Q: Is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic dog?

A: The answer is No! This may surprise you – There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog breed! Many people think that dog allergies are caused by a dog’s fur, but the real source is a protein that’s found in the saliva and urine. This protein will stick to the dead flakes from the dog’s skin (also known as dander).

The term “hypoallergenic” has been used for marketing purposes for dogs that do not very much or do not shed at all. Some dogs may cause less symptoms than others, but because of the allergenic proteins being present in both saliva and urine, technically no dog is truly “hypoallergenic.”
As allergists, we do not recommend getting a dog if you are allergic! Dog allergies can cause increased asthma and allergy symptoms in children and adults and can range from mild to severe. But if you already have a dog, or you’re allergic and still want to have one eventually, there are some ways to reduce allergy symptoms. These include a smaller dog or one that sheds less, bathing the pet frequently (bonus: this also helps to remove outdoor pollens from the fur!), and keeping the pet out of the bedroom or other rooms where you spend a lot of time. Cleaning the carpet frequently or choosing carpet-free flooring can help. The addition of a HEPA filter can help reduce airborne pet allergens.

Some patients require allergy medications such as nasal sprays, antihistamines and inhalers when they are around dogs. Often times patients will do allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots) to help with their dog allergy and this can be very effective. If you’re considering getting a dog, it is wise to do a “test” with the dog in your home for a few days to see how you react –I recommend doing this if your breeder or rescue organization will let you.