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Choosing a Labradoodle Dog (Labrador Retriever and a Poodle Cross)

The Labradoodle is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle, usually a Standard or Miniature Poodle. Labradoodles are generally intelligent, friendly and affectionate.

Labradoodle dogs come in three sizes: miniature, weighing 15 to 30 pounds; medium, 30 to 45 pounds; and standard, 45 to more than 100 pounds. Because they are a cross breed, their traits are not fixed, so there is no guarantee that the Labradoodle puppy you purchase will fall into the desired weight range.

Personality of a Labradoodle dog

Labradoodles have a moderate activity level. Larger Labradoodles may be more active than their smaller kin. They need a good walk or active playtime each day, and if you’re interested, they are athletic enough to participate in such dog sports as agility, flyball, and/or obedience.

Both of the breeds used to create Labradoodles are smart and learn quickly. If you begin socialization and training early and use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards, you will be rewarded with a wonderful companion. Because of their gentle natures, Labradoodles can be excellent therapy dogs.

Labradoodles are companion dogs. They love being with people and need to live in the house, never outdoors.

Labradoodle puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, and that makes the Labradoodle a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. But there’s no need to pay big bucks for a Labradoodle. You can often find a wonderful example of this hybrid dog at your local shelter or through adoption organizations.

Poodles have a reputation for being hypoallergenic, meaning that they can be tolerated by people who have allergies to dogs. Because they have the Poodle in their heritage, Labradoodles are sometimes promoted as being hypoallergenic. But allergies are caused not by a particular dog coat type but by dander, the dead skin cells that are shed by all dogs (and people, for that matter). Some people with mild allergies react less severely to particular dogs, but no reputable breeder will guarantee that her dogs are hypoallergenic.

Appearance and care of a Labradoodle dog

Labradoodles can have different types of fur. Some look like shaggy retrievers, others resemble a Poodle with loose curls and some fall somewhere in between. They are not low-maintenance dogs when it comes to grooming. Plan to brush the Labradoodle at least every other day, using a slicker brush, and have him clipped every eight to 12 weeks.

Ear infections can be a problem in Labradoodles. Be sure to keep the ears dry and clean, especially after the dog has had a bath or gone swimming. In addition, trim his nails at least monthly- more frequently if necessary – and brush his teeth as often as possible, especially if he’s on the small side. Small dogs are especially prone to periodontal disease.

If you do choose to buy one, however, select a breeder who has done the health testing to ensure that her puppies won’t carry the genetic diseases common to both Labrador Retrievers and Poodles. And while there are no guarantees in life, it’s also a good way to minimize the possibility of big veterinary bills in the future.

Health issues common to Labradoodles

All hybrid dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as purebred dogs can and just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the Labradoodle is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the Labradoodle and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Labradoodles may develop health conditions common to both Labrador Retrievers and Poodles, especially if you aren’t cautious about whom you buy from.

Health problems in Labradoodles may include:

Allergic dermatitis or Atopy is an itchy skin disease of animals that is caused by an allergy to substances in the environment.
Cataracts are opacities within the lens of the eye that affect vision.
• Copper Associated Hepatitis a liver disorder caused by abnormal metabolism of copper
Corneal Dystrophy a disorder of the cornea that involves a malfunction of the inner layer of the cornea that is responsible for keeping the cornea dry and clear by pumping fluid from the cornea into the front chamber of the eye.
Cranial cruciate ligament rupture– rupture of a ligament in the knee causing pain and lameness.
Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive degenerative disease of the spinal cord that slowly results in weakness and eventually inability to use the rear legs.
Diabetes mellitus is a disease of the pancreas related to insufficient amounts of insulin production.
Distichiasis is a condition in which there is growth of extra eyelashes (cilia) from the glands of the upper or lower eyelid.
• Drug Reaction to “Glucocorticoids” can occur in some poodles and poodle mixes. Subcutaneous injections may cause local hair loss.
Ectopic Ureter an abnormal routing of the tube that takes urine from the kidney to the bladder that can cause incontinence.
Elbow dysplasia is the abnormal development of certain parts of the elbow joint during the growing phase of a dog’s life.
Entropion a disorder of inward rotation of the eyelid causing the eye lashes to rub the cornea
Epilepsy is a seizure disorder which develops between the ages of 2 to 5 years.
Food Allergy affected pets develop skin allergies due to a variety of food ingredients.
Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.
Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that develops when the pressure within the eye increases.
Hemangiosarcoma is a type of cancer that primarily affects the spleen, liver or heart.
Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.
Hyperadrenocorticism is a disorder affecting the adrenal glands. When overactive, the adrenal glands secrete excessive cortisol, resulting in illness.
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) is a disease of young, large- and giant-breed dogs causing lameness due to bone inflammation.
Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s Disease) is a deficiency of steroid production.
Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately. Without enough thyroid hormone, illness can occur.
Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia is an immune disorder causing destruction of red blood cells.
Insulinoma is a malignant tumor of the pancreas that secretes excessive amounts of insulin leading to hypoglycemia.
Interdigital Dermatitis, also known as pododermatitis, is an inflammation of the paws involving the feet and nails.
• Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)Intervertebral Disk Disease is a disorder that affects the spinal disks resulting in pain, difficulty walking and possibly paralysis.
• Laryngeal Paralysis Laryngeal Paralysisis a disorder of the laryngx in which is become paralyzed creating noisy difficult air flow into the trachea.
• Legg Perthes Disease Legg Perthes Diseaseis an abnormal development of the head of the femur (hip bone).
• Limbal Melanoma is a cancer of the eye.
Lipomas are benign benign fatty tumor of the subcutaneous tissue.
Lymphosarcoma (lymphoma) is a malignant cancer that involves the lymphoid system.
Mast Cell Tumors are malignant tumors than can occur in the skin or within the body.
Osteochondrosis Dissecans frequently called “OCD”, is a condition that occurs as a result of abnormal cartilage development.
Patellar luxation is a disorder of the kneecap placement.
• Perianal Fistula is an infection and fistulas of the anal glands and tissues around the anal area.
Perianal Fistula is a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition usually begins in older pets and can lead to blindness.
Sebaceous adenitis is a skin disease that is genetically inherited The exact cause is unknown, but it may be caused by an attack of the immune system against the sebaceous glands.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the digits (skin cancer).
von Willebrand’s disease is caused by a deficiency of von Willebrand’s factor (vWF), one of the elements that allow blood to form clots.
• Other diseases that are found more commonly in labs than in other breeds are osteochondrosis, seborrhea, hot spots, diabetes and hypothyroidism. They are also prone to melonoma, a type of cancer. Labradors that hunt and swim are prone to foreign bodies becoming embedded in the ears and under the eyelids and ear infections.
• Poodles are also prone to hair loss, ear infections, bladder stones, allergies, cryptorchidism and deafness.

Ideally, ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy’s parents have hip and elbow certifications from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, a DNA test for progressive retinal atrophy, and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy. A plus would be a DNA test for von Willebrand’s disease. If you are purchasing a small or medium-size Labradoodle, the parents should have OFA patella (knee) clearances.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs “vet checked” is not a substitute for genetic health testing.