Do Hypoallergenic Dogs Actually Exist?

The short answer is, no. However, I imagine you all require some evidence to back up this claim.

First things first; what even causes a persons’ allergic reaction to dogs? Proteins contained in the saliva and urine of dogs attaches to the dead skin cells (dander) and is released into the air. When a person who is allergic to dogs breathes in that dander their body has a hypersensitive response, attacking the rather harmless substance and causing itchy eyes, a stuffy or runny nose, and sneezing.

Some people have mistakenly made a correlation between the allergenic nature of a dog and the amount of hair a dog produces; this assertion just isn’t so. In fact, hair is the same thing as fur, as both hair and fur have an identical chemical make-up. Only a linguistic difference stands between hair and fur. Fur usually refers to hair on non-human animals, and hair usually refers to fur on humans.

The American Kennel Club highlights eleven alleged hypoallergenic breeds: Bedlington Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Maltese, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Chinese Crested, Poodles, Xoloitzcuintli, Irish Water Spaniel, and Portuguese Water Dog.

In July of 2011 an article was published by the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy which compared the allergen levels of hypoallergenic dogs to non-hypoallergenic dogs.

The study by Henry Ford Hospital researchers looked at 173 households containing a single dog one month after bringing home a newborn and tested dog allergen levels in the house. Among the 173 dogs, there were 60 breeds, 11 of which were hypoallergenic breeds.

From an article by pertaining to this study:

“Based on public web site claims of hypoallergenic breeds, dogs were classified as hypoallergenic using one of four “schemes” based on their breed for comparing allergen levels. Scheme A compared purebred hypoallergenic dogs to purebred non-hypoallergenic dogs; Scheme B compared purebred and mixed breed dogs with at least one hypoallergenic parent to purebred non-hypoallergenic dogs; Scheme C compared purebred and mixed breed dogs with at least one hypoallergenic parent to purebred and mixed breed dogs with no known hypoallergenic component; Scheme D compared only purebred dogs identified as hypoallergenic by the American Kennel Club to all other dogs.”

When comparing these four schemes, the Henry Ford researchers found no statistical difference between alleged hypoallergenic dogs and non-hypoallergenic dogs.

In summation: the amount of allergens released differs between each individual dog, regardless of breed. There are no consistent differences in amounts of allergens concerning specific breeds, including those breeds labeled by the AKC as “hypoallergenic.”

If you would like to read the study in its entirety, you can find it presented online right here.

Breed of the Month: Whippet

Description: The whippet is a medium sized dog whose coat comes in a wide variety of colors, such as black, white, cream, red, fawn, blue, brindle, and can be any combination of those colors. Their skull is long and lean. Whippets have a very dark colored nose, usually a dark variation of blue, brown, or black. They possess large, round, dark brown or black, eyes. The small ears are typically thrown back and folded along the long and muscular neck. The forelegs are straight, the hind legs are strong and powerful, and the tail is long and tapering.

History: The whippet was a culmination of breeds including –unsurprisingly– the greyhound, Italian greyhound, and a now extinct long-legged terrier. These dogs were bred in the late nineteenth century by the lower class in England and were used as a sight hound and for racing.

Size: Males: 19–22 inches at the withers, weighing 45–65 pounds. Females: 18–21 inches at the withers, weighing 25–45 pounds.

Temperament: The whippet is a very friendly family companion. While they are very energetic and require a daily run, they are content with being lazy and lounging around indoors. Since they were bred to be sight hounds, whippets have a strong prey drive and will chase and hunt down anything that runs and is smaller than the dog. Neighborhood cats beware. Since whippets have a very docile and friendly demeanor, they are naturally very good with kids, but they don’t like excessive roughhousing.

Grooming: Whippets require very little grooming and are an average shedder. Whippets are known to not have a “dog smell.” Typically, all the whippet needs for bathing is a wipe down with a moist cloth.

Health: The whippet is generally healthy and does not see many of the diseases seen in other breeds. For example, whippets are not known to experience hip dysplasia while ear, skin, and digestive issues are very rare in this breed. Some male whippets are known to have a higher frequency of cryptorchidism, defined by (either one of both) undescended testicles which can cause pain, reduce fertility, cause sterility, and increase the likelihood of testicular cancer.  The second leading cause of death among whippets are cardiac issues. The whippet has a slow beating heart which is prone to resting heart arrhythmia. Whippets are also prone to athletic hearth syndrome. Like all sighthounds, the whippet has an intolerance to barbiturate anaesthetics which is partly due to overall low body fat and the inability for their liver to metabolize the drugs.

Lifespan: 12-15 years.

Trivia: The whippet can run 200 yards in under 12 seconds. They can run around 36mph.