The Ultimate Bichon Frise Clippers, Blades & Grooming Guide
Of the many breeds we get asked for advice about, the Bichon Frise and Bichon crosses are one of the most frequent. If your dog has a Bichon coat, this guide was made for you. It covers coat type, clippers, trimmers, blades, comb attachments, brushes, coat prep and more! All to help you choose the right products rated for the Bichon coat for the best results when grooming.
What type of coat does the Bichon Frise have?
Bichon puppy coat versus adult coat
The adult Bichon coat starts to develop around 3 to 6 months of age, so the coat starts out very manageable before that age. At first, your Bichon’s coat might start out curly, straight or wavy. It will start to change, usually around 5 to 6 months old, into the tightly curled coat you see in adults.
Around that age the coat may start to knot then mat, becoming more difficult to manage. That's the age many Bichon owners start going to the groomer. From very young, make sure to get a Bichon puppy used to regular brushing (even though their coat won’t need frequent brushing at first). Kept short, the Bichon coat is a lot easier to manage and keep free of knots. It can take 2 to 3 years for the Bichon coat to fully develop.
The Bichon Frise adult coat is actually a double coat. A soft, very dense undercoat, and a coarser, curlier top coat. This is why their coat stands out from the body rather than lies down flat. That's also why the breed is often said to have a ‘high maintenance’ coat. A lot of grooming is needed! As the Bichon coat doesn’t shed to the floor, it means that stuck, dead hair must be regularly removed with brushing instead. A pin brush is recommended rather than a bristle brush to help find and remove tangles and knots before they form mats.
What type of clipper is needed for the Bichon?
With that dense, double, non-shed, knot-prone, wool coat, you need super duty rated clippers. Clippers come in 4 levels: light use, medium duty, heavy duty and super duty. The clipper description may say super duty, or may say they are rated for 'full body clipping' for 'difficult' coats, or might specifically mention 'wool costs' or 'matted coats'. That's the level you're after for the Bichon coat. You need the right combo of speed, power and torque.
In general, look for a multi-speed clipper, usually 2 speeds or 5 speeds. Check the clipper description doesn't say it's for 'light use' or only for 'touch-ups' as it's not rated for full body clipping for the Bichon coat. If a clipper says it is for 'trimming only' then it's also not rated for full body clipping (trimmers are used for areas like paw pads and for touch ups only).
Check the list below for some starter models to compare.
Best clipper models for Bichons
Before you buy: Know what A5 means! If the clipper description says it's an A5 model (or A5 style or A5 type), that tells you the clipper is compatible with the most blades and accessories possible, and that you can mix and match different brands. For example, you could use a Wahl universal comb attachment, on a Heiniger blade, on your Andis clippers!
The clippers below are ALL current best sellers, ALL rated for the Bichon coat, and ALL universal A5 models. This is not a complete list though. Just a starting point so you're not overwhelmed with options. Don't rule out other clippers just because they are not listed here. This guide helps you compare any model.
Corded clippers for the Bichon coat
* 5 speed or 2 speed? Most clippers are 2 speeds, however some newer models are now available in 5 speeds. 5 speed clippers have the same top 2 speeds as a standard clippers, but provide 3 lower speeds. Lower speeds are used to reduce speed, heat and noise, for delicate areas, very noise-sensitive or touch-sensitive dogs, and to help blades run cooler for longer. You still have the same top speeds in reserve for very thick or difficult areas.
Cordless clippers for the Bichon coat
Andis Pulse ZR II 5 Speed
Heiniger Saphir** (single speed)
Heiniger Opal 2 Speed
Wahl KM Cordless 2 Speed
Andis Excel Cordless 2 Speed
You can shop all cordless clipper models here >
** Although the Heiniger Saphir is a single speed, it has the torque and power needed to handle the Shih Tzu coat.
For help comparing cordless models: Check the features to help you compare, such as whether they have removable / replaceable batteries for charging / replacing, or whether you need to plug in the clipper itself when it runs out of charge (if it's the type without removable / replaceable batteries). Compare run-time and charge time. Whether they come with 1 or 2 batteries. The cost of buying extra batteries later. Whether they come with a case or not. Whether the battery / clipper has a charge indicator or not. It's not a 'right or wrong' for each of these considerations, as it depends on personal preference and intended use.
What else do I need to buy when getting clippers?
All clippers listed above come with a blade included free. You'll normally get given a standard size 10 blade with your clippers. However they do not come with shorter or longer blades, or comb attachments, so you order those separately to match the length/s you want the coat to be. With most clippers you'll also need oil and coolant. You'll also typically want at least one comb attachment or one longer blade. See more below about blades, comb attachments and coat lengths to help you decide.
How long will a blade stay sharp?
There are so many factors that there isn't an easy answer to that question. However you can get standard steel blades sharpened when they become dull or blunt, rather than having to buy new blades every time. Ceramic blades stay sharper up to 5 times longer than full steel blades, but when ceramic blades eventually become dull or blunt, you can't get that blade type sharpened. You can get both ceramic or steel blades for all the A5 model clippers listed above. Do take care with your coat prep, as poor prep will dull a blade very fast (sometimes within minutes instead of weeks or months). Read more about coat prep below to avoid causing your blade to become blunt earlier than it should.
