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The bichon frise is a hardy little dog, best known as a ‘personality’ breed; we typically want our little buddies around for as long as possible. Luckily, they are usually long-lived.
But how long do bichon frises live exactly? And what can parents of these pets do to help our fluffy snowballs enjoy a long, healthy, and happy life?
How Long Do Bichons Frises Typically Live?
Healthy bichons usually live between the age of twelve and fifteen. This makes them quite a long-lived breed that tends to stay relatively lively well into their teens. This also means that adopting a puppy is a long-term commitment, as you will need to be prepared to care for them for well over a decade!
In certain cases, barring accidents, a bichon’s life can be affected by genetic disorders or diseases common to the breed. Therefore, if you are buying a puppy instead of adopting, always be sure that you are dealing with a reputable breeder.
Good breeders will screen breeding dogs for potential health risks, such as cancers or eye issues. Proper screening will improve the pup’s chances of a long and healthy life.
As with any breed, the bichon frise is susceptible to common, age-related health concerns. These include osteoarthritis, hip and elbow dysplasia, and common sight-related conditions. These can be managed with proper medical care, exercise, and diet.
Finally, how well a bichon frise is cared for throughout their life will affect their longevity. A healthy bichon frise that is fed a quality diet receives plenty of playtime and exercise, and can probably have its lifetime extended by several years.
In fact, many owners report their bichons frises living up to seventeen or eighteen years old. The oldest bichon frise got to live even longer than that.
How Does Bichons Frises’ Lifespan Compare to Other Breeds?
Smaller dogs generally enjoy a longer lifespan, and the bichon frise is no exception. With an average lifespan of between twelve and fifteen years, a well-loved and well-cared-for bichon frise usually lives an exceptionally long life.
This is especially true if you compare them to giant breeds such as the Great Dane that lives eight to ten years but frequently suffers from joint and heart problems from as young as six.
Large breeds such as the German Shepherd typically live a bit longer, averaging between nine and thirteen years, provided they haven’t inherited a severe medical problem. However, the more muscular Bullmastiff rarely reaches ten years and is also considered a senior dog from the age of six or seven.
Medium-sized dogs live a bit longer. A well-cared-for Border Collie can reach seventeen years. Meanwhile, a healthy Cocker Spaniel has about the same lifespan of about twelve to fifteen years.
In general, smaller dogs like the bichon frise do tend to live the longest. For example, the Chihuahua has a life expectancy of fifteen to seventeen years. However, Chihuahuas often suffers from severe health problems as they get older.
Likewise, the slightly bigger Boston Terrier can live up to fifteen years long. But a long lifespan doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy breed. Certain breeds might live long but are more likely to suffer severe health problems than the bichon frise.
For example, the French Bulldog can live up to fourteen years. Nevertheless, they are very likely to struggle from severe health issues such as respiratory problems, mobility issues, or skin ailments. This can mean some hefty vet bills, and it can impact their quality of life.
So when one compares the bichon frise to other medium, small, and toy-sized dogs, their life expectancy is average. However, they are usually a bit more robust with fewer health issues than breeds like the French Bulldog. So, they tend to have a better overall quality of life as they age.
3 Reasons Bichons Frises Live a Relatively Long Life
If you are wondering why the above is the case, here are the main reasons.
#1: Their Size
Smaller dogs do tend to live longer than large dogs. Studies show that large dogs simply age faster than small breeds like the bichon frise. This means that problems like arthritis or heart issues start setting in as young as six or seven years for large or giant breeds.
Meanwhile, the smaller size means their heart has to do less work to pump blood around their vital tissues and organs. It also means that there is less wear-and-tear on their joints.
#2: Fewer Musculoskeletal Problems
Certain joint conditions, such as hip dysplasia, are common in large breeds like the Golden Retriever or the German Shepherd. Although these issues can be managed, they also become increasingly severe as the dog ages and often need serious corrective surgeries. It can also cut many dog’s lives short as the pain becomes too debilitating.
The bichon frise is far less prone to these conditions, which contributes to their longer lifespan. While they are not ‘immune’ to dysplasia and patella luxation, some stats suggest the occurrence of these conditions at less than one in thirty for the bichon frise.
