A mix between a Labrador retriever and a standard poodle, the Labradoodle is a nonshedding dog. Bred for service work, they also were thought to be a "super breed" and perfect as pets for people with allergies due to the poodle trait of not shedding. However, the Labradoodle is not without its own problems, as they often inherit some of their parents' health traits.
The Labradoodle was first bred in Australia. The two breeds were brought together to create a dog that could help people with disabilities and allergies. The Labrador's loyalty combined with the poodle's trait of not shedding could give owners the best of both worlds in one dog. However, this breed created for helping the blind may develop its own eye issues.
Often a specific dog breed is prone to health issues. It is not unheard of for Labradoodles to develop hip and leg problems, as well as a variety of eye problems. In fact, any of the problems that parent dogs display could become an issue for a Labradoodle. For Labradoodles, progressive retinal atrophy, which can lead to blindness, is a genetic problem it may inherit from the poodle genes.
Glaucoma and Cataracts
Many dog breeds develop cataracts and glaucoma later on in life, and the Labradoodle is no exception. Both parent dogs may pass on these traits, which if left untreated can cause blindness. A cataract is essentially cloudiness, or opacity, in the eye lens. Starting in a small part of the lens, it can eventually cover the whole eye and cause blindness. Glaucoma is an inherited eye disease that causes increased pressure in the eye. This pressure causes the eye to tear and clogs the tear ducts; left untreated it causes blindness and will enlarge the eye.
Detached Retina and Iris Atrophy
Common in both the Labrador and the poodle, detached retina occurs when the retina pulls away from the back of the eye. Often caused by cataracts or eye trauma, this causes dim vision, as the retina's purpose is to absorb light, and can lead to blindness. In other cases, Labradoodles may experience iris atrophy, a condition in which the eye develops a scalloped border, the pupil stays dilated and a hole may develop in the pupil, causing sensitivity to light. Iris atrophy often occurs as dogs age.
When buying a Labradoodle, discuss the parent dogs' health history with the breeder, and have the dog tested for genetic issues. Those planning to buy a Labradoodle should be aware of the health issues and be prepared to possibly plan surgery later in the dog's life.