Bichon is the name for a type of related non-sporting category dog breeds. They vary in appearance, but all have tails curled over their back, hair that doesn't readily shed, has a short snout, drop ears, and large, dark eyes. They were all bred to be amiable companion dogs and have a friendly, alert temperament. Their life expectancy is 15 years or more. The Bichon Frise, a type of bichon, is sometimes simply called a Bichon.
Despite their current popularity, almost all bichons, even the very popular Bichon Frise, went through a period of decline in the 1800s. Court dogs became less fashionable in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, leading to the loss of many bichon types. Breeds like the Havanese and Bolognese are recovering from this period, and even more common bichons like the Löwchen and Bichon Frise were almost extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. Today bichons have again gained in popularity. The qualities that made the bichon family of dogs popular at court also make them suitable as house pets. Bichons are bred to be small, charming companion dogs with even temperaments and playful attitudes. They are good with children but do not like to be held. They also display great watchdog abilities. A playful temperament is judged to be particularly important to the Bichon Frise. Properly trained bichons should not be yappy, stand-offish, nervous or aggressive.