Owning a Goldendoodle comes with its share of healthcare responsibilities. While these adorable and intelligent dogs bring a lot of love and happiness into our lives, they can also be prone to various health issues. In this article, we will explore the 13 most common health concerns in Goldendoodles, helping you understand what you need to look out for and how to manage these problems effectively.
The Most Common Goldendoodle Health Issues Are:
- Hip Dysplasia in Goldendoodles
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Allergic Dermatitis
- Dry Skin
- Ear Infections in Goldendoodles
- Addison’s Disease
- Obesity in Goldendoodles
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
- Luxating patella
- Von Willebrand’s disease
1. Hip Dysplasia in Goldendoodles
Hip dysplasia in Goldendoodles is a genetic and environmentally influenced developmental condition causing abnormal formation of the hip joint, leading to looseness or instability and often progressing to painful arthritis or degenerative joint disease. In dogs with this condition, the hip joint is loose or unstable, which can lead to painful arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Hip dysplasia is inherited and is influenced by multiple genes, but environmental factors can also play a role in its manifestation. Goldendoodles born with this genetic predisposition will typically have normal hips at birth, but as they grow, their femoral head (the ball part of the ball-and-socket joint that is the hip) can become dislocated, leading to degenerative changes in the joint.
Nutrition is a significant environmental factor that can influence the development and severity of hip dysplasia in Goldendoodles. Overeating and excessive weight can increase the risk and severity of hip dysplasia in dogs predisposed to this condition. Therefore, it is recommended to regulate your Goldendoodle’s food intake to maintain a healthy weight, where the ribs and spine can be felt but not seen. Additionally, excessive dietary calcium and vitamin D should be avoided as they can contribute to the development of hip dysplasia in genetically predisposed Goldendoodles. Contrary to some beliefs, high-dose vitamin C supplementation in growing puppies does not prevent hip dysplasia, and this practice is not recommended.
From a genetic perspective, research has been conducted to better understand the genes associated with hip dysplasia. While this research wasn’t specific to Goldendoodles, the findings could be applicable. A study by Binversie et al. used genome-wide association study (GWAS) techniques on data from many dog breeds. The study confirmed previously identified genetic markers associated with hip dysplasia and discovered new potential candidate genes. This kind of research could contribute valuable insights for breeds like the Goldendoodle, where breed-specific epidemiological risk data is available for conditions like hip dysplasia.
2. Progressive Retinal Atrophy
In Goldendoodles, a crossbreed between Golden Retrievers and Poodles, the risk of PRA can be inherited from either or both parent breeds, as both Golden Retrievers and Poodles are known to have genetic variants associated with PRA. Therefore, it’s vital for breeders of Goldendoodles to conduct genetic testing for known PRA variants before breeding to prevent passing on the disease.
Clinical signs of PRA in Goldendoodles may include dilated pupils, reluctance to enter dark rooms or go outside at night, hesitance to navigate stairs, bumping into objects, and cataract formation in later stages of the disease. PRA is diagnosed through an eye exam focusing on the retina, and both eyes are equally affected.
While there is currently no cure for PRA, management strategies can help dogs adapt to their vision loss and maintain a good quality of life. These can include adding supplemental lighting, keeping furniture in the same arrangement, using safety gates to block stairs, and guiding them with a leash in unfamiliar areas. Antioxidant supplements may also help to delay the formation of cataracts. Gene therapy is a potential future treatment, but at this time, it is only used in research settings.
Cataracts in Goldendoodles refer to an ocular condition where the normally clear, transparent lens of the eye becomes opaque or cloudy, often resulting in impaired vision or blindness. The opacity is usually a result of proteins in the eye clumping together. This clouding of the lens can be focal, affecting only a part of the lens, or diffuse, spreading across a large portion or even the entire lens.
Cataracts can occur in dogs of all ages, and they can be caused by several factors including genetic inheritance, metabolic disturbances (such as diabetes), trauma, nutritional imbalances, and chronic uveitis, an inflammatory disease of vascular tissue deep in the eye. If a Goldendoodle has cataracts, it is not recommended to use them for breeding due to the risk of genetic inheritance.
