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Bichon Frise Health Issues – Here’s What You Need To Know

All dog owners want their dogs to live long, happy, and healthy lives. It’s no exception for Bichon owners.

With this in mind, it’s important to learn as much as you can about Bichon Frise health issues to know what to look out for if your dog does fall ill.

In this article, I’ve researched and organized all the information you might need about Bichon Frise health issues so you can use it as a reference when you need it.

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What Is the Average Life Expectancy Of A Bichon Frise?

The average life expectancy of a Bichon Frise is between 12 to 15 years.

I wrote a more detailed article on this topic which you can read here to learn more:

What Is The Age Span Of A Bichon Frise?

Common Bichon Frise Health Issues

As the Bichon Frise is a recognized breed by the Kennel Club, this means that things like common health issues are pretty well defined for this breed.

This is a big positive as we generally know what potential health issues the Bichon could face which makes us very well prepared if these things should happen.

Let’s take a look at the common Bichon Frise health issues in more detail.

1. Patellar Luxation

What Is Patellar Luxation?

Patellar Luxation is a condition that occurs when the patella (the knee joint) becomes displaced from its normal position.

Many small dogs like the Bichon Frise are genetically predisposed to this condition.

What Causes Patellar Luxation?

This condition can usually be congenital which means inherited from its parents.

It can also be caused by obesity which puts extra pressure on joints and muscles.

What Are The Symptoms of Patellar Luxation?

Dogs that suffer from Patellar Luxation will often avoid putting pressure on their leg when walking and hold it up or bent it at an unusual angle.

Severe signs of this condition include whining, licking at their knee, and unwillingness to walk or play.

What Is The Treatment For Patellar Luxation?

Depending on the severity of the condition surgery can be required to correct this condition.

If caught in the early stages, surgery can completely reverse the condition.

If the condition has further progressed your vet is the best person to consult regarding treatment options and may prescribe painkillers to ease pain and discomfort.

Where Can I Learn More About Patellar Luxation?

You can read more about what causes this condition here:

2. Hip Dysplasia

What Is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip Dysplasia is the term for the abnormal formation of the hip socket which can cause pain, stiffness, or discomfort in dogs.

They may find climbing up stairs difficult to do and will avoid normal daily activities like playing fetch or going for walks.

What Causes Hip Dysplasia?

Hip Dysplasia is something that can develop as dogs age and the tissue and muscle wear away.

It can be further amplified by obesity which puts extra weight on these joints and muscles.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hip Dysplasia?

Dogs that have Hip Dysplasia will have difficulty running, jumping, and climbing stairs.

They will also show decreased muscle mass in their thighs and increased muscle mass in their shoulders as they compensate for not putting weight on their hind end.

Other symptoms include pain, stiffness, and whining when moving.

What Is The Treatment For Hip Dysplasia?

There is no true cure for Hip Dysplasia, however with that said, there are many treatment options to improve their quality of life.

Your vet may recommend a physical therapy regime and prescribe medication as necessary.

Surgery is also an option depending on the severity of the case. Again, this is something you can discuss with your vet for the best course of treatment.

Where Can I Learn More About Hip Dysplasia?

You can read more about the prevention of this condition here:

3. Ear Infections

What Are Ear Infections?

Ear infections are commonplace in dogs, especially those with dropped floppy ears, and can be caused by a number of factors and can result in irritation or even hearing loss.

What Causes Ear Infections?

The main causes of ear infection are: moisture, allergies, irritations, wax buildup, and foreign bodies becoming trapped in the ear canal. All of these can worsen over time and cause infection.

What Are The Symptoms Of Ear Infections?

Some symptoms to look out for when talking about ear infections include excessive ear scratching, whining, or redness / swelling around the ear.

What Is The Treatment For Ear Infections?

Ensuring you regularly clean your dog’s ears can go a long way to preventing ear infections. All you need is an ear cleaning solution and some cotton wool or cotton swabs.

