Canine Food Allergies, and Medication Sensitivities, Australian Labradoodles and Labradoodles

Skin issues, my dog is itching and/or has a rash, my vet suggests food allergy….

First, I am going to be honest, your dog is probably not allergic to food, actual symptom resulting food allergies are estimated at about 1 percent in all dogs, and in this mix of breeds it is lower than the average.  Food allergy is a catch-all for, we don’t know but let’s guess and start here.  Itchy skin, chewing feet, and/or a spot rash can be many things and most likely not an actual allergy to food.

What is it?

The culprit is often one or a combination of a bad diet, environmental factors, stress, medical treatments, or heredity.  I will go through each of these and my suggestion is to cover all of them and then after a month reassess the condition.  Please, IF the dog get worst during the month or does not get better, please go back to your vet.

Bad Diet (2 things)

I am not in any way suggesting food allergies (actually sensitivities).  I am telling you if you feed your human child potato chips and ice cream for a year they will not be healthy and it will show in their behavior as well as physically.  This does not mean they are allergic to these things, it means if crap goes in, crap results, and fighting off other crap is difficult.  So, unless you want to feed a raw food diet (which is a whole different article) the first thing to do is switch to a grain free, quality protein food.  Low quality protein requires the kidneys to remove more wastes. which makes the kidneys work harder.  Egg and actual meat contain higher quality protein; cereal grain protein is a low quality protein. Protein is used by the body to repair cells and tissues that are continually regenerating. By feeding a low quantity, but high quality protein diet that contains an appropriate amount of fats and carbs, the pet’s body can use the protein for replacing the cells and tissues and use the fat and carbohydrates for energy. Dogs should rarely eat grain and this includes treats, however just feeding them meat is not good either, it is a balance.  Dogs need a full balance of nutritional based protein, vitamins and minerals.  We feed Wellness Core Grain Free Chicken or Salmon and grain free treats, I would consult the Whole Dog Journal for a good choice.  We also feed freeze dried raw, specifically Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried Chicken and Turkey.  If you are already feeding grain free and think your dogs has sensitivities to chicken or beef, I suggest you switch to a fish based variety, not because I am suggesting they are sensitive to chicken, because fish oil will aid in healthy skin.  Yes, good food is a more expensive food, but I will tell you over their life time, a good food is the cheapest life.  Vets costs are high, and can be overwhelming, feeding a poor or fair food is the best way to increase your vet costs over the life time of your dog.  This is one place not to cut costs. Second, I would add coconut oil daily.  This is purchased as a solid oil (human grade) at the grocery.  Feed them daily a small amount, just a quarter teaspoon a day then over the month gradually increase to at the MOST a teaspoon per 10 lbs. of dog.  Do NOT over feed coconut oil, just this amount is optimal, too much can cause digestion problems. This is a natural antibacterial agent.  They will like it and eat it like a treat.  I just have a small spoon next to the oil and scoop out what I need daily.

Environmental Factors

Dogs get contact dermatitis just like humans and I must say this is a common issue.  This could be from anything including the laundry detergent you use to clean their bed, floor cleaners, weed spray, and even some dog shampoo (or using human shampoo for your dog). You need to look at all you use and convert to allergy friendly items. I find Tide brand detergent is an issue, and harsh cleaners, most have allergy friendly alternatives.  In addition, other environmental issues like fleas, yeast, dust mites, pollens, and molds can all lead to skin reactions.  For fleas, a topical flea medication is fine monthly (Revolution, Activyl, the new frontline formula among others), NEVER use an internal flea or tick medication (this is a pill or chew for fleas and/or ticks). I will go over this in the medication section as well.  However, if you are using anything like Triflexis, Comfortis, Nexgard, Bravecto, Combogard, STOP immediately.  Check to see if anyone has sprayed the yard for weeds or treated anything the dog has come into contact.  Any of these items could be factors.  Most often I see dogs with a small local skin rash and once switched to the vet prescribed food get better, my guess is whatever they touched is gone, so this is why the rash is gone, not because of accommodating a food allergy.


Believe it or not you don’t bite your nails because you are allergic to food.  You probably bite your nails because you are stressed, anxious or just plain bored.   If you dog is chewing their feet or found a spot they just won’t leave alone they might just be bored.  Get them some items to play with, really play with, when you are gone. Chew toys and puzzles are good choices.  On the flip side are you stressed?  Because, your dog will follow your lead and if you are stressed and anxious they pick that up and symptoms result.  Relax.  Make sure you are the leader. Having to be in control is stressful for a dog, very stressful.  They need to know you are the pack leader and they just need to relax and follow your lead.  There is doggie relaxation music available.  We suggest, but there are others.

Medical treatments

Look back on what you have given your dog lately.  Any medication or vaccine can be an issue.  Some dogs need to take Benadryl before vaccines due to allergies to the binding agents in these treatments.  Never over vaccinate your dog, use titer testing instead.  I have done titers testing on my dogs and I have to say never had to give more than one rabies vaccine to each.  After 15 years the first dog I started doing titers on still shows 100% coverage for rabies.  NEVER use an internal pesticide (pill or chew for fleas and/or ticks).  These include but are not limited to Triflexis, Nexgard, Bravecto, Comfortis, Combogard and many more names.  Also avoid Seresto collars (prone to cause seizures).  They are in general a pesticide in pill form you give your dog monthly to stop fleas or ticks.  I am sorry to say, in my opinion, this will kill your dog.  Australian Labradoodles (among other breeds) are highly sensitive to these toxins.  In this breed these will cause, in my opinion, vomiting, lethargy, canine renal failure, oral melanoma, canine heart failure, canine liver failure, canine acute kidney disease, canine elevated ALT liver enzymes,  canine chronic kidney disease and other various issues and cancers.  It may be a day, month or years but this will cause skin irritations, skin tumors, and destroy their kidneys, liver, and heart.  Please if you ignore all else I suggest, stop using these immediately.  Something for heartworms is fine, for example Heartguard or Interceptor or Revolution in the summer.  As for fleas and ticks, if needed, I suggest only Revolution monthly in the summer (you don’t need heartworm medications while using Revolution) and then just heartworm (Heartguard or Interceptor) medications in the winter, if in southern areas where heartworm is a concern).  Revolution is topical and is put on the back of their neck during flea and tick season.  This is a safe, effective and less costly protocol.


I would never breed a dog with persistent skin issues or known problems.  Some breeds are prone to various skin issues.  I would talk to your breeder or study the breed to see if there is some common factor that may be the cause and suggested holistic treatments.  In general, if the breeder follows careful screening in selecting the parents of your dog this is not an issue.

If after going down this check list considering diet, environmental factors, stress, medical treatments, and heredity after a month you still see the issue go back to your vet.  I am telling you 99 times out of 100 this will cover the problem.  IF you need to go back at your vet, ask for a full senior blood screening, including thyroid.  This is the cheapest full panel (typically for senior dogs but really who cares) and should identify an issue.  IF you do decide to do allergy testing please note that the cheaper tests are not at all reliable.  Go for the gold standard or don’t waste your money.

Please note, I am not a vet.  I am a dog owner and Australian Labradoodle breeder (17 years) and a professor of architecture.  I added the professor part only to note that I am someone who studies and does research (on everything).  Please research for yourself.

