While Labradors are adorable, friendly, and undoubtedly one of the most popular breeds, many wonder if they are hypoallergenic. I’ve done a bit of research to clarify such queries and misconceptions for you.
Are Labradors Hypoallergenic or Not?
Here’s the deal,
If you are familiar with this breed, you might know that Labrador Retrievers shed their coat on a seasonal basis. That is unfortunate since the loss of fur makes a pet more likely to be allergenic. In short, Labrador Retrievers are non-hypoallergenic dogs.
What is Hypoallergenic?
For those of you who are curious about what it means by being hypoallergenic, here is a little explanation. Hypoallergenic consists of two terms, hypo(inadequate) and allergenic (prone to allergies). By definition, the word hypoallergenic means something relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
Allergies are caused by certain proteins produced by dogs. These proteins are called allergens. When it comes to dog breeds, even hypoallergenic ones still produce allergens. However, they release fewer allergens, and are, therefore, compatible with people. These allergens are found in dog fur as well as dander, urine, saliva, etc. This means that the breeds with little or no hair produce certain allergens.
How does it affect humans?
When your immune system reacts to allergens, an allergic reaction can occur. Although, allergens usually are not life-threatening. When your immune system reacts to allergens produced by a certain dog, you experience an adverse reaction. Excessive sneezing is a common allergic reaction for people allergic to dogs.
The dander, which is a dog’s dead skin, attaches to its fur and sheds all around the house. It is microscopic, and hard to get rid of. Therefore, it can easily stick to furniture pieces, even after cleaning. For people with allergies, just staying away from the dog might not help, as their allergies could easily be triggered through the dander.
About 1 in 5 people have dog allergies in Australia. In the U.S., 3 in 10 people are vulnerable to cat and dog allergens. According to this research, 10-20% of the world’s population has health concerns related to dog allergies. Interestingly, a person allergic to a particular dog might be fine with another breed due to different allergens found in dogs. Read further to learn about the common symptoms of ways to manage dog allergies.
Why is the Labrador Breed Not Hypoallergenic?
Labrador Retrievers have double-coated fur. The undercoat acts more like a thermal layer and keeps the dog warm. While they shed a normal amount throughout the year, they have two heavy shedding seasons a year, known as molt. Molt occurs as the season changes during spring and after autumn. The bottom line is that the heavy shedding is part of their circadian rhythm.
Do All Colors of Labradors Shed?
A frequently asked question is whether if all colored labs are non-hypoallergenic? Labradors have primarily three graceful colors:
- Black labs
Shedding is an inherent trait in all labradors. The only difference is the color of their coats. Well, you can guess the answer. Yes! They are all non-hypoallergenic.
Symptoms of Dogs Allergies?
You can detect dog allergies by looking at the symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- Runny nose
- Itching or skin reaction
- Asthma or wheezing
Sometimes, the reaction can be severe, by direct contact with the dog, like hives or asthma attacks. In such a situation, it is advised to visit the ER immediately to prevent a serious reaction.
But generally, the symptoms are much similar to cold or flu. No one can detect easily if they were caused by dogs. That is because these symptoms could be caused by a range of external factors. Therefore, it’s better to get a diagnosis based on your medical history. Your doctor/allergy specialist can run a blood test or a skin-prick test for confirmation.
Living with pet allergies?
It can be hard to live with a lab if you have severe allergies. However, you can opt for lifestyle changes to reduce the dander around the house. Below are a few tips for managing your Lab’s shedding and your allergies.
- Grooming: Brushing your Labrador Retriever regularly, at least 2 times a week or preferably daily, is the only way to manage the shedding around the house. One thing you need to take extra care of is your lab’s skin. A de-shedding tool is specially designed to remove the hair without hurting your lab’s skin.
- Bathing: Bath your dog with a proper massage and shampoo, thereby removing the dander and washing it away. Make sure to use a dog shampoo and not a normal one to prevent the growth of viruses and bacteria.
- Separate Bedding: Do not let your Lab sleep in with you and nor come in to your bed. You spend up to 8 hours sleeping in, and such long exposure to dander might flare up your allergies. The best idea is to get a proper bedding area for the dog to keep a safe distance.
