The number of homes with dogs has increased in recent decades. The rate of allergic diseases has also increased, including dog allergy, which affects up to 20% of the population in Western countries. The question we ask is the following: are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?
Allergic symptoms related to dog exposure include asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and urticaria. In an attempt to reduce these symptoms, people with allergies to pets who wish to have a dog have sought so-called hypoallergenic dog breeds to reduce or eliminate allergic symptoms.
Although there are no 100% hypoallergenic dog breeds, there are certain dog breeds that, due to their characteristics, do not cause allergic reactions to people with dog allergy. Although everything depends on each particular case, dogs that do not have or do not lose hair and/or do not produce dandruff are usually considered hypoallergenic dogs.
The concept of hypoallergenic dogs
The dog’s main allergen, Can f 1, is responsible for allergies in most people who are allergic to dogs. It is believed that hypoallergenic dog breeds have a lower concentration of Can f 1. Therefore, these breeds cause fewer allergic symptoms – or even none – in people with dog allergy.
Some breeds of dogs that are considered hypoallergenic include the Yorkshire terrier, the schnauzer or the Maltese bichon, among others. But there is no scientific evidence that these breeds actually produce smaller amounts of Can f 1. This assumption is simply based on the fact that, because these dog breeds do not lose their hair, they must be hypoallergenic.
Are there really hypoallergenic dogs?
A study by researchers from the Netherlands and Virginia tried to determine if hypoallergenic dog breeds actually produce less Can f 1. Households with hypoallergenic dog breeds, including Poodles, Labradoodles, Spanish water dogs, and airedale terriers, were studied and compared with households with non-hypoallergenic dogs, such as Labrador retriever and other breeds.
Dog fur samples were taken, as well as dust samples in the homes’ air and analyzed to determine the concentrations of Can f 1. Surprisingly, the amount of Can f 1 found in the fur samples was actually the highest in the hypoallergenic breeds of dogs, with poodles leading the largest amount of dog allergens.
On the other hand, the farmers showed the lowest concentration of allergens. These differences did not appear to be related to sex, age, spay/neuter status or bathing frequency. However, recent swimming – but not bathing – significantly reduced the number of dog allergens collected for all types of dog breeds.
When comparing dust samples on the ground and in the air of dog houses, researchers found that in houses with Labradoodles there were lower amounts of Can f 1 compared to other hypoallergenic and non-hypoallergenic dog breeds.
This difference could not be explained by the state of spay/neuter, age, sex, bath frequency, house cleaning frequency or type of floor covering.
However, homes with carpets, in general, had higher levels of Can f 1 in soil dust samples compared to homes with hard surfaces, regardless of the dog’s breed. There was no difference in the amount of Can f 1 in the air in households with hypoallergenic dog breeds compared to non-hypoallergenic breeds.
In view of what we have just seen, it seems that the concept of a hypoallergenic dog is actually a myth, based on the false claim that the so-called hypoallergenic breeds do not lose hair and, therefore, eliminate fewer allergens.
There has never been a study confirming this assumption, but now there are at least some studies that show no significant differences in the allergen of the main dog, Can f 1, in homes with hypoallergenic dog breeds compared to non-hypoallergenic dog breeds.