It’s difficult to know with certainty the origin of the Bichon Frise‘s name. “Frise” is French for “curly,” but etymologically speaking, it’s related to the English word “bitch,” for female dog. It’s also been said that pampering a Bichon Frise became such a fad in France because of King Henry III that it begat the French verb, “bichonner,” meaning to make beautiful, or to pamper. Other cynologists suggest that because the breed was derived from, in part, the Barbet, “barbichon”was later shortened to “bichon.”
But wait, there’s more. Some word smiths point to the word bichon having come from the Middle French bichon (“small long-haired dog”), or from the diminutive of Old French biche (“bitch, female dog”), but also from the Old English bicce (“bitch, female dog”). It’s also related to the Old Norse bikkja (“female dog”) and German Betze (“female dog”). Your guess is as good as ours, but in the end, we think Bichon Frise means a white powder puff of a playful dog that’s stinking beautiful. Just saying.