Buying a Bichon Frise and welcoming them into your family is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. If you’re embarking on the journey of becoming a Bichon owner, you need to make sure you start on the right foot by finding a reputable breeder. A Bichon will be in your life for as many as 18 years, so you need to get your dog from the right place.
It’s a sad fact, but puppy mills are out there. Sometimes, they appear totally normal from the outside, yet their dogs are mistreated and can have unexpected health issues.
That’s why finding a reputable Bichon breeder is essential. A good breeder will not only provide you with a wonderful puppy, they’ll also be an important source of information as you integrate your dog into your family.
Your breeder can become a big part of your life, too. The breeder from whom I got my dogs holds an annual gathering of all her families. Everyone brings their dogs, and there are 20+ Bichons running around.
Here are my tips for finding a reputable Bichon Frise breeder near you.
Start with a Trusted List
To ensure your breeder is trustworthy, it helps to start with a trusted list of reputable breeders.
The Bichon Frise Club of America has a list on its website. The American Kennel Club also has a breeder directory that you can reference. I also keep my own updated list that’s based on the lists from those two organizations, with some helpful additions like the ability to search for breeders near your location.
I got two of my dogs from a breeder on the Bichon Frise club list with whom I had a personal connection.
Reputable breeders will sell you an AKC-registered puppy, so the AKC is a good place to start in terms of searching for breeders.
It’s important to keep in mind that no list is perfect, and no one is able to visit and evaluate every breeder on a list personally. Most organizations (myself included) can’t and don’t personally vouch for the breeders on their lists—you still have to do your homework!
Despite that, lists from reputable organizations can be a great place to start. At the very least, if a breeder you’re considering isn’t on the major AKC and Bichon Frise Club lists, you may want to ask them why they aren’t.
Ask Other Owners
Other owners can be a great source of referrals to reputable breeders. If you meet someone with a great-looking Bichon, ask them where they got their dog. Often, they’ll be able to connect you to a breeder or give you a name.
If you don’t know any Bichon owners, you can also seek out local Bichon Frise meetups and events. These can be great places to meet other owners, ask your Bichon questions, and get connected to potential breeders.
Visit Online Groups
If you can’t find too many local Bichon groups, another option is to find an online group. Facebook has at least five great Bichon Frise groups.
Here are a few examples:
These groups are often large and span big geographies, so you’re more likely to find owners nearby. This approach also has the advantage of allowing you to talk to multiple owners at the same time. If you ask about a specific breeder, you might get multiple owners chiming in with their feedback.
Be Ready to Travel
As a rule, almost all reputable breeders will want to meet you in person before selling you a dog. They’re also rarely willing to ship a young dog since this can be traumatic and dangerous to a young Bichon.
For that reason, you’ll most likely need to meet a potential breeder at their location. If there are no breeders near you, you should be prepared to travel. I take my own dogs on lots of trips, and traveling with a Bichon is totally feasible.
I got my dog, Lance, from a breeder on the East Coast, even though I now live in California. That meant a trip across the country to pick him up and then flying back with a 12-week-old puppy. The flight got delayed, and the flight attendants were nice enough to let him come out of his carrier and sit on the seat next to us.
Sometimes, to get the best breeder and the best possible dog, you’ll need to travel to get your Bichon. For that reason, you shouldn’t necessarily rule out breeders who aren’t in your immediate area.
Consider Rescue Bichons
Another option is to consider rescuing a Bichon Frise. Most rescue bichons are older, and many may already be housebroken. That’s a big benefit if you don’t have the time to train a puppy, or if you want to help an older dog find a caring home.
Rescue dogs can also be a great fit if you’re not certain you’ll be living independently in your home for the next 15+ years. If you have mobility challenges or other issues that might prevent you from caring for a Bichon for their whole life, adopting an older dog might be a better fit than getting a puppy.
One of the best places to find rescue Bichon information is at Bichon Rescue. They’re part of the Bichon Frise club and are a non-profit. They can help you find a rescue Bichon organization near you.
Bichon Frises live for as long as 18 years, and these charming and people-centered dogs will become part of your family.
You owe it to yourself and your future dog to seek out a reputable breeder who can not only sell you a great Bichon but who can be a trusted guide along your pet parent journey.