Hypoallergenic dogs may be wishful thinking

If you thought that purchasing a Poodle or a Doodle would keep allergy sufferers itch-less and sniffle-free, think again.

The Airedale Terrier is one of the four most popular hypoallergenic dog breeds.

A new study out of the Netherlands seems to have debunked the myth of hypoallergenic dog breeds.

Looking at 200 dogs from four of the most popular hypoallergenic dog breeds — the Labradoodle, the Poodle, the Spanish Water Dog, and the Airedale Terrier — scientists compared the hair and coat samples to control samples obtained from 160 non-hypoallergenic dogs, like the Labrador Retriever.

Researchers also collected dust samples from the dogs’ homes to analyze allergen levels.

Breeds like the Poodle and Airedale Terrier are thought to be allergy-free alternatives because they supposedly produce less dander, or dead skin cells, spread less saliva, and shed less fur than dogs like German Shepherds and Border Collies. But having these qualities isn’t exactly the magic formula and doesn’t make a dog hypoallergenic.

In fact, according to the results of the Utrecht University study, the results of which have been published in the June 25 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, so-called hypoallergenic dog breeds were found to have “significantly higher” levels of the allergy-causing protein than dogs from the non-hypoallergenic control group.

The protein, called Canis familiaris allergen 1 (Can f 1), is one of the two major allergens found in dog dander. Can f 1 is produced by tongue epithelial tissue and causes the familiar sneezing, wheezing, and itchy eyes experienced by humans that are allergic to dogs.

“The term ‘hypoallergenic’ is a misnomer that is not evidence based,” the study concludes in their report. “There is no evidence for the classification of certain dog breeds as being ‘hypoallergenic.’”

And while levels of Can f 1 protein were lowest in the dust samples collected from the Labradoodles’ homes, the Utrecht University researchers concluded that perhaps the Labradoodles’ owners vacuumed more frequently. Researchers found that, overall, the allergen levels present in the homes of the supposed hypoallergenic dogs were high enough to cause symptoms of allergies and asthma in humans.