Study: Hypoallergenic Dogs Do Not Exist

Contrary to popular belief, so-called hypoallergenic dogs do not have lower household allergen levels than other dogs.

Contrary to popular belief, so-called hypoallergenic dogs do not have lower household allergen levels than other dogs.

That’s the conclusion of a study by Henry Ford Hospital researchers who sought to evaluate whether hypoallergenic dogs have a lower dog allergen in the home than other dogs. Hypoallergenic dogs are believed to produce less dander and saliva and shed less fur.

The findings are to be published online this month in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy. The study will be available at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ocean/ajra

“We found no scientific basis to the claim hypoallergenic dogs have less allergen,” says Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D., MPH, chair of Henry Ford’s Department of Public Health Sciences and senior author of the study.

“Based on previous allergy studies conducted here at Henry Ford, exposure to a dog early in life provides protection against dog allergy development. But the idea that you can buy a certain breed of dog and think it will cause less allergy problems for a person already dog-allergic is not borne out by our study.”

This is believed to be the first time researchers measured environmental allergen associated with hypoallergenic dogs. Previous studies analyzed hair samples from only a handful of dogs in a small number of breeds.

Henry Ford researchers analyzed dust samples collected from 173 homes one month after a newborn was brought home. The dust samples were collected from the carpet or floor in the baby’s bedroom and analyzed for the dog allergen Can f 1. Only homes with one dog were involved in the study. Sixty dog breeds were involved in the study, 11 of which are considered hypoallergenic dogs.

Based on public web site claims of hypoallergenic breeds, dogs were classified as hypoallergenic using one of four “schemes” based on their breed for comparing allergen levels. Scheme A compared purebred hypoallergenic dogs to purebred non-hypoallergenic dogs; Scheme B compared purebred and mixed breed dogs with at least one hypoallergenic parent to purebred non-hypoallergenic dogs; Scheme C compared purebred and mixed breed dogs with at least one hypoallergenic parent to purebred and mixed breed dogs with no known hypoallergenic component; Scheme D compared only purebred dogs identified as hypoallergenic by the American Kennel Club to all other dogs.

Researchers found that the four schemes yielded no significant differences in allergen levels between hypoallergenic dogs and non-hypoallergenic dogs. In homes where the dog was not allowed in the baby’s bedroom, the allergen level for hypoallergenic dogs was slightly higher compared to allergen levels of non-hypoallergenic dogs.

While researchers acknowledged limitations in their study โ€“ the amount of time the dog spent in the baby’s bedroom was not recorded and the size of its sample did not allow looking at specific breeds โ€“ they say parents should not rely on dog breeds classified as hypoallergenic.

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28 thoughts on “Study: Hypoallergenic Dogs Do Not Exist

  1. That’s because most dogs sold as hypoallergenic dogs are not. There are several breeds that produce less allergens but no dog is completely allergen free even naked ones.

  2. As an allergy sufferer I have disputed that my whole life but nobody would listen!! Allergies or not, I still snuggle all furry friends! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. well, my dog isnt hypoallergenic then, but how come my dad and brother who both have allergic reactions when with dogs, do not when they are with my dog?

  4. There is also no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat–but as long as people refuse to research this stuff on their own, they’ll believe what they’re told.

  5. “hypoallergenic” dogs do not exist, however this study claims that the amount of dander in the home is somehow equal to the level of allergens, which in turn has something to do with how the individual will react to that animal. None of those conclusions are true.

    I’m getting really tired of these “studies” that take some basic information and extrapolate it to ridiculous conclusions. I know lots of people who are deathly allergic to dogs but do just fine with one or a few breeds. I know others who are deathly allergic but seem to do okay in homes where the dogs receive a better diet. I also know people who only react to the occasional individual animal.

    All that was tested here was the level of dander in the environment. PERIOD. Any further assumptions are invalid and irresponsible. Shame on the Globe and CBC for carrying this. You know, once upon a time there was a “study” that showed that ice cream and soda caused polio. Not kidding. Polio numbers went up in the summer, so did ice cream and soda sales – the connection was made and Dr. Sandler actually wrote a book claiming that a low sugar diet could prevent polio. This was in 1949 – only 60 years ago.

    Honestly, some of these conclusions are just straight up ridiculous.

