Are There Really ‘Hypoallergenic' Breeds of Dogs?
Certain breeds may have hypoallergenic tendencies – but certainly not to the extent typically presented in the media or implied in conversation.
When a person is allergic to certain dogs, the allergy isn't to the entire breed. Rather, the significant allergens are specific and unique proteins in those particular dogs' saliva or dander. The dried saliva and/or dander can either be on the dog's coat/fur, or can be on or associated with the loose, swirling, shed hairs in the dog's environment.
If a dog is bathed and brushed twice a week, the dander and dried saliva is removed from its coat/fur. As well, any loose/shed hairs carrying the allergens are removed in the process. Removing this amount of allergen by bathing, grooming, and by vacuuming the dog's environment, will lower the allergen load to less than it takes for most dog-allergic humans!
If a dog is smaller—thus producing less total amount of dander and saliva—has a coat type that is more easily bathed and brushed, and requires less vacuuming in its environment, that dog is more likely to be perceived as being "hypoallergenic."
So, if some breeds of dogs are smaller and/or have coat types that are easier to work with and control, that breed could come to be seen as hypoallergenic, when in fact they are just small dogs with easier to manage coats.
What we need to remember is that the exact unique offending canine dander or saliva protein that an allergic human is sensitive to is not dictated by a dog's breed! Rather it is dictated by that person's unique hypersensitivity to specific but not universal proteins in some dogs' dander or saliva.
The allergic person's own specific allergic sensitivities are running the show, not the breed of the dog!
This is all to say, a dog-allergic person could be miserably sensitive to a so-called hypoallergenic breed—say a small poodle—yet that same allergic person could be totally comfortable and allergy-free while living with a big, hairy, heavy shedding dog to whose dander and saliva proteins that person is not sensitive to!
In any case, folks will not hear me talking about hypoallergenic breeds of dogs, or about breeds of dogs that don't shed. These labels are misleading and falsely direct attention away from many qualified mixed-breed dogs.
Woods Rafter Cat image on banner by Malcolm Riordan.