Dogs may be man’s best friend, but household pets of all shapes, sizes and breeds can be an allergen nightmare for some families. Released today, the Allergen All-Star Pet Awards are here to help families concerned about allergens find the perfect companion.
“According to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, 15 to 30 percent of the U.S. population is allergic to cats or dogs. Exposure to pet allergens typically occurs in the home when fur, dander or dried saliva become airborne and are inhaled. Activities like jumping on a couch or running around a room can stir up these allergens and exacerbate the issue for families,” said Dr. Ted Myatt, a senior scientist at Environmental Health & Engineering. “It’s important to note that no breed of dogs or cats has been proven to be truly hypo-allergenic, but studies suggest that some may be more allergen-friendly than others. If you’re looking for a pet that doesn’t produce any allergens, try one with scaly skin, like an iguana.”
The following are top 11 animals that produce lower allergen levels, which can often be found in pet dander, saliva and urine. The list was compiled by a team of independent researchers and scientists with Environmental Health & Engineering and is sponsored by the makers of the new Honeywell Doctor’s Choice True HEPA Air Purifier.
1. Bedlington Terrier: a breed of small dog with curly, woolly coats named after the mining town of Bedlington in North East England. It is known to be allergen-friendly because, like other terriers, the Bedlington does not shed.
2. Devon Rex Cat: a breed of intelligent, short-haired cat from England. They are known for their slender bodies, wavy coats, and large ears. Rex cats shed little hair and have short fur.
3. Irish Water Spaniel: a breed of dog that is the largest and one of the oldest of spaniels with a water-repellant curly coat and signature "rat tail." Their coats are similar to poodles, which have less hair and dander.
4. Italian Greyhound: a very old European breed with long, powerful legs and a slim build. This breed is on the American Kennel Club’s suggested list for allergy sufferers due to their thin coats, which makes them easier to keep clean with baths.
5. Javanese Cat: a breed of domestic cat recognized as a show cat with a long, elegant build. Although classified as an oriental longhair cat, this breed has no undercoat and therefore less fur to shed. Even cats with little fur do shed to some degree.
6. Labradoodle: a crossbred dog with wiry to soft and straight, wavy, or curly hair created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Standard or Miniature Poodle. In a 2012 study of allergen levels in homes, homes with Labradoodles had the lowest allergen levels in floor dust compared to homes with other dogs.
7. Labrador Retriever: one of several kinds of retriever that is athletic and playful, and is the most popular breed registered in the United States. Studies have shown that Labradors have lower allergen levels than other breeds. Dogs that swim frequently, like Labradors, also have lower allergen concentrations in their hair.
8. Maltese: a small breed of dog originating in the central Mediterranean area with a long and silky coat and no undercoat. Small dogs are likely to generate less allergens due to their size. The Maltese is listed on the American Kennel Club’s list of breeds suggested for allergy sufferers.
9. Schnauzer: a dog breed that originated in Germany with a distinctively bearded snout. Their top coat is wiry, while the undercoat is soft. While this breed does shed, it has been touted by many as a good breed for people concerned about allergens.
10. Yorkshire Terrier: a small dog breed of terrier type with glossy, fine, straight, and silky hair. Yorkies are small and do not shed much and therefore are less likely to produce large amounts of allergens. Terriers do require frequent grooming, so family members who are sensitive to allergens should allow someone that is not sensitive to groom the dog.
11. Iguana: animals with scaly skin, like iguanas or other lizards, don’t produce allergens and are truly hypoallergenic.
It is important to note that if someone is severely allergic to pets, they may not tolerate any breed, even one shown to have lower allergen levels. Individuals with pet allergies should consult with a physician prior to becoming a pet owner.
Other recommendations for helping to reduce exposure to pet allergens includes frequently washing furniture covers, keeping pets outside and using a HEPA certified vacuum cleaner and a HEPA air purifier. Honeywell True HEPA Air Purifiers are the #1 allergist-recommended brand and feature multiple cleaning levels for “Germs,” “Allergens”, “General Clean” and a “Turbo” setting for faster air cleaning and odor reduction.