Dog allergies are pretty common — around 20% of people experience some level of reaction when they come into contact with pups.
Allergy sufferers who want to add a dog to their family are understandably drawn to breeds that shed less. Unfortunately, less hair fall doesn’t make your canine companion hypoallergenic. In fact, there is no such thing as a truly “hypoallergenic” breed.
“Hypoallergenic” is a term that describes something that’s unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, but when it comes to pets, it’s a marketing ploy. On average, breeds described this way actually emit more of the allergen that causes sniffles and sneezing.
The Canis familiaris allergen, or Can f 1, is responsible for most of the sneezing, congestion, itching, or hives that allergy sufferers experience. It’s so common, it’s even found in a third of homes without dogs.
Can f 1 is a salivary protein. While it’s certainly present in dogs’ coats, the hair is just a vehicle for the true allergens: saliva and epithelial tissue (dander). For this reason, less shedding doesn’t mean that an allergic person will be less reactive to skin or saliva of any particular breed of dog.
Multiple studies show that homes with dogs labeled “hypoallergenic” and homes with other breeds actually contain similar levels of Can f 1. Scientifically, the true benefit of having a dog that sheds less is simply that they require less vigilant vacuuming to keep the allergen that the hair distributes from building up in your home.
Popular low-shedding and hairless breeds include:
Breeders who sell “doodle” mixes often claim that they have given another breed of dog a poodle’s “hypoallergenic” qualities, but buyer beware. As with any dog, Can f 1 one will be present in their saliva, and their actual rate of hairfall can be hard to predict.
For some, pet allergies can trigger more severe respiratory issues that make dog ownership impossible. For those whose symptoms are more of an annoyance, small changes can help you enjoy your canine companion with less runny noses and watery eyes.
Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be an effective way to desensitize your immune system to Can f 1.
For this procedure, a doctor injects the allergy sufferer with a small amount of the allergen over several appointments, effectively training their immune system to be less reactive over time.
Pet hair and dander can travel through the air and get caught up in your home’s ventilation system. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter traps hair and skin cells and prevents them from being recirculated by your HVAC system.
A clean environment can help minimize allergy symptoms. Homes with carpets tend to maintain higher levels of Can f 1 than homes with hardwood or vinyl flooring, but regular dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming go a long way towards reducing allergens.
A little extra attention to detail in your cleaning routine can help you enjoy your pup with less sneezing and congestion.