The myth of the hypoallergenic dog
OK, so he decided not to adopt a rescue dog. Even the dog’s breeder has conceded it’s not a rescue dog, despite some poorly executed spin which amounts to nothing more than a contrived attempt to convince people that it’s ‘sort of’ a rescue dog. OK, his family, his choice, no probs, forgivable. But let’s draw a line through this BUNKUM of the hypo-allergenic dog shall we?
Oh joy though. We learned a while back that the Kennel Club has experienced a 125% increase in demand for information on the Portuguese Water Dog on the back of US president Obama’s decision to go back on his pledge to adopt a mutt and, instead, take delivery of a ‘gift’ dog, very much of ‘pedigree’ status.
Update: The hypoallergenic dog myth is confirmed. New research has confirmed what we've long since claimed at K9 Magazine, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. It's a myth.
Significantly higher Can f 1 concentrations were found in hair and coat samples of hypoallergenic dogs (n = 196, geometric mean [GM], 2.26 μg/g, geometric standard deviation [GSD], 0.73, and GM, 27.04 μg/g, GSD, 0.57, respectively) than of non-hypoallergenic dogs (n = 160, GM, 0.77 μg/g, GSD, 0.71, and GM, 12.98 μg/g, GSD, 0.76, respectively). Differences between breeds were small, relative to the variability within a breed. Can f 1 levels in settled floor dust samples were lower for Labradoodles, but no differences were found between the other groups. No differences in airborne levels were found between breeds.
How would shelters be celebrating today if THEY were the beneficiaries of a 125% increase in demand. But alas, no. The president said one thing, did another. He’s a politician and he’s perfectly entitled to choose any dog he likes, but let’s cut to the chase – this was a MASSIVE opportunity missed.
It’s now established, Obama’s dog choice HAS had an effect. If he’d kept true to his pledge to adopt from a shelter, how many needy dogs could benefit from the ‘Obama bounce’? Instead a tremendously rare dog with a very limited gene pool is now the toast of the town – a dog that will not be found in any rescue centre and a dog which, despite claims to the contrary is NOT hypo-allergenic.
Not everyone is to know that – but one source who’d you’d think would get it right would be the Kennel Club.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Communications Director, said: “The publicity surrounding the Obama family’s new dog means that we have experienced a huge increase in the number of enquiries about the breed. This is understandable seeing as it is such an endearing looking dog but we are concerned that some people may be less informed about whether it would suit their lifestyle than the Obama’s were.
“The Obamas clearly did a lot of careful research before deciding that the Portuguese Water Dog was for them. The breed standard describes it as a smart, resilient and optimistic breed and its coat is hypo allergenic, meaning it will not aggravate their daughter’s allergies, so it seems to be the perfect fit for the family.
Hypo allergenic eh?
”All dogs and all cats have saliva and skin, so theoretically, there is no such thing as a nonallergenic cat or dog.” ~ Dr. William J. Davis, a professor of clinical pediatrics and director of allergy and immunology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan
“Unfortunately, there really is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog,” Dr. Jonathan Field, emeritus director of the pediatric allergy and asthma clinic at New York University/Bellevue Medical Center in New York City.
“The studies have not supported that there’s any type of hypoallergenic dog,” ~ Dr. Wanda Phipatanakul, chair of the Indoor Allergen Committee for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
“All cats and dogs are allergenic (allergy-causing) to people who are allergic to animals.” ~ Humane Society of United States
“Essentially, for a dog to be truly hypoallergenic, it would have to be tongue-less as well as hairless,” ~ Dr. John Dean, head of the division of allergy at B.C. Children’s Hospital
The fact that this myth has been widely spread by the media means many people will be attracted to this breed, in particular, on the basis that it won’t aggravate an allergy could cause a LOT of heartache (and possible rehomings, GENUINE rehomings) down the line. That the Kennel Club, who are supposed to know about dogs are playing a role in adding to the myth, well that’s just beyond the pale.
There is no such thing as a ‘hypo allergenic dog’ no such thing as ‘hypoallergenic dog fur’. Please, if you are allergic to dogs don’t make the mistake of assuming there are breeds for whom you will suffer no problems. Do your research, speak to shelters, ask to spend time with individual dogs who may be suitable and whatever you do, don’t buy in to the myth of the hypo allergenic dog, it simply does not exist.
OK, so we've established that there really is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog, but there are indeed certain breeds that shed less than others. Let's take a look at some of the popular choices...