  6. Not so sure, as a service dog handler, if I can see this as a “like” item or not. I guess the non-SD handler part of me is laughing its butt off.

  7. I’m severely allergic to three out of four of my dogs. The one I’m not allergic to is a “hypo allergenic”. I take meds so I can live with them. So am I imagining my symptoms with only 3 of my dogs???

  8. So happy to see this often misunderstood fact repeated. It’s a dog’s dander people are allergic to. Some breeds seem to have less dander however, so people who aren’t severely sensitive seem to do okay with them.

  9. Taking this with a grain of salt. My boyfriend does not react to our greyhound and whippet (both known as low dander-producing dogs) at all and the whippet even sleeps in our bed. Bring a German Shepherd around or a lab and he flares right up and becomes very uncomfortable and needs medicine or he can barely function. Are people actually getting paid to do these studies?

  10. I wonder how many hypoallergenic dogs will find themselves homeless after this article. I agree with you, Carly Williams: it all depends on the dog vs allergy type. I’m fine with greybies and other shorthairs, but the long haired breeds send me running for tissues and eye rinsing.

  11. i get a shot to control my allergy to my dogs but before the shot i did notice some dogs were worse on me than others but it came down to how often they were bathed and how much time they spent outside, length of hair didnt matter cause the allergens on a dog is in thier skin dander not the fur

  12. One tends to get used to one’s own pets, but still react to others. That can make people think their breed is less “allergenic”

  13. With my allergies, I am allergic to cats,severely and some dogs. I went to and Allergist and received shots for yrs so I could keep my pets. Then I was told about Hypoallergenic dogs,The shorthair vs. Long hair has NO bearing on my allergies.German Shepards,Pugs,bulldogs even can send me into a full blown allergy and asthma attack. While my little malti-poo has no effect on me whatsever. He is labeled a Hypo-allergenic dog. Its according to what your allergies are I suppose.

  14. Thank u for clarifying. Always bugged me hearing people talk about getting rid of the one that caused allergies to get a ” hypo-allergenic.”

  15. I don’t know if I agree with the aricle, my parents always tried to get us a dog and it never worked as I was too allergic! They then had me with an allergist, weekly shots for at least 5 years and was able to get a york a poo NOW I am fine with my two labs! I believe the allergy shots helped ALOT but I do believe poodles have less dander thus I was not so allergic and able to have sooner then a lab.

  16. As someone with an allergy to dogs — I knew it. Vindication. Shots, shots are the answer. Also, some dogs might *seems* easier for you to tolerate, but it might not be the so-called hypoallergenic dogs. I found dogs with clean, silky fur were the best for me.

  17. As someone with an allergy to dogs — I knew it. Vindication. Shots, shots are the answer. Also, some dogs might *seems* easier for you to tolerate, but it might not be the so-called hypoallergenic dogs. I found dogs with clean, silky fur were the best for me.

  18. I usually never trust a lot of “studies”, since they almost always change every day/week/month/year/etc..
    I’m allergic to cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, anything with fur/dander/whatever, I’m even allergic to pollen and some plants and stuff, but that doesn’t stop me from owning my 2 always-shedding Alaskan Malamutes ๐Ÿ˜€ I don’t have, like, a DEATHLY allergy to those things, though.

  19. I had never experienced being allergic to a dog in my entire life (and I have always, and still do, owned dogs–currently a German Shepherd, an Irish Setter, and also two cats), until I house-sat a home with a miniature poodle. I have never experienced such a strong allergic reaction, and it seemed to take hours for the allergy meds I found in their pantry to kick in and make it the symptoms more manageable. The home was very clean. I believe miniature poodles, since they don’t shed, are among the breeds considered to be hypoallergenic, so I think there is definitely some validity to this article.

  20. My niece and brother-in-law are both allergic to dogs. My niece recently got a yorkie. She’s fine with this dog. No allergies because the dog has HAIR not FUR. My nephew has a huskie and she’s allergic to that dog. Simple answer….that dog has FUR not HAIR. That’s my conclusion and also my vet’s answer. It is what it is and it’s that simple regardless of what shelter tell people. They’re not vets so leave the medical aspect of it to the vets or be a vet yourself!!!!!

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