If you’re hoping to bring home a hypoallergenic dog for some sneeze-free friendship, you may be out of luck. According to a new report, there may be no such thing as an allergy-free breed of dog.
The report, in The American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, found that 60 breeds of dogs listed as hypoallergenic on various web sites produced levels of the major dog allergen Can f 1 that were on par with dogs not listed as allergy-free. “I have no idea where this whole concept came from,” Christine Cole Johnson, the senior author of the study, told The New York Times.
Christina Duffney-Carey, spokesperson for the [American Kennel Club], said that it “does not recommend or endorse any specific breed, nor does it claim that ‘hypoallergenic breeds’ will not affect people with allergies.” But, she adds, “there are many breeds with consistent and predictable coats that we suggest for allergy sufferers. These breeds have nonshedding coats, which produce less dander.”
No matter how they did the comparisons — even comparing dogs identified as hypoallergenic by the A.K.C. against all other dogs — they found no statistically significant differences in levels of Can f 1.
The authors of the report point out that the study isn’t perfect; they didn’t track how much time each dog spent in rooms where dust samples were gathered, and they trusted owners to provide accurate information about the dogs’ breeds.
There may still be hope for allergic dog lovers, though. An epidemiologist contacted by the Times says that “allergists … think that it’s just individual dogs who have some variations based on genetics or behavior, who produce more allergens than others. But it’s not going to be a breed classification that predicts that.” So, if you take the time to sniff around, you may just find the right low-allergy dog.
The Myth of the Allergy-Free Dog [NYTimes.com]