What causes the allergic reactions in people ?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the dog's hair that causes allergic reactions in people, but the dander produced by the dog's skin. Some people may also be allergic to the urine and saliva of dogs and different people will be allergic to different dog allergens.

Note that people can be allergic to some varieties or individuals within the same breed and not to others. So, there is no all-round non-allergenic dog breed that works for all allergic people.

However, it is true that low-shedding breeds with a single coat tend to induce less allergic reactions than their hairier, heavier-coated counterparts. The reason is that dogs who do not shed much produce less dander and are therefore more suitable for allergic people. Another reason is that the allergens remain stuck in the dog's fur and are carried around your home wherever the dog goes, so hairless breeds or dogs with a single, low-shedding coat tend to spread less allergens.

All other things being equal, smaller dogs also tend to produce less allergic reactions than larger breeds, simply because the amount of dander produced is also proportional to the size of the skin. Some studies also suggest that female dogs may produce fewer allergens than male dogs, as is the case with cats. (see Sneeze-free dog breeds).

Hypoallergenic Dogs
Best Dogs Breeds for People with Allergies
(non-allergenic Dogs, allergy-free breeds)

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"Hypoallergenic" dogs are breeds of dogs that are believed to be the least susceptible to trigger allergic reactions in people. While 100% non-allergenic dog breeds do not exist, the extent of allergic reactions in people with a dog allergy may be minimized by choosing one of the so-called hypoallergenic breeds.

Photo: Jennifer Sheets
Sneeze-Free Dog Breeds:
Allergy Management And Breed Selection for the Allergic Dog Lover
by Diane Morgan
 In-depth breed profiles of 21 hypoallergenic dogs, including grooming needs, personality traits, activity levels, health issues, and trainability.
Also includes information on treating allergies, including at-home remedies and recent medical breakthroughs, as well as tips for controlling and managing the home environment.
More information:

Chinese Crested
Chinese Crested:
A Comprehensive Guide to Owning and Caring for Your Dog
(Kennel Club Dog Breed)
by Juliette Cunliffe
More information:
Hypoallergenic breeds

Are usually considered low-allergy dog breeds those breeds that are either hairless or possess a single layer of coat, because the amount of dander produced and carried around the house is directly related to the density of the dog's coat and the rate of shedding. It is also easier to remove dander with regular bathing in hairless dogs or short-haired breeds than it is in dogs with a furry coat. However, low-shedding dogs are not not necessarily low-dander dogs, as the quality of the skin underneath the coat also is an important factor in the amount of dander produced.

- Hairless breeds:

The only breeds that are truly non-shedding and flee-free are
the Chinese crested, Xoloitzcuintli, American Hairless Terrier, Peruvian Inca Orchids, Peruvian Hairless dog,
Tepeizcuintli (Miniature Xoloitzcuintli).

- Low-dander breeds:

1. Curly-coated and wire-haired breeds (provided that the coat is kept clean and clipped !):
The Bichon Frisé, Poodle, Portuguese water dog, Pulik, Komondor and Irish Water Spaniel;

2.  Some
single-coated breeds: the Chihuahua, Coton de Tulear, Maltese

3. Some
Terriers, such as the Irish Kerry Blue Terrier, Schnauzer, Bedlington Terrier, Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier;

4. some
Primitive breeds with extremely short hair, like the Basenji and Italian Greyhound. However, some of these breeds tend to groom themselves more frequently than the average dog, thus depositing saliva proteins on their coat, reason why these breeds are no longer recommended for allergy sufferers. People allergic to dog saliva should be especially careful with these breeds.

Dog breeds to avoid for people with pet allergies

Dog breeds that tend to groom themselves very frequently and dogs that are prone to skin problems are best avoided if you have a pet allergy.

Dogs that are prone to skin problems tend to produce more dander while shedding skin and fur at an accelerated rate, which will up the allergen exposure. They also tend to lick the critical areas more, which in turn increases the exposure to saliva. So, it is wise to avoid dog breeds, such as the bulldog and other breeds that are known to be prone to dermatitis.

Other breeds that tend to be particularly troublesome for allergic people are:

- Afghan Hound
- Chinese Shar pei,
- Cocker Spaniel
- Dachshund
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shepherd dog
- Irish Setter
- Pug
- Springer Spaniel

A Word of Caution

Since allergic reactions to dogs within the same breed may vary from dog to dog, it is wise to run tests with several dogs (of the same breed) before committing to one breed. Exposure of the normally affected individual to this dog breed should be conducted before making any decision with regards to obtaining a dog in order to avoid heartbreaking situations for both the family and the dog.

The American Hairless Terrier Association has a list of individuals all around the world who are willing to volunteer their time and allow allergy sufferers into their homes to conduct an allergy trial.  Prior to completing the trial, you must be ready to make the behavioral and environmental modifications necessary to improve the chances for long-term success. See further: Allergy-management tips.

Studies have shown that puppies trigger less allergic reactions than adult dogs, so it is important to check both puppies and adults of the breeds you are considering. Puppies not only have a smaller skin surface, but also often have a different hair texture or skin quality from that of their adult counterparts.

Some simple allergy-management tips

Some tips that may be helpful to reduce allergic reactions:

- Brush or comb your pet daily (preferably outdoors) and wash the brushes and combs each time you use them (or have them washed by someone has is not allergic).

- Bathe your pet frequently to remove allergens (dander, saliva) in its fur and reduce shedding. You may want to use an anti-allergen pet shampoo or a shampoo that doesn't dry out your dog's skin. Wash your pet's bed, cushion or blanket two or three times a week for the same reason.

- Give your pet a good multivitamin and a fatty acid supplement to keep it's skin healthy (a healthy skin produces less dander).

- Do not allow your pet on the furniture.

- Keep your pet out of the bedroom or other rooms where you spend the majority of your time.

- Train your dog not to lick you

- Always wash your hands after handling your pet or preparing his meals.

- Use an allergen-neutralizing or dander-reducing spray such as Allerpet or Respironics, and/or dander cleansing wipes that eliminate the scattering of dander and saliva (remember that those are both major causes of allergic reactions).

- As allergens collect in rugs, carpets, curtains and upholstery, do your best to limit or eliminate them from your home. If that is only partially possible, steam-clean the remaining pieces regularly and/or use an anti-allergen carpet shampoo for rugs and carpets. Prefer cotton-covered or leather furniture and washable blinds or shades.

- Vacuum frequently using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter
, which reduces dust and allergens by trapping small particles and not re-releasing "dirty" air. Here is one example of such a vacuum cleaner.

- Install an air purifier fitted with a HEPA filter
to help clear the air of airborne allergens and irritants.

See also:
Hairless dogs
American Hairless Terrier
Chinese crested dog
Dogs good with children
Dogs easy to housebreak
Calmest dog breeds

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