A reliable canine allergy/ sensitivity test to date is  If you would like to try natural alternatives I find this helpful

Chagas Disease, a paracitic infection in Dogs

Chagas disease is an illness caused by a parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.  Once the parasite bites your dog it multiplies and eventually reaches the blood circulation, spreading to various organs but mainly the brain and heart.

Chagas disease is endemic in South and Central America, but it is also found in the United States, typically in in all southern states, most noted in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, California, New Mexico, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Maryland.

Symptoms and Types

Two forms of Chagas disease in dogs: acute and chronic. Some dogs enter an extended asymptomatic stage (where no symptoms develop), which can last for years. During that time, there is a progressive and insidious development of the parasite, leading to the degeneration and inflammation of the heart, which can eventually cause heart failure and death.

Acute (typically dogs younger than 2)




Exercise intolerance

Walking difficulties

Rapid body jerks, seizures

Swollen lymph nodes

Increased heart rate (tachycardia)

Congestive heart failure (left and right-sided)

Chronic (typically older dogs)



Exercise intolerance

Increased heart rate (tachycardia)


With a detailed history your vet will then perform a complete physical examination as well as order a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, serology and an electrolyte panel — all of which may demonstrate results common with parasitic infections.

X-Rays may indicate heart and pulmonary diseases, while an echocardiogram may show chamber or wall abnormalities. For example, atrioventricular block and right bundle branch block are seen in dogs with acute forms of the disease, whereas ventricular arrhythmias (which can then degenerate into various forms of ventricular tachycardia) are associated with chronic Chagas disease.


Although several drugs have shown somewhat limited improvement in dogs during the acute stage, none produce a “cure.” Unfortunately, even those that get treatment may progress to the chronic form of the disease.

Dogs with Chagas disease and sudden heart complication have a guarded prognosis, while those with chronic forms of the disease typically have a more dismal outcome.

Remember, we are simply attempting to get information out to dog owners, we are not stating we are experts in Chagas Disease but simply passing on information we determine is appropriate for those who own our dogs.  I also found the following:

FDA warning on Chicken jerky treats from China

I would just ike to pass on the warning from the FDA on Chicken jerky treats from China.  I realize we all, on occasion, purchase treats from various stores and think it is obviously safe given it is being sold.  That does not seem to be the case here given this warning has been going on since 2007 with the latest in 2012.

Consumers have largely blamed two brands for the reported illnesses. Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch, both produced by Nestle Purina and made in China


ABC News

Animal Health foundation

Canine Addison’s a letter to owners of any breed that is known to carry Addison’s

As I hear about illnesses (there are very few) in the Australian Labradoodle and Labradoodle I go back and forth with the idea of telling everyone and risking worry or not passing on the information and risk a possible (even if a miniscule chance) health issue.  Obvious we all hear about health symptoms online or on TV, even in humans, and think that sounds like me or my mom, or my daughter and run off worried to the doctor.   So that said I don’t want to cause panic, everyone please relax, I do not believe your dog is not at risk, we have NOT found any illness in our parent dogs, puppies or pedigree lines. I am just passing the word as I think a good breeder should do.

Most health concerns in the Poodle, Labrador or even Cocker spaniel can be removed from lines or greatly reduced incidence thru health testing.  As you all know we do extensive health testing of our parent dogs and continue contact with you all in hopes of hearing about the long term health of your puppies, thus helping us be better breeders.  Currently we are happy to say all are happy and healthy.  In 10 years of breeding (about 2-3 litters a year on average) we have only lost one offspring to cancer and one wonderful breeding dog was lost to an obstruction in his bowel (not health related but environmental).  I would have to assume I have not heard of all losses, aches or pains but I would also have to assume those were environmental (accident related).  So health testing is the main line of defense; however some illnesses have yet to have DNA or testing available to predetermine a condition and direct our breeding strategies.  Currently I am aware of some labradoodles (again NOT in our program) with seizure disorders (I have written an article on seizures available online) and some dogs with Addison’s (again NOT in our program).  But I would have to say never say never these issues cannot be predetermined so it is always possible in any breed whereas some (poodles and Labradors) are predisposed to these conditions.

So I have determined to send out this update from Rainmaker Ranch Labradoodles this year on canine Addison’s.

Canine Addison’s a letter to owners of any breed that is known to carry Addison’s

Where is Addison’s centered?

Addison’s is an imbalance in the adrenal glands; it is an imbalance in hormone levels.  Addison’s is believed to be primarily genetic with environmental triggers.  The adrenal glands are located in front of the canine kidneys and produce hormones.  These hormones are important in a body’s ability to cope with stress (physical and psycholocigal) plus balance minerals critical to life.  Of the two adrenal glands, the Adrenal cortex produces hormones essential to life, including mineralocorticoid, glucocorticoid.  Addison’s is basically hyposecretion of the hormones or the lack of mineralocorticoids whereas the result is a loss of sodium, and the ability of the body to retain potassium and water.  All of the various adrenal produced hormones (there are more than just mineralocorticoid) need to be balanced, the increase in one or decrease in one hormone causes illness.  Commercial drugs (corticosteroids or steroids) are available to substitute for the lack of mineralocorticoids produced naturally.  However, while low levels of mineralocorticoid causes illness (Addison’s), high levels of these steroids (given for other reasons) has a profound effect in the opposite direction and can actually trigger Addison’s or bring on an Addison’s crisis in dogs that carry the genetics for Addison’s.   Simply put Addison’s is believed to be genetic, even requiring two or more specific genes; however environmental factors are believed to trigger these genes.  Without the trigger even those with Addison’s genetics may never have or even know they carry Addison’s.

When would you see the signs?

Usually after a stressful situation (psychically or psychological) in dogs between the age of 18 months to 7 years of age Addison’s symptoms may arrive.  The younger age in that range occurs if, for other reasons, steroids have been given to the dog.

The problem with Addison’s is that many times it goes undiagnosed until it is too late.  What to look for are the commonly reported symptoms, which can vary from dog to dog, and include loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, listlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, hind-end pain, muscle weakness, tremors, shivering, increased thirst, dehydration, excessive urination, a painful or sensitive abdomen, muscle or joint pain, and changes in coat, which may become thicker, thinner, longer, or even curly and about 15 to 20 percent of Addisonian dogs will have dark, tarry stools or blood in their vomit, mental depression, patches of darkened skin, a slow and weak pulse, low body temperature, low blood pressure, and pale mucous membranes. These symptoms usually come in waves; the dog is sick and then seems to get over it for no apparent reason multiple times over a year or longer.   Many owners miss these bouts as they can be short in time. This temporary illness is when the adrenal functions are fluctuating but not yet at a critical stage.  As the illness progresses a lack mineralocorticoid results in marked changes in blood serum levels (potassium, sodium and chloride).  Excess potassium causes a decrease in heart rate leaving the dog predisposed to circulatory collapse and renal failure (acute renal failure is a common misdiagnosis).  An adrenal crisis is an acute medical emergency. The dog will need fluids, emergency doses of glucose and perhaps glucocorticoid.  This is sometimes given even if the ATCH (Addison’s test) is not back yet but blood levels indicate changes in levels of potassium, sodium and chloride (specifically elevated potassium, low sodium, elevated BUN and creatinine, elevated liver enzymes, low glucose, high calcium, low protein (albumin and globulin), anemia, low cholesterol, and metabolic acidosis. A sodium/potassium ratio of less than 27 is strongly indicator of Addison’s) indicating Addison’s.  Once these drugs are given the dog will be over the crisis and seem back to normal.  This of course is a preliminary indication that the problem is indeed Addison’s.  Note, only an ACTH stimulation test can determine positive Addison’s.   Currently there is NO test to determine if your dog carries the necessary genetics for Addison’s.  UCDavis is working on this test but it may be years before one is available.  Currently, prior to any illness the best you can do is follow the recommendations:

