Bichon Frise lifespan averages out at between 12 and 13 years. These little dogs owe their long life expectancies to their size, and the relative lack of life-limiting diseases in their genetics. The oldest Bichons survive well into their teens, and many owners are keen to know how they can make sure their pup is among them. Today we’ll share the secrets to a long lived dog by comparing the Bichon Frise lifespan with other breeds. We’ll also take a look at factors such as health, fitness, diet, weight, exercise, stress and illness that can shorten or lengthen your dog’s life quite dramatically.
What is a Bichon Frise?
Fluffy white Bichon Frises have been treasured companion dogs for hundreds of years. Their size is a perfect balance of small enough for apartment living, but sturdy enough that their owners don’t have to cosset them against the big bad world.
For generations, Bichon Frise breeders have chosen the friendliest, most charming and good natured dogs to breed from. Which means that today their puppies have very consistently outgoing and people-focused personalities. Their popularity makes them a true ‘cult classic’ dog breed.
Average Bichon Frise Lifespan
Typically Bichon Frise dogs live into their teens. Companion dogs like the Bichon Frise are often treated and loved like fully-fledged members of the family. So most Bichon parents wish their dog could go on living with them forever. Whilst that’s not possible, the good news is that Bichon Frise lifespans are typically very long-lived indeed.
This 2010 study of dog mortality included 34 Bichon Frise dogs who passed away between 1994 and 2004. Their average lifespan was 12 years 11 months, and one lucky pup survived for 16 years 5 months.
Then in 2013, this study of canine life expectancy included 56 Bichon Frise dogs who died in the UK between 2009 and 2011. This time the data revealed an average lifespan of 12 years and 7 months.
Half of the Bichons recorded in the second study lived for between 9 years 6 months, and 14 years 9 months. And the oldest lived for over 18 years! Even better news – some scientists believe that the results of this type of research consistently underestimate lifespan.
Bichon Frise Lifespan Compared With Other Breeds
Both of the studies above also included information about the average lifespan across all purebred dogs. The 2010 study calculated an average lifespan among pedigree dogs of 11 years 3 months. And the 2013 study found an average life expectancy among pedigree dogs of 11 years 11 months.
So, the plucky Bichon Frise can expect to live longer than a lot of other purebred pooches. In fact the 2010 study went even further, and included the Bichon Frise in their summary of the most long-lived dog breeds, alongside terriers, Dachshunds and Miniature Poodles.
And have you already noticed what else they have in common?
Factors Affecting Lifespan
That’s right, it’s their size!
Research into canine life expectancy consistently finds that lifespan is inversely correlated to body mass. Or in other words, the smaller a dog breed is, the longer it lives.
Bichon Frises weigh just 12 to 18 pounds. Not quite small enough to place them in the Toy Group, but very compact nonetheless. Their life expectancy is long compared to the all-breed average, but on a par with other breeds of a similar size, such as Cairn Terriers and Lhasa Apso.
Health vs Lifespan
Another reason Bichon Frise lifespan is so long is because they have few heritable health conditions which cause them to die prematurely. But of course, like all pedigree dogs they are vulnerable to some hereditary conditions which can affect their quality of life, and indirectly the how long they live for too.
Bichon Frise Lifespan And Joint Disorders
According to test results collected by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals Canine Health Information Center, just shy of 1 in 12 Bichon Frise dogs have hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a growth abnormality of the hip joint, which causes pain, arthritis, and lameness.
Furthermore, approximately 1 in 30 Bichons experience patella luxation. Patella luxation is when the knee joint dislocates easily and frequently.
Neither of these conditions is life threatening, but they can be extremely painful, and expensive to manage. Once the possibilities for managing them have been exhausted, or if an owner can’t afford to manage them any longer, then they might have to euthanize their Bichon before they reach the normal life expectancy.
To avoid this heartbreaking situation, only purchase a Bichon Frise puppy from health tested parents – more on this in a moment!
Other Factors Affecting Bichon Frise Lifespan
Besides hereditary factors, a Bichon Frise’s life expectancy is affected by environmental and lifestyle factors:
Obesity Reduces Lifespan
Obesity is an increasing problem for all breeds of dogs. Obese dogs have decreased quality of life and overall life expectancy relative to healthy weight dogs. This us due to the strain being overweight puts on their heart and other internal organs.
Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Getting daily exercise and frequent mental stimulation can also improve dogs’ overall health and contribute to a long lifetime, as does a nutritious diet.
There are several preventable diseases, like parasitic infections, that also reduce your dog’s overall health and life expectancy if they’re left untreated.
But luckily, as you’ve likely already realised, these are all obstacles to a long Bichon Frise lifespan which are easily avoided!
Increasing Bichon Frise Lifespan
For all of us and our dogs, living a longer than average life is partly down to genetics, and a large helping of luck. But just like we make healthy lifestyle choices for ourselves, we can make them for our dogs too. Not only do they increase the odds of a puppy living for a long time, but they enhance the quality and enjoyment of that time too.
- Feed your Bichon Frise the most nutritious diet you can afford.
- Make sure you understand how they should look when they’re a healthy weight. If you’re uncertain about this, ask your vet to point out how defined their waist should be, and how to feel whether their ribs have the right amount of fat covering them.
- Keep up to date with immunizations and preventative treatments for fleas and worms, as recommended by your vet.
Avoiding Separation Anxiety
Your Bichon Frise will also live for human company – it’s in their breeding, and very much a part of who they are. And it means that they may be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol during these periods can result in:
- further anxiety in other situations too
- an increased risk of heart disease
- and a suppressed immune system.
Which could ultimately shave precious time off their life expectancy too. To protect your dog and increase Bichon Frise lifespan, commit to making sure they have human company for most of the day, and dedicate lots of time to interacting with them and playing games.
Choosing A Healthy Bichon Frise Puppy
One of the most important things you can do to increase your Bichon Frise lifespan is choose them from a breeder who prioritized their health from the very beginning.
The OFA recommends that all breeding Bichons be screened for hip dysplasia, luxating patellas and eye disease. Breeding dogs can also be tested for:
- the neurological disorder degenerative myelopathy
- heart disease
- and Legg-Calves-Perthes disease – another malformation of the hip joint.
Your breeder should know whether there is any family history of these ailments, and screen their dogs for them if so.