Do you already have a Labradoodle or you are thinking about getting one? They look adorable and make excellent family pets. You might have also heard that Labradoodles are non-shedding and ‘hypoallergenic’ dogs, meaning allergy sufferers don’t react to them.
Unfortunately, the last statement is not entirely valid though for several reasons. Let’s look at the topic more closely. The official definition of the word hypoallergenic is “having a decreased tendency to provoke an allergic reaction.” In other words, there is no cast-iron guarantee that an allergy or asthma sufferer won’t suffer a reaction to a particular dog or a type of dog.
It is true that if you choose a hypoallergenic breed, you are less likely to have an allergic reaction. But allergies vary from person to person, and coats differ from dog to dog. This is particularly true with Labradoodles.
Are Labradoodles Hypoallergenic?
Labradoodles are a crossbreed, so there are many variables. There are three main coat types with Labradoodles – hair, wool, and fleece. Then there are further variations within these three types. For example, a hair coat can be straight, wiry, or wavy, and a fleece coat can be almost straight, curved, or curly.
It is difficult to predict what sort of coat your labradoodle pup will have when he grows up. The type of coat may vary even within pups of the same litter. Often a puppy’s coat changes before he reaches adulthood. While a Poodle is regarded as a hypoallergenic breed, a Labrador is not. If your pup takes after his Labrador parent or grandparent, he will most likely shed.
There is also a difference between a first cross (F1) and a multi-generation (multigen) cross. An F1 cross has a good chance of having a coat with at least some similarities to that of the Labrador parent. Australian Labradoodle breeders and other breeders of multigen pups may claim they are allergy-friendly and don’t shed. While they may be right for some dogs but it is certainly not true of all Australian Labradoodles. According to the Kennel clubs of USA and UK, there is no such thing as a non-shedding dog.
No breeder can guarantee that a specific Labradoodle will be suitable for an individual who suffers from dog allergies. However, it is true to say that when responsible breeders of multigen Labradoodles select their breeding stock, coat is an important factor. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that many of these dogs shed little or no hair and do not trigger a reaction with many allergy sufferers. But each case is different.
Allergies are on the increase. Amazingly, 50 million Americans are allergy sufferers, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. One in five of these are pet allergy sufferers. In the UK, pets are the second largest cause of allergy in the home, with 40% of asthmatic children reacting to dogs.
Most people think that people are allergic to animal hair, but that’s not true. What they are allergic to are proteins – or allergens. These are secreted by the animal’s oil glands and then shed with the dander, which is dead skin cells. They can also be found in dog saliva and urine. If you are allergic to either, you are unlikely ever to be able to share your home with a dog successfully. But if it makes it any better, more people are allergic to cats than dogs!
Labradoodles for Allergy Sufferers
Pet allergy sufferers can also enjoy living with a dog without spending all of their time sneezing, wheezing, itching, or breaking out in rashes. Millions of people are proving the case.
Some types of dogs are better for allergy sufferers. Any dog can cause an allergic reaction, although a low-shedding, hypoallergenic purebred such as a Poodle is a much better choice than a breed which sheds. A Labradoodle may take after a Poodle and shed only a little or may shed a great deal, like a Labrador.
You may be fine with a Labradoodle puppy, as tiny puppies don’t shed. But often the coat changes in adulthood and this could trigger a severe allergic reaction later on. It would indeed cause distress if you were suddenly allergic to your adult labradoodle who has become a dearly-loved member of your family. If you have any doubts at all about a puppy, even a tiny reaction, then don’t get him.
I will strongly advise against selecting a Labradoodle solely because you believe the dog will not trigger your allergies. There are no guarantees. For those people with consistent or severe allergies, another option would be to consider a hypoallergenic purebred and then follow specific steps to find a good breeder and puppy.
Choosing a suitable dog is not entirely straightforward, and you do have to put in extra time to make sure that you pick the right dog and maybe make a few adjustments to your home as well.
Do Labradoodles Shed?
No dog is totally non-shedding, and no dog is totally hypoallergenic.
Two further points to consider are that people’s pet allergies vary greatly. Pet allergy sufferers may react differently to different breeds as well as individual dogs within that breed. A sufferer may be fine with one puppy yet have a reaction to another in the same litter. This is especially true of Labradoodles, where the pups may have different coats.
All dogs, even so-called hairless dogs, have hair, dander (dead skin cells, like dandruff), saliva, and urine. Therefore, all dogs can cause allergic reactions. But not all dogs do. Some hypoallergenic dog breeds do not affect pet allergy sufferers as much because of the type or amount of hair that they shed. Labradoodles do shed. But they might not shed as much as Labrador Retrievers and other double-coated breeds.
How to Choose a Hypoallergenic Puppy?
- Find a reputable breeder, and first of all, ask if you could visit their adult dogs. Make sure there are no cats around, which could also trigger allergies. If you are determined to stick with Labradoodles, spend time with both parents of any pup that you are considering buying and also try to spend time with the different coat types to see which, if any, cause a reaction.
- Choose an experienced breeder that will have a better knowledge of how puppy coats will develop as the dog grows up. Then spend some time alone with the specific pup that you are thinking of getting to determine if you have a reaction, which may be up to two days later.
- Handle the dog, rub your hands on your face after you have handled the dog in order to absorb as much potential allergen as you can in your short visit.
- Go back and visit the breeder’s at least once or twice more before you make that life-changing commitment to buy the puppy. Take an old towel or piece of cloth and rub the puppy with it. Bring it home and handle it to see if you get a delayed reaction.
- Check with the breeder to see if you can return the pup within a specific time if you react to him back at home. You cannot expect the breeder to take the dog back if the allergies only occur once he has reached adulthood.
- Everyone with pet allergies can tolerate a certain amount of allergens (things they are allergic to). If that person is just below his or her tolerance, any additional allergen will push him over the edge, triggering a reaction. So, if you reduce the general allergen load in the home, you will be much more successful when you bring your dog home.
Tips for Reducing Pet Allergens
- Get a HEPA air cleaner in the bedroom or main living room. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particle air. It is a type of air filter that removes 99.97% of all particles.
- Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Neither the HEPA air nor the vacuum cleaner is cheap, but if you suffer allergies and want to share your life and home with a dog, they are worth considering. Both will dramatically improve the quality of the air you breathe in your home.
- Regardless of what vacuum you use, clean and dust your home regularly.
- Keep the dog out of your bedroom. We spend around a third of our lives here, and keeping animals out can significantly reduce allergic reactions.
- Do not allow your dog on the couch, bed, or any other furniture. Keep him out of the car, or if this is not possible, use car seat covers or a blanket on the seat.
- Brush your pet regularly. Always outdoors and regularly clean his bedding. Avoid using ordinary washing powder, as it may trigger a reaction in dogs with sensitive skin.
- Keep your dog’s skin healthy by regularly feeding a good multivitamin and fatty acid supplement, such as fish oil.
- Consider using an allergy-reducing spray such as Allerpet, which helps to cleanse the dog’s fur hair of dander, saliva, and sebaceous gland sections. There are also products to reduce allergens from carpets, curtains, and furniture.
- Avoid contact with other dogs and always wash your hands after you have handled any dog, including your own.
- Consult your doctor. Medical advances are being made in the treatment of allergies, and a range of tablets, sprays, and injections are currently available.
Experts aren’t sure whether bathing your dog has any effect on allergy symptoms. Some studies have shown that baths reduce the amount of airborne dander, while others haven’t found a difference. You can certainly try weekly baths and see what happens. Just make sure that it’s not the person with dog allergies doing the bathing.
For further information on owning a Labradoodle as an allergy sufferer, see our related article here.