'Hypoallergenic' dogs not less allergic

July 8, 2011 at 6:26 PM   |   Comments

DETROIT, July 8 (UPI) -- So-called hypoallergenic dogs do not have lower household allergen levels than other dogs, U.S. researchers say.

Senior author Christine Cole Johnson, chairman of Henry Ford Hospital's department of public health sciences, and colleagues analyzed dust samples collected from 173 homes one month after a newborn baby was brought home.

Previous studies analyzed hair samples from only a handful of dogs in a small number of breeds, Johnson says.

The dust samples were collected from the carpet or floor in the baby's bedroom and analyzed for a dog allergen. Sixty dog breeds were involved in the study, 11 considered hypoallergenic dogs.

"We found no scientific basis to the claim hypoallergenic dogs have less allergen," Johnson says in a statement.

"Based on previous allergy studies conducted here at Henry Ford, exposure to a dog early in life provides protection against dog allergy development. But the idea that you can buy a certain breed of dog and think it will cause less allergy problems for a person already dog-allergic is not borne out by our study."

The researchers acknowledged limitations in their study -- the amount of time the dog spent in the baby's bedroom was not recorded and the size of its sample did not allow looking at specific breeds -- but parents should not rely on dog breeds classified as hypoallergenic, the researchers say.

The findings are scheduled to be published online in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy.

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