Bichon Frise Colors: Do Bichons Really Only Come in White?

Bichon Frise colors and markings

Aside from the Bichon Frise’s fun-loving disposition, they are known for their thick, beautiful double-coated fur that’s hypoallergenic, low-shedding, and comes in a few subtly different shades.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) currently recognizes four distinct colors for the Bichon Frise, which are white, white and apricot, white and cream, and white and buff. If your Bichon is a drastically different color than those mentioned, it’s highly likely that they have mixed genes.

If you’re looking to know more about the different shades of Bichon Frises, then you’re in luck.

I’ll be going through each of the breed’s colors in detail and I’ve even thrown in a few pictures in case you were having a tough time picturing tones like apricot and buff.

Are Bichon Frises Only White?

While the Bichon Frise is best known for its classic yet gorgeous solid white color, the breed does come in a few other tones that are recognized by most kennel clubs, though the color white remains a constant in all of them.

You may come across pictures of black or brown Bichons on the internet but those dogs most likely have been cross-bred with other dog breeds.

There may be some Bichon colors that are considered “unofficial”, though it’s quite rare for a purebred Bichon to deviate from the standard colors and they probably won’t be eligible to participate in major dog competitions.

What Are the Standard Colors of Bichon Frise According to Different Kennel Clubs?

Bichon Frises have been around for a while now and have made quite a name for themselves in the competitive scene.

As such, it’s only natural that they’re widely recognized by all the major kennel clubs, such as the AKC, UKC, CKC, and FCI.

Here are the coat colors that are deemed acceptable by each respective kennel club:

Kennel ClubAcceptable Bichon Frise Coat Colors
American Kennel Club (AKC)White is the acceptable color, but shadings of buff, cream, or apricot around the ears or on the body are acceptable.
United Kennel Club (UKC)White is the acceptable color, but shadings of buff, cream, or apricot around the ears or on the body are acceptable.
Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)White is the acceptable color, but shadings of buff, cream, or apricot around the ears or on the body are acceptable.
Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)Pure white. However, before 12 months of age, the coat can have the tendency to be slightly beige (champagne), but this tinge must not cover more than 10% of the dog.

Bichon Frise Coat Color Description

Despite there being a few unofficial colors for the Bichon Frise, I’m going to discuss the four standard colors that are commonly recognized by most kennel clubs.

White Bichon Frise

White Bichon Frise

If you look up the Bichon Frise breed on Google or Instagram, an overwhelming portion of the results will showcase the dog in all white.

That’s because solid white is by far the most popular coat color for the Bichon and also happens to be the breed’s original color. It’s pretty much the hue that comes to mind when people first think of the Bichon.

Although the white color is classy and gorgeous to look at, it’s worth noting that as with most all-white dogs, a solid white Bichon Frise easily gets dirty especially if they enjoy spending time frolicking outdoors. Be prepared for a whole lot of baths.

White and Apricot Bichon Frise

White and apricot Bichon Frise puppy
Photo from @elvisabichon (IG)

Considered a variation of the all-white Bichon, the white and apricot Bichon remains mainly white in color but features patches of apricot around the body, ears, and face.

If you’re wondering what apricot looks like, it’s a light yellow-orange color similar to the fruit of the same name albeit with a slightly paler shade.

The color is subtle and blends nicely with the Bichon’s primarily white coat. Apricot isn’t a particularly rare color in dogs and can be found in various dog breeds including Poodles.

That being said, if your Bichon is mostly apricot in color, there’s a good chance it’s mixed with a Poodle.

White and Cream Bichon Frise

It may be described as “cream” colored, but it is, in fact, an intensity coat color gene in Bichons and other breeds that heavily dilutes the pigment pheomelanin which is responsible for yellow and red hues.

This heavy dilution is what causes mostly-white dogs to sport cream-colored patches.

Similar to white and apricot Bichons, the shades of cream often appear on the body, face, and ears, though it can sometimes be awfully tough to distinguish on account of its subtlety especially when the dog is still a pup.

Cream-colored dogs are fairly common and include many famous breeds, such as Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, and Poodles.

White and Buff Bichon Frise

Truthfully, it can be quite difficult to tell a white and buff Bichon apart from a white and apricot or white and cream one.

While they’re pups, the difference between the white and buff shades is so subtle that it can be near-impossible to distinguish them from one another.

Buff is considered a light brownish-yellow color that receives its name from the distinct hue you get out of buff leather.

Considered one of the rarer Bichon colors, the buff shades are most likely to appear on the dog’s chest and body, though they may also pop up on their legs, ears, and face.

READ NEXT: How Much Does a Bichon Frise Cost? (2023 Price Guide)

Can Bichons Be Brown?

Brown Bichon Frise mix

White and apricot Bichons, as well as white and buff ones, can sometimes be mistaken as brown on account of their brownish tones, though they’re still primarily white.

Some Bichons may also appear brown due to staining, which is common in mostly-white dog breeds.

As for all-brown or mainly brown Bichons, they are not recognized by most major kennel clubs since there’s a very high chance that the dog has mixed genes, usually with a Poodle. Purebred Bichons almost always stick to the four aforementioned standard colors. 

What Is the Rarest Color of Bichon Frise?

Among the standard Bichon Frise coat colors, the white and buff mix appears to be the rarest to come by.

Since buff is a recessively inherited coat color that is sometimes considered a disqualifying trait by various dog shows, Bichon breeders tend to shy away from breeding buff-colored dogs and furthering the line.

What Is the Most Common Color of Bichon Frise?

The Bichon Frise’s most common coat color is also, unsurprisingly, its most popular one and it’s not even close.