When left untreated, cataracts can lead to serious secondary issues such as painful inflammatory changes around the lens, increased intraocular pressures (glaucoma), dislocation of the lens (lens luxation), and even retinal detachment, which can lead to blindness. In severe cases, these secondary issues may necessitate enucleation, or surgical removal of the eye.
4. Allergic Dermatitis
Allergic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that occurs when your Goldendoodle’s immune system overreacts to allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, or food ingredients. Symptoms of allergic dermatitis include redness, itching, hair loss, and skin lesions. It shares some similarities with Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD), given their genetic predisposition and immunoglobulin (Ig)E antibody presence. CAD’s pathogenesis involves complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors, leading to epidermal barrier dysfunction, immune dysregulation, and cutaneous microbiome dysbiosis. Certain dog breeds, including Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, are at increased risk of developing CAD.
A crucial aspect of effectively managing allergic dermatitis in Goldendoodles involves understanding the relationship between the cutaneous microbiome and the disease’s induction and exacerbation. Future research in this area may reveal alternative approaches to controlling staphylococcal overgrowth and pyoderma in allergic dermatitis, potentially reducing the need for systemic antimicrobials and combating antimicrobial resistance.
Parasites are organisms that live on or within a host, deriving their nutrients at the host’s expense. These can include microscopic entities like bacteria and larger pests, such as fleas, ticks, and mites. In Goldendoodles, parasites can cause skin problems that lead to itching, irritation, inflammation, and even secondary skin infections if left unmanaged.
According to the “Cytopathology of parasitic dermatitis in dogs” written by N. K. Sood, Berhanu Mekkib, L. D. Singla, and K. Gupta , skin problems in Goldendoodles caused by parasites were mostly related to sarcoptic mange (caused by Sarcoptes scabiei mites) and demodectic mange (caused by Demodex canis mites). For both types of mange, dogs showed signs like hair loss, inflammation, and intense itching. In some cases, dogs also developed secondary bacterial infections due to excessive scratching or breaking the skin. Both mange types can be effectively identified and treated through veterinary care involving appropriate medication and parasite prevention measures.
6. Dry Skin
Indications of skin problems in Goldendoodles include excessive scratching, redness, skin flaking, hair loss, and infections. Consult your veterinarian if you observe any of these symptoms for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
To prevent or manage skin issues in Goldendoodles, maintain a regular grooming schedule, use hypoallergenic and gentle grooming products, and ensure a healthy, balanced diet with essential fatty acids to support skin health.
7. Ear Infections in Goldendoodles
Goldendoodles’ floppy ears can make them more prone to ear infections. Ear infections can cause pain, inflammation, and discomfort, affecting your dog’s behavior and quality of life.
Signs of an ear infection in Goldendoodles include foul odor, discharge, redness, swelling, and scratching or rubbing the ears. If you suspect an ear infection, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Preventive measures to reduce the risk of ear infections in Goldendoodles involve regular ear cleaning with veterinarian-approved products, drying your dog’s ears after swimming or bathing, and maintaining proper overall hygiene.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of a crucial hormone, leading to a slowdown in bodily functions in Goldendoodles. In dogs with this condition, you might notice signs such as tiredness, weight gain, and changes in the skin and fur. A synthetic thyroid hormone replacement called L-T4 is the standard treatment for hypothyroidism, and it’s usually required for the dog’s entire life. However, it’s generally safe and effective and can improve your Goldendoodle’s quality of life if they are suffering from hypothyroidism.
Diagnosing hypothyroidism can be tricky because some test results can suggest hypothyroidism even in dogs, like Goldendoodles, with normal thyroid function. But newer diagnostic tests have been developed in recent years that have improved the ability to distinguish hypothyroidism from other disorders with similar symptoms. This has resulted in a significant increase in our understanding of the characteristics and causes of this disorder in dogs, including Goldendoodles.
A comprehensive study on hypothyroidism called”Frequency, breed predispositions and other demographic risk factors for diagnosis of hypothyroidism in dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK” by Dan G. O’Neill, Janine Su Pheng Khoo, Dave C. Brodbelt, David B. Church, Camilla Pegram & Rebecca F. Geddes reveals the frequency of its occurrence and the breeds most and least at risk.
