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Breeds like the poodle, Labradoodle, Bichon frisé, and Maltese are frequently touted as hypoallergenic. But if you’re an allergy sufferer, or plan to live with a pet if you have asthma, you probably don’t want to take anyone’s word for it.
In this article, we’ll dig into the phrase “hypoallergenic dog” to see what’s fact and fiction. Plus, we’ve got a list of hypoallergenic dogs that may be safe if you’re allergic to dogs.
By definition, hypoallergenic means it’s relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. So when we’re talking about dogs, the fact is, a hypoallergenic dog is a dog breed that’s unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in humans.
Hypoallergenic dogs come in all shapes and sizes. You can also choose from breeds that don’t shed, have minimal shedding, or are hairless altogether.
People who are allergic to dogs typically react to a protein found in dog dander (flakes of dead skin), urine, and saliva.3
Dander attaches itself to a dog’s fur. When hair falls off, it spreads the proteins around and can cause people with allergies to suffer from allergic reactions like itchy skin, hives, respiratory issues, sneezing, and a runny nose. This can mean dogs with a double coat may be more problematic for allergy sufferers than those with a single coat; however, pet hair itself is not an allergy trigger.
Plus, if your dog urinates inside, licks furniture, or drools everywhere, those proteins can still be spread around.
Here’s where the fiction comes in. The term “hypoallergenic dog” has been misunderstood to mean a dog that won’t cause any allergic reactions.
But according to the Mayo Clinic, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, though some dogs may be less triggering to allergy sufferers.4 Hairless dogs and breeds that don’t shed are the ones praised for their hypoallergenic qualities because there’s less dander — and therefore allergens — spreading around your home. This leads many breeders to label dogs that don’t shed as hypoallergenic.
However, studies have been conducted to determine whether so-called hypoallergenic dogs really produce lower dog allergen levels than other dogs. One study found no difference in the dog allergen levels between homes with dogs considered hypoallergenic and those with dogs that aren’t.5
This may be because even hairless dogs or dogs that don’t shed still drool and urinate. So in addition to hypoallergenic non-shedding dogs, smaller dogs are a promising option for those who suffer from allergies. The smaller the dog, the less urine, dander, and saliva it produces.
The good news is there are plenty of allergy-friendly breed options! There are large hypoallergenic dogs, small hypoallergenic dog breeds, and just about any size available to you. While there are no guarantees, these pups may be a good choice for those with dog allergies.
If you’re an allergy sufferer hoping to adopt a dog, do extensive research before committing to a certain breed. Even though a breed may be considered hypoallergenic, each dog is different. Spend time with different dogs to see how your body reacts to them specifically.
There’s no guarantee, but there is hope that you can protect your health by finding a pup who doesn’t cause you physical discomfort.
At MetLife Pet Insurance,1 winner of the “Pet Insurance of the Year” Award, we’re committed to helping you keep your pets happy and healthy, whether that means learning all there is to know about your pets or protecting them with an insurance policy.2 Get a quote here.
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal, or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.
1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.
3 “Dog Allergies,” WebMD
4 “Pet Allergy,” Mayo Clinic
5 “Dog allergen levels in homes with hypoallergenic compared with nonhypoallergenic dogs,” American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy