Runny nose. Itchy eyes. Coughing or wheezing. Skin rash. If you suffer from allergies, you know the symptoms are nothing to sneeze at. So, what is a dog-loving person to do if the cause of their allergies is a furry friend? Many people seek out “hypoallergenic” dog breeds. But what are hypoallergenic dogs, and do they really eliminate the allergic reactions?

What causes dog allergies?

Let’s first step back and talk about what actually triggers the allergic reaction. A common misconception is that people are allergic to a dog’s fur. In fact, the most significant allergens are found in a dog’s saliva and dander (a microscopic material shed from the surface of the skin). All dogs, regardless of breed, produce these allergens. For this reason, even though some dogs are considered hypoallergenic, there is no true hypoallergenic dog breed.

Why do some dogs trigger fewer allergies?

There are a few theories as to why people experience fewer symptoms with certain dog breeds. Breeds that shed less, such as the Maltese and Shih Tzu, are less likely to trigger allergic reactions. This is because saliva and dander stick to fur, so the less they shed, the fewer allergens they release into the environment.

Breed size may be a factor, too. Smaller dogs simply have less surface area on their bodies to produce allergens. Regularly bathing a dog can also eliminate the allergens. And let’s face it—it’s generally easier to give an 8 lb Maltese a bath than a 120 lb Great Dane.

While the above factors may reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction, if you are allergic to dogs and are considering getting a dog that is dubbed hypoallergenic, it’s important to understand that you may still experience allergy-related symptoms.

Dawn of the Doodle

Fun fact: the Australian Labradoodle was first developed by a guide dog group in Australia that was looking for a dog that would work well as a guide, such as a Labrador, but shed less. They tried using Standard Poodles and found that while they were extremely smart, they did not have the right temperament for guide work. They decided to cross the Poodle and Labrador, and the Labradoodle was born. Since then, other breeders have crossed low-shedding and higher shedding breeds, giving us Cockapoos, Goldendoodles, and more!