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Grooming Your Bichon Frise

Veronica has been an online writer for over four years. Her articles often focus on pet care.


Things to Keep in Mind When Grooming Your Bichon

I am the proud owner of a one-year-old Bichon Frise. While they are one of the cutest, most lovable dogs, they are also one of the hardest to groom. In my 10 months of having him, I am still perfecting my grooming techniques. But, hopefully, what I have learned through trial and error will help you.

Grooming your dog yourself is not impossible, and as long as you have an hour or two to spare, doing it yourself can be rewarding (and relieve your wallet). Before grooming your Bichon, it's important to make sure that you will be able to do the job. If your curly-haired pooch is matted, detangling the mats can be painful for your dog and time consuming for you. Also, if your dog is a little rowdy, grooming at home may not be as manageable for you.

Supplies You Will Need to Groom Your Bichon

  • Slicker brush
  • Whitening shampoo
  • Conditioner (optional)
  • Finishing spray (optional)
  • Pet grooming clippers
  • Grooming shears
  • Dental spray (optional)
  • Ear wash (optional)
  • Nail clippers and pet nail grinder
  • Blow dryer
After grooming my pup! As you can see I have not yet swept his hair in the corner.

After grooming my pup! As you can see I have not yet swept his hair in the corner.

Bathing Your Bichon

When bathing your Bichon, it is important to brush them first as water will tighten any existing mats. My dog tends to mat under his front legs. To prevent matting, daily brushing is important.

After brushing your dog, put him/her into the tub and wet them from head to toe. I use a cup to help with smaller areas, especially the face. After wetting your Bichon, lather whitening shampoo on their entire body. I have currently been using GNC pets whitening shampoo which works well. I got it from PetSmart for around $10. I lather extra shampoo on my dog's paws and tear stains. I generally allow the whitening shampoo to sit for a while to get a brighter effect.

Teeth and Ears

While I let the whitening shampoo do its work, I clean my Bichon's teeth and ears. I use VetTrust Ear Rinse that I bought from Walmart for about $7 and follow the directions on the bottle (you simply put some of the rinse in your dog's ears, massage their ear and that's it!).

I then clean his teeth with Sentry Petrodex Dental Spray for cats and dogs. You literally just have to spray their teeth making sure to spray all of their teeth. I then proceed to rinse the shampoo off. If his fur is not as soft as usual, I will proceed to condition him as well. If their fur is soft feel free to skip this step.

Blow-Drying and Fluff-Drying

Blow-drying a Bichon can be very tricky and is one of the most important steps in grooming your Bichon. Generally, I towel-dry my dog until he is damp then proceed to brush him with the slicker brush.

I brush downstrokes on his body and legs, for example, from the top of the shoulder I brush down to his paws. I brush down strokes from under his eyes to the bottom of his muzzle and brush the top part of his head straight back.

After this step, your Bichon should have a wet, straight, or slightly wavy appearance. I then proceed to blow dry him while brushing his fur in every direction to get it bone straight. There are certain parts of my dog that don't straighten completely and this is fairly common.

While blow-drying, I constantly check the blow dryer to make sure it's not too hot by blowing the air on the back of my hand. Remember, dogs are more sensitive to heat than humans are, so if it's hot to you it's definitely hot to them. After your dog is completely dry and straight it's time to grab the clippers.


Clipping Your Bichon

Give your dog one last brush before using the clippers. (I use Wahl pet clippers that I bought from Walmart for about $30. They came with a couple of different guards, scissors, a comb, and an instructional DVD). Then cut the bottom of the paws but don't go between the paw pads.

Cut around the rectum being careful not to cut the rectum itself. Then use a number 3 (3/8") guard for his body. Shave in downward strokes being careful not to shave their legs as the legs will have to be scissored. It's easier to not shave just above the leg to easier blend their legs when you scissor them later. Do not shave the head either as that will need to be scissored as well.

After shaving the body, brush the body and the legs straight down. Try using a picture as a reference to how the legs should look. The front legs should be rounded and straight. Hold the scissors straight down and cut a straight line from the body to the end of the paws.

Try not to make big changes because when you cut too much it's much harder to fix as opposed to not cutting enough. Cut the bottom of the paws in a circle. When cutting their legs, I've noticed it's easier to go with the line that's already there and cut the pieces that deviate instead of cutting a whole new line. Do the same thing for the back leg except remember to leave a bend for their "knee."

The Bichon head is the most important part of grooming. The head should be rounded at the top and flat at the bottom for the utility cut (pet cut). Brush the top up and the bottom down. Cut the ears so that they are even to the bottom of the chin to make sure that they blend well. Then round off the top of the head to blend into the ears as well. Be sure to make sure that the head is bigger than the body to give a true Bichon look.

Grooming Tips

  • Be patient; grooming can be time consuming.
  • Try to try again. Your first time cutting your dog probably won't be perfect, but if you keep at it eventually, you'll get there.
  • The more you groom your dog, the more still he/she will eventually sit.
  • The tail just needs to be combed; it is meant to be bushy.
  • Be sure to trim the eye area carefully so that your Bichon doesn't constantly have hair falling in his/her eyes.
  • Try a sanitation trim on the bottom so that poop doesn't get stuck on your dog's bottom.
  • A young puppy will more than likely not be able to be groomed this way as their coat is thinner and less curly. The adult coat comes in at 6–8 months and that's when this type of grooming will work. If you do have a puppy, brush them daily to get them used to being groomed.

Another Grooming Demonstration

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2015 Veronica Laci


Shari on July 03, 2020:

I appreciate your contribution in an attempt to help others successfully groom their dogs but as a professional dog groomer there a a few critical and crucial elements to grooming which you have not included. If I may, they are as follows: check the blade every 90 seconds or so. They get hot as an iron, especially with inexpensive clipper that have a slow motor speed. Blades need to be changed at least every 2-4 min or burning the dog (think hot iron) is inevitable. Shampooing the dog strips the natural oil from the skin which is cause for a number of issues. Hydration is, conditioner free of wax and parabins. This has little to do with achieving a soft coat. It aids in proper skin hydration and over health of the dog. Check the shampoo u use for sulfates and harsh detergents. Try putting a drop in your finger and dap into your own burns. Think about this when washing the dogs face.

Dogs sweat thru their paws. Removing the hair from between the pads is like removing wool socks but a a select blade is necessary (not the same as used on the body) is needed to avoid injuring the dog. I could continue but you get the point. Safety s more important than brushes are very uncomfortable to the dog and in the case of Matting, down right dangerous as they can be abrasive to the skin.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me for further information.



Go Dog Go Mobile Grooming


Jeanmerron on May 30, 2020:

Groomed by bishon to day and please with it

Patricia on May 22, 2020:

Thank you for the clear instructions - My pup is overdue for grooming because of the quarantine so I’m going to give it a try!