Health testing of your puppies Mom and Dad is of critical importance. The genes they pass on determine the health of your cute little puppy years after you take him/her home and fall in love. Your Labradoodle can live for 10-15 years and live a happy, healthy life if you buy from a responsible breeder that health tests. My adult dogs are either OFA or PennHip certified & OFA checked for their elbows, CERF tests are performed by a certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist to reduce the risk of any heritable eye diseases & DNA tests confirm that they do not carry PRA, EIC, von Willebrand's, or cone degeneration at minimum. I have also researched my dogs ancestors & the backgrounds of the studs I use....mostly using lines that a breeder has worked with several generations.
Will OFA or Penn-hip testing of parents assure me that my dog will not get hip dysplasia? We do hip testing on our breeding dogs, unfortunately all the testing in the world cannot guarantee you a problem free dog. Many people are familiar with the fact that certain large breed dogs can come down with hip dysphasia. Recent research shows, that one contributing factor to this crippling ailment is due to environmental conditions. HD can result from environmental issues, injury or specific nutritional needs. Until there is a genetic marker, no breeder can guarantee a HD free dog.
Some precautionary steps you can take with your puppy:
You should never let your puppy climb up and down steps until he or she is at least a year old. Growing puppy hips just aren't prepared for the wear and tear that stairs can cause.
No long hikes until at least a year old, and you should never let a dog jog until it is 18 months old because the growth plates are not finished.. and you can cause hip damage.
Forced exercise (like when you walk your dog, jog, or ride it along your bike) does increase the chances of skeletal/joint problems later in life. It is the frequent, tiny breaks that a puppy gets when naturally playing that rest the bones and tendons and keep them from the damage that the constant pounding does.
Most of all...NO jumping on back legs until full grown. Playing games like frisbee, where the dog jumps up and lands on two legs, can be very harmful and should never be played.
When your pup starts his/her growing spurts, a good quality Large breed puppy food is in order. This normally has glucosamine in it, which helps with joint and bone growth.
We also feel that dogs, especially larger dogs, should be allowed to mature significantly before being spayed/neutered. Your dog should be old enough to be considered balanced both physically and mentally.
You WILL have a spay/neuter contract, we just allow more time for the dog to mature......14 months old. Bone cancer, abnormal bone growth and development, and a higher rate of ACL ruptures...not to mention hip dysplasia problems due to leg length and growth issues have been attributed to spaying/neutering too young. I want my puppies to live a long & healthy life just as much as you do.
Here are some additional resources about health testing:
DogterJ - lots of other great info on this site too!