Allergy Friendly?

So you have allergies or asthma and would like a dog that won’t make you ill? You know that some dogs, like poodles, are described as hypoallergenic (low allergy), and you have seen an advert for labradoodle puppies saying that they are “allergy friendly and suitable for people with allergies”. Maybe this would be the right dog for you?

The answer, unfortunately, is that the advert, in most cases, is simply wrong.

Due to the variations in coat of the labradoodle, from wiry through to fleece, it is very hard to predict what sort of coat that cute fluffy pup will ultimately end up with. There are massive variations within a litter, and also, the coat will vary dependant on whether the pup is a first cross (F1) or a 2nd or 3rd cross (F2-3)

No dog is hypo-allergenic; Any dog can cause an allergic reaction, although for the most common allergy to dog hair, a non-shedding breed, such as a poodle is a much safer choice than breeds that shed their coats. A labradoodle may not shed much (like a poodle), or may shed a great deal (like a Labrador); but he fact remains that it’s a dangerous lottery and the severely allergic should, for the most part, stay away.

You may also not have a reaction to a labradoodle puppy as tiny puppies don’t shed, but, when the coat changes in adulthood, it could cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. Obviously, this would be tragic for you and tragic for the puppy you now love, who will need a new home.

We cannot stress strongly enough that allergy testing with puppies is futile.

People’s allergies are triggered by a wide range of allergens, not just in the dog’s coat, but the dander, skin, saliva and urine – even hairless dogs with no coat at all could trigger a reaction!

So how do you make sure that you will be as safe as possible?

First of all, choose a breed which is very low shedding; poodles and schnauzers are often suitable and come in 3 sizes to suit your home and lifestyle, as do multi-generation labradoodles, (which may or may not be low shedding).

Next contact the breed club or a reputable breeder, and ask if anyone in your area would be happy to let you visit their adult dogs, preferably in a home that has no cats or other breeds which could trigger a reaction. It is imperative that you spend time with both parents of any labradoodle pup that you are considering buying, and also to spend time with a number of different coat types, in order to establish whether a fleece coat would be more suitable for you than a scruffy coat. Choose an experienced breeder that will have a better knowledge of how puppy coats will develop as the dog grows up.

Make an appointment to visit the dogs for an hour and take your medicine with you, or, if at all possible, ask the breeder to bring the parent dogs to you.

To start with, sit quietly in the room to make sure there is no immediate reaction, then handle the dog, and last of all make sure that you have been licked on your bare skin. Touch your licked hand to your cheeks.

All being well, you will be fine, BUT you may have a reaction during the following few hours. Only after 24 hours, could it be said that the dog had caused NO reaction at all.

It would be a good idea to visit the selected breed at least twice or more before you decide to take home a puppy, as the cumulative build up of an allergen could subsequently cause a reaction which may become apparent at a later date.

Finally, remember that the dog you choose should be groomed away from your home to avoid putting hair and dust in the air; breeds that are usually clipped should be kept in a short trim to prevent carrying allergens in on the coat and to minimise brushing. In the summer months it is advisable to bathe your dog frequently to remove pollen and other allergens from the coat, particularly if you suffer from hay fever. Always use a gentle, good quality, shampoo to prevent irritation to the dog’s skin and damage to his coat. There are also a number of wet-wipes on the commercial market that are designed specifically to remove allergens from the coat between bathing.

Unfortunately if you react to the dog’s saliva or urine, it is unlikely that you will ever find a suitable dog.

Don’t buy a dog that you have to give up. If there is even the tiniest, barely noticeable, reaction when you handle the adult dogs it would be EXTREMELY unwise and potentially harmful to get a pup of this breed.

Don’t let allergies come between you and your dog.

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