Bad news for Bo: Hypoallergenic dogs can still make you sneeze

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: October 13th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Remember when President Obama was searching for a dog for his daughters? He said he was limited to a few breeds because his daughter suffered from allergies. That’s how he wound up with Bo, a Portuguese water dog, one of the breeds considered to be hypoallergenic, or less likely to make you sneeze. Now a new study suggests Bo will probably aggravate your allergies as much as any other dog.

Breeds like the Portuguese water dog, poodles and the Chinese crested have long been marketed to allergy sufferers as hypoallergenic. These dogs were believed to produce less dander and saliva and to shed less fur. But a team of researchers in Detroit found that so-called hypoallergenic dogs produce just as many allergens as other breeds.

For the study, the scientists collected dust samples from the homes of 173 dog owners who had just brought home a new baby. The study included 60 breeds of dogs, 11 of which were considered hypoallergenic. The samples were collected from the floor or carpet of the baby’s bedroom, and only homes with one dog were tested.

Researchers analyzed the samples for the most common dog allergen, known as Can F One. They found no difference in allergen levels between homes with hypoallergenic dogs and regular breeds.

The sample size did not allow the scientists to test different breeds. However, they say there is enough evidence to suggest parents should not choose a pet because it is classified as hypoallergenic.

What’s an allergic dog lover to do? Research shows that the earlier in life a human is exposed to dogs, the less likely he or she will be allergic. But for a truly hypoallergenic pet, you’re better off saying good-bye to cute and furry and hello to rough and scaly. Snakes and iguanas are the best bet for a true allergy sufferer.