The Bichon Frise is one of the most adorable and charming of all breeds, and they tend to be quite healthy as well. If you’re wondering how much time you’ll have with your Bichon Frise, you’ll be glad to learn that you’ll likely get to spend more time with them than you would with most other breeds.
How Long Do Bichon Frises Live?
Bichon Frises typically live to be about 14 or 15 years old, although it isn’t unusual for Bichons to live to be 20 years or even older. They suffer from relatively few health concerns or instincts that are likely to get them into trouble.
If you are looking for a charming companion that will be around for the long term, the Bichon Frise might be the right dog for you. Here’s what you need to know about why Bichons live so long and how you can help your dog to live longer.
Why Do Bichon Frise Live Such A Long Time?
Bichon Frises have a much longer life span than some other breeds. By comparison, many large breed dogs only live for about a decade. That means that your Bichon puppy may live as much as twice as long as a large breed dog born at the same time. There are a few reasons that Bichon Frise is generally quite healthy and long-lived:
Small breed dogs typically live longer than large breed dogs. In fact, it seems that the smaller the dogs, the longer they live. Since the Bichon is only around 12 to 18 lbs, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are among the longest-lived of all dog breeds.
We aren’t sure entirely why small breed dogs live longer than large breed dogs, but the answer seems to be built into their genetics.
As dog breeds have been developed, some have become much more drastically changed from their original form than others. While at first glance it may seem that the Bichon is one of the dogs furthest from their wolf ancestry, in fact, this breed has not been as altered as many other dogs.
The Bichon Frise has an appropriately-sized snout for the size of their heads. They do not have the squished in snout of a breed like a Pug or a French Bulldog. The Bichon has a square, sturdy body type, neither very long nor very squat. That means that the Bichon is not as likely to suffer from neck or back problems as some breeds like the Dachshund or the Basset Hound.
Bred As A Companion
The Bichon Frise developed on islands, along with some other little low-shed breeds like the Maltese and the Havanese. They were never bred to do a specific job like hunting vermin or other animals, tracking, herding, protecting, or anything else.
Since the Bichon was bred as a companion, they may not be as likely to suffer from health conditions that developed as a result of breeding. For instance, dogs that were developed to track scents have long, floppy ears which can be more prone to ear infections. Dogs that have been bred to run very fast have long spindly legs that can be more prone to being broken easily.
The Bichon was not bred for any specific job like this. Rather, people have wanted to keep them around as beloved companions for as long as possible. For that reason, this ancient breed may have been bred for longevity as well as other characteristics like a fluffy coat and charming personality.
Not Prone To Many Serious Health Conditions
Bichon Frises tend to be very healthy little dogs. They can have some issues like eye problems, luxating patella, allergies, and bladder infections, but they are not particularly prone to life-threatening diseases like cancer or heart conditions, as so many other breeds are.
Responsible breeders screen their stock for any conditions that the breed is prone to, making it even more likely that you’ll bring home a healthy pet. While every breed has some inherent issues in the breed, the Bichon tends to be one of the healthiest and least prone to serious genetic health conditions.
Largely Free Of Dangerous Instincts
The Bichon Frise isn’t just less likely to succumb to medical conditions, they also tend to be less prone to get themselves into trouble than some other breeds. Dogs that have strong instincts to wander, chase, fight, protect, and otherwise interact with the world in ways that may be more likely to lead to physical injury or death may be less likely to live long lives.
The Bichon tends to be a very happy go lucky little dog that rarely experiences strong drives to do much of anything besides eat and play. This is not a dog that is likely to chase a prey animal into traffic, run away until they can’t find their way back, or otherwise get themselves into a bad situation.
How To Help Your Bichon Live A Long Life
You are probably thrilled to learn that the Bichon Frise tends to be a healthy and long-lived breed. Surely you want your dog to live as long as possible. Here are a few things that you can do to set your dog up for success in a long, healthy life:
Maintain An Ideal Weight
Obesity is one of the primary problems for Bichon Frise. These little dogs can easily pack on the pounds before you even notice.
Since they are so little, even a relatively small amount of additional weight can have serious consequences. The Bichon Frise is prone to luxating patella. While this condition isn’t typically life-threatening, it can reduce your dog’s quality of life to such a degree that you may need to consider euthanasia.
Maintaining an ideal weight makes it much less likely that issues like luxating patella will develop. It makes it more likely that your Bichon Frise will live a long, healthy life. Here are a few tricks to help you keep your Bichon Frise in good physical condition:
- Use food distributing toys. Food distributing toys make your Bichon Frise work for every kibble, which helps them to get exercise even while they’re eating and allows them to feel satisfied with less food overall.
- Choose healthy treats. Your Bichon Frise is likely to be equally happy with a vegetable as a treat as they would have been with a fattening and typically more expensive commercial dog treat. Train your Bichon to enjoy healthy treats from the time they are young so that they’ll be satisfied without gaining weight.
- Exercise everyday. The Bichon Frise is an ideal dog for apartments and for people who are less active, thanks to their relatively low energy level and small size. However, even if you don’t want to walk your Bichon everyday, make sure that they play a good game of fetch, tug, hide and seek, or anything that gets their blood pumping.
Train Them To Enjoy Grooming
For a generally healthy dog like the Bichon, with a very high maintenance coat, behavioral issues may be more likely to end their lives prematurely than medical problems. Bichons that are not acclimated to grooming with plenty of positive reinforcement from a young age can develop aggression around grooming.
In severe cases, dogs may even need to be sedated to be groomed. Without regular grooming, it’s much more likely that your Bichon will develop irritations and mats which will reduce their quality of life and can even result in a life-threatening infection.
People who cannot groom their own dog or have to have them sedated at the groomer may be more likely to surrender the dog to a shelter. It is extremely important that your Bichon Frise enjoys grooming and is easy to handle on the grooming table from the time they are puppies.
Feed A Healthy Diet
For a small dog like the Bichon Frise, everything they eat is important. Choose the highest quality food you can afford.
Don’t be tempted to buy dog food advertising gimmicks and trends such as the grain-free diet. Instead, choose a dog food that has a good history of not causing health problems or being recalled and that uses real meat and healthy grains in the first few ingredients.
It typically isn’t important to choose a weight control diet if your dog isn’t already overweight, but it is wise to choose a small breed diet. Small dogs have slightly different nutritional needs than larger ones.
Since the Bichon Frise can be prone to bladder stones, it’s important that the diet you choose is not high in certain minerals. Talk to your veterinarian about what will be the best diet for your dog.
Choose A Great Breeder
One of the best things that you can do to set yourself up for success with a healthy Bichon Frise is to purchase a dog from a very responsible breeder. You can eliminate most major problems before they begin by choosing a line of dogs that has been screened for potential health problems. You may pay more upfront for a dog that has health clearances for several generations, but you will benefit from a healthier dog in the long-term.
Enjoy Every Day With Your Bichon Frise
Bichons tend to be a long-lived breed, which will be a relief to Bichon Frise enthusiasts since there’s never enough time to spend with this charming, loving little dog. By keeping your Bichon at an ideal weight, feeding a healthy diet, and making sure they don’t develop behavioral issues, especially around grooming, you will likely be able to have your Bichon Frise for many years to come.