When you love your four-legged companions, but their presence sets off allergy symptoms, it’s only natural that you should wonder about hypoallergenic breeds to let you breathe easier with canine companionship.
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. It’s not a matter of short hair or long hair either, because your dog’s fur isn’t what’s carrying the allergens that irritate you.
Dander – the allergy carrier
The source of allergic reactions comes through dander — dried, dead flakes of your pet’s skin — that sheds regularly. However, it’s not the dander itself that causes the allergic response. It’s most often due to a protein that’s present in the saliva and urine of dogs and cats.
This protein sticks to pet dander, so when fur is shed, so is dander, which then spreads to carpeting, clothing, and furnishings and later reacts with your body as you breathe it in or come into contact with it. It’s that protein that sets off your immune system.
What about ‘hypoallergenic’ breeds?
Some dog breeds are marketed as, or have the reputation of being, hypoallergenic, but these are breeds that shed comparatively less than others. If there’s less shedding, then there’s less dander release and therefore there’s not as much of the protein allergen released into your home.
These breeds aren’t free of allergens, they just don’t spread them as efficiently as dogs that shed more of their fur.
Individual responses to pet dander
Allergies can be quite individualistic, so while people can be allergic to virtually anything, specific responses to allergens are often as unique as fingerprints. Therefore, some dog species may indeed create less of an allergic response.
When your dander sensitivity bypasses a so-called hypoallergenic dog who sheds very little, the combination of reduced allergic response and less dander in your home may add up favorably. You may indeed have a pet that doesn’t provoke sneezes and sniffles.
Coping with pet dander
Hopefully, you can identify a low-shedding breed that doesn’t irritate your sensitivity. There are strategies you can try to keep dander levels down in your home, reducing your exposure to allergy-causing pet proteins. Some things to try include:
- Weekly baths for your pooch: Soap-and-water is a tested way to keep dander down
- Regular brushing and grooming: Even low-allergy dogs benefit from frequent coat care, and more frequent grooming is a key anti-allergy strategy
- Choose hard floors over carpets if it’s an option, and vacuum carpets regularly with a HEPA-filtered vacuum
- Have carpeted areas shampooed or steam-cleaned regularly
- Humidifiers, air purifiers, and vent filters can reduce the amounts of allergens in your home
- Wash your dog’s bedding weekly, and pay extra attention to cleaning and vacuuming their favorite spots
- Create “dog-free” zones, such as your bedroom, if it’s practical
- Train your pet not to lick you, reducing your exposure to their saliva
Dog breeds with non-shedding coats
Though none are truly hypoallergenic, the American Kennel Club considers these breeds non-shedding and potentially good matches for pet allergy sufferers:
- Afghan hound
- Bedlington terrier
- Kerry blue terrier
- Bichon frise
- Chinese crested
- Irish water spaniel
- Portuguese water dog
These 10 breeds represent a good cross-section of canine appearance, so you may find your ideal puppy within these low-shedding types.
If you still need help coping with allergic reactions despite choice and allergen management, contact Riviera Allergy Medical Center to explore additional options. Call or click today.