Bichon Frise health problems

Joint problems

Luxating Patella

A luxating patella occurs when the kneecap moves out of its normal position in the groove it's designed to stay in. The slipping of the knee can lead to inflammation, irritation, pain, cartilage damage and ligament tears.

The signs will vary depending on the severity of the condition but can be anything from holding up the affected leg for a few strides, to not being able to bear any weight on the limb at all.

It is most commonly an inherited condition so not usually preventable, beyond keeping your pet safe and avoiding trauma to stop your dog from developing the condition as a result of an accident. Dogs known to have luxating patella should never be bred from, to prevent the condition from being passed on to their pups.


Legg-Calve-Perthes can affect a Bichon Frise more often than other dogs and symptoms will normally appear early on in a puppy’s life. With this condition, blood does not flow as it should to the head of the thigh bone, leading to degeneration and shrinking of the femur.

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease usually affects the one limb and is a very painful condition, with limping almost always being a sign.

It is important to follow responsible breeding and owner practices to try and prevent this condition from affecting dogs.

Eye problems

Hereditary Cataracts

Bichon Frisés can be prone to hereditary cataracts, meaning their eyes might start becoming cloudy or milky and interfere with the light that needs to reach the back of the eye. This often results in the dog having trouble seeing and can even lead to complete vision loss.

It’s recommended that dogs should be screened for cataracts and other eye conditions before they are bred, to make sure the pups are disease free and can lead healthy lives.

Bichon Frise

Teeth problems

Dental Disease

Bichon Frisés can develop problems with their teeth if they’re not brushed or cleaned regularly. Plaque and tartar can quickly build up on their teeth and this can progress to infections of the gums, tooth loss and health issues in other parts of their body.

Specialised food, treats and chew toys can also help prevent your dog from developing poor oral health. Always speak to your vet if you notice any changes with their mouths.

Ear problems

Ear Infections

It is quite common that Bichon Frisés have hairs growing in their ear canals which makes them more susceptible to ear infections. You can help prevent them by keeping these hairs trimmed and cleaning your dog’s ears with solutions that are specifically made to keep the skin barrier and the flora in the ear healthy.

If your dog does develop a red and/or itchy ear, possibly even with discharge, it is important that you have them checked by your vet.

Urinary tract problems

Kidney stones

Bladder and kidney stones can be more common in this breed than in other dogs. Kidney stones don’t usually require treatment in dogs unless they cause a blockage in the ureter. If this happens, surgery is needed to prevent any further complications such as kidney failure.

Some dogs may not show any signs of having kidney stones, and those that do could display symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection. These include having blood in their urine, licking at their genitals, loss of appetite, lethargy and pain in their abdomen.

Providing the right diet and making sure your dog has access to clean water can help prevent them from developing bladder or kidney stones.

Liver problems

Portosystemic Shunt (PSS)

The Bichon Frisé is more likely than other breeds to have a liver disorder called portosystemic shunt (PSS). This is when the blood from the dog’s intestines that needs to pass through the liver to be filtered actually bypasses the organ. This means the toxins aren’t removed before entering the main circulation.

Signs of this condition can include being a slow-growing and less active puppy compared to its littermates, vomiting and loss of appetite, or even mental disorders and seizures.

This condition can be treated medically and surgically.

Hormonal Problems


A dog with diabetes is unable to control their blood sugar level because they can’t produce enough insulin, or their body has an inadequate response to it. Insulin is needed to help sugar travel from the food a dog has digested into cells around the body, to give them energy and help them grow.

Without this hormone, the sugar level will rise to a dangerous level.

Diabetes can be managed but you can also try to prevent the condition by helping your dog lead a healthy lifestyle.

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