  • ·         Always keep your dog on high quality foods low in grains (no wheat, corn, and soy); I cannot say this enough; a good food is well worth the price in exchange for long term health.  Dogs are carnivores not omnivores, they are not able to digest grains and making a canine body to digest grain causes daily stress on the dogs complete system.
  • If you are worried, because a dog in your dog’s pedigree line has Addison’s, you can supplement with licorice root (pill or liquid) daily (consult a holistic vet) to help your dogs body deal with stress. Research has shown that licorice helps prolong the activity of natural (and synthetic) corticosteroids like hydrocortisone.
  • Digestive enzyme powders (probiotics or good bacteria) are a sensible addition for any dog with digestive problems and can be found at almost all pet stores.
  • Melatonin (consult a holistic vet) is recommended occasionally (one 3-mg tablet or capsule for a medium-sized dog) 20 to 30 minutes before stressful events such as fireworks, thunder, long distance moves, etc., if a dog has reactions.
  • ·         Be aware of Addison’s symptoms
  • ·         IF a crisis arrives along checking for other issues (obstructions, etc) request a blood test be preformed to check potassium, sodium and chloride levels.  If levels indicate possible Addison’s, run a ACTH test (this test is two blood draws one hour apart, after the first an injection is given to stimulate cortisol both blood tests check for cortisol levels) and IF the crisis is a critical situation treat for Addison’s with fluids and glucocorticoid.  The ACTH test is a blood test and can take up to 24 hours to get the results, the time some dogs do not have.

IF your dog has been diagnosed with Addison’s the recommendation is to move to a holistic veterinarians for long term treatment.   A dog on long term treatment can lead a normal happy life.  Treatments vary depending on a dog’s size and the extent of illness plus a negotiated price at your vet for blood work and finding the lowest cost treatments. But in general, long term treatment can be holistic or commercial drugs or usually best a combination of both to reduce dependence on synthetic drugs and lower costs, all and all about $30/month on average.  Addison’s groups on line can help find the lowest prices for long term treatments.  Each dog will vary on what is effective and what is not so obviously that cost varies as well.

Canine Seizures or Canine Epilepsy?

It is best to compare a seizure to the human cough.  Humans can have various issues and/or illnesses that can result in a cough.  The cough is a symptom of the issue and/or illness; no one has just a cough for no reason.  A human can swallow water down their wind pipe and cough, the cough is the result of the swallowing of water.  A human can have lung cancer that results in a chronic cough.  These two examples are two extremes, one is serious and one temporary due to an environmental issue.  Canine Seizures can be serious and chronic due to health and/or genetic conditions usually defined as epilepsy or temporary due to an environmental factor.

Canine Epilepsy versus an occasional seizure is a chronic condition characterized by recurrent seizures.  Although seizures are always abnormal events, not all seizures in dogs are considered canine epilepsy.   

Canine Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain where abnormal electrical activity triggers further uncoordinated nerve transmission.  This uncoordinated and haphazard nerve tissue activity scrambles messages to the muscles of your dog’s body and the coordinated use of muscles are then inhibited. 


Because there are many causes of chronic recurrent seizures in dogs, canine epilepsy is not a specific disease or even a single syndrome, but rather a diverse category of disorders.  Canine Epilepsy is broadly divided into idiopathic and symptomatic disorders.  Idiopathic Epilepsy, also called primary epilepsy, means that there is NO identifiable brain abnormality other than the seizures.  Symptomatic epilepsy (also called secondary epilepsy) is seizures that are the consequence of an identifiable lesion or other specific cause identified.    

Most dogs with idiopathic epilepsy suffer their first seizure between the ages of one and five years of age.  A genetic basis for idiopathic epilepsy is strongly suspected in several breeds including those purebreds used in the development of Australian Labradoodle and Labradoodle. 


Seizures may be caused by situations within the brain (such as trauma, tumor, or infection) or by situations centered outside the brain (such as low blood sugar, circulating metabolic toxins, hypothyroidism, or external poisons). The first step is to rule out situations centered outside the brain, accomplished with blood testing. An ophthalmic exam may also be performed as the retina may show signs of a brain infection. If these tests are negative, the next step is determined by the age of the pet.  In my opinion, to date the best testing agency is spearheaded by Dr. Jean Dodd’s and samples can be set to  In my opinion Dr. Dodd’s and UCDavis have the most concentrated resources on the subject.  Further information can be found at


Seizures are usually caused by infections of the brain. Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid, obtained by a tap under anesthesia, would be important.


In these animals, usually no cause can be found and the term “epilepsy,” which simply means “seizure disorder,” is applied. If seizures are occurring frequently enough, medication is used to suppress them.  To understand medications please go to and participate in owner forums on the subject.

In this group, seizures are usually caused by a tumor growing off the skull and pressing on the brain (a “meningioma”). Most such tumors are operable if found early. ACT scan or MRI would be the next step.  For patients where surgery is not an option, corticosteroids may be used to reduce swelling in the brain.


Some forms of epilepsy are inherited. Sodium, potassium, and calcium serve the brain as ions and produce electric charges that must fire regularly in order for a steady current to pass from one nerve cell to another. If the channels that carry them are genetically damaged, an imbalance occurs that can cause misfire and seizures.


Both cancerous and non-cancerous brain tumors can cause seizures. Brain tumors are the most common cause of seizures that begin after age 5. Whenever an older dog begins to have seizures, and causes such as toxins, trauma and diabetes have been ruled out, the possibility of a brain tumor should be considered. 

Liver disease is a degenerative inflammatory disease that results in the hardening and scarring of liver cells. The liver becomes unable to function properly due to the scarred tissue, which prevents the normal passage of blood through the liver.
Severe worm infestation can result in seizures. Parasites release toxins that have an adverse affect on the central nervous system.


Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, which brings on feelings of fatigue and stress, may be a factor in triggering seizures. Scientists have estimated that between 50 to 90 percent of all epileptics suffer from low blood sugar, and 70 percent have abnormal glucose tolerance levels.


Toxic metals such as lead, copper, mercury, and aluminum have also been known to cause seizures. Some pets are very sensitive to such metals, and exposure is common through aluminum cookware, auto exhaust, industrial pollution, household cleaners and copper water pipes.

Flea sprays, collars and yard sprays are also toxic to pets. It is important to keep your epileptic dog as free from chemical pollutants as possible. Think about the environment your dog is living in. Do you use chemical sprays on your lawn? Dogs will sometimes seize only when the lawn is sprayed for weeds. How about the cleaner you use for the floor? Some dogs have been known to seize after the floor has been washed with a pine scented cleaner. Flea and tick medications can also cause seizures. It is recommended that epi dogs be given Interceptor as a monthly heartworm preventative and Frontline used for fleas. Avoid products with Ivermectin it has been known to cause seizures in some breeds. There are many things that can lower a dog’s seizure threshold. Keep a diary of your dog’s seizures. Note down anything you have done or that the dog could have come in contact with that day which could have contributed to seizure. It is also a known phenomenon that some dogs may seizure around the full moon.