Analyzing anonymized clinical records from over 900,000 dogs in the UK, the research finds that about 0.23% of dogs are diagnosed with hypothyroidism each year. Dogs overweight for their breed and sex are found to have twice the risk, and the risk increases as dogs age. The breeds with the highest hypothyroidism risk, compared to crossbred dogs, include the Standard Doberman pinscher, Tibetan terrier, Boxer, Alaskan malamute, American cocker spaniel, and Shetland sheepdog. Those with the lowest risk encompass the West Highland white terrier, Jack Russell terrier, Shih-tzu, Yorkshire terrier, Pug, and French bulldog. Unfortunately, the study does not provide specific information on the risk for Goldendoodles.
9. Addison’s Disease
Addison’s disease, also known as hypoadrenocorticism, is an endocrine disorder in dogs characterized by insufficient production of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone by the adrenal glands.
This disease is related to the endocrine system and can present in a variety of ways, ranging from acute collapse due to low fluid volume (hypovolemia) to more vague, fluctuating, and chronic symptoms. It’s typically caused by an immune response that destroys the adrenal cortex, certain drugs that induce necrosis (cell death) in the adrenal cortex, enzyme inhibitors like trilostane, or other infiltrative diseases like cancer or fungal infections. Dogs with Addison’s often have a deficiency in mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids, which can lead to low sodium levels (hyponatremia), high potassium levels (hyperkalemia), and signs of cortisol deficiency. There’s also a less common form of the disease called atypical HOAC, where dogs show signs of cortisol deficiency but their electrolyte levels remain normal1.
The treatment for Goldendoodles with Addison’s disease involves replacing the hormones that are deficient. This usually involves administering glucocorticoids (typically prednisone), and for most dogs, also involves replacing mineralocorticoids with either desoxycorticosterone pivalate (DOCP) or fludrocortisone. For dogs diagnosed with atypical Addison’s disease, mineralocorticoid supplementation may not be necessary, although their electrolyte levels should still be monitored. If a Goldendoodle with Addison’s disease receives the appropriate treatment in a timely manner, the prognosis is generally excellent. However, if the disease goes undiagnosed, the dog may die as a result of the condition.
Recently, a study was conducted by the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine in 2021 called “Low-dose desoxycorticosterone pivalate treatment of hypoadrenocorticism in dogs: A randomized controlled clinical trial” , which could be relevant for Goldendoodle owners dealing with Addison’s disease. The study aimed to compare a low-dose (1.1 mg/kg) and a standard-dose (2.2 mg/kg) protocol of DOCP, a drug used to replace mineralocorticoids. Preliminary results suggested that the low-dose protocol might be safe and effective for treating Addison’s disease in dogs. Furthermore, it was found that the standard dose might be more likely to cause lab work abnormalities, such as abnormally low potassium levels, indicating over-treatment. An additional benefit of the low-dose protocol is the potential for significant cost savings for dog owners, including those with Goldendoodles
10. Obesity in Goldendoodles
Obesity is a condition characterized by excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. For a Goldendoodle (a crossbreed dog that is a mix of a Golden Retriever and a Poodle), this would mean carrying a weight that is significantly above the ideal for its size and breed, typically by 30% or more.
The research paper titled “Obesity in dogs – A review of underlying reasons” by Nitsch Ronja and Petra Kölle from Medizinische Kleintierklinik, Tierärztliche Fakultät der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, discusses obesity as a significant health issue in domestic animals, particularly dogs. The paper suggests that up to 60% of domestic dogs are overweight or significantly obese due to various factors. The research underscores that feeding management, genetics, age, gender, specific primary diseases, medical treatment, and the owner-pet relationship may contribute to a dog’s weight gain. The authors stress the importance of understanding the underlying causes of obesity to treat it effectively or ideally prevent it from developing in the first place.
11. Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), often referred to as “bloat” or “stomach torsion,” is a severe health problem that can occur in Goldendoodles. In this condition, the dog’s stomach fills with gas and/or food, expands, and then rotates, trapping everything inside. This rotation can also block blood flow to the stomach and other parts of the body, leading to serious complications such as shock and multi-organ failure. Symptoms include a swollen abdomen, restlessness, drooling, retching without producing vomit, and signs of discomfort or pain. Goldendoodles, being a crossbreed of Golden Retrievers and Poodles, may potentially inherit the susceptibility to GDV from their parent breeds. Golden Retrievers and Standard Poodles are among the breeds at risk of GDV, and preventive gastropexy is often recommended for them. The annual risk of developing GDV in breeds prone to this condition is approximately 6% according to the study: “Updated Information on Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus and Gastropexy in Dogs“.