#3: Fewer Hereditary Defects
Bichons frises have fewer genetic health issues than many other dogs, especially purebreds. The main areas of concern are heart problems, allergies, and weight issues that cause issues like arthritis or diabetes.
By managing a bichon frise’s weight and by keeping their teeth in good condition, one can reduce the amount of inflammation in their bodies and keep them healthier for longer.
Many pure breeds are prone to hereditary conditions that impact their quality of life. While conditions such as retinal atrophy and other sight-related diseases may not affect life expectancy directly, they do impact the overall quality of life of your pet.
Other hereditary health problems, like gum disease, can prove fatal. Gum diseases don’t only affect your dog’s teeth. They also affect their organs, causing damage to the heart and liver. One should always be vigilant about dental health, but there is some comfort in knowing that the bichon doesn’t carry additional, hereditary susceptibilities.
Tips to Make Your Bichon Frise Live Longer
Lastly, below are four areas which you should pay attention to if you want your bichon frise to live as long as possible.
#1: Healthy Diet
One of the most important things you can do to help your bichon frise live a long, happy life is to provide them with a healthy diet. It’s important to understand the basics of how to read a dog food label and know what’s best for your pup.
In general, the less processed the food is, the better. Look for food that contains a named animal protein instead of animal by-products or meals.
Healthy grains can help avoid canine dilated cardiomyopathy, so avoid grain-free diets. Simply make sure the grains do not make up the majority of the diet and avoid “filler grains” such as corn. Whole vegetables can be helpful for antioxidants.
Avoid artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Look for food that contains a nutritionally balanced mix of added vitamins and minerals, but beware of certain ingredients, such as sodium selenite. Selenium yeast is a better natural source of selenium.
Small dogs like the bichon frise may also be prone to liver and kidney problems, such as liver shunts. In this case, they may need special diets that release less ammonia or that have less phosphorus or proteins.
Some minerals like phosphorus bind with calcium in the bloodstream and prevent it from being absorbed. This can cause kidney stones and a dangerous calcium deficiency.
Another compound that does this is oxalic acid. One study found that female bichon frise is more likely to suffer oxalate kidney stones. The best prevention is to avoid giving your bichon vegetables with a high oxalic acid content, such as spinach or sweet potato.
The bichon frise is not a ‘high energy’ dog, but it still requires enough exercise to stay fit and healthy. The amount of exercise a bichon needs depends on their age and environment.
Exercise improves heart health, staves off obesity, and even aids bowel function. A dog that exercises regularly enjoys more feel-good hormones and has better bone density and muscle tone as they age.
Regular exercise also helps avoid behavioral problems and gives you time to bond with your Bichon. In short, exercise keeps them fit and healthy and enriches their life.
Play not only helps your bichon frise meet its exercise requirements but also offers mental stimulation. Constructive play is crucial for your bichon frise’s general well-being and contributes to a long and healthy life.
Regular play also helps avoid doggy dementia as your bichon frise ages. It keeps their brains active and stimulated, helping them stay young at heart. Dogs that play regularly have an overall better quality of life.
#4: Avoid Anxiety
Stress is a killer, and this is true for our pets as well. Many things can cause stress for your pup, but bichons frises are particularly prone to separation anxiety. They form close bonds with their owner and can find it traumatic to spend extended periods separated from their human family.
Separation anxiety can lead to depression, loss of appetite, and general malaise. There are several ways to approach separation anxiety in dogs. Still, it’s best to make sure that they have human company for most of the day when it comes to the bichon.
Keeping them in a calm environment and making sure they get plenty of playtime and exercise is also to keep your bichon frise stress-free and happy-go-lucky.
The bichon frise is generally a long-lived breed. This is largely thanks to good breeding and a lower rate of hereditary diseases. Thankfully, as long as we take good care of our bichons and manage their diet, weight, and teeth, we will likely keep them sprightly and chipper well into their teens.
This means that taking on a bichon is a long-term commitment, so make sure you are ready for a pup that could be with you for almost the same amount of time it takes a child to grow up and leave the house.