Because vaccines may contain proteins and/or organisms, they may produce an allergic encephalitis inflammation of the brain. Vaccinations can lower a dog’s seizure threshold and trigger a seizure. If you feel that this is the case for your dog, ask the vet to split the shots, give them separately at weekly or two weekly intervals and ask for the Rabies shot to be given 2 weeks after that.

Infections, cysts and cancer can cause seizures.

A blow to the head causing head trauma from an auto accident, abuse or other accident can lead to life-long seizures.
The role of the kidneys is to remove toxins and excess fluid. When the kidneys become diseased or damaged also called Renal Kidney Failure, the kidney may lose the ability to perform, causing a toxic build-up in the body resulting in a seizure.  A toxic build-up can lead to a seizure disorder.
Research points to vitamin and mineral deficiencies as possible causes of epilepsy. The key nutrients that appear deficient in epileptics are vitamin B6, vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin D, zinc, taurine, magnesium, and calcium.  Diet plays an important role in the management of Canine Epilepsy. It is very important to feed a kibble that is preservative free. Preservatives such as Ethoxyquin and BHT, BHA should be avoided as they can cause seizures.   Dogs should not eat grain.

Genetics (from the Canine Epilepsy Project

The Canine Epilepsy Project is a collaborative study into the causes of epilepsy in dogs. It is supported by grants from the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), individual breed clubs and private donations. Grants supporting this research are CHF Completed Grant #1718, CHF Completed Grant #1729, CHF Completed Grant #1845, CHF Active Grant #2252, CHF Active Grant #2304, and NIH Award #1K08NS0224501.

Their goal is to find the genes responsible for epilepsy in dogs so that wise breeding can decrease the incidence of the disease in dogs. We also hope that knowing what genes regulate epilepsy in dogs may help us better tailor our therapy to the specific cause.

The objectives of their investigations into hereditary canine epilepsy are:

Recruit samples from a large number of affected individuals and their immediate family members (siblings, parents, and grandparents), from many breeds of dogs.

Evaluate the genotype of selected families to search for linkage between DNA markers and clinical epilepsy, and then use this information to identify the causative mutation or mutations.

Devise a DNA marker test that detects and distinguishes normal and mutant (epilepsy-causing) alleles, and make this test available to dog breeders so that they can produce epilepsy-free dogs.

The genes controlling seizure problems in dogs are not well understood. This project is attempting to find the marker(s) or mutation(s) responsible. When these can be identified, a blood test will tell if an individual dog is a carrier, clear, or likely to become an affected (even before symptoms begin). Using this information, breeders can choose breeding partners who will not produce affected puppies.

Breeders and owners often ask what is known about the inheritance of idiopathic epilepsy (also called primary epilepsy or genetic epilepsy). This is an important question because if breeders know the mode of inheritance (that is, the pattern of inheritance across generations), then they may be able to develop breeding strategies that will enable them to breed away from epilepsy. Sometimes, if the mode of inheritance for a disorder is well understood, careful selective breeding can enable breeders to greatly reduce, or even eliminate, the disorder while allowing the breeders to continue with their bloodlines. Of course, when some breeders and owners ask about the inheritance of epilepsy, they are hoping to find evidence that the seizures in their dogs are not due to inherited epilepsy. Sometimes, they do find reason to suggest this. However, many times, they must face the conclusion that inheritance (genetics) was the underlying cause of the seizures.

For readers who are not familiar with the term “mode of inheritance,” we will try to clarify. The mode of inheritance refers to whether the disorder is a simple recessive trait, a simple dominant trait, or a complex trait. Traits that are “simple” are carried by a single gene, while traits that are complex involve more than one gene. With complex genetic traits, the different genes can combine or interact with each other, and the genes can also interact with the dog’s environment. Of course, simple genetic traits are easier to study. The term “recessive” means that a dog will only have the disorder if the defective gene is passed down by both of the parents. Thus, if only one parent passes down the defective gene, the offspring will not be affected with the disorder, although they can be “carriers” and later pass down their one defective gene to their own offspring. The term “dominant” means that the dog can have the disorder even if only one of the parents passes down the defective gene.

As indicated, there currently are no conclusive findings on the mode of inheritance for canine idiopathic epilepsy. However, there are some general theories. Some investigators have theorized that, at least in the breeds they studied, the disorder is likely to be recessive because often two parents that are free of epilepsy produce offspring with epilepsy. Another theory concerns whether the defective gene or genes are carried on the sex chromosomes. (Each dog has 39 pairs of chromosomes which carry all of his or her genes. One member of each pair is inherited from each of the parents. Thirty-eight of these pairs are autosomes and one pair is the sex chromosomes.) Often, when there are sex differences in a trait, the gene for that trait is carried on the sex chromosomes. However, despite the fact that many breeds (though not all) show a higher rate of epilepsy in males than females, the pattern of inheritance across generations suggests that the genes responsible for epilepsy are probably carried on one or more of the autosome pairs. While these two theoretical notions (recessive and autosomal) may indeed prove to be true for many breeds, at the present time, there still is not enough data to draw any firm conclusions, even on the specific breeds for which pedigree analyses have been conducted.

As indicated, there are several researchers who currently are investigating the genetic basis of canine idiopathic epilepsy. If you own a dog with idiopathic epilepsy, or one of your dogs has produced offspring with epilepsy, please contact the canine epilepsy network.

IF your dog has seizures it is important to notify the breeder and any association or clubs to which they belong.  It is only thru shared information and pedigree study that genetic conditions can be identified and used to breed wisely.


Generalized Seizure or Tonic-clonic: The Tonic-clonic seizure has two stages and may come in a mild or Grand Mal version. During the Grand Mal seizure the “tonic” phase is when the dog falls to the ground, rigidly stretches his legs out and loses consciousness. During this time his breathing will also stop. This part of the seizure usually lasts ten to thirty seconds. After this the “clonic” stage begins. It is at this time that owners notice the stereotypical activity that is commonly called a fit.

While the dog is in the clonic stage, he or she will begin any or all of the following symptoms:

1. Paddling of limbs or “running in place”.

2. Jaw movements that look like the dog is trying to chew gum.

3. Pupils in both eyes dilate (become large) and unresponsive.

4. Dog begins salivating or drooling.

5. Dog loses control of bodily functions and begins to urinate or defecate on itself.


In the mild cases of Tonic-clonic seizures there is usually little paddling and no loss of consciousness. Defecation and urination may also not occur.

Petit Mal Seizures have short episodes of the dog being unconscious with instances of muscle tone loss, and blank stares. These types of seizures seem to be very rare in dogs and often require the presence of EEG abnormalities to diagnosis for certainty.

Partial Seizures are odd things where the seizure activities such as the leg paddling, muscle spasms, neck and head bending or the main part of the body and facial muscle spasms only occur in one part of the body. These types of seizures can worsen until they appear to be Grand Mal or Mild Tonic-clonic but the difference is how the seizure began. Both Tonic-clonic types seem to be overall body from the start but the partials may just start at the face or one hip.

