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Hypoallergenic Dogs - Fact Or Fiction?

The term 'hypoallergenic dog' may seem like something of an oxymoron, and you may well have found yourself thoroughly confused upon hearing the term mentioned for the first time. So what is a hypoallergenic dog, and do they even really exist? Read on to find out more. To say that a dog is hypoallergenic indicates that it is considered to cause a greatly reduced level of reaction or allergenic trigger in a person who is often affected by allergies to dogs. Some allergy sufferers swear that certain dogs or types and breeds of dogs do not trigger their allergies, or that they suffer from a greatly reduced reaction to them. However, many prominent researchers claim that there is no scientific evidence that any breed or type of dog is hypoallergenic, and that there can be no logical reason for an allergic person failing to react or reacting less severely to a given dog simply because it is labelled as 'hypoallergenic.'

What causes allergies?

The usual allergen triggers caused by dogs and other types of animals are due to specific protein chains found in the dander (shed skin cells that occur naturally) and saliva of animals. Contrary to popular belief, the actual hair of a dog itself is not the cause of allergy, but rather the surface skin cells which will be present in the fur, and are naturally sloughed off as part of the body's normal cell renewal process. Because of this misperception that the coat of the dog rather than the dander is the cause of allergy triggers, it is often said that hairless dog breeds such as the Chinese crested dog are a good pick for allergy sufferers. However, these dogs still shed dander in the same way as other dogs and as such are no more or less hypoallergenic than any other given type- but due to the fact that they are mainly bald, they are generally easier and less time consuming to bathe, which causes the dander to be washed away regularly and so less of it will be present on and around the dog. Breeds of dog which do not shed hair excessively are the most likely to be considered to be hypoallergenic, due to the fact that the shed skin cells which can trigger allergies in people prone to them remain stuck to the hair, and are not then spread around the home and environment the dog is present in as much as with shedding breeds. This is likely the root cause of the belief that a dog can be hypoallergenic, and why some dogs may make more suitable pets for allergy sufferers than others. Also, different breeds of dog and even variations from dog to dog within the same breed mean that some dogs produce less of the proteins that can trigger allergies than others- so amongst the various fiction and lore behind the existence of truly hypoallergenic dogs, there is some factual basis.

Minimising Allergens

As bathing a dog washes away shed skin cells and saliva on the coat and the associated allergens that may be present within it, dogs that are bathed regularly are less likely to trigger allergic reactions in people with sensitivities. Smaller dogs with less total body surface area may prove to have less affect on allergy sufferers than larger breeds, simply because they have less skin to shed dander and ergo, less dander will be present on the dog and in its immediate environment. If you commonly suffer from allergies around most dogs, it may be worth looking into animals that tick the various boxes that may make them less likely to cause a reaction- including dogs that don't shed much, smaller dogs, dogs which can be bathed regularly with relative ease, and dogs that do not slobber much, due to the presence of allergen protein chains within the saliva. As mentioned, different dogs affect different people in different ways, so it's important to consider any pet on its own individual merits and spend some time around it to see if it negatively affects your allergies or not.

Good dog breeds for allergy sufferers

All of these dogs are considered to be potentially less likely to trigger allergic reactions in people prone to them, due to a variety of factors such as their small size, lack of shedding, or ease of bathing. Affenpinscher Afghan Hound Airedale Terrier Australian Terrier Basenji Bedlington Terrier Bergamasco Bichon Frise Border Terrier Bouvier Des Flandres Cairn Terrier Cesky Terrier Chinese Crested Dandie Dinmont Terrier Dogo Argentino Giant Schnauzer Harrier Havanese Irish Terrier Irish Water Spaniel Italian Greyhound Kerry Blue Terrier Komondor Labradoodle Lakeland Terrier Lowchen Maltese Manchester Terrier Mexican Hairless Dog Miniature Bull Terrier Miniature Schnauzer Norwich Terrier Peruvian Inca Poodle (All sizes) Portuguese Water Dog Puli Rat Terrier Samoyed Scottish Terrier Sealyham Terrier Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Schnauzer Tibetan Terrier Welsh Terrier West Highland Terrier Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Yorkshire Terrier


Whether or not a dog can be considered to be truly hypoallergenic is still rather contentious. There is a lot of misinformation published online and presented as fact about apparently hypoallergenic dogs, and the veracity of any statement regarding a dog being hypoallergenic should always be carefully considered. No dog is scientifically considered to be hypoallergenic, and the way any individual person reacts to any individual dog will vary greatly from case to case. If you are considering getting a particular type or breed of dog with a view to reducing the likelihood of triggering an allergic reaction in yourself or a member of your family, please consider it carefully and be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time and effort in finding the right dog for your own situation.

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