Watery eyes, sniffling noses, itchy skin — these are just a few of the common symptoms a person with pet hair allergies might experience when being exposed to a dog. For anyone with a pet hair allergy who also wants a canine in their life, having certain "hypoallergenic" dogs, like poodles or Yorkshire terriers, listed as suggestions is common. But what makes some dog's hair less allergenic than others? We've all heard that certain dog breeds are better for people who are allergic to dogs, but are there really any breeds that are truly hypoallergenic?
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Do hypoallergenic dog breeds really exist?
So, are there any dog breeds out there that are actually, 100% hypoallergenic? The answer to that question is, sadly, no, there are not. So, if you have an allergy to dogs, the hard truth is that there's no specific breed of dog that won't trigger allergy symptoms. However, many dog owners have pet hair allergies, and if you want to enjoy the company of a canine you can, usually, manage your allergies in a number of ways, like regular cleaning, grooming your pet, and even maintenance with allergy medication.
While there aren't any dogs who are technically truly hypoallergenic, there are some breeds that are known for causing fewer allergic reactions than others. Among these dogs include the Schnauzer, a breed with a curly coat like the Portuguese Water Dog, Afghan Hounds, low-shedding dogs like the Maltese and hairless dogs, like the Chinese Crested.
What causes allergic reactions to dogs?
Many people think that pet fur is what causes an allergic reaction in people. This is why so many are quick to suggest dogs who have "hair" rather than a dense coat of fur, like a Yorkie or a Bichon Frise. Despite this common misconception, what actually causes allergic reactions to dogs is the dander, which is small bits of skin that become stuck to dog fur. Because all dogs, obviously, have skin, there's no way to truly rid them of having dander, although dogs with less dense coats of fur tend to harbor less dander, making allergic reactions less intense, or even uncommon at all, in some cases. Saliva is another common cause of allergic reactions and can be brought on through licking a person's skin or drooling.
Managing pet allergies
In many cases, pet allergies don't have to stop a person from enjoying life with a canine friend, although certain measures and regular maintenance should be taken for the best results. Allergens like dander, and the fur that usually accompanies it, should be cleaned often, especially in areas where a dog spends a lot of time, like on bedding, or in certain areas of the home. Additionally, dogs should be groomed regularly to prevent matting and build-up, although some dogs should not be bathed too regularly as this can contribute to dry skin, which may result in skin flakes. If you have severe allergies due to your dog, you may want to take to a medical professional about adding allergy medication to your routine, be that daily or as needed during especially irritating allergic reactions. If you notice your skin becoming irritated and itchy after your dog licks you, allergy sufferers should deter the behavior, then wash the affected area with soap and water as quickly as possible.
Despite some claims that say otherwise, there is no dog breed that is truly hypoallergenic. However, some breeds, like low-shedding dogs and curly-haired breeds, can trigger allergy symptoms far less than their densely-coated peers. Dog owners living with pet hair allergies can still enjoy fulfilling lives with their canines by taking consistent measures, like regular cleaning, grooming, and reserving some spaces, like beds or furniture, as people-only areas to reduce the buildup of dander and fur.