Status Epilepticus type seizures can be life threatening. They can appear as one continuous seizure that lasts more than thirty minutes or in a repetitive loop of seizures with the dog never regaining consciousness. Status epilepticus seizures can occur to dogs with a history of Grand Mal or Mild Tonic-clonic seizures and a diagnosis of epilepsy. They can also occur in dogs with no previous seizure activity but that have had an injury to the brain, exposed to toxins such as massive amounts of chocolate, pesticides and poisons or they can be the result of disease.

Cluster Seizures are very similar to the loop of status epilepticus seizures and each are often diagnosed as the other. The difference between the status epilepticus and the cluster seizures is that the dog actually has short time periods returning to consciousness in between each seizure.

Complex Partial Seizures can also be known as psychomotor or behavioral seizures. Of all the different types of seizures these are the oddest and most bizarre. During a complex partial seizure the dog will demonstrate strange repetitive behaviors such as uncontrollably running in small circles, biting at the air, howling, barking or yipping and even a type of lip-smacking. Others may show signs of attempting to hide for no reason. Other signs can be instances of vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, biting at their sides or flank area and even blindness. Although the dog is awake during these seizures, they are not aware of what they are doing or what is going on around them. Complex partial seizures can last a few minutes, several hours or can turn into generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

It is a lucky pet that never has another seizure after beginning medications; but an occasional breakthrough seizure (as disturbing as it may be to watch) is rarely of serious concern. It is important not to put yourself in danger around a seizing pet. Involuntary jaw snapping may bite you and in the period of post ictal disorientation the pet may not recognize you and may snap.

There are, however, some emergency situations:

(this is called “status epilepticus”)



There are four basic stages to a seizure:

  • The Prodome: may precede the seizure by hours or days. It is characterized by changes in mood or behavior.
  • The Aura: signals the start of a seizure. Nervousness, whining, trembling, salivation, affection, wandering, restlessness, hiding and apprehension are all signals.
  • The Ictus, the actual seizure:. A period of intense physical activity usually lasting 45 seconds to 3 minutes. The dog may lose consciousness and fall to the ground. There may be teeth gnashing, frantic thrashing of limbs, excessive drooling, vocalizing, paddling of feet, uncontrollable urination and defecation.
  • The Post Ictus/Ictal: after the seizure, the dog may pace endlessly, appear blind and deaf and eat or drink excessively.


The following tests are advised before a diagnosis of idiopathic/inherited epilepsy is made.

  • Glucose tolerance test, to check for hypoglycemia.
  • Thyroid panel, 6 tests, to check for low thyroid function/hypothyroidism.
  • EEG, to see if there are findings suggestive of a lesion (an abnormal EEG is standard with epilepsy, but a vet or a physician will also be able to tell if there is a lesion.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid analysis, to look for encephalitis, distemper and other infection.
  • Blood test to check for lead poisoning;
  • CT scan or MRI, again to look for a brain lesion


The Epilepsy Genetic Research Project

Veterinary Neurologists at several universities are looking for a genetic answer to epilepsy. They seek DNA samples from epileptic dogs and their close relatives if possible. For more information, visit

Canine Epilepsy Network

Affiliated with the Veterinary School at the University of Missouri at Columbia, this site reviews canine seizure disorders, treatment, history and more.


This is a support and news group for owners of seizing dogs. The group has a substantial library of useful resources which can be viewed at:

To search the Poodle Health Registry:

Again, IF your dog has seizures it is important to notify the breeder and any association or clubs to which they belong .  It is only thru shared information and pedigree study that genetic conditions can be identified and used to breed wisely.

Note: This article is a combination of current information available to the public on the internet.  The intent was to gather and summarize information for those seeking a general knowledge of seizures. Although the information was gathered and organized by this blog author it is not the intent to portray the information as the words of this blog author.  All the links to the information are listed in the information section for interested parties to gather more details.

Labradoodle Allergies, they are what they eat…

We have been asked many times about selecting a dog food and what foods are toxic.  This is all published on our blog but we believe it is helpful and worth restating in an email to the families of our puppies.  All the best, Krista, Kathy, Cindy and Alisa of Rainmaker Ranch Labradoodles

We use the best puppy food available. We do not feed people food to our dogs ever, some things you would never imagine are actually toxic (listed below). Please read the labels and understand what you are feeding your dog.

To find a good food read the first 5 ingredients on the bag. the ingredients are listed in order of amount with the highest quantity listed first.  Now ask the following questions:

What are the protein sources? We believe the primary source should come from quality animal protein, not vegetable protein or grain. Foods that list 2 or more grains in the first 5 ingredients may have more vegetable protein than animal protein. We prefer Chicken as the main ingredient.

What about grains? Two or more grains listed in the first 5 ingredients means your food may have more vegetable protein than animal protein. Grains such as soy, corn, corn gluten and wheat gluten can be difficult to digest, which means less nutrition, possible allergic reactions and more clean up. Wheat, barley, rice, corn and oats are all man-raised crops that a dog would never eat in the wild.   These ingredients are not properly digested and in many situations cause a dog to show allergy symptoms.

Are there by-products? Some manufacturers consider by-products inferior sources of protein and, depending on the source, they can be difficult to digest. Most dog foods contain protein sources labeled as “meal”, “digest” or “by-product”. These ingredients contain meat sources that are typically unsuitable for human consumption.

What are the fat sources? Some fats are better than others. We believe the primary fat source in dog food should be animal based because animal fats contain a profile of fatty acids that are easily metabolized and thus are generally more available to the body.

Toxic items

First all dog owners should know where their emergency vet is located.  The last thing you want is to be looking for the place when your dog is ill, late at night, so be prepared and do a dry run during the day.  It may save a life.

Second you need to be aware how to make a dog throw up if he or she does ingest something they should not.  This can be anything from a sock to the following foods.  Please call your vet or emergency vet clinic for advice on if inducing vomiting is a good idea based on the item and time.

Vomiting will not help in some situations and could harm him or her even more, please…

  • Do not induce if the dog has already started vomiting.
  • Do not induce if the dog has lost consciousness, has trouble breathing, or she has become too weak to stand.
  • Do not induce if the dog has swallowed bleach, drain cleaner or a petroleum distillate product. These products will burn the esophagus and mouth parts again on the way up.
  • Do not induce if the dog swallowed the material more than two hours ago because the item or substance has likely passed into the small intestine, at which point your dog can’t vomit it back up.

You can induce if…

  • your vet has advised you to do it during your phone call;
  • your dog has ingested antifreeze (ethylene glycol) no more than two hours ago

That said, follow these steps to induce vomiting.

  1. Into a small bowl, glass or mug, pour some three percent hydrogen peroxide, the same you have for a childs cut.
  2. Pour about 3 cc’s for every 20 pounds of your dog’s weight into a small cup.
  3. Open her mouth slightly tilting her head back, pour a steady stream of the hydrogen peroxide toward the back of her mouth, which will force her to swallow it.
  4. Wait ten minutes. If she hasn’t yet started to vomit, repeat steps 2 and 3.
  5. Call your vet immediately if she doesn’t vomit after the second dose.


So what is toxic to your dog besides the obvious, antifreeze?  Well here is a list of those that will cause harm.

