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If you have a Bichon Frise in your life, you have one of my favorite small dogs. These little guys are extremely intelligent and friendly, and they are good with kids and other animals. They’re very active, though, so they often need a dog food that is higher in calories than what you might feed other small dogs. Before we get into your best Bichon Frise foods, though, let’s talk a bit more about the Bichon in general.
The Bichon Frise is believed to have originated with the Barbet, a Mediterranean water spaniel, and also has genetic links to the Poodle. Bichons are actually part of a family of dogs that include the Coton de Tulear, the Havanese, and other small breeds.
Bichons are generally healthy. There are a few health issues that could arise, but very few are life-threatening. Bichons are prone to bladder stones and infections, skin allergies, cataracts, gingivitis, and disc degeneration and/or patellar luxation. These are all very manageable conditions. Some of the more serious (but less common) health problems could include mitral valve disease, diabetes pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease and some forms of cancer.
Bichons don’t shed much, so they are frequently the choice of people who have dog-related allergies. They are very well-suited to living in small houses or apartments.
Male Bichons typically stand 9-12 inches at the shoulder and weigh 10-20 pounds. Females are usually 9-11 inches and also weigh 10-20 pounds. Bichons are long-living breeds, often making it well into their teen years.
The AKC recognized the Bichon Frise in 1972. Today, the Bichon holds the number 44 spot among the most popular breeds in America.
Bichons are little powerhouses – small, but very active. They need a lot of exercise in the form of outdoor walks and outdoor playtime. They’re also very playful inside the house. Given the Bichon’s high energy level, many owners enjoy participating in rally or agility activities with their dogs. Your dog’s activity level is definitely something you should consider when choosing the best Bichon Frise food.
Feeding Your Bichon Frise
The average Bichon weighs 15 pounds, and, if he is active, you should assume that he will need around 530 calories per day. Spayed, neutered or senior Bichons will need a bit less. Puppies, of course, need more calories per pound of their weight than adult dogs; an 8-pound Bichon puppy, for instance, will need around 370 calories per day.
Many owners feel that the best Bichon Frise food is something that is specifically formulated for small breeds; this is because “small breed” foods generally have more calories per serving than foods created for larger dogs. This makes sense, because, pound for pound, small dogs burn more calories than the larger breeds. Ounce for ounce, they also have more nutrients.
Adult Bichons should receive their daily calorie allotment spread over two meals. Puppies should be fed three or four times a day until they are ready to change over to an adult diet and feeding schedule.
Choosing the Right Ingredients
As is the case with most breeds, the best Bichon Frise foods contain good proteins and fats. You should choose a food that contains at least two meat proteins, and preferably, three, among the first ingredients listed on your bag or can of dog food. The best proteins come from whole meats and meat meals. Some owners dislike the idea of meat meal, but I am honestly at a loss to understand why; meat meal is simply concentrated meat. The water has been removed, and only the nutrients remain. What this means is that meat meal contains a good deal more protein than whole meat.
A lot of dog food brands (even the most expensive ones) derive protein from peas and lentils. Vegetable protein should not be among the first sources listed since it is more difficult for your dog to digest plant protein than protein that comes from meat and meat meal. It’s fine if some of the protein comes from plants, but it shouldn’t be the main source.
Your Bichon Frise also needs fat. Chicken fat is a good source. Fish oil can be good, but tread carefully (see The Facts About Fat in Your Dog’s Food). Fish oil will begin to deteriorate in about a year, and when they become rancid, they can actually harm your dog, causing liver and kidney problems. Make sure to read the label on your Bichon Frise’s food, and don’t buy anything that shows a manufacturing date that goes back a year. Keep in mind, too, that if you store the food beyond the one-year window, you could be endangering your dog. Fish oil can be very good for dogs, but no fish oil is preferable to taking a chance on rancid fish oil.
I’ve never been one of those people who believes that a good dog food has to be grain-free. Janice and Leroy do very well on store-brand dog food, which most definitely does contain grain. Some dogs, though, can be sensitive to wheat, soy or corn, and might do better on a grain-free diet. If, for whatever reason, you choose to go grain-free, your dog can still get the carbs he needs from alternative sources like sweet potatoes or pumpkins.
The best Bichon Frise food is, quite simply, the food that is best for your Bichon Frise. Even if that sounds painfully obvious, it’s really not. Every dog is an individual, so what you feed your Bichon will depend on his age, his activity level, whether he has weight issues, and other considerations. Accordingly, I’m going to recommend a range of foods for your Bichon. Some are free of soy, wheat and corn. Others are not.
If I had a Bichon Frise, these are the foods I would consider.
The Best Bichon Frise Foods for Adults
Here are my top picks for adult Bichon Frise foods.
1. Farmina Grain Free Chicken Recipe for Small and Medium Breed Dogs
Farmarina Grain Free Chicken Recipe is an Italian brand that has only been available for a couple of years in America. The protein comes from pure animal sources – no peas, lentils or other legumes. The main ingredients are deboned chicken, dehydrated chicken, potatoes, chicken fat and eggs. If your dog does not do well on grains, then this is one of the best Bichon Frise foods, providing 37% crude protein, 18% crude fat and 2.6% crude fiber.