During your regular checkups with your vet, they will examine and thoroughly clean your dog’s ears.

Depending on the severity of the ear infection, your vet may prescribe ear cleaning solution or anti-inflammatory medication to ease the infection.

Where Can I Learn More About Ear Infections?

To find out much more about ear infections including some natural remedies that ease dog ear infections, check out this article: YourDogAdvisor – Dog Ear Infections.

4. Skin Allergies

What Are Skin Allergies In Dogs?

Skin Allergies can be common in dogs and result in scratching, whining, and shaking.

Skin allergies can be particularly common in the Bichon Frise due to the low pigmentation found in their skin.

This makes their skin slightly more vulnerable to skin irritations and allergies.

What Causes Skin Allergies In Dogs?

There are a several potential causes of skin allergies in dogs.

These include:

  • The food they eat
  • Flea or insect bites
  • Reactions to detergent from washing their beds.
  • A harsh shampoo or human shampoo is used to wash them
  • Dust or pollen in the air

What Are The Symptoms Of Skin Allergies In Dogs?

The symptoms of skin allergies in dogs include: itching and scratching the affected area, hair loss, red, irritated, or flaky skin.

What Is The Treatment For Skin Allergies In Dogs?

Depending on the cause of the skin irritation in your dog, there are a number of treatment options available:

  • Dog-friendly sensitive dog shampoos and fabric detergents should be used
  • Special dog food formulated for dogs with allergies
  • Regular cleaning and dusting of the house including dog beds and floors to reduce dust and pollen
  • Consulting with your vet to identify the best course of treatment

Where Can I Learn More About Allergies In Dogs?

To learn even more about the causes and treatments of allergies in dogs you can read this article: Pets4Homes

How To Ensure Your Bichon Frise Is Healthy

Now that we’ve looked at the potential health issues a Bichon Frise may face, it’s time to turn our attention to keeping a healthy Bichon.

Thankfully as a dog owner there are a lot of things you can do to ensure your Bichon Frise is in top health.

Let’s talk about some of these things in more detail.

Keep An Eye On Their Weight

All dogs should be regularly weighed and the Bichon Frise is no exception.

Older Bichons especially can be prone to becoming overweight as exercise decreases and food intake increases.

Your vet will be able to advise you on the optimal weight for your dog but Bichons tend to weigh between 10 and 16 lbs.

Knowing your Bichon’s weight means that you can easily tailor their diet to account for an increase or decrease in weight making sure they are healthy.

Make Sure Your Bichon Gets Enough Exercise

Ah, exercise. You’ll probably be sick of people saying to you to get more exercise but the same is especially true for your dog.

Bichons need at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. This combined with mental stimulation will prevent boredom and lead to a more happy and relaxed dog.

You can exercise your Bichon in a ton of ways so don’t fret!

In fact, I’ve written 2 other articles about exercising your Bichon that you can read here:

9 Of The Best Indoor Dog Activities for Your Bichon Frise

9 Of The Best Free Outdoor Dog Activities To Do With Your Bichon

Book Your Bichon In For Regular Vets Visits

Regular check-ups at the vets are essential for keeping your dog healthy. This ensures they stay up to date on their booster shots, worming, and flea treatments.

A vet will also be able to examine your dog and let you know if something is wrong with them for example if they are overweight or if they are suffering from allergies and provide the best course of treatment for them.

Just like you go to the doctor for your annual check-up, so too should your doggo.

Buy High-Quality Dog Food

You have probably heard the phrase, you are what you eat, well the same goes for dogs.

Visiting pet stores will show you just how many types and varieties of dog food that are out there. It boggles the mind.

It can be pretty intimidating especially for new dog owners to understand just what kind of food is best for their dog. Fortunately, there are lots of resources to figure this out.

Firstly, asking the breeder of the dog is a great way to find the food they have been feeding the puppy. Breeders are always a wealth of knowledge in this area and are happy to answer any questions you have.

