The Labradoodle is a mixed breed that is hugely popular worldwide and has continued to gain popularity since first being introduced in 1988.1 Labradoodles are the perfect amount of scruffy, originating from Poodles and Labrador Retriever dogs. Athletic, friendly, and playful, the appeal of the Labradoodle is indisputable. Labradoodles’ appearances vary greatly as they come in a wide range of sizes and colorations. Although the mixed breed is appealing, no dog is immune to health concerns. Continue reading to learn about the top eight health concerns Labradoodles face!
The 8 Vet-Explained Labradoodle Health Issues
If you bring a Labradoodle into your home, be prepared to battle allergies! Allergies can be because of environmental allergens, parasites, or food. Signs of allergies vary but can include itchy skin, hair loss, ear infections, diarrhea, rashes, runny eyes, and more.
Allergies cannot be cured, but they can be managed. Your veterinarian can help you identify the underlying type of allergy and provide you with the best course of action to relieve signs. Treatment may include diet restrictions, immunotherapy, or other supportive means.
2. Hip Dysplasia
Large breeds tend to be more at risk for the development of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is when the bones that form the hip do not fit together properly. In a dog with normal confirmation, the head of the femur is round and fits nicely within a socket of the pelvis, called the acetabulum. With correct joint formation, the hind limbs move smoothly. When the femur doesn’t fit nicely into the acetabulum, laxity occurs, which promotes abnormal contact between bones.
As animals with hip dysplasia mature, grinding of the bones leads to degenerative changes called osteoarthritis. This condition can be present in dogs as young as 4 months of age but can go undiagnosed until later in life if no signs of discomfort are noted during puppyhood.
Dogs with hip dysplasia typically show signs of discomfort as they continue to age and osteoarthritis forms. Signs of hip dysplasia include hindlimb lameness,1 bunny hopping, difficulty rising, reduced hindlimb range of motion, and swaying of the hips.
Hip dysplasia is diagnosed through radiographs. Depending on the severity, surgical corrections may be recommended. For patients that do not pursue surgery, joint supplements, physical therapy, and NSAIDs may be recommended. It is important for large-breed puppies to receive a diet that doesn’t promote rapid growth, as this can predispose a dog to hip dysplasia. Additionally, patients with hip dysplasia should be removed from the breeding stock.
3. Patellar Luxation
Small-breed dogs,2 notoriously miniature and toy Poodles, are prone to patellar luxation. A small Labradoodle may be at risk for this condition in which the kneecap, called the patella, falls out of the groove in which it typically rests. As this process occurs over time, the femoral groove is worn down, exacerbating the mobility of the patella and leading to arthritis.
Signs of patellar luxation include intermittent or continuous lameness on the back legs. Often, owners may notice a brief period in which the pet holds up a rear leg for a couple of steps, then gingerly places it back down and proceeds to walk or run normally. This condition can vary in severity and can be painful in some dogs. Manual manipulation of the kneecap and radiographs are helpful in providing a diagnosis. Patients that are severely impacted by patellar luxation may be candidates for surgical correction. Joint supplements and NSAID therapy may be recommended as well.
4. Elbow Dysplasia
The humerus, ulna, and radius are the bones that form the elbow. Elbow dysplasia is a disease that occurs when the bones making up the elbow do not fit together appropriately for a variety of reasons. When the bones do not fit together appropriately, changes occur to the joint that cause discomfort and lead to arthritis.
There is a genetic correlation and the disease is commonly found in Labrador Retrievers and other large-breed dogs. Signs of lameness may be seen in young puppies, but some dogs may not exhibit signs until later in life. Dogs affected with elbow dysplasia experience front leg lameness that is exacerbated by exercise. For some dogs, surgical intervention may be necessary, whereas other dogs may do well with supportive therapies. Dogs diagnosed with elbow dysplasia should be removed from breeding programs.
5. Ear Infections
Labradoodles seem to be prone to ear infections. The development of ear infections may be amplified by the amount of hair growing in their ear canals. Dogs with ear infections will often shake their heads, paw at their ears, and have a malodorous smell originating from the ears. Owners may attempt to clean the ears and note significant ear debris or discharge.
If an ear infection is suspected, an appointment should be made for your pet to be evaluated by a veterinarian. The veterinarian will closely evaluate the ear canal and eardrum and will identify infectious agents within the debris. Ear infections can be treated with appropriate topical medications and cleaning. In some cases, ear infections could be a sign of allergies and may require a diet change to prevent reoccurrence.
6. Addison’s Disease
Poodles are the poster child for Addison’s disease, also known as hypoadrenocorticism. As a result of the high occurrence in Poodles, the Labradoodle may develop this condition as well. Addison’s disease is a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce hormones appropriately.
Dogs with hypoadrenocorticism have low levels of circulating cortisol, a type of steroid. The low levels of steroids make it difficult for affected dogs to respond to stressors or perform basic body functions appropriately. Dogs with Addison’s disease may experience low blood pressure, dehydration, gastrointestinal signs, and depression. In severe cases, an Addisonian crisis may occur which can result in death if not quickly corrected.
Diagnosing dogs with Addison’s can be challenging, as not all affected dogs present the same. Incidentally, Addison’s Disease has been nicknamed “The Great Pretender,” as it can mirror other illnesses. Fortunately, once diagnosed, dogs with Addison’s disease can have a good prognosis with appropriate treatment. Treating dogs with hypoadrenocorticism includes monthly injections with a mineralocorticoid like Deoxycorticosterone pivalate and daily oral steroid supplementation.
7. Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Labrador Retrievers and Poodles are breeds that are predisposed to the development of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). PRA is a heritable condition in which photoreceptor cells that are responsible for color recognition and vision will lose function.
There are different forms of retinal atrophy, but the most common is late-onset PRA. When PRA occurs in adult dogs, photoreceptor cells have developed correctly but have slowly deteriorated over time. Eventually, PRA will lead to blindness. Signs of PRA include difficulty seeing in dim light, hesitancy moving in dark environments, and bumping into objects. Dilated pupils are often noted. A veterinary ophthalmologist will be able to perform tests and complete an ocular exam to confirm PRA in your companion Labradoodle. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for PRA. Dogs who are diagnosed with PRA should not be bred.
8. Von Willebrand’s
Poodles and Labrador Retrievers are breeds that can have Von Willebrand Disease, a condition in which an important clotting factor called von Willebrand Factor Protein (vWF) is reduced or abnormal. The reduction or abnormality in vWF can lead to excessive bleeding and bruising. Dogs experiencing a significant bleed may require blood transfusions.
Fortunately, dogs can be screened for von Willebrand to help predict the likeliness of passing the trait to offspring and to determine the chances of a patient having problems with clotting. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease.
Labradoodles are easy to love for their friendly, upbeat personalities. Unfortunately, Labradoodles are susceptible to diseases impacting Labrador Retrievers and Poodles. Responsible breeders will be able to provide information regarding genetic testing and screening of dogs used for breeding. Knowing the diseases that Labradoodles face will better help owners provide appropriate care for their beloved Doodle.
Featured Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock