Most Common Health Concerns in Sheepadoodles

Sheep-a-doodle-doo, have you heard the news? These fluffy four-legged friends have been taking the world by storm with their cute looks and lovable personalities. However, as with any breeds, Sheepadoodles are not immune to health concerns. There are several common health issues that Sheepadoodle owners should be aware of to ensure their furry companions live a long and healthy life. From eye problems to ear infections, this blog will take a closer look at some of the more frequent health concerns in Sheepadoodles, and offer tips on how to keep your pup in top shape. So, grab your leash and let’s talk a walk!

Entropion (Uhn-Trow-Pee-Aan)

Entropion is considered a hereditary disorder. Sheepdogs specifically are more prone to this disorder since they are a larger breed and may pass it on to the next generation of Sheepadoodles. This condition happens when the eyelids roll inward and cause the eyelashes to rub against the eye causing irritation and infections to the eyeball itself. Symptoms can be but are not limited to excess tearing, bloodshot eyes, blinking, and green or colored discharge from eyes. In most cases both eyes are affected. The treatment for entropion is a surgical correction called a Blepharoplasty. During this surgery the excess skin around the affected eyes are removed, and the skin folds tightened helping pull the eyelid back outward away from the eye. Most dogs will not have this surgery until they are 6-12 months of age to ensure they have grown into their facial features. Until they reach the age old enough to have surgery your veterinarian may prescribe eye ointments and or antibiotics to help keep the eye free of infection and damage. Once surgery is performed most dogs have an excellent prognosis. 

Bloat and GDV (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus)

One of the most severe conditions Sheepadoodles are at an elevated risk of developing is Bloat. Larger, more deep chested breeds such as the Standard Poodle and the Old English Sheepdog are at high risk, and will pass this risk down to their Sheepadoodle descendants. Bloat is a condition where gas, food or fluid gets trapped in the stomach, and  cause it to expand. When this happens the stomach can put pressure on the surrounding organs. This emphasizes the importance of early Sheepadoodle training, including teaching them to eat slowly and using slow feeder bowls to prevent rapid ingestion of food, thereby reducing the risk of bloat. This can cause dangerous problems such as making it harder to breathe, a tear in the stomach wall, or cutting off the blood supply to their heart and other organs. In some mild cases this can be treated medically without surgical intervention. In some worse cases a bloated stomach can twist causing a secondary condition called Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (also known as GDV for short). This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary care. Even with immediate treatment, 25-30% of dogs will die from this medical emergency. If a dog goes more than six hours with symptoms without treatment, their prognosis declines rapidly. It is important to take steps to prevent this from happening. Feeding your dog multiple smaller meals a day (so the stomach doesn’t get full) can help. Using slow feeder bowls can assist in the prevention of bloat as well. A surgical prevention can also be performed during a routine spay or neuter called a “Gastropexy”. This is when the stomach is tacked to the abdominal wall so it cannot twist out of place. 

Multidrug Resistance Mutation (MDR1)

This specific genetic mutation is specific to herding breeds. Sheepadoodles may inherit this mutation from their Old English Sheepdog parent. 35% of mixed breeds from herding descent are known to carry this gene. The term Multidrug Resistance Mutation (MDR1) refers to a mutation that occurs at the gene knowns as the MDR1 or ABCB1 gene. This is the gene that helps protect the brain. This means it makes the pet more sensitive to the negative effects of different drugs. Symptoms of these effects could present as neurological symptoms such as weakness, lethargy, disorientation, seizures, tremors or even blindness. There are multiple drugs that can negatively affect a dog with this mutation, a big specific one is Ivermectin which is the main ingredient in most Canine Heartworm Prevention. You can help prevent your dog from inheriting this mutation by ensuring that the parents of the puppy you’re receiving have been genetically tested to not carry this mutated gene. If the parents are not carriers of the gene then your puppy will not suffer from this drug resistance. 

Sebaceous Adenitis 

This disease comes from the Poodle side of the Sheepadoodles. It is a hereditary skin disease that is mainly cosmetic, and leads to hair loss and changes in your dog’s coat texture and color. The exact cause of this disease is currently unknown, but as it tends to effect pups in the same litter, it is assumed to be genetic. With this disease, the hair follicle glands that secrete oils to moisturize the skin malfunction and become inflamed, and eventually are destroyed. It presents as white scaling of the skin and waxy feeling fur. As it worsens and more hair follicles are destroyed this can lead to secondary skin infections. Your veterinarian can diagnose this disease by taking a skin biopsy and doing fungal and bacterial cultures of the skin. There is no cure for this disease, so treatment varies depending on the severity of your dog’s condition. Most treatments include topical therapy of medicated baths and rinses as well as antibiotics as needed if they develop skin infections. Once your pet is diagnosed with this disease, proper management of their skin and coat is important. This is a long-term issue that will have to always be maintained throughout the dog’s life. 

Otitis Externa (Ear Infection)

Ear infections are frequent in long hair, floppy eared dogs. Old English Sheepdogs and Poodles both share these traits, so they are a common occurrence in Sheepadoodles as well. Ear infections can be caused by multiple things, such as poor hygiene and grooming, bacteria, fungus, yeast, allergies and ear mites. Symptoms of an ear infection can be odor coming from the ear, black or yellow discharge inside the ear canal, thickening of the skin in and around the ear canal, scratching, and head shaking. This condition can be diagnosed by your veterinarian doing an ear cytology. To do this procedure your veterinarian will take a swab of the infected area and look at it under a microscope, or send it out a sample to a lab to see if they can find the exact cause. Depending on the findings of your pet’s specific ear infection, your veterinarian will prescribe broad spectrum antibiotics and/or medicated ear drops. Depending on the the the severity of infection, your pup may be on these medications for a few days, to a few months. Routine grooming and ear cleaning, as well as keeping the ear dry and hair free can help prevent any infections. Dogs that are groomed often and like to swim, such as the Poodle, making sure your pet’s ears are kept dry and do not get filled with water is important in preventing any possible ear issues. Food allergies have also been linked to ear infections. It is found that 65-80% of ear infections happen with dogs who have underlying food allergies. If ear infections are a reoccurring condition, even with routine care, you might want to consider speaking with your veterinarian about changing your pets food.