- Vacuum: It is a must-have! Having a good vacuum really helps with collecting all the dog hair. If done regularly, the Lab’s hair can be contained quite easily. Look in the market for heavy suction vacuum cleaners. A cordless or portable vacuum might come in handy to clean the dog’s hair from nooks and crannies.
- Light carpets and furniture: The hair particles tend to get stuck on upholstery, heavy carpets, and drapes. Getting rid of your dog’s hair is far more convenient if you buy furniture that’s minimal in design. Moreover, having less area covered with carpets, or having light carpets makes getting rid of hair very easy.
- Cleaning the Dog’s stuff: Play toys for dogs and their beddings can trap saliva and other allergens that cause allergies. It’s best to wash the Lab’s belongings at least fortnightly to get rid of any unwanted bacteria.
Children with dog allergies
After becoming parents, we tend to be over cautious but still, some symptoms of dog allergies in children can easily be mistaken for something else. It’s either that the Lab is part of the family before the baby arrives or the other way around. Either way, the signs of allergies in children are similar to that of allergies in adults. Hence, it is easier to diagnose the symptoms.
As children are in the development stage, their immune system is weak against viruses through exposure to certain things. Animal allergy signs correlate with allergic rhinitis. A child with dog allergies might show the signs of flu, itching, rashes on the skin, constant sneezing, watery eyes, runny and congested nose. If you have a dog at home, try not to ignore these signs as symptoms of seasonal flu. The worst of all the symptoms can be Asthma, as children can develop a full-blown asthma problem.
Discipline your dog
Discipline is very important when it comes to training your dog. Often times, living-in family members or visiting relatives and friends have allergies that are triggered with the presence of your dog. Your family, undoubtedly loves your dog, but it’s your job to discipline the Lab in order to create a comfortable environment in your house. First off, apart from a separate bedding area, the eating plates of the dog should be kept away from the dining/kitchen area. Secondly, you can train your dog not to sit on couches and furniture where people sit, in order to reduce the hair on furniture.
While training, teach your lab not to lick guests as a sign of affection. Save this kind of relationship for yourself, and family members who don’t have allergies. In this manner, people around you will not only be more comfortable. But the chances of allergic reactions will reduce.
Should you shave your Labrador?
Don’t even think about it! A Labrador’s coat is its protective coating with an undercoat for insulation and an outercoat to help protect the skin. Once you shave the coat, the skin is susceptible to various parasites, and dry patches will form due to sunburn. Moreover, shaved labs are susceptible to rashes. In addition, shaving only shortens the hair length making it even harder to clean the fur from the surroundings. It’s better to tame the fur by following the instructions given above.
The Myth Behind Hypoallergenic dogs
Although dog breeds have been characterized as hypoallergenic or non-hypoallergenic, scientific studies suggest otherwise. Studies have been conducted to test the allergens within the breeds of dogs. Until now, research has been unable to prove the difference between allergens in hypoallergenic and non-hypoallergenic breeds. This subject is talked about in more detail here.
Here’s the deal!
Most people who have little or no awareness of allergens produced by dogs think dog allergies are caused by fur. Consequently, the vast majority of people believe that a dog breed that sheds less fur is hypoallergenic, and vice versa. That assumption is far from the truth. Scientific research suggests that not only do fur, but also dander, urine, and saliva, all contain allergens. In fact, dogs that shed less fur may be just as likely to cause an allergic reaction than a breed that doesn’t.
Therefore, no dog breed, or any other canine for that matter, is completely hypoallergenic. It’s just that due to variations in the kind of allergens, the dogs simply cause less severe or different allergic reactions.
Owning A Labrador if you have the Allergies
Well, as harsh as it may sound, if you’re allergic to the Lab to an extent that it’s affecting your lifestyle then sadly you have limited options. It all depends on how much you can manage, and whether you can tolerate the symptoms. Try going to an allergy specialist before making any decision. But if its the worst-case scenario and you can’t have a Labrador Retriever as your family member, here is a list of several dog breeds that are hypoallergenic and one of them might become your new best mate.