Trimmers for the Bichon coat
Many owners of a Bichon Frise / Bichon cross also get themselves a cordless trimmer to use on the feet, between paw pads, around the face, ears and eyes, and around the rectum, genitals, armpits and abdomen. You can use full-size clipper for these areas if you prefer, however factors to consider are: how sensitive your dog is, whether you want to go cordless, and if you want a smaller blade to get to those difficult areas more easily.
If your Bichon is extra noise or vibration sensitive, or anxious about being groomed or touched in certain places, a trimmer can help as it's a lot lighter, smaller, lower vibration and quieter than a clipper. Being cordless, and having a much smaller blade width, means trimmers can get in to tricky or delicate areas more easily and the blade reduces the risk of injury, ideal if you're a beginner. For the Bichon you'll likely find a mini size trimmer better than the midi size. Mini trimmers have the smallest blade width, around 3cm. A midi is around 4cm. A full size clipper is about 5cm wide.
Mini's are the more popular size for Bichons for trimming.
Higher quality models:
Budget option > Shernbao Mini
A midi size trimmer is a bit bigger, the blade width is around 4cm. This size is popular as a first clipper for Bichon puppies before they get their adult coat, while their coat is still thin and easy to clip, however you can use midi size trimmers for adults too but just as a trimmer (for paws, faces, ears, groin etc and touch-ups between trips to the groomer).
The budget-friendly Codos is popular for Bichon puppies before their adult coat comes through to get them used to being clipped before you actually need full powered clippers, but without spending too much.
Budget option > Codos CP-9800
Blade guide for the Bichon Frise coat
Check what type your clipper is first. If you have an A5 model clipper of any brand, almost every blade we sell will fit on your clipper, no matter what brand your clipper is, or what brand the blade is. You can then mix and match to suit your needs, so an Andis blade can go on a Wahl clipper, a Geib blade on an Andis clipper, a Wahl comb attachment on an Andis blade and so on.
Note that trimmers are not A5 models, so trimmers have their own combs and blades made just for each model of trimmer. Trimmers are not universal fit.
Bichon Blade Guide
#10 blade > The ‘standard blade’ included free with most clippers. Leaves the coat around 2mm when used by itself. However also fits all universal comb attachments for coat lengths from 3mm to over 3cm. Use a 10 by itself for anywhere you want short, such as paw pads, under the ears, around the genitals, for the tummy and around the anal opening.
Any brand of standard 10 blade, fits any brand of universal comb attachment. We recommend stainless steel comb attachments for the dense, curly Bichon coat as these have a more secure fit on the blade, so are better suited for clipping thicker or double coats. Both Wahl and Andis make universal-fit, stainless steel comb attachments, but you can mix and match brands.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW > Before you buy any longer blade, unless you are experienced or trained using them, only get the finish cut version in blades longer than a #10. Longer blades include the 3, 4, 5 and 7. Those come in two versions, either skip tooth (ST) where every other tooth is shorter, or finish cut (called F or FC depending on the brand but F and FC mean the same thing), where all the teeth are the same length. All blades 10 or shorter, such as 10, 15 and 30, are always finish cut.
For shorter coat lengths (under 1cm)
Depending on your Bichon’s coat type and the look you prefer, you may want to go longer or shorter. Body length blades in sizes 4, 5 and 7 are all popular for a shorter Bichon pet clip. The 7 gives the closest / shortest length of the three...
#7 blade > About twice the coat length of a 10. Leaves the coat quite short, around 3mm depending on the direction you clip in. Not as popular as the 5 and 4 lengths for Bichons, but good for knot-prone or matted coats and for short summer cuts. Get the FC version of this blade unless experienced.
#5 blade > For a longer body length. A popular length for a low-maintenance Bichon pet clip. Leaves the coat around 6mm depending on the direction you clip in. Get the FC version unless experienced.
#4 blade > Also a popular, longer body length for a Bichon pet clip. Leaves the coat around 1cm (9mm). Get the FC version unless experienced.
You can get an even longer blade - a size 3 - which is over 1cm - however being such a long blade this length is best used by a trained / experienced groomer. This can be a difficult blade to use for beginners. For longer coat lengths for beginner groomers, comb attachments are recommended instead.
Feet / paw pads: A 30 blade is 0.5mm, the ideal shorter length for trimming fur on the bottom of the feet, however you can use a trimmer, or a 10 blade instead.
Sanitary clip: The 10 blade that comes with most clippers is an ideal length for sanitary areas such as the tummy and around the genitals.
For longer coat lengths (over 1cm)
Comb attachments offer a wide range of coat lengths from 1.5mm up to 3.2cm in plastic, or 3mm to 2.5cm in stainless steel combs, so you can choose the length you'd like the coat to be. If you get a few lengths, or a set of combs, you can have some areas (like the legs and head), longer than others (like the body and legs) for a more balanced, in proportion look. Having a set also means you can adjust for shorter lengths in summer and longer in winter.
