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January 26, 2012 at 1:06 PMComments: 3 Faves: 0

Dog Trainer, Victoria Swanson: 6 Facts About Dog Allergies

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

I have a confession to make.

I, Victoria Swanson, a dog trainer with her own business and an avid animal lover, suffer from pet allergies!

Yes, you heard correctly: PET allergies. Not just cat allergies, not just dog allergies, but an allergy to all animals - even farm critters. :(

Still, I haven't let it stop me by a long shot! I've lived with horses, goats, chickens, cats and dogs. I grew up in a household of animals and can't imagine my life without a loving furry friend.

If you're like me, allergic but still determined to have a dog, here are just a few things to consider.

FACT #1: There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog.

Yes, while some breeds (as I will soon discuss) are certainly better than other in the allergens department, there is NO such thing as a Hypoallergenic dog. Before you drop thousands of dollars on a dog that a ";breeder" is claiming to be hypoallergenic and allergy-free, think twice before writing that check!

FACT #2: It's not the dog's fur you're allergic to.

It isn't the shedding need to worry, it is the skin dander.

That's why even hairless or very short haired dogs that don't shed fur can still trigger an allergy flare-up. You see, just like humans, all animals shed an enormous amount of skin "dander" or teeny, tiny skin flakes throughout the day. This dander can get on furniture, bedding, clothes and when we pet them, our hands.

While fur a dog sheds is, indeed, coated in skin dander, that fur is just a carrier for the real trouble maker.

FACT #3: Dog allergies can be improved.

There are a number of options for improving dog allergies. I have done:

  • Allergy shots (20 years)
  • Daily (sometimes twice a day) antihistamines
  • Nasal sprays
  • Regular pet grooming and bathing
  • Washing my hands after petting
  • Seasonal replacement of our furnace’s air filters
  • All wood floors

A bit extreme? Maybe. But it 's all worth it to me!

The time and money I've spent is worth the joy of our two cats and two dogs, and worth my being comfortable and breathing easier with them.

FACT #4: There are tricks you can use to tell if a dog breed will be right for your allergies.

Thinking of buying a particular "hypoallergenic dog?"

Prior to purchasing, spend time with the ADULT dogs of this breed for an hour or so if you can . ( I say adult dogs, because puppies can take up to 6 months for their skin dander to build up.) The breeder's home (Check out my blog about selecting a good dog breeder!) will be full of the skin dander from them so this should also help give you the best idea of how living with the dog might be.

If you have a reaction, it's tough, but you may want to reconsider purchasing that breed and continue looking for a more suitable one. You don't want a puppy to lose it's home because it turns out to be too much for you allergies!

FACT #5: Some dogs make less allergenic dander than others.

Certain breeds have genetic variations that make their dander less prone to affect allergies in humans.  These include:

Certain "Designer Breeds" To Consider
Thinking of designer breed? Be selective and work closely with your breeder to make sure you have the desirable traits of the non-shedding breed.

  • Cavachon (King Charles Cavalier/Bichon Frise)
  • Borkie (Bichon Frise/Yorkie)
  • Shichon (Bichon Frise /Shih-Tzu)
  • Poodle Mixes such as; Labradoodle (Labrador/Poodle), Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever/Poodle), Schnoodle (Schnauzer/Poodle), Shepadoodle (German Shepherd/Poodle), Maltipoo (Maltese/Poodle), Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle)

FACT #6: Some people are just more allergic than others.

Even with all the precautions you might take, some individuals are highly allergic and  just can't live comfortably with them.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma Immunology approximately 10 percent of Americans are considered allergic to animals. For you 10 percenters like myself, I hope with the tips will help you to find a furry buddy for you.


Dog Fancy Magazine, 2012


Mayo Clinic - Pet Allergy

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More from Health Coach Victoria Swanson Others Are Reading


  • Great post, Victoria! I'm glad to hear that an allergy doesn't necessarily mean you have to live a pet-free life...that would be awful.

    We have a malti-poo-tzu, and she's never bothered anyone's allergies. (She may bother people for other reasons, but that's just her spunky personality. ;)) Are lhasa apsos okay for allergies? We used to have a dog that was sold to us as a shih tzu, but we're pretty sure he was a lhasa. Regardless, no one ever had trouble with him either.

  • Hi Laura!

    Thanks for the nice comment!

    The Lhasa didn't make the list, but maybe you just got lucky :)


  • My mom had two Yorkie Terriers in my older years growing up, neither on had a bobbed tail. The tail made for twice the cute, especially at hair-cut time.

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