Common Bichon Frisé health issues

27 February 2024 - 3 min read
Bichon Frise

Bichon Frisés are charming companions known for their fluffy coats and friendly dispositions, and with a life expectancy of 12–15 years, they're in it for the long haul.

However, like any pedigree dog, they have potential hereditary health issues. You can avoid some of these by buying your Bichon from a reputable breeder, staying up-to-date on vet checkups and vaccines, and providing a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Read on for the top seven illnesses and ailments in the Bichon Frisés.

Most common Bichon Frisé health conditions

Bichon Frise

Hip dysplasia

A white fluffy dog with a curly coat, standing on all fours, looking attentively to the side. A red, looping arrow points to the dog's right hip area, on a dark green background, suggesting a focus on hip health or potential hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia involves the malformation of the hip joint, leading to arthritis and discomfort, particularly in old age.

Although genetics play a significant role, maintaining a healthy weight can prevent excessive stress on the joints. Treatment options include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and, in severe cases, surgery.

Luxating patella

A white fluffy dog with a curly coat, standing on all fours, looking attentively to the side. A red, looping arrow points to the dog's right hip area, on a dark green background, suggesting a focus on luxating patella issues.

A luxating patella is a condition where the kneecap slips out of its normal position, and it's relatively common in Bichons. It can cause pain and difficulty walking.

Although it's largely genetic, keeping your Bichon at a healthy weight can reduce strain on the knees. Treatment ranges from physical therapy to surgical correction, depending on the severity.


A fluffy white Bichon Frise with a soft, curly coat, standing alert and looking forward. A pink arrow points towards one of the dog's eyes, on a dark green background, indicating a focus on eye health, possibly referencing cataracts.

Bichon Frisés are predisposed to hereditary cataracts, which cloud the lens of the eye and can lead to blindness if untreated. Early detection during regular vet check-ups can lead to timely surgical removal, greatly improving the quality of life.

Protecting your Bichon's eyes from excessive sunlight with UV-filtering dog goggles (also adorable) and making sure they have a balanced diet can help prevent eye issues.

Dental disorders

A fluffy white Bichon Frise with a pink arrow pointing to its closed mouth against a dark green background, indicating dental disorders.

Small breeds with teeny mouths like the Bichon Frisé are prone to dental issues, including periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss.

Prevention involves regular dental check-ups, cleanings, and daily brushing at home. Starting dental hygiene practices early in your Bichon's life can help prevent the development of dental diseases.


A Bichon Frisé has a higher risk of developing diabetes, whose symptoms include excessive thirst, urination, and weight loss.

Early detection and management through diet control, regular exercise, and insulin therapy can allow a Bichon with diabetes to live a normal life. Regular vet check-ups are, as always, crucial for early diagnosis and treatment planning.

Portosystemic Shunt (PSS)

PSS is a liver disorder where blood bypasses the liver, preventing toxins from being filtered. Sadly, this condition is more common in Bichons than in other breeds.

Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, and seizures. Treatment may involve medication to manage symptoms or surgery to correct the shunt.

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

This condition affects blood flow to the thigh bone in Bichons, leading to hip degeneration and potential arthritis, manifesting as limping or discomfort.

Early diagnosis and management, including medical therapy and maintaining a healthy weight, can prevent severe arthritis development. Surgical intervention may be recommended in some cases.

What do Bichon Frisés usually die from?

Portrait of a Bichon Frise with a fluffy white coat sitting against a light pink background, looking directly at the viewer with a gentle and attentive expression.

Bichons aren't generally prone to any looming life-threatening illnesses, but that doesn't mean they're invincible.

One survey of US breeders indicated that Bichon Frisés typically die from:

  • cancer (22%)

  • unknown causes (14%)

  • hematologic (11%)

  • old age (10%)

However, it's worth noting that the Bichon is an outlier among pedigrees claimed by cancer: Bichons tend to develop the disease far later than other breeds, at around 11.5 years old.

How dog insurance can help

While solid breeding, regular vet visits, and everyday care are your best defence against these potential health challenges, you might run into scenarios where you still have to pay for an unexpected accident or illness. That's where great Bichon Frisé insurance can help.

Dog insurance can help you and your Bichon Frisé prepare for the unexpected.


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As a small animal vet, Liam has worked in first-opinion and referral-level practices. After enjoying educating owners about their pets, Liam dedicated some of his non-clinical time to tutoring students who were preparing for exams or struggling at school. By combining a passion for teaching others and a keen interest in raising awareness about animal health issues, Liam began writing. Writing allows him to raise awareness of important animal health issues outside the consultation room.