The Hypoallergenic Dog Myth

No dog breed is entirely hypoallergenic.


No dog breed is entirely hypoallergenicWhich dog breeds are ideal for allergy sufferers? None.

That’s what the experts say if you’re definitely allergic to dogs and want a total guarantee.

No dog is non-allergenic, says Bruce Bochner, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Asthma & Allergy Center and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"I am aware of no hypoallergenic status that can be attributed to any dog, no matter what the breed,” says Ralph Richardson, DVM, of Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

"Some breeds have more dander than others, but someone who is allergic to dogs is allergic to dogs,” says Linda Boyer, executive director of the Baltimore-based Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Some breeders of designer dogs tout that their animals are good for allergy sufferers. But experts say there’s no such thing for people who actually are allergic to dogs. The trouble is the dander. Dander is smaller than a head of a pin and shed by every dog, whether or not he sheds fur, Boyer points out.

Her advice: Don’t assume you’re allergic to dogs. Get tested by an allergist. Dust mites or other allergens may be the true sources of your sniffles, and they can hide in the same dust bunnies as dog dander.

If it turns out that your pooch does prompt your stuffy nose and sniffles, keep him out of your bed and bedroom, Boyer says. Choose hardwood floors, not dander-trapping carpet. Bathe your dog weekly. "In general, if you have an allergy to an animal — dogs or cats — it is not wise to have one in your house,” Boyer says. "However, lots of people who have allergies feel it’s worth the sacrifice to keep the animal.”

If you plan to get a dog despite your dander allergy, spend plenty of time with him before you take him home. The amount of dander a dog will shed varies even within a single breed.

Sally Deneen is a DOG FANCY contributing editor.

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AnimalLux   El Paso, TX

3/5/2013 6:07:33 PM

I thank God that I am not allergic to dogs

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DR JR   Joyceville, ON

6/8/2012 6:53:29 PM

PART 1 OF 5: I am a physician and I simply must weigh-in here because this article is so misleading. I have loaded my complex comment in parts because it wouldn't load at its full-length; nonetheless, I think that a medical perspective is in order here. First of all, there is a HUGE difference between the terms "hypo-allergenic" and "non-allergenic." Yes, there ARE hypo-allergenic dogs, because the term hypo- simply means "less-than" (hypo- is Latin for "below," as in a hypodermic needle, which means one that goes "below the dermis" of the skin). So a "hypo-allergenic breed" would be one likely to cause a "lower" reaction than another breed - not "no reaction at all."

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DR JR   Joyceville, ON

6/8/2012 6:52:12 PM

PART 2 OF 5: I will agree that no dog is reliably and totally non-allergenic - which I think is what this author is trying to say. However, to say that there are no dogs who are hypo-allergenic - LESS-likely to cause allergies - is absolutely untrue. There is no question that certain dogs cause MORE of an allergic reaction in certain people than other dogs do. The author is correct in saying that it's the dander and not the hair to which people react (more specifically, it's the protein in the dander), however, isn't it possible that there are differences in dander between breeds? It's more than possible - it's quite likely. We know this because there are many who can tolerate the dander of certain dogs (such as poodles, shih tzus, bichon frises, Portuguese water dogs, havanese, etc.) who develop tremendous allergic reactions to other dogs.

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