For dog lovers that are predisposed to sneezing and wheezing at the mere proximity of a canine breed, there has been a recent rise in popularity for “hypoallergenic” pets that will allegedly not cause these reactions for allergy sufferers. Many Americans have been sold on the novel idea that certain dog breeds with short fur or hair will not shed the normal allergens that incite the sneezes. Among the most commonly known dog breeds that top the list for allergic individuals include the Bichon Frise, Schnauzer, Yorkshire Terrier, Shih Tzu, Poodle, Italian Greyhound, and even President Obama’s Portuguese Water Dog. However, a recent research study on dog allergens suggests that there is a very different tale behind the “hypoallergenic” myth.
Published within the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, researchers in Detroit conducted a study on purebred and mixed breed dogs that are supposedly hypoallergenic according to the American Kennel Club, in comparison to dogs that are not. Researchers visited 173 single-dog homes, vacuumed their bedroom floors, and collected samples of the most common dog allergen known as canis familiaris 1, a protein found in saliva. Results indicated that the dogs labeled as “hypoallergenic” averaged the same amount of this protein as non-hypoallergenic dogs, with the allergen canis familiaris 1 being found in all but 10 homes. As expected by the researchers, there was no statistically significant different found between the amounts of allergens across various dog breeds.
However, the study did stumble upon a number of factors that decreased the amount of dog allergens lurking in the homes unrelated to whether the family was “hypo-allergenic” or not. Allergen levels were significantly lower in homes with tile or wood floors rather than carpeting, while the number of allergens found was higher in homes that had a spayed or neutered dog. Researchers concluded that pet owners could reduce the likelihood of being exposed to allergens by limiting the rooms that dogs are allowed in; however, the study even found that dogs kept entirely outdoors did not eliminate the appearance of canis familiaris 1 in the house.