Hypoallergenic Dogs and Other Mythological Creatures

When talking with a patient in our allergy clinic, so often the response to my question,  “Are there any pets in the home”, is “yes, a dog, but it is a hypoallergenic dog”.   I also hear, “My breed of dog does not have fur, it has hair”.  The idea being that, since people are allergic to dog “fur”, having a dog with hair rather than fur avoids the potential problem of dog allergy.

So is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic dog?  Are Poodles and Terriers really less allergenic than Golden Retrievers and Springer Spaniels?   A recent study published in the American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy was conducted to answer this question.

In this study, an Internet search was conducted to identify breeds frequently cited as being hypoallergenic. Dust samples were then collected from homes with a variety of both pure bred and mixed breed dogs.  Researchers have identified Canis familiaris 1 as the allergenic protein (allergen) responsible for dog allergy and the amount of this protein in the dust samples collected from the homes was compared between breeds believed to be hypoallergenic versus the non-hypoallergenic breeds.

Their results?  There was no difference in the amount of allergen shedding by dogs classified as hypoallergenic. The researches concluded that clinicians should advise patients that they cannot rely on breeds deemed to be “hypoallergenic” to in fact deposit less allergenic material throughout the home.

So like the unicorn, the hypoallergenic dog with hair rather than fur is likely a mythological creature, frequently found in word-of-mouth fairy tales and Internet sites, but yet to be found in pet stores.