Low Shedding Dog Breeds - The Contenders
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is available in four varieties, the Traditional Irish, Heavy Irish, English, and American. The main difference is the size of the dog. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has a short coat that does not shed much during the day. The dogs will need to be groomed as often as other low shedding breeds in order to prevent clumping or rashes on their skin.
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is very friendly and will always welcome strangers. They enjoy getting their exercise and want to be around people as much as possible. These dogs should not be kept in an apartment. Having a backyard is a must as this dog loves to run and bark. If you are in need of a low shedding dog that is a little larger than most, then this is a dog worth considering.
Bedlington Terriers are smaller than the Irish Water Spaniel and Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, but they have short coats which need to be brushed a few times a week to prevent tangling. They will also need to be groomed every three or four months in order to maintain a healthy coat. These dogs are energetic and enjoy exercise. For those who do suffer with mild allergies to dog hairs and who live in apartment buildings or small homes, this dog is perfect. Bedlington Terriers are also awesome dogs with incredible personalities. Worth knowing!
The Mexican Hairless may be the most difficult hairless breed because there are very few breeders in the United States and in other countries. This breed has a short coat that will not need to be groomed or brushed because it is so short. This means that you will not have to worry about matting, or other issues concerning the care of the coat. The Mexican Hairless is available in different sizes, contrary to popular belief.
The American Hairless Terrier is another breed that is not truly hairless. This breed also has a short coat that does not have to be groomed. Originally, an accident of nature discovered in 1972, breeders successfully reproduced other puppies in 1981 and have been selling them ever since. True to its Terrier roots, the American Hairless Terrier is a small, husky dog that is very friendly and outgoing. These dogs are great for those who are mildly allergic to dogs and who live in small apartments or homes.
The Chinese Crested is an unusual dog because it is available in two distinct varieties. The first variety is truly hairless except for long hair that grows on its paws, head, and tail. Grooming can be done by a professional or at home if you know what you are doing. The second variety called the powder puff and has long, fine hair that resembles human hair. Both varieties are low shedding for fairly obvious reason....they don't have much to shed!
The Peruvian Hairless is truly hairless. This breed is medium in size and is intelligent and friendly to most people. This dog is not for those who have had no prior experience working with dogs. They need to be trained to follow commands and even though they are intelligent and learn quickly, they will not always obey.
If big, friendly, shaggy dogs are your thing, the Spanish Water Dog is a good fit. They resemble the sheep dog on the Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes cartoons. The dogs live for playing, swimming and even working. When acclimated correctly, the Spanish Water Dog is a great playmate for children. If you have a pool or live near an ocean or lake, the Spanish Water Dog lives true to its name. They love swimming. As for the work aspect, these dogs have natural herding instincts and are excellent guard dogs. These dogs do require a lot of attention, so be ready for that. They must be exposed to other dogs and/or children between the ages of two to twelve months if they are to fully accept being around them, otherwise they can become aloof or guarded around them.
The Bouvier des Flandres also fits into the low shedding shaggy dog category. This strong built breed is traditionally used for hard work such as cattle and sheep herding, pulling carts, and police or guard dog work. Along with their strong work abilities, they are generally gentle and protective of their adopted families. Even former United States President, Ronald Regan, chose this breed for a pet. Their thicker hair makes them great dogs for outdoor work and play in colder climates. Be ready to take care of the Bouvier des Flandres if one is added to your home. Maintenance on these dogs thick hair (not fur) does require brushing weekly and visits for a trim every six to eight weeks. This dog can be prone to both voluvus and bloat syndromes because of their deep chests. They can also be very strong-willed and intimidating animals when they feel strongly about something, especially when going after cats. Proper discipline is a must when owning a Bouvier.
Poodles, Australian Terriers, and Kerry Blue Terriers. Each of these dogs has been used to hunt small and large game and also to hunt for rodents and other pesky animals that carried disease. Now these animals are kept in the home as pets. While still playful and easy going, these dogs are now treated more like friends that as sporting partners.
Each of these breeds has a short coat that is more like human hair because it is soft and thin. Unlike other breeds, these dogs do not shed as often and when they do, it is usually not noticeable. People who want to own a medium sized dog will appreciate any of the breeds mentioned above. Grooming is an essential part of their care as is brushing their coats once or twice a week to prevent matting.
