While Poodles shed less than other dogs, they aren’t actually hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic dogs are actually a bit more complicated than most people are led to believe. While some dogs are less likely to cause allergy problems in certain situations, all dogs produce the proteins that those with allergies are allergic to.
In this article, we’ll look at just how hypoallergenic Poodles are, as well as what you can do to lessen your chance of a reaction if you do decide to adopt a Poodle.
Why are Hypoallergenic Dogs Sought After?
In order to sell more dogs, some breeders advertise certain breeds as “hypoallergenic.” In western countries, it is estimated that 20% of the population is allergic to dogs. However, the United States also has one of the highest percentages of households that keep domesticated animals. In fact, it is estimated that over 60% of families in the United States keep one or more domesticated animals inside their homes.
While many people are affected by allergies, a number of them still want to keep a pet of some sort. Therefore, many of them consider keeping hypoallergenic dogs to avoid their allergy symptoms.
However, it isn’t that simple. Keeping a hypoallergenic dog does not necessarily mean that you won’t have allergy symptoms. In fact, keeping a non-hypoallergenic dog doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have symptoms.
What are Dog Allergies?
When someone has an allergy to a dog, it is because their immune system has inappropriately assumed that the proteins created by the dog are foreign invaders. All dog breeds make protein. The skin, saliva, and urine of every dog are made out of specific proteins.
Therefore, every dog is going to create an allergic reaction in those with dog allergies. Until there is a skin-less and saliva-less dog, there is simply no way around that.
But the good news is that dogs make several different types of proteins. Those that are allergic to dogs are not always allergic to every type of protein. And, some dogs create very small amounts of certain proteins. Therefore, you can sometimes choose a dog that doesn’t produce much of the specific protein you’re allergic to.
For example, there is a specific protein called Can f 5 that is only produced in a dog’s prostate gland. Therefore, this protein is only present in male dogs. Many people with dog allergies are likely allergic to this protein alone. Therefore, they will not have any reaction to female dogs; they simply don’t produce the protein they’re allergic to.
Of course, to figure out what proteins you’re allergic to, you will have to be tested. Most allergen tests check for allergies to all the dog proteins at the same time, which is not helpful when you’re trying to narrow down the specific ones you’re allergic to. For this reason, you will likely need to specifically request that each allergen be tested separately.
There are six proteins dogs make that someone can be allergic to. However, some are much more common than others. The Can f 5 is one that is more common, though more studies are needed to determine the exact percentage of people that are affected by this protein.
However, the major allergen remains Can f 1, which all dogs produce.
What Does Science Say About Hypoallergenic Dogs?
The science on hypoallergenic dogs is much different from popular opinion. While many breeders and websites will tell you that certain dogs are absolutely hypoallergenic, the science doesn’t seem to support the concept of hypoallergenic dogs.
In one study, several hypoallergenic dog breeds were looked at to see if they actually produced less of the Can f 1 protein, which is the protein most people with dog allergies are reacting to. They looked as several non-hypoallergenic dog breeds for comparison, including the Labrador Retriever and several mixed breeds.
Hair and coat samples were taken from the dog for testing. They also collected dust samples from around the homes.
Surprisingly, several hypoallergenic dog breeds actually had the highest levels of Can f 1. In fact, the Poodle was found to have the highest concentration of this protein out of all the dogs. The Labrador Retriever, a non-hypoallergenic dog, had the least amount. There was little difference according to gender and age.
Out of all the mixed breeds, the Labradoodle appeared to spread the least amount of dander around. The dust samples from this dog’s home were the lowest in Can f 1 concentrations.
Are Poodles Hypoallergenic?
While Poodles do not shed, this doesn’t actually appear to have much to do with the odds of them causing allergies. The premise of the hypoallergenic dog is based on the fact that non-shedding dogs should spread less dander and saliva around. However, science shows us that this isn’t actually the case.
In fact, there are several studies that show that homes with hypoallergenic dogs don’t have fewer allergens than homes with non-allergenic dogs. In one case, Poodles specifically seemed to produce more allergens than other breeds. Therefore, while they are low-shedding, we cannot consider Poodles hypoallergenic.
Luckily, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t own a dog if you’re allergic to them. There are several things you can do to reduce the chance that you will have an allergic reaction to your Poodle – should you decide to adopt one.
Reducing Allergic Reactions to Your Poodle
If you decide to adopt a canine, there are several things you can do to lessen your allergy symptoms.
Firstly, you should confine your dog to a specific area of your home. They should not be allowed in your bedroom. You spend several hours every night sleeping in your bedroom, so it is best to avoid allergens during this time.
While many people suggest regular baths, one study found that this was not particularly helpful at reducing the number of allergens. You may choose to bathe your dog frequently anyway. Wear a mask when you do or have someone else do it for you.
Taking your dog swimming has been shown to reduce the number of allergens on the dog’s coat, however. Poodles often love swimming, so we recommend it whenever possible. Of course, you should not swim with your canine, especially if you’re in a small body of water.
You should avoid carpeted floors, as these can hold onto the dander and saliva, which can make your reactions more severe. Hardwood floors are more suitable and easier to clean.
You should install HEPA filters around your home to reduce the number of allergens circulating in the air. Putting one in your bedroom is highly recommended, though you will likely also want to put one in areas where you tend to spend a lot of time.
There are also medications you can receive to reduce your allergic reactions. Ask your doctor what medications may work best for you. You may be able to do immunotherapy, which can permanently reduce your allergy symptoms.
Featured Image Credit: NDAB Creativity, Shutterstock