The Bichon–Poodle is a hybrid dog. It is sometimes referred to as a Bich-Poo, others call this hybrid a Poochon, and still others call these little dogs a Bichonpoo. It is even known as the Tenerife dog because a few of the ancestors of the modern Bichon Frise breed came from Tenerife in the Canary Islands. This mix of names is true of the hybrid and designer dog registries as well as some prefer one name and others prefer another. Whatever you may choose to call it, this little dog is a bundle of cuteness. If we were to give teddy dogs instead of teddy bears to our children, the Bichon Frise–Poodle mix would be an excellent choice as a model for such a stuffed animal.
Crossing a Bichon Frise with a Poodle isn’t a matter of crossing two very dissimilar breeds in an attempt to see what the result might possibly be. Bichons descended from an ancient breed called Barbet, which also happens to be an ancestor of Poodles. Insofar as the history of the Bich-Poo is concerned, it is believed to have originated from the United States although the exact date or place where the first crossbreeding took place has apparently never been recorded. Bichons and Poodles, in this case the Toy Poodle, are quite alike in many respects, including their gentle temperament and the fact that neither of these breeds sheds significantly. During the first crossbreeding of a Bichon with Poodle, there apparently was little concern regarding having to try to breed out any negative characteristics, since neither breed has any that are of great significance.
Hybrid Dog Societies
The Bich-Poo breed is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). In spite of its cuteness, it can’t get in the AKC door since this kennel club only recognizes and registers purebred dogs. The Bich-Poo is however recognized by and can be registered with the American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC) and several other major organizations that register various mixed or hybrid breeds. These organizations include the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America and the Designer Dogs Kennel Club, which sponsor shows and events just as the AKC does. Your pet has to be a recognized mixed breed however and cannot simply be a mutt in order to be entered. A Bich-Poo can be referred to as a mixed breed, a hybrid breed, or a designer dog. All mean the same thing except calling a hybrid dog a designer dog can often bring a higher price for one.
The ACHC, which is the largest mixed-breed organization, lists around 30 hybrid breeds that are based on Bichon Frises. Most of the companion breeds are understandably smaller breeds or toy dogs and include several terrier breeds and spaniels. There are also between 15 and 20 mixed breeds registered with the ACHC that are based on the Poodle. Since Poodles come in toy, standard, and large sizes, the companion breeds can come in various sizes as well, so you will find Poodle mixes varying from the Saint Berdoodle (Poodle–Saint Bernard), to the Rottle (Poodle–Rottweiler), to the Poogle (Poodle–Beagle), to the Yorkie-Poo (Poodle–Yorkshire Terrier).
Before you purchase a mixed-breed puppy, some of which can be more expensive than their purebred parents are, it’s nice to have some idea as to what that puppy is apt to be like as an adult, especially in terms of size and appearance, temperament, and health. Professional breeders usually make every effort to breed out undesirable characteristics and produce animals whose looks and behavior are at least somewhat predictable. In this case, it would be worthwhile to look into the characteristics of Bichon Frises and Poodles as well as the American Kennel Club Standard for each breed, which is always a good place to start.
The Bichon Frise
The American Kennel Club describes the Bichon Frise as a small, sturdy, white powder puff of a dog with a curved tail and a curled double coat. An image of it displayed on the AKC website bears a significant resemblance to a Poodle in need of a haircut. It is further described as a naturally gentle dog that is both playful and active and a good companion dog. It was recognized by the AKC in 1972 and falls within the Non-Sporting Group of breeds.
According to the AKC Breed Standard, which must be adhered to for show purposes, the typical Bichon will stand from 9 1/2 to 11 1/2 inches tall. Its eyes are round and either black or dark brown, its ears are drop and covered with long flowing hair, and its lower jaw is strong. The nose and lips should be black. Its neck is long, relative to the dog’s size, and arched, and its chest is well developed. Insofar as its coat is concerned, the undercoat is soft and dense, while the outer coat is coarser in texture and is curly. Its color is white, although shadings of cream, buff, or apricot are allowable. When it trots, its motion is free and effortless and can be described as being precise and true. Its attitude is a cheerful one.