List of Hypoallergenic Dogs:
Here is a list of hypoallergenic dogs published by the American Kernel Club(AKC).
- Bichon Frise
- Chinese Crested
- Standard Schnauzer
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Afghan Hound
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Giant Schnauzer
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Fox Terrier
- Coton de Tulear
- Cairn Terrier
- Portuguese Water Dog
Tackling severe dog allergies can be hard for some people. The above list shows dog breeds that can be managed while having dog allergies. While, a labrador, maybe your favorite breed, at least you will have a dog in this case.
But if your heart doesn’t sit right with any other breed, you do have one last option. This hybrid dog has a really funky name: Labradoodle. These dogs are a cross between a labrador and a Toy Poodle. This dog does not trigger the same allergies as a Labrador, because this dog inherited the poodle’s coat (a hypoallergenic breed) instead of the labrador’s. This breed first gained popularity in Australia. They were successfully developed by the Aussies and the Americans happily accepted this hybrid dog. They are easy-going and gentle in nature. Labradoodles are especially friendly with children and the elderly, which makes them a great family dog.
You just read through everything I think is important when it comes to Labradors and allergies they cause. Now, let’s answer some of the common queries people have regarding this subject.
Are Golden Labradors hypoallergenic?
Labradors are not considered Hypoallergenic because they lose fur in two shedding seasons. Golden Labrador Retrievers have the same circadian rhythm as any other Labrador. This indicates that Golden Labradors are no different than other labradors when it comes to causing allergies. Hence, they are not hypoallergenic.
What are Labradors allergic to?
Just like some people, some dogs are born with allergies. Labradors, like many other pets, may be allergic to fleas. There is also a chance that your lab develops an allergic reaction from flea medication. Moreover, they may have serious reactions due to flea saliva. In addition, allergies get triggered when your Labrador’s skin comes in contact with certain chemicals in the environment. These chemicals, or allergens, may trigger a reaction if your lab inhales infected air. The cause of allergies can vary greatly, from food to your lab’s external environment. Foods such as fish, chicken, soy, beef and corn as well as grass pollen, molds, dust mites, weed pollen or tree pollen are known to cause allergies.
What can you give a dog with allergies?
Before I recommend what medications to use when your lab is facing allergies, is it highly recommended that you visit the vet. There, you can get your dog tested for allergies and determine the root cause or triggers. Next, you can try to manage these symptoms. As far as allergy medications are concerned, here is a list of few you might find around your house that will work for your lab:
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines such as Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin are commonly used to relieve allergic reactions. They are also known to make some dogs drowsy, and others very hyperactive.
- Dramamine: Safe for dogs. This medicine is used to counteract motion sickness. Moreover, there are canine-specific varieties that work fasters on Labradors.
- Pepto-Bismol: Effective against diarrhea and vomiting.
- Buffered aspirin: Buffered aspirin is only slightly effective for labradors. In case your lab experiences inflammation, call your vet and get an anti-inflammatory drug designed specifically for dogs.
Can Benadryl kill a dog?
Yes, a Benadryl overdose can kill your dog. While antihistamines can be used to treat dog allergies, they have really narrow margins of safety. This means that a dose that may result in toxic effects is only marginally stronger than the recommended dose. While, low doses of Benadryl cause drowsiness, an excessive those can lead to hypertension, and even seizures. Point is, you should always double-check the dose before administering Benadryl to your Labrador.
Are there really hypoallergenic dogs?
The existence of a purely Hypoallergenic dog is a myth. Even dogs that have lost hair and breeds with no hair are not 100 percent hypoallergenic. The reason being allergens are not only found in a dog’s fur. Actually, more often than not, allergies are caused by allergens from your lab’s saliva or urine.
Are Labradors smart?
Labrador retrievers are generally regarded as one of the smarter dog breeds. According to dog intelligence expert Stanley Cohen, who wrote The Intelligence of Dogs, Labrador Retrievers are the 7th smartest dog breed. You can check the complete list here. In fact, It was suggested in the study that Labradors along with a few other dog breeds can learn about 150 words, signals, and signs. Moreover, they are fast learners and require less than five repetitions when being trained to follow a command.