If you love dogs, but you or a loved one has allergies, you might be looking for a non-shedding or a hypoallergenic dog.
Start by being realistic: all dogs shed. Some dogs shed much less than others — Goldendoodles, for example, have poodle heritage that leads to much less dog hair on your sofa. So Goldendoodles are known as low-shedding or non-shedding dogs.
This matters if you don’t want to vacuum every day or keep a lint roller by the door. That can be very important to your satisfaction with your dog choice. It may not have much to do with allergies, though. People who are allergic to dogs are usually allergic to pet dander, not to the hair itself.
Dander is the flakes of skin dogs shed (see how it sounds like “dandruff”?). A dog that sheds a lot of hair might not shed a lot of dander, and vice versa. Poodles are well known for their tendency not to shed dander. That’s actually why they’re known as good dogs for allergy sufferers.
Goldendoodles are also low shedders of dander.
“Hypoallergenic” is not a clearly defined medical term. It’s actually a word marketers made up in the middle of the 20th century. They used is to say that their cosmetics or jewelry was less likely to provoke allergic reactions in sensitive people.
Just as peanuts are a common trigger for allergies, but very few people are allergic to rice, some kinds of skin cream ingredients were more likely than others to cause allergic reactions. “Hypo” means “low,” so “hypoallergenic” means a low likelihood of generating allergies.
So what would a hypoallergenic dog be, exactly? It could be a type of dog that has dander that causes fewer allergic reactions. Lists of hypoallergenic dogs don’t come from a laboratory where people have been exposed to dander carefully collected from different breeds of dogs. In fact, Christine Cole Johnson wrote in The American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy that her review of the literature found no conclusive evidence that any valid research of this kind has been done. She wants to see some strong scientific evidence about which dogs might be most hypoallergenic.
Until she gets her wish, allergy sufferers will have to base their choices on which dogs shed less dander, not on which dog’s dander is less likely to cause allergic reactions.
Goldendoodles are our favorite. This type of dog was originally developed to be a service dog for people with dog allergies. A seeing-eye dog that makes its owner sneeze all the time would be a problem. Goldendoodles solved that problem.
Since Goldendoodles are smart, friendly, trainable, and good with kids, they make an excellent pet for people who have allergies… and for people who don’t.