  • Grapes, Raisins
  • Candy, gum containing xylitol
  • Mushrooms
  • Castor Bean
  • Cocoa powder, cooking chocolate, semi sweet chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate in order of most toxic
  • Onions and garlic
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pear pits, the kernels of plums, peaches and apricots, apple core pits (contain cyanogenic glycosides in cyanide poisoning)
  • Potato peelings and green looking potatoes
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Moldy/ spoiled foods
  • Alcohol
  • Yeast dough
  • Coffee grounds, beans and tea (caffeine)
  • Hops (used in home brewing)
  • Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
  • Broccoli
  • Raw salmon
  • Apple (stem and leaves)
  • Yew (American, English, Western)
  • Wild Cherry
  • Japanese Plum
  • Ficus(Cuban Laurel)
  • Cherry
  • Balsam Pear
  • Ficus Lyrata (Fiddle-Leaf)
  • Oak
  • Philodendron (Devil’s Ivy)
  • English Ivy
  • Jasmine
  • Vine
  • Matrimony Vine
  • Virginia Creeper
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Caladium
  • Colocasia (Elephant’s Ear)
  • Deiffenbachia (Dumb Cane)
  • Philodendron (Saddle Leaf, Split Leaf)
  • Poinsetta
  • Mum (Pot and Spider)
  • Umbrella Plant
  • Aloe Vera
  • Mistletoe

Mixed breed versus purebred

I have to say I realize the Labradoodle and Australian Labradoodle are not considered Breeds by the definition of Breeds used by the AKC.  Technically they are mixed breeds. One of the reasons I focused on the Australian Labradoodle starting in 2001 is the work of the “breed” as the family.  I generally consider their “work” as service dog or family companion.  To do this work, in my opinion, they need to be able to reflect the family profile.  If the family is active they need to respond to change and an active lifestyle.  If the family is retired and lives at a slow pace, the dog should respond.  If there is an adult or child in need of a service or therapy dog the line of dogs needs to be able to control themselves at a young age, thus able to work within the first year of their lives. This is what the Australian Labradoodle, again in my opinion, is able to do IF bred correctly with careful selection of the parent dogs, selective temperament, coat, health and yes conformation.  Many Labradoodles and even Australian Labradoodles are not breed for this work, but bred just to sell their puppies and sad to say just like any other breed these dogs do not suit their work.  Currently we as breeders have the responsibility many purebred breeds had decades ago.  Keeping health and temperament as a priority to maintain the breed for the work the dog was designed for.  Yes all pure bred dogs were designed at some time.  Breeders selected the traits they liked and bred only those dogs with these traits and eventually the dogs became distinct separate breeds.  For example all originating from the same hunting and water dog lines the Lagotto Romagnolo is now suited for land work hunting truffles, the Portuguese Water Dog was designed through selecting generations of dogs with intense stamina for long distance and ocean water retrieval capabilities.  And  one other is the Poodle also a water retriever but selected for much shorter distances in lake and pond swimming plus they spent more time indoors with the family.  Each of these dog breeds were designed by the breeders by selecting for specific traits that suited the work to be done.  Now today they look fairly similar but their personalities are different and those distinct personalities are ideal for their work.

Thought the years the AKC has focused on conformation and the judges idea of what is an ideal conformation for each breed. The work moved aside and I believe the breeders went astray.  Today thanks to the documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” the KC (UK Kennel Club) has been force to go back and rethink the focus and some incredible things are happening.  I can only hope the AKC will follow suit and we will again see temperament and health trump a judges choice of the perfect dog.

Here is a recent article on  that I feel need repeating here and hope more people read and demand changes here in the US.

“Update: Pedigree Dogs Exposed Image via WikipediaThe UK Kennel Club, after a lot of strife and public opprobrium, has made some positive changes since the bombshell documentary ”Pedigree Dogs Exposed” aired. And it just begs for an equally hard look at what the AKC is up to, especially given their new discount registration papers program for puppy mill dogs. Any journalists left in this country or should we be calling our representatives to demand H1B visas to import some?

• The Kennel Club (KC) will no longer register the progeny of father/daughter; mother/son or full-sib matings (unless convinced of a strong scientific reason for doing so).

• The KC is running a prominent “fit for function, fit for life” campaign (

• The KC has made changes to 78 breed standards in order to discourage/reverse exaggerations and has added the following clause to every breed standard: “A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.”

• The KC has commissioned an independent enquiry into dog-breeding that will report in January. Headed by Professor Sir Patrick Bateson it is expected to make strong recommendations regarding the need to preserve/improve genetic diversity.

• Two other independent enquiries – one from the RSPCA and one an all-party parliamentary group – have come to the same broad conclusions as the film – that there are serious welfare problems that need to be addressed urgently. Both have favored self-regulation rather than new legislation and also recognize that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The APGAW (Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare) report is downloadable from here: The RSPCA report is downloadable from here: • The KC, as part of a ‘stakeholder’ group compromising veterinary and animal welfare organizations, has signed up to the following welfare principles: 1) every dog should be born with the best possible chance of living a healthy and happy life, well suited to its intended lifestyle 2) all those who breed dogs should prioritize health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing which animals to breed, in order to protect the welfare of both the parents and offspring 3) all those who benefit from dogs have a collective responsibility to work together to protect dog welfare More info:

• The KC has announced that it is minded to allow the registration of Dalmatians crossed with a pointer (known as LUA or NUA Dalmatians) in order to alleviate the breed of a debilitating, sometimes fatal, condition caused by high uric acid levels. Objections from the UK breed clubs (requested by Dec 31 2009) can only be on the grounds of health and welfare (ie.not on the grounds of breed purity). Although the KC has allowed some limited out crossing in the past, it is being more proactive in this area. See also:

• The KC has launched a new Canine Genetics Centre based at the Animal Health Trust (the main developer of DNA tests in the UK)

• The Animal Health Trust says it has had a “huge increase in breeders” wanting to help in the development of new DNA tests since the program.

• The KC has improved judge’s training inc that judges of gundog breeds must attend field trials before being allowed to judge at Ch show level. • Breed clubs’ Code of Ethics are no longer allowed to condone the culling of healthy puppies that don’t meet the breed standard.

• The KC has withdrawn the allocation of CCs from GSDs in 2012, demanding evidence that conformation problems in the breed are being tackled. ( • Many more cavaliers are being MRI scanned for syringomyelia. (A three-fold increase in the number of MRI-scanned dogs listed on the UK Club’s website)

• The KC has promised breed health plans for every breed. Part of this will be an assessment of the genetic diversity of every breed.

• The RSPCA is funding the University of Sydney to develop a veterinary-based disease-surveillance scheme. Progress has been made as Ryan O’Meara of K9 Magazine remarked at the conclusion of this list he published.”

The Labradoodle, Hybrid Vigor and Health Concerns Present Regardless

I will have to say the best book I have studied on genetics and health is Control of Canine Genetic Diseases, renowned authority George A. Padgett, DVM.  

First, I would like to state that the MAIN reason for selecting breeding dogs that are a top representation of their breed (Poodle, Lab, Labradoodle or Australian Labradoodle) in Health, Temperament, and Conformation is the resulting puppies are top in health temperament and conformation. There is NO QUESTION; a puppy is a direct result of its parents and pedigree.

