You may wonder how a breed so deliciously daring as the Labradoodle could have problems of any kind. But Labradoodles, a fairly new crossbreed, are prone to the congenital problems of both the poodle and the Labrador retriever. Be aware of these potential health issues and intervene before they progress.
Unfortunately, poodles and Labs are predisposed to inherited eye diseases such as cataracts and prcd-Progressive Retinal Atrophy. If your dog develops cataracts, you will notice that her pretty brown eyes look opaque and that at a certain point, she can't see the ball when you throw it. Severe cataracts can result in blindness. Prcd-PRA is a degenerative eye disease that can cause blindness. Cells in the retina gradually die off, first causing night blindness and eventually, total blindness. Annual visits to a veterinary ophthalmologist can help keep your dog's eyes healthy or diagnose eye disease early. If you obtain your 'Doodle through a breeder, request documentation that shows the dog's bloodline is free of genetic diseases.
Big dogs often have hip problems, and Labradoodles inherit theirs from their two parent breeds. Hip dysplasia, a painful and common genetic problem, results from a malformation in the joint. A loose hip joint allows the leg to move incorrectly, eventually causing inflammation and damage to the joint. If your doodle has hip dysplasia, she may have trouble getting up from the rug or climbing the stairs. Labradoodles can develop hip or elbow dysplasia as pups or in old age.
Addison's disease is found in poodles and Labradors and has been passed on to Australian and multigenerational Labradoodles. In this disease, the pituitary gland malfunctions and fails to create an important hormone called ACTH. This hormone regulates a steriod called cortisol. Without cortisol, a dog cannot manage stress or digest food correctly. Dogs with Addison's disease may suffer from weakness, an abnormally fast heart rate, diarrhea and excessive thirst and urination. Your vet can test your 'Doodle to detect the presence of the ACTH hormone.
Sebaceous Adenitis is not the most common form of dog dermatitis, but it is the most smelly. Standard poodles are prone to this congenital autoimmune skin disorder and can pass it on to a 'Doodle puppy. With SA, the sebaceous glands become inflamed and are unable to lubricate the coat's hair follicles. If your 'Doodle inherits this disease, she may suffer from flaky skin, hair loss and an unfortunate odor.
Von Willebrand's Disease
Somewhat like hemophilia in humans, von Willebrand's disease prevents blood from clotting correctly. If your pup is plagued by von Willebrand's disease, bleeding would be very difficult to stop if she is injured. Standard poodles and Labradors are among the breeds most effected by this disease.
If your labradoodle inherits epilepsy, she may suffer seizures from the time she is a year old. While these fits are difficult for you to watch, brief, infrequent seizures usually won't harm your dog and can be controlled with medication. However, dogs who endure longer or more frequent seizures may suffer organ or brain damage.
The Labradoodle's coat makes her fluffy to hug, but it can be unruly at best. On bad days, it is a groomer's nightmare. The long, coarse hair can become like Velcro, picking up burrs and debris everywhere the pup goes. It mats easily and must be brushed frequently. If you wait too long, your groomer may need to shave your shaggy beast. Caring for the coat is clearly not as critical as Labradoodle health problems, but it is a task that takes constant attention.
Based in Los Angeles, Mary Helen Berg has been writing about pets, travel, families and parenting since 1989. Her work has appeared in publications such as "The Los Angeles Times" and "Newsweek." Berg holds a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.