Unfortunately for dog lovers who are allergic to pet dander, there’s no such thing as an allergy-free dog. Certain breeds that have hair, such as the poodle, have long been believed to produce less dander than breeds with fur, leading the American Kennel Club (AKC) to recommend such breeds to allergy sufferers. However, a recent study found no evidence to support this claim.
For allergy sufferers, the AKC recommends breeds with low-shed, hair-like single coats. These breeds include the bichon frise, the Chinese crested, the Maltese, the poodle, the schnauzer and the Portuguese water dog. According to the AKC, dogs of these breeds who have AKC pedigrees have established, predictable coats. Since these dogs don’t tend to shed as much as other breeds, it’s believed that they produce less dander, which makes them less likely to aggravate allergies.
While it may be true that some breeds are less likely to shed, the truth is that dog hair isn’t the problem. It’s the flakes of dead skin known as dander that tends to cause allergies -- but this, too, is not the only problem. Many people with dog allergies are also allergic to urine and saliva. Also, individual dogs within the same breed can produce different levels of allergens, and individual people have different responses to different dogs.
A 2011 study in the “American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy” compared dust samples collected from homes containing dogs from supposed hypoallergenic breeds to homes with other breeds, including both purebred and mixed breed dogs. This study found no difference in the levels of allergens present in the dust in these homes. This study concluded that more research is needed to provide dog-allergy sufferers with scientific information regarding the allergen levels produced by different breeds.
The only sure-fire way to reduce dog allergies is to avoid both dogs and dog-owners, who usually carry pet dander. Of course, if you already have a dog or are determined to get one, you might feel that this is not an option. Symptoms can be managed with medications such as antihistamines, or reduced via allergy shots, which are options you should discuss with a doctor. Meanwhile, if you live with a dog, you can mitigate allergic reactions by bathing the dog weekly and vacuuming and dusting daily. Use a HEPA filter to clean allergens from the air, and consider removing carpets and drapes. It’s also a good idea to ban the dog from your bedroom and keep the door closed to keep out as many allergens as possible.
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