Alert the President! Study calls into question claims that some dogs are allergen-free
DETROIT — Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital have concluded that, contrary to popular claims, there are no truly hypoallergenic dog breeds.
"We found no scientific basis to the claim that hypoallergenic dogs have less allergen," says Christine Cole Johnson, PhD, MPH, chair of Henry Ford's Department of Public Health Sciences and senior study author. "Based on previous allergy studies conducted here at Henry Ford, exposure to a dog early in life provides protection against dog allergy development. But the idea that you can buy a certain breed of dog that will cause less allergy problems for a person already dog-allergic is not borne out by our study."
Bo does allergies: Despite claims that some breeds-like First Dog Bo Obama, a Portugese Water Dog-are Âhypoallergenic, a new study reveals no real difference in the allergens shed by any breed. (White House photo by Pete Souza)
For the study, titled "Dog allergen levels in homes with hypoallergenic compared with non-hypoallergenic dogs," researchers tested allergen levels in the rooms of newborn babies, noting whether the dog was permitted in the room or not.
There were no differences in the levels of the major dog allergen, Canis familiaris (Can f 1), found in any of the nearly 200 one-dog homes sampled regardless of the breed of the dog, according to the study. And more than 94 percent had detectable levels of Can f 1, regardless of what breed lived there.
In fact, when dogs were kept out of the rooms where samples were taken, homes with hypoallergenic dogs had "consistently higher levels of Can f 1, although these differences were not statistically significant."
A total of 60 breeds were included in the study, 11 of which are considered hypoallergenic. Researchers even singled out purebreds noted to be hypoallergenic by the American Kennel Club. Breed types included in this class were Chinese Crested, Giant Schnauzer, Irish Water Spaniel, Kerry Blue Terrier, Maltese, Miniature Schnauzer, Miniature Poodle, Standard Poodle, Toy Poodle, Portugese Water Dog, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Standard Schnauzer and Xoloitzcuintli. None of those breeds showed any significant difference in allergen levels compared to non-hypoallergenic purebreds or mixed breeds, according to the study.
The study's researchers conclude that further study is warranted, but in the meantime, clinicians should advise patients that they cannot rely on hypoallergenic breed claims if they cannot tolerate dog allergen in their environment.
The full study can be found in the July-August 2011 issue of the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy.