Some allergy sufferers are at a disadvantage when it comes to owning pets. As much as we may love dogs, constant allergy symptoms grow tiresome and can even be dangerous in severe cases, when people are allergic to dog dander. That doesn’t stop many dog enthusiasts with allergies from looking for alternatives.
A quick Internet search reveals thousands of articles about hypoallergenic dogs. Some sites claim that these dogs are totally hypoallergenic, offering people with allergies an option that sounds almost too good to be true.
The truth is that there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog. Dog lovers can, however, take steps to minimize the impact of allergies.
What Causes Allergies?
People with allergic reactions to dogs react to the proteins in canine dander and saliva. All dogs have these proteins, even hairless and non-shedding breeds. This is where things get tricky.
A study published in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy found that there were no significant differences between allergens in homes with “hypoallergenic” breeds and other breeds of dogs. While the study authors do state that more research is needed to confirm these findings, the results throw a wrench in most allergy sufferers’ plans.
But if there are no completely hypoallergenic dogs, then why do some breeds get the label?
Anecdotal evidence and standard veterinary expertise acknowledge the fact that some breeds seem to have a lower impact on allergy sufferers than others. Dog breeds that shed more than others bring more allergens into their environment. Low-shedding breeds and hairless dogs, on the other hand, do not leave as much dander lying around. A Labrador Retriever, therefore, is going to wreak more havoc on your allergies than a Miniature Poodle.
Size also makes a difference. Big dogs produce more dander and saliva. Small dogs tend to be faster to bathe and groom, two tasks that may reduce the amount of allergens in your home.
For more information, visit AKC’s breed pages.