Another option is to consult with your vet. They will often stock a number of brands of food and will be able to recommend a high-quality food for your dog.

Finally, you can ask me nicely and I might share with you what I feed my Bichon.

We have been using [Hills Science Pet Plan] food as it was recommended by Scully’s breeder. We started with the puppy food, then after the first year moved onto the adult food.

Scully always seems to enjoy eating this food and we can buy big bags at a time so we’re not going to the store every couple of weeks for more food.

Tip: We weigh out the food portions each week into separate containers to make life easier.

Regularly Groom Your Bichon

A regularly groomed Bichon is a happy Bichon it has to be said.

Even though Bichons do not shed very much, they still need to be regularly brushed to prevent matting and to remove dead skin and loose hair.

Matted fur can become painful and irritating for your dog so it’s important to set a time to do this each week.

If you start regularly brushing from the time they are a puppy, by the time they are fully grown they are used to the process and won’t wiggle and squirm away as you try to brush them.

All you need to do this with is a slicker brush which is usually pretty inexpensive.

If you want to learn more about Bichon Frise grooming, I wrote a comprehensive guide for you to follow which you can read here:

Bichon Frise Grooming – A Helpful Beginners Guide

Bichon Frise Health FAQs

Now that we’ve covered some common Bichon Frise health issues and learned how to ensure a healthy Bichon, it’s time to dive into some FAQs about Bichon Frise health.

My Bichon Frise Is Scratching Their Ears Persistently

If your dog is scratching their ears persistently there are a number of potential reasons for this:

1. Ear mites
2. Dirt build-up in the ear canal
3. Skin irritation

Ear Mites – It is pretty common for puppies to have ear mites for example. If they are scratching their ear pretty constantly then licking their paw and whimpering then it is likely ear mites are the cause. Your best bet for treating ear mites is a trip to the vet.

Dirt build-up in the ear canal – Another potential cause of ear scratching is the build-up of dirt and dead skin in the ear canal. As Bichons have dropped, floppy ears that hang down, it is easy for dirt and dead skin to become trapped in the ear canal. If left untreated over time this could lead to blocked irritated ears. Regular ear cleaning is an easy way to prevent this but if it has become too severe then a trip to the vet is necessary so they can effectively clear out the ear canal.

Consult Your Vet – As with everything I discuss here on this site, I am not a veterinarian by any means. You mush consult with your vet if you suspect your dog has any of the conditions we looked at so they can advise on the best course of action in your specific case.

What To Do If My Bichon Has Eaten Chocolate?

If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate here are some quick steps to follow:

1. Find out if your dog has eaten chocolate and if so, note down how much and what kind. Keep the wrapper if possible to refer to.

2. Knowing how much and what kind of chocolate was eaten will determine the level of severity. Check that against this Dog Chocolate Toxicity Meter.

3. Note any symptoms your dog might be displaying: Diarrhea, Vomiting, Increased Urination, Restlessness, Seizures.

4. Consult your vet and explain the situation: what kind of chocolate was eaten, how much, symptoms your dog is displaying. They will be able to advise you on the next steps to treat your dog.

For more information about the effect of chocolate on dogs, you can read this article I wrote: My Dog Ate Chocolate What Should I Do?


You’ve reached the end of the article! I hope you found this all helpful. Let’s summarize before we finish.

  • Firstly, we looked at the life expectancy of the Bichon Frise
  • After that, we discussed some of the common Bichon Frise health issues
  • Next, we discussed Bichon Frise old age problems to look out for
  • Following that, we talked about some good tips for ensuring your Bichon stays healthy.
  • And finally, we went over some Bichon Frise health FAQs

We were able to cover a lot of useful information in this article. If you found this information useful and helpful, I’d really appreciate you sharing this article on social media to help other Bichon owners to find it.

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this article, I highly recommend you read these next: