JoAnna Lou
Print|Email|Text Size: ||
Not-So Hypoallergenic Dogs
New study finds certain breeds don’t have fewer allergens

For so long, allergies prevented many of my friends from having a dog. But in recent years, the popularity of “hypoallergenic” breeds brought some hope of finally adding a canine member to the family. But those who’ve gotten one of the “hypoallergenic” dogs have had mixed results depending on the breed, the severity of their allergies, and, interestingly enough, the individual dog.

Until now there hasn't been much research about the so called “hypoallergenic” breeds. But according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, there’s no scientific basis to claim that hypoallergenic dogs have less allergens.

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital collected dust samples from 173 homes that represented 60 different dog breeds and tested them for one of the major allergens found in canine saliva. There was no statistical difference between the dust samples from the homes with “hypoallergenic” breeds and the samples from homes with “non-hypoallergenic” breeds.

The reason some breeds, like Poodles, have been called hypoallergenic is because they shed less, and therefore produce less dander. However, as the study showed, not all allergens are connected to dander.

This study only looked at one type of allergen, but the research shows that “hypoallergenic” breeds are not a universal solution.

Do you have experience with a “hypoallergenic” breed?

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by srqpix/flickr.

CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Jody | July 18 2011 |

I find a huge difference in my allergies between short-haired and long-haired dogs. Short-haired dogs, in general, make me allergic, and long-haired dogs, especially poodle mixes, cause much less of a problem for me. We had lhasa apsos when I was growing up and I never had a problem with them (allergy-wise anyway) so I was surprised to find myself allergic to other dogs later. I thought I had just developed allergies post-childhood. I figured I could never have a dog as an adult, but I got a schnoodle, I've had him for years, without a single sneeze. There may not be one single simple answer, but dog breed plays a big part in the situation.

Submitted by Magarietha | August 15 2011 |

hi there everybody
I am possibly the most allergic person I know (no it's not the imaginations type, it's the hospitalisations type!) As a child I got anaphylaxis from Siamese Cats I played with. I love animals and just couldn't allow my kids to have dogs. Then later being boys they insisted. We got them staffordshire bullterriers. I almost died from asthma and my eyes were swollen. My throat never stopped itching. I got hives and eventually went on semi steroid drugs fulltime. About 2 years ago I inherited 2 toy poodles. I am not into placebo nonsense and woo woo sciences. I know this for certain. Couldn't care what any laboratory shows. I can put my face into my poode's fur and I have NO reaction. ZERO reaction. I groom them all the time, and with all the fluff in the air, STILL no reaction. This is the honest to G-d truth. The scientists will have to look for some other enzyme or protein that's causing the allergies. They're barking up the wrong ladder in their searches. It's something else. I still have my beloved Staffy but alas, I cannot even stroke him then the red hives just spring out everywhere. It breaks my heart. At last I can kiss and cuddle an animal. ONLY the poodle. The one is a maltese, and he's the same. Can put my face into his fur and all's well with me.
Thanx for the forum.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 18 2011 |

I'm a dog groomer and have known for years there are no hypo-allergenic dogs. Doodle dogs particularly annoy me. They can have poodle hair, poodle hair and (the second breed hair), or no poodle hair hair at all.

Doodle dogs can be sweet and nice (or not). But they are mutts, not 'designer' dogs. They do not have consistent characteristics of true pure breed dogs. Mutts are wonderful to adopt but not to be purposely breed.

The best preventative for allergies is frequent groomings. That eliminates shedding hair, dander, pollen, etc. Many people are allergic to the things *on* the dog, not the dog itself. By frequent, I mean one to two weeks.

As long as the allergies are not life-altering, dogs are worth putting up with the allergies.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 18 2011 |

I have 2 Goldendoodles and 1 Labradoodle. I also have 2 adults that have allergies and asthma in my house. We have not had a problem at all. No shedding thank goodness. I do know that there is mixed results though. It's not a guarantee and any breeder that tells you that is not telling the truth. We love our Doodles!

Submitted by Doodle lover! | July 18 2011 |

I have experience with the Goldendoodle breed. I have allergic reactions to certain dogs and my Doodles are lowest on the "reaction" list. At most, I have a little discharge in my eyes in the morning after my Doodles have slept with me in my bed all night. My worst reaction has been with Irish Setters. After being in a house where Setters live within 15-30 mins my asthma reacts so bad that I have to leave....lungs just shut down and I can't breathe. Now I will say that Doodles will shed a little but that is a side affect I can tolerate. Wonderful breed! Love them:)

Submitted by Meaghan | July 18 2011 |

As a dog groomer, I see dozens of "hypoallergenic" and designer dogs at my shop. People buy them simply because they think their hair won't make a mess in the house, but don't realize that low shedding dogs require MORE brushing to keep the hair mat free. Curly and wavy long hair dogs are HIGH MAINTENANCE. I wish more people would take that into account before they buy one because they think low shedding = convenient. My carpal tunnel and early onset arthritis is from dematting client's Doodles and Poodles.

Submitted by Alyssa | August 19 2011 |

As the article points out, not all people are allergic to dander on dogs but in my experience as a dog groomer, the majority of people looking for "hypo-allergenic" dogs ARE allergic to dander. The thing that breaks my heart is seeing clients that fall in love with their poodle mix (mixed with a known heavy shedding breed like a golden or lab), and as a puppy their hair doesn't bother them. Once most dogs hit 9 to 11 months they go through a coat change from puppy to adult coat and I have seen many many clients have to re-home their pups because they have severe reactions to the dog's adult coat. My advice for anyone looking at a mixed breed or "designer" dog that has allergies, PLEASE get a dog that is at least a year old so you know that you won't have allergic reactions to it! If you're hell bent on getting a puppy then going with some of the more established low shedding purebred dogs is a much safer bet (ex: Poodles, Bichon Frises, Maltese, Yorkies etc).

Submitted by Anonymous | May 3 2012 |

Listen to the groomers on this one. Doodles and low shedding curly haired dog are high and I mean HIGH maintenance. Especially if you have a large doodle. I find it interesting that the same people who say they got a doodle because they are 'hypoallergenic' are the same people who bring in the dirtiest, most matted and tangled dogs. Hmm let's see, your dirty, constant allergen attracting dog is not causing any reactions? While there are some people like the person who posted with severe allergies, I really think what is happening is the placebo effect. These people get told by the breeder the dog is hypoallergenic so they believe it. It rationalizes the cost of the dog too. Also I really think it is unethical of breeders to advertise " hypoallergenic' or 'non shedding dogs'.

More From The Bark

More in JoAnna Lou:
British Airways Launches Onboard Pet Entertainment
Borrowing a Pup on Vacation
Do We Over Include Our Pups?
Latest Shock Collar Research
OSU's Full Time Pet Therapy Program
Canine Hero Returns to Ground Zero
Dogs Prefer Petting Over Praise
Microchip Brings Dog Home Eight Years Later
Canine Curriculum for Kids
Jealousy in Dogs