Poodles come in three sizes. The AKC Standard for the Poodle is the same for the toy size as it is for the standard size, except of course for the height. Poodles are exceptionally intelligent dogs and are known to excel in obedience training. They are well known for their hypoallergenic coat (the same can be said for Bichons), and a Poodle can be one of several colors according to the AKC Standard as long as that color is a solid color. In the past, the Poodle was raised as a hunting dog. The familiar “Poodle cut” was not for show purposes however. The coat was trimmed in that matter to allow the dog to move more efficiently through the water. Even the smaller toy variety was at times used as a hunting dog, although in this case for truffle hunting, but was more apt to be seen in circus acts as an entertaining and performing dog.
According to the AKC Standard, your typical Poodle, irrespective of its size, should be well proportioned; it should carry itself with a distinguished gait and a certain amount of dignity. A Toy Poodle will be 10 inches or less at the shoulder, while a Miniature Poodle will be between 10 and 15 inches high at the shoulder. The Poodle’s eyes are very dark and oval in shape (whereas those of Bichons are round). The ears hang close to the body and the muzzle is long and straight. A Poodle’s chest is deep and somewhat wide. The coat, as mentioned before, should be solid in color but can range from black and gray to silver and cream. When the Poodle moves about, its gait is characterized by a light, spring action and its movement appears effortless. Insofar as temperament is concerned, the Poodle has a pleasant temperament coupled with an air of distinction or dignity that is not seen in many breeds.
The Bichon–Poodle Mix
As is the case with its parents, the Bich-Poo’s coat is curly and soft, generally free of dander, and this canine sheds very little. The only drawback with the coat is that it requires periodic brushing to avoid matting. This mixed breed typically stands between 9 and 12 inches high at the shoulder and will weigh somewhere between 6 and 15 pounds. The smaller size and weight will usually be the result of a Bichon having mated with a Toy Poodle. Taking a hint from their Poodle heritage, Bich-Poos are intelligent and easy to train, although it should be noted that Bichons are no dummy either. Besides excelling at obedience training, most of these little hybrid dogs are good at learning tricks.
If there is any drawback, it could be that your Bich-Poo may have inherited a little of the nervousness that is sometimes associated with the Poodle breed. This can usually be managed by socializing a puppy early on so that it gets used to different people, dogs, and places or experiences.
While a Bich-Poo is a very affectionate dog, it is not your typical lap dog and requires a certain amount of activity or exercise. A small fence in the yard will be fine. A daily walk will probably be better. The Bich-Poo tends to be a very healthy mixed breed, which may seem a little surprising since Poodles are somewhat notorious as being not the healthiest of breeds.
The life span of these little dogs is 12 to 15 years.
Besides grooming to prevent matting, the Bich-Poo’s coat requires an occasional trimming, not for health reasons but to prevent it from taking in a somewhat untidy and wild-looking appearance. Periodic shampooing with a good-quality dog shampoo will also benefit your dog. An oatmeal shampoo is said to be very good for both the dog’s skin and coat. Insofar as feeding is concerned, most healthy and nutritious dog foods will suffice although the Bich-Poo for some reason seems to have a definite preference for chicken, with a helping of sweet potatoes for dessert.
You will be best served by finding a Bich-Poo breeder within an easy driving distance unless you don’t mind going on a road trip and returning with your new member of the household. Few – if any – breeders will ship a puppy to you and many breeders like to meet a puppy’s prospective owner in person. There are numerous breeder’s websites and directories on the Internet to help you in your search. Don’t forget to check with rescue organizations too. While most Bichon–Poodle owners would be very reluctant to part with their pets, it can sometimes happen.