The myth of hypoallergenic dogs
“hipoallergenic, hypoallergenic “cosmetics: does not stir up allergies” – PWN Polish Dictionary
That’s right, “cosmetics”. More and more children and even adults suffer from various kinds of allergies, it is estimated that more than 20% of the population in developed countries has allergies of some sort. And as we know, demand creates supply, so the number of breeds of dogs (or cats) that supposedly are “hypoallergenic” soon will be counted in tens. In fact, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog breed, no matter if this term means the complete lack of an allergic reaction or lesser strength of such reaction. Fortunately, where myths are created quickly science occurs.
In 2011, the American Kennel Club, commissioned researchers to conduct studies on the “hypoallergenic” dog breeds. Researchers examined samples from 190 homes, and amongst dogs deemed non-allergenic there was a Barbet. The result was obvious, “Hypoallergenic classification schemes yielded no statistically significant differences between reportedly hypoallergenic and nonhypoallergenic dogs when considered as either the percentage of homes with detectable dog allergen levels or as the level of dog allergen in homes where it was measurable” (1)
On our side of the ocean, the most extensive study was conducted by Danish researchers in 2012. In the prestigious “Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology”, they had published the results of studies in which researchers took a closer look at samples of 356 dogs including: Labradoodle (114 samples), Labrador (54) Poodle (45), Spanish Water Dog (13), Airedelie (24) in comparison with a control group of 106 samples from non-hypoallergenic breeds. Labradors, of course, included a non-hypoallergenic dogs. “(2)
The samples were tested for concentrations of can f1, which is the most common dog-allergen. Conclusion of research:: „ So-called hypoallergenic dogs had higher Can f1 levels in hair and coat samples than did control breeds.These differences did not lead to higher levels of environmental exposure to dog allergens. There is no evidence for the classification of certain dog breeds as being ‘‘hypoallergenic.”.
Summary of research on the so-called “hypoallergenic dogs and cats,” was done by Dr. Richard Lockey in the article under the title “The Myth of hypoallergenic dogs and cats”: „The concept of a hypoallergenic animal, in this case a dog, is not supported by scientific evidence, just as there is no evidence to support the concept of hypoallergenic cats.”(3)
When finally breeders internalize this message, a natural question arises – why some dogs cause allergies and others do not? The answer lies in the very question – “some dogs” and not a breeds of dogs may not cause allergic reactions. Thus, the essence lies in the differences between individual dogs and not between races.
Sweden, which has pioneered research on the analysis dog-allergens, lead to some very interesting discoveries (4). At present, the existence of six groups of allergens, named respectively can f1, f2 can, can f3 f4 can, can f5 and f6 can (can as canidae) has been proved. From the group of proteins called lipocalins – are responsible for can f1, can f2, can f4 and can f6, albumin for can f3 and kallikreins for can f5. What is particularly important is that allergens can be present in any combination, and none of them is dominant. The dog can release all allergens and can also release only a few of them or even none.
- The first allergens to be discovered were can f1 and can f2. Particularly high concentrations of those allergens are present in saliva and dander. From 50 to 70% percent of people with allergies to dogs (the statistics are provided in relation to persons with allergies to dogs), are allergic to can f1, about 25% to can f2
- Can f3 is a protein presented in virtually every coat. An estimated 15 to 35% of people have allergies to this particular allergen.
- Can f4, is structurally similar to an allergen … that can be found in the milk. The allergen is found in saliva and dander. An estimated 15 to 35% of people have allergies to this particular allergen.
- Can f5, is very interesting. Discovered as a result of studies over an allergic reaction of females to semen. Researchers found that females tend to have an allergic reaction to the so-called PSA (prostate antigen). This means that the allergen is present only in the urine of uncastrated male. 70% is allergic to the allergen. However, its occurrence is strongly limited by the above reasons.
- Can f6 was discovered in 2010. It causes the allergic reaction of 40% people. Can f6, is almost identical to the cats fel d4 and horses Equ c1. Which may explain why people are often allergic to all three animals.
Swedes are trying to find a solution. Fully aware of the unreality of the “hypoallergenic concept” while they also know that the immunosuppressive treatment is extremely difficult, cause side reactions and can not guarantee improvement. The solution they propose is to test certain dog for presence of allergens. This allows you to compare the results with the results of a dog and check whether You both match.
Hypoallergenic dog breeds do not exist. It can happen that a man may fit to individual dog. It is a pure luck. Think about the trauma done to the family but also a shock to small puppy that has to be replaced, because he is not “hypoallergenic” as breeder declared.
- Canf1 levels in hair and homes of different dog breeds:Lack of evidence to describe any dog breed as hypoallergenic
- Dog allergen levels in homes with hypoallergenic compared with nonhypoallergenic dogs
- The myth of hypoallergenic dogs (and cats)
- Nilsson, OB, M. van Hage, and H. Gronlund, Mammalian-derived respiratory allergens – Implications for diagnosis and therapy of individuals allergic to furry animals. Methods, 2014, 66 (1): p. 86-95.