent and fun-loving, Bichon Frises also tend to be very sensitive, so harsh corrective training won’t deliver results. They require much more persistence and patience. It’s vitally important that you start training for both dogs at a young age, but more so with a Bichon Frise. A combination of patience, consistency, and positive support is necessary for a well-balanced dog.

Health

Small Dogs Sitting Outdoors in Grass
Both dogs are quite healthy and have longer lifespans compared to other breeds.

Before buying a new pet, there are always health factors you must consider. Both breeds are generally healthy, but there are still some things from both breeds you should be aware of.

As with most dogs, there are certain genetic diseases associated with both dog breeds. Both breeds are susceptible to eye problems, primarily due to the overhanging hair covering their eyes. Because of this, it’s recommended owners keep the hair trimmed and away from the eye area to prevent infection or irritation. They’re also both prone to joint issues, specifically at the hip, elbow, and knee.

As they get older, Poodles are prone to various other diseases, including Epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy, thyroid issues, Addison’s disease, hypoglycemia, and bloat. Bloating is the most common, so be sure to buy high-quality dry food for your Poodle.

Likewise, Bichon Frises may succumb to other diseases, hemophilia, heart defects, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, bladder infections, ear infections, and Kartagener’s syndrome. However, a reputable breeder will screen a puppy for health risks before selling, so you should end up with a healthy dog.

Nutrition

White Dog and Tan Dog Eating Food
Both breeds can have sensitive stomachs and may need to test several types of dog food to find the right fit.

Despite their similarities in appearance and nature, both dogs have particular nutrition needs. Both breeds are known to have sensitive stomachs, which means a specialty diet is likely best for both dogs.

A Bichon Frises diet should consist of whole grains, such as barley, quinoa, or brown rice. When finding the proper kibble for your dog, look for foods that contain vegetable and fish oils as healthy sources of fats and Omega-3 fatty acids. These foods are easy to digest and will help maintain their health. Since Bichon Frises are also much smaller than Poodles, they only need ½ to 1 cup per day divided into two meals.

On the other hand, Poodles have much higher energy and require 2 to 3 cups per day divided into two meals. A Poodle’s dog food should contain a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, grains, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. Ensuring your Poodle stays active and maintains a healthy diet is all that’s needed to guarantee a healthy, happy life for your furry companion.

Grooming

Small Dogs with Very Soft Coats Outdoors
Both dog breeds have similar grooming needs and shedding frequencies.

For both breeds, grooming ranks number one on the list of necessities. Both breeds are primarily known for their coarse, wiry, and curly hair. Because of their lower shedding coats, Poodles are popular parents of many different hybrids.

According to experts, a Poodle should receive professional grooming every three to six weeks, whereas you should groom a Bichon Frise every one to three weeks. Both breeds require regular maintenance (preferable daily) brushing to rid the hair of any dirt, debris, or trapped hair.

Due to the high maintenance that comes with grooming, many Poodle owners choose to groom their pup by clipping or shaving their dogs’ hair with grooming clippers. This tip isn’t for added style, but rather, agility. It also helps cut back on grooming costs.

Healthy grooming habits for a Bichon Frise should be established at a young age, such as routine brushing and bathing every one to two weeks. Poodles should be bathed every two to three weeks. Since both breeds suffer from sensitive skin, you should use a gentle, organic hypoallergenic shampoo for both dogs.

Neither the Poodle nor Bichon Frise is known for shedding, which is always a plus. However, both breeds’ hair grows continually, so make sure to schedule regular trimmings every three to six weeks.

Puppy Prices

Two Small Puppy Dogs Outdoors Playing
Expect to pay upwards of $1,000 to $1,200 for purebred puppies of either dog breed.

The price difference between the breeds can be significant. While the average price for a Bichon Frise puppy starts at around $1,000, a Poodle puppy generally costs $1,200. For an older, high-end Poodle, prices can range anywhere from $1,400 to $10,000.

Several factors go into determining the price of a Poodle, such as coat color, origin, and size. A standard Poodle averages around $1,000 to $1,200. Both toy and miniature Poodles are more expensive, averaging between $1,200 to $1,500.

Bichon Frises have a more comprehensive price range. A puppy’s cost can start at $800 and end up at $2,500, with a median of $1,000. Several aspects factor into their price, such as breeder reputation and parental history. A breeder with a high reputation can tack on an extra few hundred dollars, and pups of high-end Bichon Frises can cost up to $1,500.

Final Thoughts

All in all, both dog breeds have a lot to offer. There’s a lot to consider when buying a new pet, so we need to lay out all the facts. Both animals are intelligent, active, and fun-loving that make great family dogs. Regardless of which of these two small furry pups you decide to choose, we can guarantee you’ll be satisfied with your new furry friend.

Leave a Comment

4 Comments

Charlotte

June 6, 2021 at 1:39 am

Thank you for this information it was very helpful. The housebreaking explains a lot, I am having a hard time with them in this area. I am wondering why the female Bichon Frise was so easy to house train than the boy Bichon Frise? But you did say they are ALL different. This is my first time with male Bichon Frise.

I'm told by many trainers that they are spraying in the house for territory. Not sure if this is true or not.?. I am using their suggestions to use male wraps and reward them when I take them off before we go outside, and there isn't any spray in the wrap. Then reward them when they perform outside.

This lets them know this is where I want them to go. My two boys are 7 years old now. I am being patient with them and they are working with me. However, I think they prefer me over my two sons, LoL!

Kelly Wilson (Author)

June 7, 2021 at 5:11 pm

Glad you found the article informative, Charlotte! Yes, it's possible they are spraying indoors for territory if they are not fixed. As long as you are consistent with positive reinforcement, the behavior should eventually stop. As always, if it continues, I'd recommend consulting with a local trainer in person.

Feby

June 18, 2021 at 1:55 pm

I came across your article when I search for a picture of a Bichon Frise without that puffy haircut. I just adopted a dog in early March. The foster parent found him living on the street, filthy, matted, and skinny. The foster placed an ad that stated that the dog was a poodle.

I was looking for a hypoallergenic dog because I'm a little bit allergic to animal hair. When I picked up the dog, his hair was chopped off. There's a little curly hair around his face, so I thought he was a poodle mix.

Fast forward to the end of May, the dog put a little bit of weight, the hair grew, and not looking like a poodle anymore. That's when the groomer said that he thought my dog might be a Bichon Frise. Then I researched about the breed, then it just clicked. The head tilt, the frequent napping, the separation anxiety.

But when I search for the picture, most of them have that round haircut that makes them look like a doll. There are very few pictures of the breed with naturally curly hair not a result of a professional groomer. Reading your article brought me closer to the mystery that is my lovely Mickey.

Kelly Wilson (Author)

June 21, 2021 at 5:41 pm

Sounds like you have a wonderful dog, Feby! Glad you found our article informative!