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Bichon Frise - breed information and advice

The Bichon Frise is an eye-catching little dog with a fluffy, snow-white coat and round black eyes. Also known as the Bichon Tenerife or Tenerife Dog, it is a bright, happy companion, good with both people and other animals.

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Breed information


Size: Small

Coat: The breed’s distinctive ‘powder puff’ coat needs daily grooming as it doesn’t shed. The Bichon Frise should be taken for regular trips to a professional groomer to keep him or her in tip-top condition.

Exercise: Up to an hour a day for adult dogs

Life span: 15+ years

Breed group: Originally bred to amuse their owners and look beautiful, Toy dogs are usually small, attractive and extremely faithful, making them charming, loyal companions.


Bichon Frises are susceptible to various forms of skin problems, often involving the skin within the ear. The ear canal can become irritated by objects such as grass seeds, or by parasites, allergies or infections. This can lead to a condition called otitis, which simply means ‘inflammation of the ear canal’. It causes an intense itch, leading the dog to shake its head, flap its ears and scratch them using its back paws. If the otitis is due to an allergy, treatment is required for the lifetime of the dog.


Otitis is the third most common illness we see in Bichon Frise

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Skin allergies

The skin is the largest organ of a dog’s body and can be affected by a number of disorders. Like many other breeds, Bichon Frises can suffer from allergies that lead to dermatitis (skin inflammation). Allergies can be caused by many different items, including things that are inhaled (such as pollen or dust mites), items that are eaten (for example, wheat), items that the dog comes into contact with (for example, washing powders), or bites from parasites such as fleas. As allergies cannot be cured, treatment may be required for life, but is usually effective enough to ensure that the dog can enjoy a happy, normal existence.


In our experience, Bichon Frise are most likely to need treatment for skin problems

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Cushing’s disease

Cushing’s disease occurs when an excessive amount of cortisol (or ‘steroid’) builds up in a dog’s body. This can happen naturally or as a side-effect of the long-term use of corticosteroid medication. Either way, the ongoing increase of this hormone leads to a significant disruption in normal metabolism. Cushing’s can be managed and controlled using medication, allowing the dog to continue to live a normal life.


Cushing’s disease is the second most common illness we see in Bichon Frise

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Bladder stones

A dog’s urinary system removes waste from the body via the urine. The system is made up of the kidney, the ureters (which connect the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder itself and the urethra (which delivers urine from the body). Urinary disorders can crop up in any of these areas. Bichon Frises are particularly prone to a condition where crystals and stones form in the bladder (urolithiasis). Treatment often involves changing the dog’s diet, or occasionally surgical removal of the stones, allowing the dog to enjoy a normal and happy life.


We paid £1,037 to treat Misty the Bichon Frise for a urinary system disorder in 2016

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Dislocating kneecap

The kneecap (or ‘patella’) sits in a groove at the end of the femur (thigh bone). A dislocating (or ‘luxating’) kneecap is one that pops out of its groove. A relatively common condition in Bichon Frises and other small breeds, dislocation happens because the alignment of the bones from the hip through the knee to the ankle is not straight, which pulls the kneecap to one side. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition, but surgery may be required to reduce the likelihood of arthritis and enable the dog to live a normal life.


We paid £2,962 to treat Shuga the Bichon Frise for patella luxation in 2016

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