Are Pet Allergies Common?
Yes, something like a fifth or a tenth of people in the world are allergic to cats or dogs. Other people are allergic to horses, guinea pigs, some birds, or hamsters. About 30% of people in the United States have a pet allergy.
Since about 70% of American households have at least one pet, this causes problems. People sometimes have to give an animal they love away if it causes problems for someone in their household.
How Do Pet Allergies Work?
Many people are allergic to dander (flakes of dead skin) or hair from cats and dogs. If you live with a cat or dog, you will inevitably be exposed to particles of skin and hair. You can reduce exposure if you don't touch the dog directly.
An allergic reaction to pets is your immune system having a false alarm. When your immune system falsely believes that pet hair is harmful, you have a pet allergy. Your lungs and sinuses become inflamed when your immune system tries to "fight" the pet hair.
What Symptoms Do Allergic Reactions Cause?
Lots of people get cold-like symptoms such as sneezing, a runny/stuffy nose, watery eyes, or coughing from pet hair and dander. You may also wake up during the night often, and feel pressure and some pain in your face.
If you have asthma, symptoms can be worse. You may experience chest tightness, find it hard to breathe, or have trouble sleeping because of difficulty breathing. Usually, pet allergies are not dangerous but talk to a doctor if you are having trouble breathing.
Pure Labrador Retrievers Are Not Hypoallergenic
Again, you quite likely can't find a hypoallergenic Labrador Retriever anywhere. Regardless of what color the Labrador Retriever is, it has genes that make it shed a lot of hair, and the hair causes allergic reactions. Anyone offering a Labrador Retriever that is hypoallergenic is likely offering a crossbred.
Why Are Labs Bad for People With Allergies?
Labradors shed a lot of hair. If you have a Labrador, you have to brush it often, which will cause an allergic reaction if you are the one with allergies.
They will also get hair on your floor, and allergic people will breathe the hair in. Unless you train them to avoid your furniture, they will get a lot of hair on it.
Labradors Also Produce Dander
Like humans and other animals, dogs shed dead skin. These dead skin cells become dander, which gets in the air, on your floor, and on furniture. Dander also causes allergic reactions in many people.
Labrador Retrievers produce more dander and not only shed more hair than most breeds of dogs do. They are worse than average for people with allergies.
Labradors shed the most hair when the temperatures are changing fast at the beginning and end of the warmer months. Some people call this molting.
Crossbred Labrador Retrievers Are Sometimes Hypoallergenic
You might, with a bit of difficulty, find a dog that looks and acts like a Labrador Retriever but won't irritate people with pet allergies. You need a crossbred dog that is as close to a pure Labrador Retriever as possible.
There will always be some differences, but your dog might look like a pure Labrador Retriever to someone not very familiar with dog breeds.
What Crossbreeds Are Hypoallergenic?
One of the most common hypoallergenic mixes is the Labradoodle, which is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. These dogs are reputed to shed much less hair than Labrador Retrievers do. While kennel clubs do not officially recognize the breed, you can certainly find these dogs.
The Labradoodle Breed
Despite not being officially recognized, the Labradoodle breed is a common dog. They are loyal and intelligent, so they are popular as pets and popular as service dogs. While they do not look much like Labradors (the Poodle hair makes them look too different) they do act the same way and have the same abilities.
How Hypoallergenic Are Labradoodles?
While some Labradoodles have hypoallergenic hair, others are much closer to pure Labradors. The genes can make the dog much closer to one breed or the other. Some of this is random, so the breeder doesn't have complete control over it.
If you get a dog that is 75% Poodle and 25% Labrador, it has a 75% chance of having a Poodle's coat. A Poodle's coat doesn't shed much, so it is hypoallergenic. The problem with that kind of Labradoodle is that it is much closer to a Poodle.
If you want a dog like a Labrador but hypoallergenic, you need a 75% Labrador and 25% Poodle. A dog like that only has a 25% chance of having a Poodle's coat, so it may be hard to find.
How to Avoid Allergic Reactions if You Have a Labrador
If someone in your family has a mild allergy to dogs, they might be able to live with a Labrador. First, they should avoid touching or petting the dog.
Second, you should not allow your dog to lie on a couch or a bed. This will expose them to pet hair. Vacuum your house often to keep pet hair and dander out of the air.
If allergic reactions occur rarely, medication can treat them. However, if you or anyone in your family has allergic reactions often, you may have to find a new home for the dog.
No Dogs Are Completely Hypoallergenic
No matter what dog you have, someone with a very strong allergy to dog hair will have allergic reactions. Sometimes, a person cannot live with a dog. However, if a person's allergy is mild, they might be fine with a hypoallergenic dog, or even with a Labrador as long as the pet hair is cleaned up often.
The closest thing to a non-allergenic dog is a hairless breed of dog. These dogs are not popular, but you can get an American Hairless Terrier if you want one. Hairless dogs still produce dander, but they are the least allergenic dogs you can find.
About THE AUTHOR
Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.Read more about Mark Brunson