Popular longer body length comb attachments are the longer 1cm to 3cm combs. In Wahl's stainless steel range, they call them size 4 (13mm), 5 (16mm), 6 (19mm), 7 (22mm) and size 8 (25mm). You can get those as a set of 8 or individually. In Andis stainless steel combs these are called size 1 (12mm), 0 (15mm), A (19mm), B (22mm) and C (25mm). Size A is a common one to see mentioned by groomers, but whether buying blades or comb attachments, just buy based on coat length (given in mm's) rather than trying to remember all the different numbers and letters.
The longer you want the coat, the more good coat prep matters. A longer coat needs to be free of tangles and knots, or the longer teeth of a comb attachment won't go through the coat. If you can't remove all knots before clipping, you'll likely have to go for a shorter blade that can get through the coat by going underneath the knots.
For more about a puppy cut or teddy bear trim >
For a step-by-step guide (with photos) showing a longer Bichon pet clip >
After you clip, you will likely find uneven areas, and areas where the clipper or comb attachment has left track marks in the coat. To finish a groom, use a grooming comb to lift up the coat to check for uneven areas, then use scissors to even them out.
The two most often used types of scissors for a Bichon pet clip, are shorter thinners and longer curved scissors. A blender style thinner (with one notched blade and one solid blade), can be used to blend shorter into longer areas, and get a natural fluffy, softer, more textured finish, instead of the blunt cut normal scissors give. Curved scissors (two solid blades in a curved shape), are popular for finishing the feet, legs, ears, and for a rounded teddy-bear head. You can use straight scissors the same purpose but it can be more difficult to get that more natural rounded finish using straights. Thinners are also popular for tidying up the face, around the nose and eyes.
You can see photos showing the different scissors being used in this step-by-step Bichon pet clip guide with photos
What coat prep is needed before clipping the Bichon coat?
Even with a brand new, sharp blade, and a clipper rated for the Bichon coat, poor coat prep can cause a lot of (avoidable) problems when clipping. Before you clip, check the detailed coat prep guide here for the 4 important prep steps before you clip.
Dealing with tangles and knots
A detangler spray and slicker brush are a great combo to remove tangles and knots. A bristle brush won’t be enough for knot removal for the Bichon coat. A pin brush is recommended for all over, everyday brushing for the Bichon coat. For bad tangles start with a grooming comb to gently tease apart the knot first (a detangler spray helps a lot too). For very bad knots you may have to cut or clip them out, or use a dematting tool. Take care as skin may be pulled in to the knot, so it’s best for professionals to address matted knots. When using scissors for knot removal, safety tip scissors are recommended.
Bichon ears & eyes
EARS: Some Bichons are more prone than others to wax and dirt build-up in their ears. At least once a month put a few drops of ear cleaner on a cotton wool ball and gently rub the visible areas inside of the ear, and between the folds of the ears, to remove any visible wax and dirt. This helps prevent worse ear problems from developing. We like the Fidos Ear Drops. You can also safely use body wipes with both ear cleaner or tear / saliva stain remover (below).
SALIVA & TEAR STAINS Any white coated breed is more prone to showing eye, mouth and ear staining from tears and saliva. Regular use of a product like Fidos Tear Stain Remover is recommended for Bichons. Ideally use it as a preventative by regularly cleaning the eye area to help prevent build-up and staining in the first place. Keep watch for longer eyebrow hairs or eyelashes because if they touch the eye they can irritate it, causing excessive tearing, leading to tear staining. Keep fur around the face short using scissors, such as thinners. However if your dog has constant eye discharge, and trimming eyebrows and eyelashes makes no difference, it’s time for a visit to the Vet.
The Shampoo Mistake
One common Bichon coat mistake is to skip conditioner!
Many dog owners use shampoo only - but even the gentlest shampoo will strip condition from the coat, as shampoo is designed to open the cuticle so it can remove oil, dirt and build-up. That's how it does its job. Using conditioner after shampoo is even more important if you like to keep your Bichon’s coat long, but we recommend never skipping conditioner for the wool coat.
Conditioner helps 'close' and seal the cuticle back up again following shampoo use. It restores hydration and moisture. Conditioner helps you remove existing knots and tangles, and reduces knots and tangles forming in the future, as the cuticle is closed rather than rough and open. It also restores elasticity and helps to smooth the hair cuticle, allowing brushes and combs, as well as comb attachments and clipper blades, to go through the coat more easily.
Shampoo & conditioner for the Bichon coat
Whitening shampoo is very popular for Bichons. Our best seller is Bio-Groom Super White but Pet Head White Party is also popular. They don’t bleach the coat, but white shampoos can still be more drying than normal shampoo, so conditioner is extra important to use after white shampoo.
As the Bichon’s coat is (or should be!) a frequently brushed breed, conditioner also helps to fill in damage caused by frequent brushing and dryer use, while reducing dry, frizzy ends and reducing static. Keep in mind as well (and this applies for all breeds), that the more frequently you wash any dog, the more important not skipping conditioner becomes.
For the best match shampoo, conditioner, detangler and more for the Bichon coat check the wool coat shampoo selector