12. Luxating patella
Patellar luxation, a condition where the kneecap dislocates from its normal position, is a common issue seen in dogs and can affect Goldendoodles. The kneecap can shift medially (towards the inside of the knee) or laterally (towards the outside of the knee). The former is more prevalent and usually observed in small breed dogs, while the latter is more often seen in medium to large breed dogs, including some Goldendoodles based on their size.
The diagnosis of this condition is primarily based on clinical signs of kneecap instability. However, further diagnostic imaging might be necessary to evaluate the degree of skeletal deformity and to decide the best treatment approach2.
The treatment generally involves surgery that might employ both soft tissue and bone techniques. Often, a combination of these methods is applied to rectify the dislocation. Although there can be complications such as the kneecap dislocating again or issues related to the surgical implants, these are usually uncommon. In most cases, the outcome of the treatment is positive, leading to a restoration of normal limb function in dogs3.
While it’s difficult to provide a specific prevalence rate of patellar luxation in Goldendoodles, it’s worth noting that Golden Retrievers and Poodles, the two breeds that contribute to a Goldendoodle, can experience this condition.
13. Von Willebrand’s disease
Von Willebrand’s disease is a common, hereditary bleeding disorder that affects many breeds of dogs, including Goldendoodles. This disorder is caused by a deficiency in von Willebrand factor, a protein that’s crucial for blood clotting. The severity of the disease can range from mild to severe, with symptoms including easy bruising, frequent nosebleeds, prolonged bleeding from wounds or after surgery, and in some cases, bleeding in the joints or muscle that can cause lameness or stiffness. Less frequently, the bleeding can be severe enough to be life-threatening. Nevertheless, most dogs affected by this condition can have a normal lifespan despite the increased blood clotting times.
Goldendoodles are considered susceptible to von Willebrand disease due to their genetic closeness to the Standard Poodle breed, which is known to develop this disease due to a mutation in the VWF gene. However, the exact frequency of this mutation in the general Goldendoodle population remains unknown.
Genetic testing of the VWF gene in Goldendoodles can reliably determine whether a dog is a carrier of von Willebrand disease. The disease is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, meaning a dog must receive two copies of the mutated gene (one from each parent) to develop the disease. Typically, carrier dogs don’t display symptoms of the disease, but if bred with another carrier, there’s a risk of producing affected puppies. For this reason, genetic testing is recommended before breeding, and breeding between known carriers is generally discouraged to avoid the potential of producing affected puppies.
What do most Goldendoodles die from?
Most Goldendoodles die from age-related health issues and genetic conditions, such as hip dysplasia, heart disease, and cancer. However, with regular veterinary check-ups, a well-balanced diet, and proper exercise, Goldendoodles can live happy and healthy lives.
Does Hybrid Vigor Affect Common Health Issues in Goldendoodles?
Yes, hybrid vigor can positively affect common health issues in Goldendoodles. As a crossbreed, Goldendoodles typically benefit from hybrid vigor – an improved overall health compared to their purebred counterparts. This is due to their genetic diversity, which may lower their risk of developing certain breed-specific health issues seen in purebred dogs. However, they can still inherit genetic conditions and health problems from both of their parent breeds.
How long do Goldendoodles live for?
The typical lifespan of a Goldendoodle is approximately 10-15 years. This range may vary depending on factors like genetics, overall health, diet, and exercise habits. Proper care and regular veterinary check-ups can help ensure your Goldendoodle enjoys a long and healthy life.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Common Health Issues of Goldendoodles?
Yes, pet insurance often covers common health issues experienced by Goldendoodles, depending on the specific policy and insurance provider. It is essential to research different pet insurance policies and understand the coverage limitations and exclusions before purchasing a plan. Many pet insurance providers cover treatment for conditions such as hip dysplasia, eye problems, ear infections, and other common health issues affecting Goldendoodles, subject to terms and conditions.