The breed’s original majestic solid white coat is one of the things that make Bichon Frises so sought after and is usually the preferred color when it comes to most kennel clubs and dog shows.

If you’re after the classic Bichon Frise look, it has to be in all-white. But if you’d like your dog to stand out a bit amidst the sea of snowy Bichons, you can’t go wrong with any of the other standard colors.

Bichon Frise Coat Genetics: Why Do Bichon Frises Have Different Colors?

As with all dog breeds, a Bichon Frise’s coat color depends primarily on its genes. Not only do these genes dictate the pigments that develop in a pup’s coat, but they also control which parts of the dog’s body these colors will appear on.

While Bichon Frises are originally white, they have a pigment known as pheomelanin that is primarily responsible for red and yellow colors in their coats.

This becomes affected by an intensity coat color gene that severely dilutes pheomelanin, causing different shades to sometimes form around several body parts.

For Bichon Frises that aren’t mostly white, there’s a high probability that their genes are mixed with another breed.

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The Effect of Coat Color on Bichon Frise Health and Behavior

Happy white and apricot Bichon Frise in the garden

Despite the Bichon Frise’s tendency to develop albinism being quite low, the fact that their coats are majority white in color leaves them prone to a few serious health issues that can, in turn, severely affect their behavior.

Here are some of the conditions that may arise in Bichons on account of their mainly white coat color:

  • Deafness: According to the Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, Bichon Frises are among the list of dog breeds with reported congenital deafness. It is noted that “breeds with white pigmentation are most often affected”.
  • Allergies: It has been observed that whiter dogs have a higher chance of developing allergies related to their skin and digestive system. Bichon Frises are a testament to this, as they frequently suffer from irritated skin and tummy problems.
  • Skin Cancer: Dogs with white coats and white skin like Bichon Frises are reportedly more prone to sustaining sun damage to their skin and developing skin cancer from overexposure to the sun.

Do Bichon Frise Puppies Change Color When They Grow?

Baby Bichon Frises commonly develop shades of apricot, cream, and buff on their coats, though these patches often gradually fade during the pup’s first year until they reach an all-white appearance.

However, it is not uncommon that these other shades persist until the Bichon reaches adulthood, though it’s worth noting that most kennel clubs penalize colors that aren’t white and are in excess of 10 percent of the dog’s overall coat.

Certain medical factors can also cause a change in your Bichon’s coat color. Red stains, for example, can be caused by molecules known as porphyrin which contain iron. These can be found in urine, tears, and saliva.

Brown stains, on the other, are often a by-product of a yeast infection from Malassezia which can also cause ear and skin infection in dogs. If you notice excessive red or brown staining in your Bichon, make sure to consult a vet immediately.

Bichon Frise Eye and Nose Colors

While we’re on the topic of colors, let’s discuss the different eye and nose hues that are commonly associated with Bichon Frises.

The breed is famous for its deep black or brown eyes and jet-black nose, though the latter may sometimes go through a change in color due to medical conditions or simply because of aging.

A Bichon’s typically black-colored nose may gravitate towards liver (pinkish), blue, Dudley, or butterfly. A butterfly nose is when the dog has random blotches of bright pink around its nose.

Dudley noses, on the other hand, are known as flesh-colored noses. If your Bichon is exhibiting a change in nose color, make sure to consult a trusted vet.

Since Bichon Frises are fairly popular in the competitive circuit, here are a couple of tables to show you the acceptable colors for noses and eyes as stated by some of the most renowned kennel clubs:

Bichon Frise Eye Colors

Kennel ClubAcceptable Eye Colors
American Kennel Club (AKC)Eyes are black or dark brown in color
United Kennel Club (UKC)Eyes are black or dark brown in color
Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)Eyes are black or dark brown in color
Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)Very dark

Bichon Frise Nose Colors

Kennel ClubsAcceptable Nose Colors
American Kennel Club (AKC)Always black
United Kennel Club (UKC)Always black
Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)Always black
Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)Black and glossy

Frequently Asked Questions

Pure white Bichon frise color without marking

What Kind of Coat Does a Bichon Frise Have?

The Bichon Frise is a double-coated breed, with a dense yet soft undercoat and a coarser outer coat.

These come together to form an overall fluffy, soft, and tough coat of fur. The Bichon’s coat typically rises away from its body, giving the breed its signature “powder-puff” look.

The undercoat also serves the purpose of trapping the Bichon’s shed hair, greatly minimizing the amount of hair you’ll find strewn about the house.

This is where the breed gets its reputation for not shedding, which is a bit misleading. Bear in mind that the trapped hair needs to be brushed or combed out, or else it will get tangled up and form mats. 

Are Bichon Frises Hypoallergenic?

Despite being very prone to several different kinds of allergies, purebred Bichon Frises are always considered hypoallergenic no matter their coat color.

Pet allergies are often caused by dander that sticks to the pet’s fur which is released all over the home after the pet sheds.

Since Bichon Frises don’t shed as much on account of their undercoat, their allergic effects are greatly reduced which is a huge upside for people who are susceptible to allergies. 

Final Thoughts

While you may come across a few Bichon Frise owners and breeders who claim that they have a brown or black color variant, this is almost always due to mixed genes from another dog breed.

Bichons are best-known for their magnificent original solid white coats that have been the official standard of the breed since 1933, though having a bit of apricot, cream, or buff may add a welcome bit of color for owners looking for a more non-traditional look.

Just be wary of Bichon Frise breeders looking to sell mixed breed pups under the guise that they’re sporting a rare coat color. If it’s not one of the standard coat colors I mentioned in this article, chances are, it’s not a purebred Bichon Frise.

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