Do Hypoallergenic Dogs Actually Exist?

dog laying in grass

Approximately 15-30% of all Americans are affected by pet allergies. While they may be more common in households shared with cats, allergic reactions to dogs are known to be more severe. As a result, the dream of dog ownership may not ever be attainable for some people. For others, the experience is met with all sorts of uncomfortable challenges.

Breeding of hypoallergenic dogs is supposed to relieve some of the pressures associated with allergies, but how legitimate are the claims?

All in the Coat

Hypoallergenic dogs have a non-shedding coat. This is great for many households struggling to keep up with swirls of pet hair in every corner, or on every piece of furniture. But less shedding also decreases how much dander is released into the environment. 

Dander is composed of microscopic bits of skin containing proteins that cause allergic reactions. Most people with allergies to dander will sneeze, suffer from congestion, a runny nose, watery eyes, and itchy, irritated eyes. 

Chicken or the Egg

Furthermore, proteins in a pet’s saliva, urine and feces can be triggers of allergies. When pets self groom, dried saliva can become airborne and inhaled. These proteins commonly attach to hair that is shed around the house. However, even short-coated dogs or those without a lot of hair growth produce the protein.

Anecdotal Evidence

Many breeds are promoted as hypoallergenic, including poodles and poodle mixes, various terriers, Portugeuse water dogs, and more. There may be anecdotal evidence showing that certain breeds trigger fewer reactions because of their coat. 

However, because the likeliest trigger is the protein found in the saliva, even hairless dogs can be problematic for those that suffer from pet allergies. In other words, scientific research indicates that there isn’t enough information currently to back up the touted benefits of hypoallergenic dogs.

Smaller Breeds

The size of a dog may have something to do with how a person reacts to their saliva, dander and shedded hair. Smaller or toy breeds are known to produce less saliva and dander than larger dogs. 

Without Hypoallergenic Dogs

There are ways to combat allergies to dogs, that include the following strategies:

  • Bathing 1-2 times a week (let us know if you need help with grooming)
  • Daily brushing
  • Removal of carpeting and upholstered furniture
  • Sweep, mop and vacuum the house often
  • Regular laundering of your dog’s bedding and toys
  • Routine cleaning of any surfaces they’re known to touch or sleep on
  • Purchasing a high-quality HEPA filter or air purifier
  • Establishing rules about where your dog is allowed to sleep/hang out

The benefits of dog ownership are incredible, and we hope that pet owners suffering from allergies will be able to manage the associated triggers.

If you need further assistance regarding allergies, please reach out to us. Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital is always here for you.