The average lifespan of a healthy Bichon Frise is between 12 and 15 years.
However, while this is an average, just like with people anything can happen.
Sadly, it is possible for your dog to succumb to cancer and pass away prematurely. Or, conversely, she could become the next record-holder for longest-living dog ever – you just never know.
If you're interested in a purebred Bichon Frise, and you're trying to ensure she'll be around for a while, please understand that in life there are truly no guarantees.
You should also remember that if you're interested in a mixed breed Bichon Frise, then the lifespan of the mix can change based on the lifespans of the dog's parents.
For the majority of Bichon mixes though, the life expectancy remains the same as if you were buying a purebred.
Converting Bichon Frise Years to Human Years
Most people believe that one Bichon Frise year is equivalent to seven human years. This is actually not true!
Bichons actually age similarly to cats. In other words, each year of a Bichon’s life equals a different number of human years, depending on how old she is.
For example, by the time a Bichon Frise puppy reaches her first birthday, she is about 15 years old in human years.
The AKC recommends you calculate a Bichon’s age thusly:
- By the time she is 1 year old, she is 15 in human years.
- By the time she is 2 years old, she is about 9 years older, so 24 in human years.
- Each year after that, add on another 5 years. So she's 29 in human years when she's 3 years old in dog years, 34 in human years when she's 4, and so on…
Location, Location, Location
However – and this is something most people don't know – where you live determines how old you can consider your Bichon in human years.
For instance, in places like Japan, the average lifespan for a human is longer (nearly 84 yrs.) than our lifespans here in the U.S. (around 79 yrs.).
Therefore, to calculate the age of a Bichon who reaches her first birthday in Japan, you would need to calculate her age based on the average age of humans living there, rather than here.
Kinda cool, right?
How to Increase Your Bichon Frise's Lifespan
There are several things you can do to increase the lifespan of your Bichon Frise.
For one thing, don't overfeed her. This is incredibly important.
Just like with people, an overweight dog can experience a significant increase in health problems.
Similarly, make sure you're feeding your Bichon high-quality food. Low-quality food is just as bad as overfeeding her when it comes to developing health problems.
Don’t neglect those vet visits. Just like with people, the vet may catch something early that could have developed into something worse if your Bichon didn’t regularly see her doctor.
You should also be sure to spay or neuter your dog. This can prevent certain cancers later on, as well as other health conditions that can develop in an intact dog.
Brush your dog's teeth daily to prevent gum disease that can lead to even more serious health conditions, like heart disease and organ damage.
And be sure to brush your dog daily – one, for maintenance and two, so you can check her over for any strange lumps or bumps.
How to Boost Your Bichon Frise’s Health
There are some things you can do to boost your dog's health, in addition to trying to lengthen her lifespan.
This way, even if she does live her projected average, at least you made her years here on Earth the best they could be.
For one thing, keep up with her exercise requirements. The Bichon only requires 20 to 30 minutes a day of walking, which should be easy enough to keep up with.
Not only does exercise keep her body healthy, but it also keeps her mind active too. And a bored mind can be just as destructive as an unexercised body.
Bichons can develop conditions like depression or malaise just like people can. She can tell you truly love her when you work hard to keep her happy.
You might also want to talk to your vet about certain supplements you can give your Bichon.
For instance, if she has hip dysplasia, a common Bichon ailment, then you may be able to give her supplements to ease her discomfort.
This can also ease the stress she places on her other bones and ligaments by not relying on them so much, since her hip won't be in as much pain.
Helpful Dog Health Resource:
Signs of Aging in a Bichon Frise
If you have an older Bichon Frise, you may have noticed her starting to show the first signs of aging.
Typically, for a Bichon, you'll start to notice her fur graying on her face and around her muzzle.
She'll become slower in her movements, and she may need your help with things she could manage on her own before, like jumping up on the couch or bed.
An older Bichon who does not respond to you is not necessarily ignoring you. She may be developing dementia or otherwise losing her hearing.
And, believe it or not, a dog's brain shrinks as she ages. So she may take longer to respond to you because she's not receiving the messages as quickly or clearly as she once did.
Remember to Enjoy Your Bichon Frise
If you’re a pet owner, then it surely hits you from time to time that you will eventually experience the loss of your friend.
Remember to take time every day to enjoy your Bichon Frise while she’s here.
It’s true that their lives are short, even for the breeds who live the longest. That’s why you want to make sure you make every moment with your Bichon matter.
This is healthier for her and for you because you’ll spend more time enjoying life with her and feeling happy together.
Coping with Loss
Of course, none of us is immortal – not even our beloved canine companions. You can do everything right, but when it's your Bichon's time, it's her time.
Coping with the loss of a pet can be one of the most painful things to experience, mainly because many do not properly understand it.
Don't let anyone belittle you for grieving over a pet. Pets are kinder to us than most humans. They are with us for several years of our lives, through the good and the bad.
Pets are friends and family. And pets deserve our grief just as much as our human companions do.
Some things you can do to cope with the loss of your beloved Bichon can include:
- Have a funeral for your Bichon. Funerals, after all, are for those who are left behind, and it can also be an opportunity for those who knew and loved your Bichon to grieve alongside you.
- Joining a support group for those who have recently lost a Bichon.
- Create a legacy for your Bichon by planting a tree in her memory, compiling a photobook, or placing a memorial in your yard in her honor.
- Be sure to take good care of your other pets, if you have them. They know when you're feeling sad, and they too will feel the loss of their friend. Keep up with their routines, and give them extra exercise, playtime, and love to help them cope.
Dog Breeds Who Live the Longest
If you’re concerned about the lifespan of a Bichon Frise, you may want to look into breeds who have a history of living longer than the Bichon.
However, remember that health and other factors, such as genetics, can largely affect each individual dog's lifespan, no matter the breed.
The five dog breeds with the longest lifespans include:
- Chihuahua (15 to 20 yrs.)
- Dachshund (around 15 yrs., with some living into their 20s)
- Toy Poodle (up to 18 yrs.)
- Jack Russell Terrier (up to 16 yrs.)
- Shih Tzu (upwards of 15 yrs.)
It's no coincidence that these are all small dog breeds. This is because a small dog’s body puts less stress on her organs than a larger dog’s body does.
Dog Breeds Who Live the Shortest
If a short lifespan is something you fear, then you may want to avoid adopting one of the following breeds.
Of course, this again is only an average. However, when compared to these five breeds, the Bichon outlives them by several years.
- Bernese Mountain Dog (only around 7 yrs.)
- Irish Wolfhound (only around 7 yrs.)
- Mastiff (only around 8 yrs.)
- Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (only around 8 yrs.)
- Great Dane (only around 8.5 yrs.)
Again, you can see here how the largest dogs tend to live the shortest amount of time.
For the Berner, however, his shortened lifespan has more to do with inbreeding and inherited health conditions than his overall health. So long as there's no inbreeding in his family tree, a Berner could live longer than his projected 7 years.
This is good information to have because no matter what breed you’re interested in buying, inbreeding can have a huge affect on the lifespan of the individual dog.
If you opt for an inbred Bichon Frise, she may only live half the amount of time experts project for her.