What Is the Difference Between a Toy Poodle & Bichon Dog?


It is easy to confuse the bichon frise and the toy poodle as they are both white, fluffy and confident little dogs. Although both hail from the non-sporting group of the American Kennel Club, their core personalities couldn't be more different.

For an entertaining, playful, curious friend to adult and children alike, the bichon frise belongs in the winner's circle. If you prefer a dog who will bond close and work hard for that special person, the toy poodle is your best in show.

American Kennel Club Breed Standards

It is helpful to know the breed standards for the toy poodle and the bichon frise to compare them.

Toy Poodle

The poodle was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1887. Though the breed originated in Germany as the pudel, these dogs are known as the national dog of France. The distinction of toy simply denotes that this is the smallest poodle. However, even at a small stature of 10 inches, the toy poodle is full of pride and intelligence. As far as poodles go, size isn't everything.

Toy poodles come in any of 10 coat colors including white, apricot, black, beige and gray. Although white points are sometimes allowed, they should never be parti-colored. The water resistant coat should be velvety when groomed. With a little help and light grooming, the poodle's coat will cord if allowed to grow naturally.

These athletic little dogs are eager to learn and easy to train. They love working for their handler and frequently are used as trick dogs in sports such as canine freestyle. They can be prone to separation anxiety as only 40 percent of poodle owners agree they do well alone. Because of this, it is recommended to seek a quality puppy program, such as the American Kennel Club's S.T.A.R. Puppy for training.

Bichon Frise

The bichon frise is a much newer breed, recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1972. Descended from the barbet, a water spaniel, the bichon encompasses four different spaniels, all hailing from the Mediterranean area. Bichons are known to be clowns and love to show off for their owners.

Unlike the toy poodle, the bichon only comes in white, but there may be hints of buff, cream or apricot around the ears and barrel of the body. Even so, these should be light to pale. There are two coats: a soft, dense undercoat and a coarse, curly topcoat. It is this double coating that gives the bichon his "powder puff" appearance, especially after a bath.

Bichons, who stand between 9 and 12 inches, are easily trained, but positive methods are recommended as they are naturally gentle dogs. They also delight in entertaining and love to run. Their curious, playful side make them easily distracted, so training should be done in small increments.

Highlighted Differences Between Breeds

According to owner polls by the American Kennel Club, bichon frises do better with children and other pets. This is likely due to their more playful and gentle nature. Since toy poodles are still bred from retrieving lines, they have a higher drive and may be less tolerant for games such as keep away or chase.

Because of their high trainability, bichon frise's also may be better for children who are ready for responsibility. Positive methods can create a strong bond between child and dog, while the toy poodle's working history may cause them to come on a bit strong for most children.

Owners also commonly report that toy poodles may be less friendly to strangers than the bichon frise. Perhaps this is because of their high owner focus, while the bichon frise's curiosity makes them more open to new experiences.


  • Whenever considering to add a dog to the family, fully research the breed first to make sure he fits with your family and your lifestyle.

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