Pet allergy: Are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?

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(Answers from James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D.)

There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog breed,
although some individual dogs may cause fewer allergy
symptoms than others.

Many people think that pet allergies are caused by a dog’s
or cat’s fur, but
the real source of pet allergies is often a protein that’s in
the saliva and urine of dogs and cats. This protein sticks
to the dead, dried flakes (dander) from your pet’s skin.

Some dog breeds are marketed as hypoallergenic because they don’t
shed fur or they shed very little. Because these dogs don’t shed,
the allergy-causing dander that sticks to their fur doesn’t get
released into the air or onto the floor as much as with a
shedding dog. But while you may have less dog hair with a
non shedding dog, no dog breed is hypoallergenic.

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If you’re allergic to dogs, but still want to have one,
consider the following tips to reduce your allergy symptoms:

  • Choose a smaller dog, which will shed less dander than will a larger dog.
  • Keep your pet out of your bedroom and other rooms in which you spend a lot of time.
  • Keep your pet outside, if weather permits.
  • Bathe your pet weekly to remove dander from its coat.
  • Choose carpet-free flooring, or shampoo your carpet regularly.
  • Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifier and vent filters to help reduce airborne pet allergens.

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André Giguère

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