Study: Hypoallergenic Dogs Do Not Exist

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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 – 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 – 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. 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.

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  2. 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”

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  3. 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.

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

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  5. 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.

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