11 Labradoodle Health Problems to Know Before Buying

Labradoodles are one of the most popular poodle-hybrids. But both Poodles and Labrador Retrievers have been around for a long time, and in some cases, bad breeding has resulted in genetic health issues. When you combine these two parent breeds, it’s important to what health problems Labradoodles have before adding one to your home.

black and white labradoodles in different sizes
Black and white Labradoodles indoors

What Health Problems Do Labradoodles Have?

If Labradoodles are bred poorly, they may suffer from a lot of health issues. Many of these affect the eyes, while others are hormonal issues that affect the entire body. Although a great deal is caused genetically, some issues are lifestyle related and can be avoided. 

Let’s look at some of the diseases that are more common in Labradoodles and which parent these genetically originate from. 

Labradoodle Health Issues Inherited from Both Poodles and Labradors

white labradoodle lying down outdoors
Labradoodle lying down outdoors

Let’s first look at some diseases that are prevalent in both Poodles and Labrador Retrievers. It is important to take note of these because if two dogs with these issues are bred together, your Labradoodle has a large chance of suffering from these diseases. 

1. Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease in Labradoodles and other dogs can cause hypoadrenocorticism. In short, this is when the adrenal glands, which sit on the kidneys, do not work as they should. This means they do not produce the hormones that the Labradoodle needs or do not produce enough of them. 

The biggest cause of Addison’s disease is genetic, resulting in a tumor on the adrenal gland. However, even if your dog does not have a genetic predisposition to the disease, certain medications may damage the adrenal glands and end up causing it. 

Symptoms can vary a lot, but if your dog seems to be incredibly thirsty despite urinating a lot, or goes through sudden weight changes, then they may have Addison’s disease. 

Treatment is definitely possible for Addison’s disease. If a tumor is involved, your vet may want to remove it or the entire adrenal gland. This is to prevent cancer from spreading. 

Otherwise, supplementing the missing hormones should return your Labraddodle to its previously happy and healthy state. This supplementation will have to continue for the rest of your Labradoodle’s life and can be quite costly.

2. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia is an issue found in many larger dogs, including the Poodle and Labrador Retriever. This is where the joints have an issue that causes them to fit together poorly, causing pain and weakness. 

Causes of hip and elbow dysplasia include poor breeding. However, if your Labradoodle injures the joints when it is still young, it may develop dysplasia when it is older, regardless of its genetic background. 

Symptoms include shaking in the affected legs and difficulty moving. Your Labradoodle may display symptoms of pain, such as being hesitant to allow the area to be touched. 

There is no treatment for dysplasia. In milder cases, you may be able to treat the pain with medication. But in severe instances, your vet might even recommend putting your Labradoodle down. 

3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy is difficult to explain because it is not just one disease. Rather, a bunch of issues that affect the receptors at the back of the eye has been grouped together under one name. 

The cause of progressive retinal atrophy is almost entirely genetic. This means that there is nothing that you can do to prevent it.

Symptoms of PRA include uncertainty in darker environments because the affected receptors are those that pick up light. This means darker conditions are where your Labradoodle will lose its vision first.

Even though there is no treatment, you may be able to make your Labradoodle more comfortable by ensuring that your home is always well-lit. This is a temporary solution, though. 

4. Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, is one of the most deadly diseases that can occur in a Labradoodle. 

The cause is mainly genetic, although there has been some speculation that damage to the bones when your Labradoodle is young may also play a role. This can include microfractures from overexercising.

Symptoms include large lumps or signs of pain in your dog.

Treatment is very limited. The affected limb can be amputated. But in most cases, this will not extend the lifespan of your Labradoodle for more than a year. 

As this kind of cancer can cause a great deal of pain and drastically affect the dog’s quality of life, euthanasia is often recommended. 

Labradoodle Health Issues Inherited from Poodles

Curly Coat Labradoodle

Now that we have looked at some genetic issues that may be inherited from both parents let’s look at those that are often only inherited from the Poodle. In these cases, good breeding or getting a first-generation Labradoodle generally means you will not have to deal with these issues. 

However, because backcrossing often occurs using Poodles, later generations, such as F1b and F1bb, are at greater risk.

5. Sebaceous Adenitis

Sebaceous adenitis is a common autoimmune disease in dogs. It affects the sebaceous glands or the skin glands containing the hair follicles. Essentially, the immune system attacks these glands and the hair follicles. The cause is unclear, but it seems that certain dogs can have a genetic predisposition, including the Poodle and, thus, Labradoodle.

Symptoms of sebaceous adenitis in Labradoodles can include itching, red skin, or hair loss. This depends on the severity. This condition can be quite painful, so it is likely your Labradoodle will display signs of discomfort.

Treatment includes brushing the affected hair out regularly and using special shampoos that contain ingredients like sulfur. Fatty acid supplements such as salmon oil may also improve skin and fur health, but they may be more effective as a preventative measure in high-risk dogs than treatment for an existing condition.

6. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is very similar to Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Only instead of damaging the receptors that pick up light, the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, is damaged. This is often caused by high pressures within the eyeball. 

Glaucoma in Labradoodles is purely genetic, so there is nothing you can do to prevent it. 

Symptoms include bulging eyes, signs that your Labradoodle’s eyes are bothering them, such as excessive watering or rubbing at them, and even a bulging appearance.

Once the damage to the nerve is done, there isn’t anything that can reverse it. However, if you identify the problem early enough, there are medications that can lower the internal pressure of the eyeball, meaning no further damage will be done. 

7. Von Willebrand’s Disease

Inbreeding causes issues with blood platelets, preventing blood clots from forming when required. That is the basis of Von Willebrand’s disease. Although it can occur due to rogue mutations, most of the instances in people and dogs are due to inbreeding. 

Unfortunately, the symptoms often present themselves in possibly deadly situations. If your dog has even a small cut, it may be difficult to stop the bleeding. What would have been a small bruise in any other animal may be massive internal bleeding in an affected Labradoodle. Surgeries for dogs with Von Willebrand’s disease are often out of the question or carry significant risks. 

In terms of treatment, there are a few temporary solutions, such as medication to induce clotting or plasma infusions to introduce working platelets into their blood. But, treatment is never permanent and will have to be continued for the rest of your Labradoode’s life. 

Labradoodle Health Issues Inherited from Labrador

Labradoodle Sitting Outdoors

8. Hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland is very important. The hormones it secretes control various processes in the body of the Labradoodle. This includes growth, weight, appetite, and more. So, some issues may arise when the thyroid gland does not work as well as it should. 

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include lethargy, loss of appetite while simultaneously gaining weight, loss of fur, and more. 

Much like many of the others discussed above, treatment needs to be continuous. It consists of taking the hormones that the thyroid is not secreting through medications. 

9. Obesity

Obesity can be a symptom of some other genetic issues in Labradoodles or an issue on its own. Most of the time, it occurs due to the very big appetite that the dog seems to inherit from the labrador. In other instances, it might be due to other conditions like hypothyroidism. 

Regardless of why your Labradoodle is packing on the pounds, it is important that you try to get their weight under control. 

In my experience, obesity will often occur in slightly older dogs, maybe after they have been desexed. This means that their joints may already be suffering from conditions like dysplasia or arthritis. This additional pressure can aggravate these conditions or even cause them temporarily. 

Obesity treatment requires that you identify the underlying cause. If your dog is experiencing hypothyroidism, treat that to treat obesity. If there is no clear medical condition causing the gain in weight, make sure you decrease their food or increase their exercise. Labradoodles are very active dogs and would thrive on the latter. 

Prevention involves closely monitoring your Labradoodle’s weight at all times. Can you feel their ribs? Is there a layer under their skin that wasn’t there before? It can be difficult to tell just by looking at them because of their curly fluff, so make sure to run your hands over them regularly.

10. Arthritis

Arthritis is similar to dysplasia, but it encompasses both joint damage and joint inflammation. It can occur in any joint, including hips, elbows, the spine, and even the small joints in the Labradoodle’s paws. 

This inflammation causes pain and stiffness, which is often the first symptoms that the owners notice.

Although there is a genetic relationship to the occurrence of arthritis in Labradoodles and other dogs, other factors may also cause it. These include obesity, excessive exercise, and poor diet. This means that arthritis can be prevented to a degree and the severity of it managed.

Treatment for dogs with arthritis includes physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory medication. 

There are alternative treatments that you could try, such as acupuncture.

In my experience, however, the best way to manage arthritis is through swimming with your dog. This allows the joints to move and loosen without added pressure and inflammation.

11. Lipoma

Lipoma often looks like serious cancer, giving owners mild heart attacks. These large lumps that may appear anywhere under the skin of older Labradoodles are usually harmless and consist mostly of fat. 

The cause of Lipomas is not clear but it can be inherited. 

In most cases, the only symptom is the fatty lump, which can be moved freely under the skin and does not appear to be attached to the muscle beneath. There is rarely pain involved.

Because of this lack of pain and the fact that it often occurs in older dogs, vets often don’t bother treating them. If there is some concern, a small operation can be done to remove the mass. 

How Do You Make Sure Your Labradoodle is Healthy?

black labradoodle close-up having a pup cup
Labradoodle close-up enjoying a pup cup

Some things are just beyond your control. It is important to understand that no matter how well you do, your Labradoodle might still get sick. But, in order to give it the best chance at a healthy life, follow these steps. 

  1. Don’t support backyard breeders. They will not test for genetic conditions and may not know much about the Labradoodle breed at all. Breeding for fun, or accidentally, like they tend to, is irresponsible and results in many sick puppies. 
  1. Know what food your puppy, adult, and finally senior Labradoodle should be on to provide all they need. Consult your vet to find the perfect food for you. 
  1. Exercise your Labradoodle. Make sure that you pay attention to its needs and that you are careful about it injuring itself. Exercise can cause and prevent a wide array of issues. Make sure you get it right. 

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