Are they Hypoallegenic?
Are PWD Hypoallergenic?
Many people are looking for a dog which they can live with which will not trigger their asthma and allergies. It took us many years to find a dog we could live with and we have successfully managed to balance life with PWD, allergies, asthma, and medication. However, PWD cannot be considered to be the answer and solve the issue of allergies and dogs.
To say that a dog is hypoallergenic indicates that it is considered to cause a greatly reduced level of reaction (or allergenic trigger) in a person who is often affected by allergies to dogs. It is not to say a hypoallergenic pet has no cause or reaction. Some allergy sufferers swear that certain dogs or types and breeds of dogs do not trigger their allergies, or that they suffer from a greatly reduced reaction to them. For many people, PWD is a breed with which they can live. However, we have met some people who severely react even with a PWD.
Much research indicates that there is no scientific evidence that any breed or type of dog is truly hypoallergenic and that there can be no logical reason for an allergic person failing to react or reacting less severely to a given dog simply because it is labelled as 'hypoallergenic.'
Whether or not a dog can be considered to be truly hypoallergenic is still rather contentious. There is a lot of misinformation published online and presented as fact about apparently hypoallergenic dogs, and the veracity of any statement regarding a dog being hypoallergenic should always be carefully considered. No dog is scientifically considered to be free from all allergens, and the way any individual person reacts to any individual dog will vary greatly from case to case.
What causes allergies?
The usual allergen triggers caused by dogs and other types of animals are due to specific protein chains found in
the dander (shed skin cells that occur naturally)
the saliva of animals.
Contrary to popular belief, the actual hair of a dog itself is not the cause of allergy, but rather the surface skin cells which will be present in the hair, and are naturally shed as part of the body's normal cell renewal process. Because of this misperception that the coat of the dog rather than the dander is the cause of allergy triggers, it is often said that hairless dog breeds such as the Chinese crested dog are a good pick for allergy sufferers. However, these dogs still shed dander in the same way as other dogs and as such are no more or less hypoallergenic than any other given type.
Breeds of dog, such as PWD, which do not shed hair excessively are the most likely to be considered to be hypoallergenic, due to the fact that the shed skin cells (which can trigger allergies) remain stuck to the hair, and as the hair is not so easily shed they don’t spread around the home as much as with shedding breeds. Be under no illusions, PWD do shed hair but at a far reduced rate when compared to say a labrador.
PWD also have a single layer of hair, just like a human, rather than fur. Unlike many other breeds, PWD do not have a second or lower layer of hair closer to the body which is the layer which constantly sheds along with the dander & skin protein. This is likely the root cause of the belief that some dogs can be hypoallergenic, and why PWD may make more suitable pets for allergy sufferers than others. Also, different breeds of dog and even variations from dog to dog within the same breed mean that some dogs produce less of the proteins that can trigger allergies than others.
We tend to find that those allergic to dander may be able to live with a PWD. Whilst those with a severe allergic reaction to the protein in saliva may not be able to live with any dog. If you are allergic to the saliva it must be remembered that it will be constantly present on the dog’s hair where they have licked / groomed themselves and on all surfaces, door handles, objects around the home. There are more ways to reduce the allergy to dander but fewer ways to minimise the allergy to saliva.
There are ways of Minimising Allergens
As bathing a dog washes away shed skin cells and saliva on the coat and the associated allergens that may be present within it, dogs that are bathed regularly are less likely to trigger allergic reactions in people with sensitivities. PWD do not always like being bathed.
Limit where your does goes. Keep your dog restricted to specific areas and never allow them in the bedroom or up on the furniture.
Some people use an air cleaner / fan with a HEPA filter to clean the air of dust particles, pollen, hair, dander etc. These are readily available on Amazon.
Keep up with your medication. One thing to consider is whether your asthma medication is up to date? When did you last have a full asthma review at the GP. There are often specialist trained asthma nurses who will review your condition and management / treatment. This review would also apply to your medication for allergens such as house dust mite and pollen / hayfever.
Limit a dog licking your hand or face. Wash your hands.
Remember that if you are also allergic to pollen & house dust mite then they will also be present on the dog which could mean it is the pollen / dust mite you may be reacting to and not the dog.
As mentioned, different dogs affect different people in different ways, so it's important to consider any pet on its own individual merits and spend some time around it to see if it negatively affects your allergies or not.
If you are considering getting a PWD with a view to reducing the likelihood of triggering an allergic reaction in yourself or a member of your family we always encourage you to spend some time (morning or day) with our PWD dogs in our home. This will help you see how you react. It may be worth visiting a couple of times, once without any medication (so you can see the extremity of your reaction) and once again with medication (asthma inhaler and antihistamines) to see if you can cope with the dogs in your life. We may choose to not home a PWD with a person/family where the reaction is severe as it only increases the likelihood of the dog requiring rehoming at a later date.