Bichon Frise Depression: All You Need to Know

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Bichon Frise Depression: All You Need to KnowBichon frise is a well-loved breed of dog – they’re known for their fun, gentle temperament and for their affectionate personalities. They’re also small dogs, weighing in at 12 to 18 pounds, and are often characterized as looking like little teddy bears.

But despite their adorable appearance and gentle personality, bichons frises, just like many other breeds, can suffer from mental illnesses including depression.

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Do Bichons Frises Get Depressed?

Bichons frises can and do get depressed as well as anxious. They are not dogs that fare well alone, and so many develop attachment anxiety and subsequent depression when left alone during the day whilst their owner goes off to work. Their sociable and affectionate temperament often referred to as needy, is what makes many families choose a bichon frise, only to find that their pet is acting differently after a few months.

Bichons frises are one of the dog breeds that suffer the most from depression, alongside German shepherds, labrador retrievers, cocker spaniels, and basset hounds.

Common Bichon Frise Depression Symptoms

A depressed bichon frise will demonstrate certain behaviors that are out of character for its breed like many other breeds do when they are depressed. These behaviors include drastic changes in sleeping patterns. Many bichons frises sleep for long periods of time, especially after socializing, but a depressed bichon frise may not. Alternatively, owners may notice that their usually bouncing-with-joy bichon is constantly asleep or lethargic.

Bichons frises may also demonstrate drastic changes to their appetite when depressed. Bichons who were previously ready for a treat at any given moment may all of a sudden leave food in their bowl at the end of mealtime, or may not be as food motivated when it comes to rewards and treats. This coincides with a lack of enjoyment, a common symptom of depression in dogs. Pets suffering from depression are likely to show disinterest in their previously beloved toys, activities, and potentially even owners. It often seems like they are completely different dogs.

Likewise, a depressed bichon frise might suddenly act as if it had never been trained. Behaviors that are often trained out of dogs such as urinating and defecating in the home, barking, whining, and begging might return. Your pet might seem as if it has completely forgotten everything you’ve worked on. It is important if this happens to not focus on punishment but acknowledge the bigger picture.

One of the biggest signs of depression in a bichon frise is a sudden onset of aggression. Whilst bichons frises can be fierce protectors of their owners, usually, this is not done in an aggressive manner. But when depressed, many bichons begin to show aggression towards other dogs and even their owners.

Risks of Not Dealing with Your Bichon Frise’s Depression

Failing to deal with a bichon frise’s depression can lead to your relationship with your pet suffering hugely. You may find that their changes in personality become permanent, and what was once a beloved family dog becomes somewhat of a nuisance. The traits that bichons frises often pick up when depressed are the opposite of their general disposition, and are unlikely to be trained away, making it harder for you and your family to live with your dog.

If you’ve got other pets at home, your bichon’s sudden aggression and other behavior may lead to conflict between them and your other pets. This can create an uncomfortable and possibly harmful environment for both animals and can take an emotional toll on you as an owner.

Should a bichon frise suffer from depression and begin to eat or sleep less, they are more susceptible to falling ill. Without the correct nutrition and enough sleep, just like any other living creature, their bodies will be unable to fight off pathogens in the way they would usually. This could result in your pet becoming seriously unwell.

Depression in bichons frises can be a symptom of a larger issue. Your dog’s depression may well be a sign that they’re unwell. Depression in dogs can be a sign of illnesses like diabetes, or a chronic pain condition.

How to Treat Your Bichon Frise’s Depression

There are things that you can do at home to help your bichon frise recover from depression. If you’re regularly leaving your pet at home alone, consider looking into ‘doggy daycare,’ or failing that invest in a dog speaker. This will help to reduce the loneliness your bichon frise feels, which may well be a contributing factor to their low mood and depression.

If your dog is showing signs of depression, one way to help is to increase the amount of exercise it’s getting. Increase the length of your walks, or play with them around the house and in the garden more. Exercise has been shown to be useful in both humans and dogs at combatting low moods.

You can also try to socialize your bichon frise a little bit more. If you think that your pet might be feeling lonely, or perhaps you’ve recently lost another dog, taking your dog to a dog park or a dog-related meet-up and allowing them to meet and play with other dogs is a great way to help them feel better.

It may seem obvious, but another way to improve your bichon’s mood is to play with them. Get their favorite toys out, play their favorite games, and take them to their favorite spots – whatever you know usually brings them joy.

You may decide to go to a vet as soon as you notice behavioral changes in your bichon frise. They will likely suggest a few lifestyle changes before they prescribe anything. If you implement these changes and see little to no improvement, take your dog back to the vet and discuss medications with them.


Whilst bichons frises are lovely, gentle, and happy dogs, they are one of the most susceptible dog breeds when it comes to depression. They require a lot of attention and affection, and failing to keep up with that can lead to significant behavior and personality changes that may make them seem like completely different dogs.

To help them return to their happy-go-lucky selves, take them out to meet other dogs, play with them, and try not to let them get lonely.

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