How to choose a healthy sheepadoodle or bernedoodle puppy: The Hips & Elbows
How to Choose a Healthy Sheepadoodle or Bernedoodle Puppy
Sheepadoodles and Bernedoodles are two popular designer breeds that combine the traits of the Old English Sheepdog and the Poodle, or the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Poodle, respectively. These hybrid dogs are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and low-shedding coats. However, like any other breed, they are also prone to some health issues, especially those related to their hips. In this article, we will explain why hip health is important for Sheepadoodles and Bernedoodles, and how you can choose a healthy puppy from a responsible breeder.
Why is hip health important for Sheepadoodles and Bernedoodles?
Hip health is important for any dog, as it affects their mobility, comfort, and quality of life. However, hip health is especially important for Sheepadoodles and Bernedoodles, as they are large-breed dogs that inherit the risk of hip dysplasia from both of their parent breeds. Hip dysplasia is a common skeletal condition that occurs when the hip joint does not fit or develop properly, causing it to rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly. This results in deterioration, pain, inflammation, and loss of function of the joint over time. Hip dysplasia can lead to arthritis, lameness, and reduced activity in affected dogs.
Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition, meaning that it is passed down from the parents to the offspring. Both the Old English Sheepdog and the Bernese Mountain Dog are among the 20 dog breeds most at risk for hip dysplasia1, and so are the Poodles, especially the Standard and the Miniature varieties2. Therefore, Sheepadoodles and Bernedoodles have a high chance of inheriting this condition from either or both of their parents, unless the parents have been tested and cleared of hip dysplasia.
How can you choose a healthy Sheepadoodle or Bernedoodle puppy?
The best way to choose a healthy Sheepadoodle or Bernedoodle puppy is to buy from a reputable breeder who performs health testing on their breeding dogs, especially for hip dysplasia. Health testing is a process of screening the dogs for certain genetic diseases and conditions, and certifying them as healthy, carrier, or affected. Health testing can help reduce the incidence and severity of inherited diseases in the offspring, and improve the overall health and welfare of the breed.
There are two methods commonly used to evaluate the hips of dogs: the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) hip joint scoring method, and the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP) method3. Both methods involve taking radiographs (X-rays) of the dogs’ hips and assessing them for signs of hip dysplasia. However, there are some differences between the two methods, such as:
- The OFA method uses a single radiograph of the dog’s hips in an extended position, while the PennHIP method uses three radiographs of the dog’s hips in different positions, including one with a distraction device that applies a uniform force to the hips.
- The OFA method assigns a score to the dog’s hips based on a subjective seven-point scale, ranging from excellent to severe, while the PennHIP method calculates a score to the dog’s hips based on a quantitative distraction index, ranging from 0 to 1, with lower values indicating tighter hips.
- The OFA method can be performed on dogs as young as two years of age, while the PennHIP method can be performed on dogs as young as 16 weeks of age.
- The OFA method does not require anesthesia for the dog, while the PennHIP method does require anesthesia for the dog.
- The OFA method is less expensive than the PennHIP method, as it requires only one radiograph and no anesthesia.
Both methods have their pros and cons, and both are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as valid health testing tools for hip dysplasia. However, some studies have suggested that the PennHIP method is more accurate, sensitive, and objective than the OFA method, and that it can detect hip dysplasia at an earlier age and with less variability4. Therefore, some breeders and veterinarians may prefer the PennHIP method over the OFA method, or use both methods for a more comprehensive evaluation.
When you are looking for a Sheepadoodle or Bernedoodle puppy, you should ask the breeder to show you the health certificates of the parents, and make sure that they have been tested and cleared of hip dysplasia by either the OFA or the PennHIP method, or both. You should also ask the breeder about the hip health of the previous litters and the grandparents of the puppy, as this can give you an idea of the genetic background and the risk of hip dysplasia in the puppy. You should avoid buying a puppy from a breeder who does not perform health testing on their dogs, or who cannot provide you with the health certificates of the parents.
Hip health is important for Sheepadoodles and Bernedoodles, as they are large-breed dogs that inherit the risk of hip dysplasia from both of their parent breeds. Hip dysplasia is a painful and debilitating condition that can affect the mobility, comfort, and quality of life of your dog. The best way to choose a healthy Sheepadoodle or Bernedoodle puppy is to buy from a reputable breeder who performs health testing on their breeding dogs, especially for hip dysplasia. You should ask the breeder to show you the health certificates of the parents, and make sure that they have been tested and cleared of hip dysplasia by either the OFA or the PennHIP method, or both. By doing so, you can reduce the chance of getting a puppy with hip dysplasia, and ensure that your dog will have a happy and healthy life with you.