There is no dog breed that is truly non-allergenic (not allergy
causing) because all dogs produce dander (shed skin cells), saliva,
and urine. You can be allergic to the dog dander, dog saliva, or
both. Urine is less of a problem since dogs usually potty outside.
Pet hair itself is not an allergen, but it can collect dander, dust,
People with pet allergies have supersensitive immune systems that
react to harmless proteins (allergens) in the pet's dander, saliva
or urine. These allergy-producing proteins can cause nasal congestion,
sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, skin rashes, headaches, fatigue,
coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and serious asthma attacks.
This can happen within 5-30 minutes or occur much later as a delayed
reaction. Based on pet allergy sufferers' testimonials, it is possible
to be allergic to all dogs or only to certain breeds.
The word hypoallergenic (less allergy causing) is typically used
with skin care products that tend to be less irritating to sensitive
skin. Sometimes people also call "low dander" dog breeds’ hypoallergenic,
low allergy, or allergy friendly.
Some dog breeds supposedly produce less dander than others, and
many people who are mildly allergic to dogs can tolerate some of
these "low dander" dog breeds with proper environmental
controls. Be careful though, there are no guarantees. People's pet
allergies vary greatly. Severe pet allergy sufferers may not tolerate
any dogs at all, with the best environmental controls.
Caution! If it is your child that is allergic to dogs, think twice
before getting a dog. Is it really worth it to put your child through
possibly severe allergic reactions just to have a dog? It will also
be heartbreaking for your child to give up his or her beloved pet
if it comes to that. And many times it does!
Visit the foster home and tell them about your allergies. Ask a
lot of questions and stay as long as you can. Hug and kiss the dogs,
rub your nose into their fur, and breath the air in the room where
they live. Let the dogs lick your bare skin, especially on your neck
(if you are brave) and inside your arms where the skin is more sensitive.
You want to test your allergic reaction both to the dander and saliva.
This will help you to evaluate your current allergic reaction to
that particular breed.
If you choose to purchase rather than rescue, choose a breeder that
only breeds that one breed of dog. You don't want to visit a house
that has mixed allergens from several dog breeds. Visit only one
breeder per day or even per week. Visiting several breeders on the
same day could give you inconclusive results of your allergic reaction.
For example, you might have a delayed reaction to your first visit
when visiting the second breeder and not actually reacting to the
dogs in the second house.
If you decide on a hairless dog, here are some tips
to reduce any allergens:
- Bathe your dog frequently
- Bathing hairless dogs
is very quick
- Using a mild dog shampoo helps prevent over
drying of the skin
- Keep your dog's skin healthy
often causes accelerated skin cell shedding
- Wash dog bedding,
clothes, and soft toys frequently
- Wash all dog bedding,
cushion covers, doggie shirts, and soft dog toys frequently with
a mild, fragrance free detergent
- You can try using an anti-allergen
detergent to wash your doggie stuff
- Get leather furniture
instead of fabric. Leather is the ideal sofa material for allergy
- You can also use sofa slipcovers (see allergy
products) for a neater look
- Have reserved seating in the
family room. No dog is allowed on the furniture. Sitting in a
dog dander free chair makes a significant difference
- Vacuum frequently
with a HEPA vacuum cleaner
- Air the house
- Open the
windows occasionally to let the airborne pet dander air out,
but not when the pollen count is high outside
- Wash your hands
- Limit dog dander in your car
- If you have
no second car, you can cover the car seat with a washable sheet
or pet blanket, or use washable car seat protectors (see allergy
products) designed for pet owners
- Leather car seats are ideal