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Are Golden Retrievers Hypoallergenic? Facts & FAQ

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

golden retriever

Golden Retrievers are one of the more popular dogs in the United States. However, they also shed quite a bit, which means that Golden Retrievers are often not considered hypoallergenic. Still, the term “hypoallergenic” is a bit more complicated than it first appears.

According to Mayo Clinic, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog1. All dogs produce proteins that can cause allergies, though some dogs produce different proteins than others. Some dogs are less likely to spread these allergens around, though, especially if you take specific steps to prevent the spread of dander and saliva.

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How Do Dog Allergies Work?

Most of us come into contact with the proteins dogs make without any problem. However, in some people, their immune system improperly labels these proteins as foreign invaders and seeks to destroy them whenever they get into the body. This causes the allergy symptoms we’re so familiar with: sneezing, coughing, and inflammation.

All dogs make these same proteins. It’s what their skin, saliva, and urine are made out of. There is no dog out there that doesn’t make skin, saliva, or urine.

golden retriever dog with puppies indoors
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

However, there are several different types of proteins dogs make. These proteins make up different parts of the dog and are made in different places. Some people are allergic to one protein, while others are allergic to several. The same proteins someone is allergic to will affect which dogs are suitable for them.

One particular protein – the Can f 5 – is only made in the dog’s prostate gland. Because only male dogs have a prostate gland, only male dogs produce this protein. Those allergic to only Can f 5 are usually perfectly fine with female dogs. They don’t produce the protein that they’re sensitive to.

To figure out what protein you’re allergic to, you often have to undergo specific testing. Usually, allergy tests lump all the dog proteins together. This will tell you if you’re allergic to dogs but won’t tell you the specific protein you’re allergic to. Instead, you will likely need to ask for a specific allergen test that will let you know precisely which proteins you’re sensitive to.

Many people who are allergic to dogs are also affected by the Can f 1 protein. This is the major protein produced by all dogs.

What are Hypoallergenic Dogs?

Many breeders will advertise their canines as hypoallergenic. Usually, these are dog breeds that don’t shed or only shed very little. The idea is that the dogs that don’t shed won’t spread as many allergens around.

However, this is misleading. All dogs make proteins, as we have discussed. Those who are allergic to dogs aren’t allergic to the dog’s hair; they’re allergic to the dog’s dander and saliva. Even if a dog doesn’t shed very much, it will still produce dander and saliva.

Science does not seem to support the idea of a hypoallergenic dog. One study took a look at several hypoallergenic dog breeds to see if they produced less Can f 1 protein than non-hypoallergenic dogs. They collected hair and coat samples from the dog and dust samples from around the homes.

However, the study found little difference between hypoallergenic dogs and non-hypoallergenic dogs in terms of the amount of protein found on their skin and around their home. The homes with Poodles had the highest dander concentration, while those with Labrador Retrievers had the lowest.

The study also took a look at several mixed breeds and found that the Labradoodle seemed to spread less dander around the home than other dogs.

They did not study the Golden Retriever in this particular study. However, this study gives us some idea of what dogs are actually hypoallergenic and not.

golden retriever
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Are Golden Retrievers Hypoallergenic?

Golden Retrievers shed quite a bit. Furthermore, they will produce all the kinds of protein that other dogs produce. Males will produce the Can f 5 protein, though females will not. However you look at it, Golden Retrievers are not incredibly hypoallergenic.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t adopt a Golden Retriever if you’re allergic to dogs, though. The extent of everyone’s allergies differs. Some only have minor allergies, while others have extensive allergies. So even though Golden Retrievers are not hypoallergenic, you can do quite a few things to lessen the effect the dog has on your allergy symptoms.

How to Reduce Your Allergies to Golden Retrievers

The only way to ensure that you never have an allergic reaction to a Golden Retriever is to never be around Golden Retrievers.

male golden retriever
Image By: Helena Lopes, Unsplash

But, if you do decide to adopt a dog anyway, there are a few things you can do to lessen your symptoms.

  • Keep the dog out of your bedroom. You’ll spend quite a bit of time in your bedroom sleeping. You may be able to significantly reduce your allergy symptoms if you keep your dog out of the bedroom. You should also install filters on the air vents in your room to ensure dander isn’t creeping in from there.
  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands anytime you come into contact with your dog. Our hands act as vehicles for pet dander to enter our nose and eyes. When we rub our face after playing with our dog, we will transfer the allergy-causing dander. Washing your hands can prevent this.
  • Avoid carpeted floors. You should avoid carpeted floors, as they tend to hold onto allergens. Instead, opt for easy-to-clean wood floors. Wear a mask when you are vacuuming or sweeping, as these activities tend to throw the dust into the air, which can worsen your allergies.
  • Use HEPA filters. You should install HEPA filters throughout your home, particularly in your bedroom and places where your dog tends to spend the most time. These filters remove dog allergens from the air, lessening the chance that they’ll find a way into your sinuses.

Featured Image Credit: Olena Brodetska, Shutterstock

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