“Heterosis is a term used in genetics and selective breeding. The term heterosis, also known as hybrid vigor or outbreeding enhancement, describes the increased strength of different characteristics in hybrids; the possibility to obtain a genetically superior individual by combining the virtues of its parents. Heterosis is the opposite of inbreeding depression, which occurs with increasing homozygosity. The term often causes controversy, particularly in terms of the selective breeding of domestic animals, because it is sometimes believed that all crossbred plants or animals are genetically superior to their parents; this is true only in certain circumstances: when a hybrid is seen to be superior to its parents, this is known as hybrid vigor. When the opposite happens, and a hybrid inherits traits from their parents that makes them unfit for survival, the result is referred to as outbreeding depression. “reference:

The issues here are best described by an expert, Joanne Reichertz DVM in her 2004 article “Oodles of Poodle Crosses for Sale”

“In virtually every newspaper classified section you can read, there are advertisements for Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, Cockapoos, Pekeapoos, Shihpoos, etc. In all the years I have bred poodles there have always been crossbreeds around. Most of these were accidents and the puppies were given away or sold for little more than the price of their care. Some Cockapoos were deliberately bred for Pet Shops, but the market was inconsistent, so they were not readily available. Labradors and Standard Poodles were also crossbred in Australia to produce a specific type of working dog. However in the previous few years the “fad” has been to produce crossbred poodles with many different breed and market them for considerable money as “designer breeds that are healthier and otherwise better than a purebred”. In most cases these puppies are produced for monetary gains not to develop a new breed!

The Goldendoodle is one of these crossbreds. Goldendoodles were deliberately bred in North America as a larger version of the Cockapoo, beginning around ten to fifteen years ago. Most do not shed hair heavily, and some are hypoallergenic like the Standard Poodle. This crossbred gets its name from the mix of the two breeds – Golden Retriever and Poodle. Goldendoodles are considered a hybrid dog, a first generation cross between two breeds, and as such they are supposed to exhibit a quality called hybrid vigour by these breeders. This hybrid vigour is more correctly called heterosis. Crossbreeding in commercial beef cattle production improves feed efficiency through heterosis. Hybrid vigor or heterosis is the added performance boost in crossbred calves over the performance average of their purebred parents. This heterosis can be used to advantage where the end product is meant to grow faster and eat less feed while doing so – thus maximizing the farmer’s profit. It is not necessarily useful in breeding dogs. In theory the puppies will take on the best traits of both breeds. In reality, this is often false.

True hybrids are the product of breeding two different species. Breeding a donkey and a horse produces a mule, breeding a lion and a tiger produces a liger or a tigon, while breeding a wolf and a domestic dog produces a wolf hybrid. Each of these hybrid breedings is a cross of two different species. The offspring are hybrids. Domestic dogs are the same species. When you cross breed domestic dogs you are not technically creating a hybrid. Wolf/dog hybrids often have behavioral problems as the domestic dog differs greatly in behavior from a wolf. A wolf/dog hybrid can be a behavioral disaster when they mature. (See Canine Hybrid Issues Surrounding the Wolf Dog , M. Sloan, J. Moore Porter, 2001)

A breed of dog is not a separate species, it is just a family of dogs bred to exhibit certain specific traits like the coat of a poodle. When you breed a litter of purebred dogs you get predictable puppies. With crossbred puppies you do not. It takes many generations to fix traits when developing a new breed. For example after a hundred years of breeding the Toy Poodle we still get the problems of oversized individuals, long backs/short legs and soft coats (particularly in white) – all leftovers from the breeds originally used to produce the Toy Poodle.

Crossbred dogs such as the Goldendoodle or Cockapoo are NOT hybrids nor are they a breed. Cockapoos may look like a Poodle, a Cocker or somewhere in between. A Cockapoo bred to a Cockapoo is not a breed. It takes decades or more to get a new breed to “breed true” without throwbacks occurring. People backcrossing Goldendoodles to Standard Poodles or crossing them on each other cannot predict the looks, coat and personalities of the resulting offspring. It will take many more generations before this will be possible. In addition when they breed them to each other they lose they slight health advantage which may have been gained through heterosis. These are still dogs and now we will have dogs with the health problems of both breeds. Hip dysplasia, being present in both breeds can show up in first generation Goldendoodles, so parents should be screened.

In conclusion, while I know it is possible to develop a new breed such as the Goldendoodle, with careful selective breeding practices and health testing, many people are breeding these dogs simply for monetary reasons. They often have no regard for the health and wellbeing of the puppy produced and as a result these breeds are becoming a common commodity in animal shelters as well as in newspaper classified advertisements.”

“Hybrid vigor” and Health Concerns Present Regardless

I hope you have read this information and understand that while those of us health, temperament, pedigree and conformation testing our parent dogs, grandparent dogs…are doing the best we can to produce healthy, well tempered dogs, true “hybrid vigor” is just not a correct term for the result. Why? Because, one, those breeding purebred poodles with the same selection criteria and careful not to inbreed can also produce the same healthy, well tempered puppies. And two, since labs and poodles are of the same species, the true form of hybrid vigor does not apply. For the remainder of this section I will use “hybird vigor” as a loose term to describe breeding two dogs of different breeds.

Some breeders use this term to sell you on Doodles or mixed breed dogs. To be honest there is only health concern where I am sure the first generation cross of a lab and poodle results in (this modified definition of) “hybrid vigor” and that is SA. Other health concerns (Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, patella Luxation, heart conditions, eye conditions, Addisons) are present in both breeds and therefore cannot simply be bred out by combining the two. When pure bred dogs are bred the lines are crossed over and over, possible negative and/or positive genetic traits are reintroduced again and again. If line or inbreeding is practiced possible negative genetic traits are reintroduced at even higher rates. Typically for a disease like Addison’s disease to be expressed in a dog it requires the genetic trait to be passed by both parents. If it is only passed by one parent the trait is recessive and the dog never shows any signs or symptoms of the disease in its lifetime. Therefore, if a breed like the poodle has been known to carry SA (a skin condition) and a breed like Labrador is known not to carry SA, then the first generation breeding of these dogs cannot express SA. This is a positive health affect of “hybrid vigor”. Once a Labradoodle is bred to another Labradoodle or another Poodle in this specific case of SA, the “hybrid vigor” influence is diluted. Only by using dogs that are known not to have SA can you remove SA from a line and that can be done through careful breeding strategies.

The primary reason to advocate for “hybrid vigor” is temperament. For generations pure bred dogs have been inbreed and line breed to reduce size or create the perfect conformation standard. Or another dog was selected as a breeding dog specifically due to its size of conformation, its ability to produce smaller offspring or win in the show ring over temperament was the concern. This has lead to poor temperament offspring in general (the same reasons human brothers and sisters cannot marry). The out crossing to unrelated lines, if selecting breeding dogs with temperament as top criteria, begets top temperament puppies. Yeah for “hybrid vigor”. Furthermore it has been proven that, in general, the more unlike (hetergeneous) two animals are the more healthy their offspring.

On the flip side, if both breeds carry a disease “hybrid vigor” (healthier offspring than the parents) does not apply. This is why health testing breeding dogs is so critical. Health testing breeding dogs costs about $1000 to $1500 per dog, but is NECESSARY for a breeder to know what they are producing and to support a positive step in reducing health incidents in Labradoodles and Australian Labradoodles. Diseases that are of concern to Poodles, Labs and all other breeds used in Australian Labradoodles are Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Heart conditions, Eye conditions, Addisons and Thyroid Conditions. All breeders should be testing their breeding dogs by completing Hip and Elbow testing (either OFA, PennHIP or BVA test), Heart Screening, Eye testing (CERF or other), and Complete CBC with Thyroid panel before breeding a dog AND removing those that do not pass these tests from their breeding program.