Breeds comes in a few different varieties that are all low shedding. Poodles have been used a sporting dogs, show dogs, and lap dogs for those who wanted a breed that would sit still on command. The Poodle is a friendly dog that does not make a lot of noise. They are very active and enjoy getting their exercise. People who want are thinking about buying a Poodle should conduct more research to see if this is the dog they truly want. Even though the Poodle can live for many years, they may suffer some health problems as they age.
The Australian Terrier was once used to catch mice and rats, but today it is kept at home because of its pleasant disposition and its long hair that does not shed. You can choose to cut the hair closer to the body if you choose. For those looking for a smaller dog, the Australian Terrier is a good choice. These dogs are considered companion dogs, meaning that they enjoy the company of people.
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a relative of the Australian Terrier, but is much larger and has a more pronounced head and chest. Their head is almost square shaped. Their cost is soft and curly. It will not shed and needs to be groomed often to prevent matting. While the dogs are actually gray or black in color, a blue sheen can be found on their coat. This is where they got their name.
Kerry Blue Terriers need daily exercise that can range from long walks to running in the park with other dogs. If you have a backyard, you can let the dog run around and it will tire itself out. People who live in larger homes should consider buying a hypoallergenic dog like this one.
Even though these dogs are no longer used primarily as sporting dogs, this does not mean the dogs prefer to sit around all day long. Exercise is very important for dogs like these because they have been used for generations for sporting parties and long hunts in the woods.
The Schnauzer is a very cool, low shedding dog breed with short hair that does not shed. If you purchase on of these breeds, you will have to keep up regular grooming appointments. The Schnauzer comes in three different varieties: the Miniature Schnauzer, the Standard Schnauzer, and the Giant Schnauzer. Even though they vary in size, the schnauzer can be recognised by its boxy face, short hair, and square build. This breed is common in households because it does not shed and because of its easy going temperament.
Differences between Non-low shedding Dogs and low shedding Dogs
Even though the differences between non-low shedding dogs and low shedding dogs may not be huge, they are enough to reduce the amount of allergy attacks that people have when they are around certain breeds of dog. For those who want to own a dog, not being able to be in the same room with one for long periods of time, can be frustrating. Buying a low shedding dog may be the only way they can have a dog in their home. While they may still experience allergy attacks, these attacks will be less frequent.
Longer haired dogs such as Setters, Labradors, Golden Retrievers et al have fur that is loose and dense, which means that it may contain a lot of dander as well. Dander is a collection of skin cells, dust, and other particles found in the air. As the dog sheds, these particles float around in the air and cause people to have allergy attacks. These dogs may also have an undercoat, which is a thick coat that protects them from harsh temperatures. This undercoat is what causes the dog to shed frequently. It can also trap dander and other allergens.
Some non-low shedding dog breeds may also salivate more often than other breeds, which can also cause a person’s allergies to increase. Saliva contains bacteria that people are oftentimes allergic to. While these dogs cannot control the amount of saliva they expel, people who are allergic to dogs have a difficult time when these dogs are present. People with dog allergies may also be allergic to dog urine as it too can contain certain kinds of bacteria.
low shedding dogs have shorter coats. Some breeds do not have an undercoat. While this makes them unprepared for cold weather, they are perfect for those who have allergies. The hair on these dogs is more like human hair, which means it will not shed as frequently as non-low shedding dogs. The hair will need to be trimmed every few weeks in order to prevent it from growing too long. Some low shedding breeds do not have hair at all. They are considered hairless even if they have some hair on their paws and head.
low shedding dogs do not salivate as much as other breeds. This helps those who are allergic. This means that when the dog cleans itself, it will not leave as much bacteria behind or dead skin, which is the primary driver for allergy outbreak. Urine from low shedding dogs does not affect as many people either.
When looking for a low shedding dog, you should research the following breeds to see if you are interested in any of them: Maltese, Terriers, Schnauzer, Bishon Frise, Portuguese Water Dog, Greyhounds, and Irish Water Spaniel. There are other breeds, but these are some of the more popular ones that tend to win over new fans easily. This also means that you will have fewer problems finding a breeder in your area or, better still, your local rescue shelter may have your ideal low shedding dog waiting for you right now.
Learn as much as you can about grooming, brushing, and caring for your low shedding dog as you would any other breed. Just because they happen to be a low shedding breed doesn't eliminate the need for regular coat maintenance, good grooming and for just one tiny second don't assume a low shedding breed will completely eliminate the dog for you to do more housework than if you had no dog at all. Too many dogs end up in rescue shelters on the back of misguided purchases from those who have bought in to the myth that low shedding or so-called hypoallergenic dog breeds are zero maintenance.