Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Bichon-A-Ranian
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Why not take two of the smallest, cuddliest pedigrees and mix them together to create a whole new breed? The Bichon-A-Ranian (or the Pom-Frise) combines the dinky size of the foxy Pomeranian with the sociable, outgoing nature of the Bichon Frise. Fluffy little teddy bears, this new hybrid has been proving a hit worldwide.

Their plush, wavy coat and diminutive frame makes these guys look like puppies for the duration of their life. Thankfully, they have a temperament to match and are usually sweet-natured and very people driven. Owners should be aware that some are overly sensitive and a number will develop separation anxiety.

About & History

Having originated some time during the late 20th century when hybrid dogs were becoming all the rage, the Bichon-A-Ranian is a small dog kept purely as a companion animal. Though their parents enjoy histories spanning over several centuries, their story is still very much in its infancy.

The Bichon Frise

Bichon Frises may have a French name but most will agree that they were first developed on the Spanish island of Tenerife. In fact, some people to this day refer to the breed as the Bichon Tenerife. They were brought by sailors from this isolated island to mainland Europe and became especially well-liked within France, Italy and mainland Spain. Thanks to their small size and chic look, the nobility and royals took a liking to them and, inevitably, the general public followed suit and would commonly keep them as pets.

Interestingly, the Bichon Frise was also used as a performance dog and would feature in a number of circus acts where their trainers capitalised on their good natures, versatility and intelligence. These characteristics serve them well to this day, and while no longer used as circus acts, many can be seen competing in canine obedience and agility competitions.

The Pomeranian

Pomeranians are the smallest of the Spitz breeds and are closely related to much larger dogs, such as the Alaskan Malamute and the Keeshond. They have retained the characteristic sharp nose, pointed ears and curled tail of the Spitz breeds; features that are even more adorable in such a little package.

The original Pomeranians (also known as ‘Poms’) came from mainland Europe, in an area that is today occupied by Germany and Poland. As is true of the Bichon Frise, European royals were big fans of Pomeranians, in particular Queen Charlotte, King George IV and Queen Victoria of England. One particularly amazing piece of trivia about the Pomeranian is that two surviving dogs from the Titanic ship were, in fact, Poms!


Petite and fluffy with a permanently happy and inquisitive expression, the Bichon-A-Ranian could easily be mistaken for a soft toy. They have a delicate bone structure and an elegant silhouette, adding to their charm. They have a compact skull and a defined muzzle ending in a shiny, black nose. Their eyes are circular and an attractive deep brown. Their ears are not particularly large and often stand semi-erect, though can sit in practically any position. Their neck is short and their body compact, supported by slim, straight limbs. As with their parent breeds, their tail curls stylishly over their back and is well plumed with fur.

Measuring between 20cm and 28cm, the Bichon-A-Ranian stands somewhat taller than the little Pomeranian and they will weigh from 3kg to 7kg, making them significantly heavier than their lightweight Pom parent. The dense fur of the Bichon-A-Ranian may be straight but often has a slight curl or wave. Many individuals will be white but it is also possible for breed members to be grey, black or brown. Though some will have solid coat colours, many will have darker markings on their face.

Character & Temperament

Just as sweet on the inside as they look on the outside, Bichon-A-Ranians are good-natured and kind. They make wonderful lap dogs and tend to pick one or two people with whom they form especially close bonds. While they like children, they are not always tolerant of being pushed about and, given their small size, require very close supervision when around little ones.

Many Bichon-A-Ranians could be classified as ‘spirited’ by their owners and they certainly have their own minds. They can be a little feisty, but rarely to the extent where it becomes problematic. Implementing training from a young age is important, as is treating these dogs like the dogs that they are (rather than babies or accessories!).

Separation anxiety can be a big issue for some, especially those who are not crate trained and whose owners spend prolonged periods of time away from the family home. For this reason, they are best suited to those that can dedicate a lot of time with them and do not anticipate to be away from them for too long.


Undeniably bright and a naturally curious breed, the Bichon-A-Ranian loves to learn and is a willing participant in any training session. They may surprise their owner at the speed with which they pick up on new tricks and they can master a vast range of cues.

Trainers should reward these dogs with lots of positive praise to encourage good behaviour and should avoid shouting at them or punishing them in any way, as this can lead to a fearful or anxious dog.


Though not very big, the Bichon-A-Ranian tends to be a rather robust dog that enjoys good health. Most will live into their early teens with a decent quality of life. A number of health issues do occur in this hybrid and should be closely monitored for.

Patellar Luxation

As is seen in many little dogs, the Bichon-A-Ranian is prone to having kneecaps that pop in and out of place. For many, this won’t pose a real issue and they can live their whole lives without it bothering them too much. However, some will suffer poor mobility and joint pain and will require intervention of some sort. Those that are the worst affected may even be advised to pursue surgery to correct the defect.

Portosystemic Shunt

An abnormal blood flow to the liver in affected dogs means that their blood is not processed adequately. This causes a range of issues, including improper cell nutrition and a toxin build-up. Affected animals tend to be under-weight with a low muscle mass and may suffer with chronic vomiting and diarrhoea. The ideal treatment is a surgery to correct the defect and restore proper blood flow.

Cushing’s Disease

An over-production of the stress hormone cortisol results in a myriad of symptoms, such as chronic skin infections, increased thirst and a ravenous appetite. A blood test can help to confirm the diagnosis and most patients will respond well to medical therapy.


Diabetes is when a dog has an abnormally high blood sugar level that can be detected in both the urine and the blood. Symptoms include weight loss despite an increased appetite and a seemingly unquenchable thirst, which causes increased urination and urinary ‘accidents’ within the home.

The vast majority of patients can be managed for years on insulin therapy and a specific diet. Diabetics are more prone to urinary infections so should have their urine analysed regularly.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Not a dog that would ever be considered for ‘star athlete’, the Bichon-A-Ranian is moderately active and enjoys taking a couple of scenic strolls each day. They should have access to a small garden if possible. Most enjoy playing games and can be taught to fetch and ‘search’ for treats when outside. These dogs can live happily in urban areas and are suited to apartment life as long as their exercise needs are met.


The coat of the Bichon-A-Ranian should be groomed two or three times a week to prevent it from tangling and to remove any accumulated dirt or debris. Puppies should be introduced to grooming as early as possible to ensure that they accept it as part of their normal life. Though some will be hypoallergenic and will not shed much, if at all, this is not true for every dog.

While these dogs will not need regular claw trims as long as they are walked on pavement regularly, owners should check for overgrown claws, paying special attention to the dew claws that do not touch the ground and can curl inwards.

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