Puppy Socialization: 9 Easy Steps to Help Ensure a Well-Rounded Puppy

In our book Canine Health and Dog Training go hand in hand. We are happy to be able to provide the following article.

By Marc Street, Veteran dog trainer and owner of The Happy Dog and Very Important Pets Spas (VIP), reprinted with permission

Once you bring a new puppy into your home, you need to be aware of his special needs. Dogs are social animals, and instinctively have a need to bond with their ‘pack’. Your puppy needs to learn how to respond to you, but also to other dogs. Here are some simple things you can do to ensure that your puppy becomes a welcomed member of the canine society and your home.

  1. Touch your puppy. Puppies need to be handled. Rub their ears, massage their paws, get them used to being poked and prodded. By getting your puppy used to being touched, visits to the vet and groomer become easier. The more you do this the more likely your puppy will be accustomed to being touched, and will be less likely to resist.
  2. Pass your puppy. Your puppy should meet 100 people before he’s 6 months old. Pass the puppy becomes a game. A new puppy is hard to resist, which is good for him. Let others hold him, pet him, touch his ears, the pads of his feet, etc. Remember that when you pass a puppy to someone, make sure that they are supporting your puppy and have a good hold on him before you let go. The last thing you want to do while socializing your puppy is drop him, which could be a traumatizing experience for the puppy and all!
  3. Feed your puppy. Your puppy needs to accept your presence around his food bowl. You can avoid future problems by not allowing your puppy to become protective of his food bowl. A dog that becomes protective of his food may become aggressive when approached. If your puppy does act protective, take it as a warning sign and seek professional help ASAP. Work to get him used to your presence while he is eating.
  4. Play with your puppy. Spend time with your puppy. Teach him games such as fetch and hide & seek. Take your puppy’s toys away from him. He needs to learn to accept that you can take his toys. By doing so at an early age, you are helping your puppy not to become protective of his toys. If your puppy becomes aggressive when you take away his toys, your red flags should go up. Seek professional help; behavior like this will not go away on its own.
  5. Teach your puppy. Every puppy should know some basic commands. SIT, DOWN, COME, DROP IT, and LEAVE IT. Take a “puppy kindergarten” class as soon as you get your puppy. It’s a great place to start, and it should be a lot of fun for all. Do some research and ask around to find a reputable trainer.
  6. Roll your puppy. When playing with your puppy, roll him over onto his side. Hold him there for a few seconds and then let him go. If he struggles don’t let him go. You’re trying to teach him that physically he can’t over power you. When a dog is on his side, he is in a submissive position. By placing your puppy in this position, he learns that you are the dominant member of his pack, and that he can trust you. He will learn that nothing bad will happen when he allows himself to be vulnerable to you. Make this a fun part of every day.
  7. Puppy play groups. Many people think that they need to shelter their puppy as you would a baby, which leads many dogs to grow up unable to socialize with other dogs. By getting your puppy into a “puppy playgroup” at an early age, he will learn how to interact with others. It’s never too soon for your new puppy to meet other puppies.
  8. Kids and puppies. Puppies need to learn how to behave around children. Children need to learn how to behave around puppies. Your puppy needs to learn that a toddler pulling his tail is allowed, and that snapping in response to a tug is not allowed. Children need to be taught not to pull puppies’ tails, or they may get snapped at. It’s a fine line, however there is a mutual respect that all puppies and kids need to learn early on. Never leave a child unattended with any dog at any time. It only takes a second for a disaster to happen.
  9. Your frightened puppy. Remember that puppies, like toddlers, are learning everything for the first time. The first time they hear a loud noise or something scares them, they will retreat and be afraid. Your first reaction is to smother them with ‘It’s OK’ and lots of attention. Don’t. Act like nothing happened. By drawing attention to his fright, he will grow to be afraid of everything. Let your puppy realize that the noise he heard wasn’t that big of a deal, and he will learn to recover from startling situations quickly.

Marc Street is a Rainmaker Ranch Labradoodles Recommend Trainer located in West Palm Beach FL, he can be found at Very Important Paws .

Canine Health, Dog Stress and Training go hand in hand

Be the Alpha Dog.

To understand how puppies and pack animals behave and why is the primary tool in training your puppy for life. I am not going to tell you how to teach your puppy how to sit or stay or come, I will however, teach you and your family how to be successful teachers and leaders to your puppy. Although the information that follows can be used on an adult dog it is intended for Labradoodle and Australian Labradoodle puppies.

All puppies will, within a group of humans or other puppies, try and determine and/or control their place in the pack, be it the leader, second in command or a follower. In my opinion, it is not the responsibility of the puppy to be the leader, to have complete control, or perceived control over the group. This is like assigning a 5 year old child to be leader of the family. The weight on his or her shoulders would be tremendous. The puppy should be, after all, a dog. This to me means alert you, the leader, to potential threats, but not feel the need at all times to protect everyone and the property when you are home. Leadership is a high stress job and after all you want a loving puppy dog, a playful companion not a stressed out, always on alert, attack dog. If you did you would have purchased a different breed. Stress, in dogs, just as it does in humans, also leads to illness.
A dog bred and trained to be a pack leader eventually becomes an adult dog and behaves unlike a family companion. This dog will growl at someone or another dog if they touch its food or toy. It will bark beyond a simple warning bark and may even move into the ultimate protection mode of itself and its “things”.

What are some simple steps to tell your puppy you are the pack leader? Just teaching it to wait is one of the many keys.

  • Wait at the door. Place your dog in the sit and ask him to wait for the command to go through a door, even a wide open one, until you give him permission to move forward.
  • Wait for your dinner. Place your dog in the sit and ask him to wait to eat his meal until you give him permission to eat. This is especially great for kids with parental supervision.
  • Wait to get in car. Make your dog wait outside of the car while the door is opened, hatchback is lifted, or tailgate lowered, until you give him permission to jump in.
  • Wait to get out of the car. Ask him to wait or stay in the vehicle while car door is opened, hatchback is lifted, or tailgate lowered, until you give him permission to jump out.
  • Wait to get out of kennel, crate, or exercise pen.
  • Wait for your leash. Place your dog in the sit and ask him to wait calmly to go out for a walk while leash is attached to collar.
  • Wait and ask to be petted. If the dog nudges you for attentions ask him, do you want something, please sit, or give me your paw before being petted rather than jumping up, pawing, or nudging you for attention.
  • Wait and ask for permission to jump on sofa or bed. Dog sits and waits to be invited onto furniture instead of jumping up uninvited.
  • The best training advice is to find and secure two types of dog trainers. One trainer is found by attending a class. Classes provide a few things. They get your puppy socialization. It is easy to teach a puppy to sit privately at home but try and get him to sit when 10 other puppies and lots of smells are around with humans talking at the same time. Two, hire a personal trainer to come to your home. These trainers can actually see your environment and understand why Rover is actually doing what he is doing. They can see that he likes that specific sofa because it is near the door and window. Be sure and get references on a personal trainer. Find one that has an understanding of behavioral training versus basic commands. Basic commands can be taught in the larger class. Many times your breeder can provide references as well.