When you take a look at the ingredient list on Fromm Adult Gold Small Breed Dog Food, you’ll see why I recommend it. First up on the ingredient list is duck, chicken meal and chicken. This food contains no soy, corn or wheat, but it is not grain-free; the grains come from pearled barley, oatmeal and rice, all of which are very good for your dog’s digestion. Fromm Gold also contains probiotics, so if your dog has a delicate stomach, this food is a great choice.
3. AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Revolving Menu Duck Recipe
The idea behind AvoDerm’s “Revolving Menu” recipes is that you switch them around so that your dog gets his protein from different sources. The “Duck Recipe” is just one preparation. AvoDerm also makes foods based on chicken, lamb, seafood and more. Avo-Derm products are all gluten- and grain-free, so if your Bichon is sensitive to grains or gluten, he’ll do well on this food. The carbs come from peas and garbanzo beans. The crude protein is 25%, fat is 16%, and fiber is 6%, so this is a really good maintenance food for your Bichon.
Merrick Classic Small Breed dry dog food is 50% meat and fats, 25% veggies, vitamins and minerals, and 25% mixed grains (barley, brown rice and oats). It’s very kind to sensitive tummies, and contains no byproducts or artificial ingredients. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this food for highly active dogs, it’s another good maintenance diet.
5. Castor & Pollux Organix Small Breed Adult Dog Food
If you’ve been shopping around for a dog food that’s totally organic as well as being grain-free, chances are you’ve had your work cut out for you. Even this offering isn’t completely organic, but it’s about as close as you’re going to get, with the main ingredient being organic free-range chicken. Other organic ingredients include flaxseed and peas, grown with no pesticides and no synthetic fertilizers. Castor & Pollux Organix is also free of corn, wheat, antibiotics, growth hormones and artificial preservatives.
So, there you have my top picks for adult Bichon Frise food. Now, let’s take a look at the best foods for Bichon puppies.
I often hear people say, “Oh, if they could only just stay puppies!” Honestly, this puzzles me, because I think dogs are wonderful at all stages of life, and I just love watching them grow up.
That said, Bichons do tend to mature quickly. Usually, by the time a Bichon Frise reaches about eight months, he’s done growing, and you can switch him over to adult food. In the early stages, though, Bichons do best on small-breed formulas made specifically for puppies. Here are the foods I like best for the little guys.
1. Canine Caviar Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Chicken/Pea Formula
Yes, it’s pricey – didn’t the name tip you off? That said, if you’re raising a very active, athletic puppy, I think Canine Caviar Puppy Chicken/Pea Formula is worth the few extra dollars. You don’t have to stick with the chicken and pea preparation, though, if you’d like to rotate the food a bit – Canine Caviar also comes in other formulas that allow you to switch the proteins around. This particular formula has 31% crude protein, 20% crude fat and 5.7% crude fiber, and it contains no hormones, antibiotics or pesticides.
VeRUS Puppy Advantage is another pricey food, but it’s one of the best Bichon Frise foods for puppies. The main ingredient is chicken meal. The preparation also contains ground brown rice and oats, along with probiotics, vitamins and minerals. It contains DHA, as well and since this comes from fish oil, please keep in mind what I said previously about the dangers of rancidity; check the manufacturing date before feeding this to your Bichon puppy. Any food containing fish oil can be very good for your dog but not if it’s been sitting on the shelves too long.
Now, let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum, and talk about what to feed your elderly Bichon.
The Best Bichon Frise Food for Seniors
As I’ve said, Bichons can live well into their teens. What this means is that you will probably have to reevaluate your dog’s nutritional needs as he ages. Often, senior dogs can put on weight as they slow down. Accordingly, many senior dog foods typically have fewer calories. The trouble is that they’re also often low in protein. This is not necessarily a good thing, as protein is very important when it comes to maintaining good muscle tone. As long as your Bichon has no kidney problems, you don’t have to avoid protein. I have only one recommendation for senior dog food for your Bichon, and that is Orijen Senior Dog Food.
Orijen Senior is made from free-run turkey and chicken, nest-laid eggs and wild-caught fish. It’s made from 80% meat and fish, and delivers 38% crude protein and 15% crude fat, and also contains glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints. Your little buddy will get the protein he needs to maintain good muscle tone without consuming too many calories (about 445 calories per cup).
These are my top choices for Bichon Frise foods for dogs at the three main stages of life. Your vet or breeder can also offer suggestions as to what to feed your puppy, adult or senior dog. You’ll probably have your Bichon for a long time, so make sure to choose the food that is right for him. You might, as I do with my dogs, do very well with store brands, but often, very active breeds need a bit more. You will pay more for the brands I have recommended than you would for a store brand, but depending on your dog’s activity level and other considerations, it could be money well spent.