Q. We have been planning to get a dog, but recently discovered that our daughter is allergic. I have heard there are certain breeds that are “hypoallergenic” and safe for people who have pet allergies. Is this true? If so, which breeds are best?
Many people believe that animal fur or hair causes the allergy, and they subsequently deduce that animals that shed less are “hypoallergenic.” This, however, is not the case.
A person who is allergic to a dog is reacting to proteins in the dog’s saliva, stool and dander. Dog dander is a term used to describe dead skin particles. Animal fur can contribute to allergies in general by trapping dust and dust mites; however, dog hair is not the trigger for a true dog allergy.
Frequently, claims are made that certain breeds are safe for dog-allergic individuals. However, these assertions are not supported by scientific literature. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, there are no “hypoallergenic breeds” of dogs or cats.
Depending on your daughter’s allergy severity, you still may be able to own a dog. Before getting a dog, consult with an allergist about ways to reduce allergen exposure from pet dander and possible treatments for dog allergies such as immunotherapy (allergy shots).