Genetic and Structural Health Testing
Proper Labradoodle Breeding Practices
All breeding programs should be working towards producing genetically superior puppies. Proper breeding practices ensure that only parents with proper health clearances are bred as the breeder is always striving to better the breed. Labradoodles and other hybrid breeders must take this even a step further as there are generations to properly identify as well as testing for the furnishings gene to ensure puppies are not produced with improper furnishings. Breeding dogs is a great responsibilty and this ventured should only be done after proper research and preparation.
Testing For the Furnishings Gene
Labradoodles come in many different sizes, colors and coat types. But they are generally recognized by their characteristic canine moustache, beard, eyebrows and longer hair on their legs. These breed traits result from the furnishings gene. There are times, however, when Labradoodle puppies are produced without these appearances. Although the lack of furnishings does not affect the health of dogs, it causes problems with their breeding, showing or potential sale of offspring as these individuals do not meet the breed standards. Through simple genetic testing breeders can easily eliminate the production of improperly furnished puppies.
It is essential that Labradoodle breeders are educated on how the furnishings gene is inherited and the role that it plays in the breed. Breeders also need to understand how backcrossing works and what it is trying to accomplish. It is important to recognize why crossing an F1 Labradoodle to a Labrador or an F1 Labradoodle to an F1 Labradoodle should never be done in regards to the furnishings gene. Further, breeders who are producing F2 generations or beyond, including Australian Labradoodles need to understand the significance of testing their breeding stock for the furnishing gene. As testing for the furnishings gene is straight-forward, inexpensive and offered from many different laboratory companies through a simple cheek swab sample it is the ethical responsibility of Labradoodle breeders to ensure that they are only producing puppies that meet breed standards and have proper furnishings. Detailed information in regards to how the furnishings gene is inherited can be found by following this link to view the Importance of Testing For The Furnishing Gene paper. Testing can be done through several genetic laboratories. We personally use Paw Print Genetics for all of our testing needs as they then provide you with results in their pedigree database that you can share on your website making it easy for your clients to see the results.
Properly Identifying Labradoodle Generations
Australian Labradoodle with Improper Furnishings
To produce superior puppies breeders must start with identifying bitches and dogs that have the finest genetics. This is done through structural and genetic health testing. One of the most common ailments in labradoodles is hip and elbow dysplasia. As approximately 50% of the cases are caused by parents with a predisposition to dysplasia these cases can easily be eliminated through structural evaluation by simple radiographs. Before breeding, bitches and dogs are sedated and radiographs are taken of the hip sockets and elbow joint and submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for evaluation. There, veterinarians specifically trained will grade the hips based on the structure and classify them as excellent, good, fair, borderline, mild, moderate or severe. Those dogs with scores of borderline, mild, moderate or severe should be culled from the breeding program. Elbows are classified as normal or abnormal, obviously breeding only those with normal results.
Once a potential breeding dog as successfully passed structural evaluations the next step is to DNA test for the genetically heritable diseases associated with the breed. There are several companies that offer breed-specific panels, including one for labradoodles. The are performed by sending in several cheek swaps collected from the dog. The samples are submitted to the company where their lab performs DNA analysis. The company will provide a report identifying if the dog is clear, carrier or affected. Any dogs that are affected by any genetically heritable diseases should be eliminated from your breeding program. Breeding carrier dogs is perfectly acceptable as long as the breeder is conscience in their mate selection to ensure the mate is ONLY clear for the disease.
Labradoodle breeding can become confusing when one is breeding different generations of Labradoodles or backcrossing to a poodle in regards to properly identifying the generation of the resulting puppies. As breeders we are morally obligated to correctly identify the puppies we are producing to our clients so that they are properly informed about the puppy they are receiving. A true multigenerational (multigen) labradoodle must come from BOTH parents that are F3 or higher. The laws of hybridization in regards to genetics tells us that puppies that are F4 or higher have enough genetic inheritance to be true multigen labradoodles. Crosses of lower generations do not meet these criteria and therefore cannot be labeled as mutligen labradoodles. Multigen labradoodles typically are more expensive as breeders either invest more into their breeding stock if they are starting with multigen labradoodles or they have invested more money AND time if they have started with breeding F1s and worked for several years (at least 6) to produce their own line of multigens. Describing generations to clients should be straight forward to avoid confusion. If you are breeding an F3 to an F1 your resulting puppies are then F2, and you advertise them as such. Labeling such a cross as a mutligen is unethical to your clients and unfair to your fellow breeders. The chart below will help you to easily identify the generation of puppies you are producing based on the generation of parents you are breeding. If you need assistance in identifying the generation of your dog or dogs please contact us. Please feel free to refer your clients to our Labradoodle 101 page for a more detailed explanation of the different labradoodle generations.