Do Bichon Frises Bite?

The Bichon Frise is a fluffy white dog that looks like the last thing they’re about to do is bite anyone. However, appearances can be deceiving.

Do Bichon Frises bite? Bichon Frises aren’t likely to bite, but they may bite if they are frightened, trying to assert themselves, or because they are surprised or in pain. It is more likely for a Bichon to bites when they are older if they are suffering age-related pain like arthritis, going blind, or developing dementia.

Whether you are dealing with a Bichon Frise that has been biting or you want to choose a breed as unlikely to bite as possible, here’s everything you need to know about how likely a Bichon Frise is to bite and what to do to stop a Bichon from biting. 

How Likely Is A Bichon Frise To Bite?

The Bichon Frise has been a companion dog throughout its history. They have played the part of entertainer and treasured companion, but as a rule, they have not held a particular job in the same way some other breeds have. 

Bichon Frises were not developed to help people hunt game or to irradicate vermin like rats using their own intelligence. They have not protected humans or livestock, herded, or perform other roles. 

Therefore, the Bichon Frise has never had to develop instincts that require biting in the way some other breeds have. This doesn’t mean that a Bichon Frise definitely won’t bite, but it does tend to make a bite less likely.

Typically, Bichons don’t have strong prey drives that could be misdirected. They also don’t feel the urge to control people or other animals by biting at them in the way that herding dogs sometimes do. Therefore, there are very few instinctual reasons for a Bichon Frise to bite.

Why Might A Bichon Frise Bite?

Bichon Frises are not a breed that tends to be very likely to bite, but any dog can bite, and the Bichon Frise is no exception.

Here are some reasons that a Bichon Frise may bite:


Arguably the most likely reason for a Bichon Frise to bite is out of fear. The average Bichon Frise is much more likely to try to escape from potential threats than react with aggression. 

However, if a Bichon Frise feels trapped and frightened, they may react by being aggressive. A Bichon Frise that feels trapped when somebody reaches down to pet them or picks them up may respond by biting. 

This is one of the most common reasons for small breed dogs to behave aggressively. It can be hard for people to realize how intimidating they might be to a little dog like the Bichon. 

Faced with a giant hand reaching down from above and to hold them insecurely above the ground a Bichon may bite to protect itself. 

A Bichon Frise that has been handled roughly, dropped, or otherwise frightened by being handled or picked up in the past will be much more likely to bite. If a Bichon Frise is punished for growling, with is all too commonly a response of people who are not well versed in dog behavior, they are very likely to bite without warning. 

A clever dog like a Bichon Frise will learn that every time they allow themselves to be picked up something bad happened, but that if they growl to warn people, something bad also happens. It won’t take long for them to actively resist being picked up in techniques like biting without warning.


The Bichon Frise is a clever little dog that often has its own ideas about things. It is very unusual for a Bichon Frise to assert itself with aggression like biting, but it isn’t unheard of. 

Bichon Frise that are raised without discipline or guidance may try to get what they want by biting. Bichon Frises can he highly food motivated, and if a Bichon learns that they can get food if they bite somebody who has something they want, they may use this strategy to get food in the future. 

Some people think it’s cute when a Bichon puppy growls or snaps over food and they may not take it seriously or may even encourage the behavior either intentionally or unintentionally. Bichons that learn that they can get their way by biting or growling are much more likely to perform this kind of behavior again. 

If a Bichon only occasionally gets what they want by biting or growling, such as if one member of the family responds while others don’t, it is very likely that the Bichon Frise will keep trying, since behaviors are more likely to continue when they are rewarded only some of the time. For this reason, it is essential that everybody in the family behave appropriately when your Bichon growls or bites. 


For a typically good-natured breed like the Bichon Frise, biting is very unusual. It is often the case that if a Bichon Frise is biting, they are experiencing pain. If your Bichon has suddenly started biting when previously they did not, it is even more likely that pain is at the root of their behavior. 

The Bichon Frise is generally a very healthy little dog, but they are prone to a couple of ailments that can be quite painful. Luxating patella is a condition of the kneecap that reduces mobility and can make it very uncomfortable for dogs to jump, walk normally, or be touched on the legs and hips. 

If your Bichon Frise has bitten you when you handled their back legs, it may be that they are suffering pain from luxating patella and biting to keep you from hurting the area.

Biting In The Aging Bichon

If your Bichon Frise has never bitten anyone before but is getting snappy in their old age, there could be a few different things going on. It is important that you are understanding and don’t snap to judgment about your aging Bichon’s biting. Dogs have limited ability to communicate, and biting may be the only way that your Bichon can tell you what they are experiencing.


Bichons can be prone to some eye conditions, especially as they get older. It can be very frightening for a dog to begin experiencing blindness for the first time. Even dogs that typically do not respond to surprise with aggression may act this way as they begin to go blind. Have your veterinarian check your Bichon’s eyes to be sure that an inability to see isn’t causing the problems.


Dogs can experience a confusion and changes in behavior that is not dissimilar to how people experience dementia. Dogs with dementia may seem confused and they may display previously unseen behavior such as aggression.

Often, a couple of conditions contribute together to cause aggression in the aging dog, such as dementia paired with blindness or deafness. Dementia symptoms often are worse at night, and dogs may seem to have good and bad days. 

Your veterinarian may be able to prescribe medication to help a Bichon that is struggling with dementia.


If your Bichon Frise has struggled with joint problems like luxating patella arthritis is more likely, but it can occur even in dogs with no prior conditions. Arthritis typically gets worse as dogs get older.

If your Bichon is more likely to bite at you when you pick them up or try to move them, it may be arthritis that is at fault. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to relieve any pain that your dog is experiencing as a result of arthritis.

How To Help An Aggressive Bichon Frise

Aggression is relatively unusual in the Bichon, and when it occurs it is often the result of mistreatment or a medical condition. Bichon Frises that are not handled or acclimated to grooming from a young age are much more likely to respond to grooming with aggression.

A Bichon whose coat has been allowed to mat who is forced to endure painful brushing to get the mats out are very likely to begin trying to defend themselves from the groomer with shows of aggression. Unfortunately, Bichons are among the breeds most often overbred and abused at puppy mills. These dogs may have little or no experience with human beings and be extremely fearful and unsocialized. 

Whatever the case, the trick to curing an aggressive Bichon is consistent positive experiences. No matter what your Bichon is aggressive towards, you can desensitize them by gradually increasing the stimulus while providing plenty of positive reinforcement. 

Expose your dog to the trigger that causes the aggression, but only had a distance or at a reduced stimulus. Make sure that your Bichon is aware of it and paying attention, but not yet responding with aggression. 

Reward calm, attentive behavior as you gradually get closer and closer to what would previously have triggered aggression. In time, your Bichon will learn to accept what has frightened them or caused an aggressive response before.

Enjoy A Friendly Bichon

The Bichon is typically a friendly, loving little dog who loves everyone. If your Bichon is biting, they are likely not as happy or healthy as they should be. By considering some reasons that your Bichon might bite, you can help them to stop showing aggression.