Hypoallergenic dogs don't actually produce fewer allergy-provoking proteins than other dogs, say researchers who put the claims to the test.
Researchers in Detroit analyzed dust samples collected from 173 homes one month after a newborn baby was brought home to check allergen levels from hypoallergenic dogs and other breeds.
Specifically, 60 dog breeds were involved, 11 of them considered hypoallergenic. Researchers found no significant differences in allergen levels in homes where either hypoallergenic dogs or non-hypoallergenic resided, they said in the July online issue of the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy.
"We found no scientific basis to the claim hypoallergenic dogs have less allergen," Christine Cole Johnson, chair of Henry Ford's Department of Public Health Sciences and senior author of the study, said in a release.
"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 and think it will cause less allergy problems for a person already dog-allergic is not borne out by our study."
The experiment included had four comparisons:
- Purebred hypoallergenic dogs to purebred non-hypoallergenic dogs.
- Purebred and mixed breed dogs with at least hypoallergenic parent to purebred non-hypoallergenic dogs.
- Purebred and mixed breed dogs with at least one hypoallergenic parent to purebred and mixed breed dogs with no known hypoallergenic component.
- Only purebred dogs identified as hypoallergenic by the American Kennel Club to all other dogs.
All four showed no significant differences between hypoallergenic dogs and non-hypoallergenic dogs.
In homes where the dog was forbidden from entering the baby's room, allergen levels were slightly higher in homes with hypoallergenic dogs versus homes housing their non-hypoallergenic counterparts.
The American Kennel Club's list of breeds suited to allergy sufferers includes the Bichon Frise, Maltese, Poodles and Portuguese Water Dog, based on breeds "which usually produce less dander." The group does not recommend or endorse any specific breed.