We get a lot of questions about which dog breeds are hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, Goldens do not possess this quality, but not for the reason you probably expect. Golden Retrievers do shed quite a bit, which automatically makes them quite un-hypoallergenic, according to popular knowledge.
However, things are a bit more complicated than that. Truthfully, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog at all. Those with dog allergies are not allergic to dog hair; they’re allergic to pet dander. All dogs create dander, and therefore all dogs will cause allergies.
To fully understand why the Golden Retriever isn’t hypoallergenic, let’s take a look at what dog allergies are, to begin with.
Dog Allergies 101
When someone has dog allergies, their immune system mistakenly attacks the proteins dogs make as if they were a foreign invader. Of course, the proteins aren’t harmful. But, for one reason or another, the immune system thinks they are.
All dogs make proteins. It’s primarily found in their skin, saliva, and urine. Because all dogs make these proteins, all dogs will cause allergies.
Whether or not they shed hair doesn’t seem to have much to do with whether the dog creates allergy symptoms or not. Studies have found that shedding breeds and non-shedding, “hypoallergenic” breeds create and spread the same number of allergens.
Furthermore, some hypoallergenic dogs produce more of Can f 1 – which is the protein that most of those with dog allergies are allergic to. Therefore, some dogs that are labeled as hypoallergenic may be the opposite of hypoallergenic.
Therefore, while many people may claim that certain dogs are hypoallergenic, there isn’t any evidence that this is the case! For this reason, we don’t recommend anyone with dog allergies adopt a low-shedding breed with the intention that it won’t cause them symptoms. In all likelihood, it still will.
However, there is a golden lining. There are many things you can do to reduce your allergy symptoms to your particular dog. These methods work with all dogs, including Golden Retrievers.
Because all dogs produce about the same level of allergens, there is little reason to get a low-shedding breed instead of a Golden Retriever. Both shedding and non-shedding dogs can have their allergen levels controlled somewhat.
Reducing a Golden Retriever’s Allergen Level
The best way to reduce a Golden Retriever’s allergen level is to bathe them regularly. Typically, you don’t have to bathe a Golden Retriever very much. However, when you have dog allergies, washing your dog can help remove many of these allergens.
Specifically, washing significantly reduces the level of Can f 1 protein by as much as 84%. This protein is the most common allergen.
However, studies have found that you need to wash the dog at least twice a week to keep their allergen level low. We highly recommend using a sensitive-skin shampoo to reduce how much drying your dog experiences from these repeated baths, as too much bathing can cause their coats to be stripped of beneficial oils.
It is also essential to keep the dog out of the allergic person’s room. By creating an “allergen-free zone,” the overall number of allergens the person comes into contact with will decrease. Therefore, their symptoms will often decrease as well.
Air filters can also be handy for those suffering from allergies. A HEPA filter can capture much of the allergens before they have a chance to cause any problems. You will need to keep on track with cleaning the filter, though.
Furthermore, those who suffer from allergies often have more than one trigger. If you can reduce their contact with other allergens, you may reduce their symptoms around the dog as well. Those with lots of different allergens often suffer the worst.
You can also try a medical treatment, such as antihistamine pills. It’s essential to work with a doctor who understands your desire to keep your pet. Often, there are medical things you can do to reduce the dog’s effect on your symptoms.
Not All Golden Retrievers Are the Same
Not all dogs produce the same allergens. There are technically six different allergens that dogs can make. However, not all dogs make the same allergens. Therefore, if you’re only allergic to one allergen, you can likely locate a Golden Retriever that you can keep.
For instance, only intact male dogs produce Can f 5. This protein is created in their prostate. One-third of all allergy sufferers are allergic to this protein specifically.
If you’re only allergic to this protein, you can likely have a female Golden Retriever without a problem. Sometimes, fixed males are a good option, considering that they don’t produce this protein either.
However, you need to fix the male before they reach maturity, as they will start producing the protein. For this reason, we highly recommend females when possible. However, if you have a male dog, getting them fixed could solve many of your problems.
With all that said, there can be some difficulty figuring out if you are specifically allergic to this protein or another one. Most dog allergy tests use all the proteins at once, which doesn’t let you know which specific proteins you’re allergic to.
Therefore, you often need to ask to be tested for each protein specifically. This is possible, but it often needs to be explicitly requested.
Of course, it is possible to be allergic to Can f 1 and Can f 5 simultaneously. Therefore, you need to get tested for all of them before deciding to adopt a female Golden Retriever, as they do produce all the other canine proteins.
Is a Golden Retriever Bad for Allergies?
Golden Retrievers are not specifically worse for allergies than any other canine out there. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a good fit for those with allergies. It depends on the severity of your allergies and what specific proteins you’re allergic to.
If you can keep up with some essential maintenance, such as grooming, then you can often successfully keep a Golden Retriever if you have allergies. They are not specifically worse for allergies than other dogs, though they can cause reactions.
Despite the common myth, people are not allergic to dog hair – they are allergic to the proteins that their dog produces. The dog produces these proteins as skin, saliva, and urine. All dogs produce skin. Therefore, all dogs also produce allergens.
In many cases, “hypoallergenic” dogs produce allergens at the same rate as shedding dogs, like the Golden Retriever. They spread these allergens around at equal rates as well.
Therefore, someone with allergies is just as likely to have an allergic reaction to the Golden Retriever as they are the Poodle. However, this is excellent news if you want to own a Golden Retriever and have dog allergies. You’re just as likely to comfortably keep a Golden Retriever as a pet as any other breed.
Luckily, there is a lot you can do to prevent dog allergens from bothering you – even if you have dog allergies. Bathing your dog twice a week almost wholly reduces the allergens on their coat, for instance.
If you have dog allergies and want to keep a Golden Retriever, it is entirely possible. You’ll just have to take a few extra steps!
Featured Image Credit: tanatat, Shutterstock