The German Shepherd dog breed has been one of the most popular dog breeds since the 1800s, and there are many reasons why they have remained so popular. They are intelligent, loyal, and courageous, making them perfect for police work or as a family pet. In addition to these qualities, they also make for an amazing guard dog because of their size and strength. Still, despite all of the amazing qualities that come with this breed, potential dog owners with dog allergies may want to steer clear of the question of whether or not German Shepherds are hypoallergenic dog breeds.
So, are German Shepherds hypoallergenic? No, German Shepherds are not hypoallergenic. Many people think they are because they have thick coats, but this is not the case. Their coat is still made of fur (not just hair) that sheds easily, and so it still carries dander that can lead to allergies. You may be having an allergy attack by being around German Shepherds if you’re hypersensitive to canine dander.
If you’re still interested in owning a German Shepherd despite the possibility of a dog allergy, there are precautions you can take to avoid having allergic reactions when around this breed.
Why Are German Shepherds Not Hypoallergenic?
German Shepherds are not hypoallergenic dogs because of two reasons: their thick double coat and their dander.
You see, German Shepherds have a very thick coat of hair that can be wavy or straight. This coat is comprised of two layers. The inner layer is soft and woolly, and the outer layer is rougher and more like fur. This means that there is not a single area where you will not find German Shepherd hair growing. Not only are German Shepherds covered in hair, but they also shed regularly throughout the year (shedding seasonally).
Because of their coat type, you will find that even in German Shepherds that are groomed well on a regular basis, the amount of dog hair shed in the home is enough to make even a person without allergies sneeze and cough. This goes hand in hand with the amount of dander these dogs produce.
Dander is flakes of skin that contain lots of proteins, including antigens (proteins that your body mistakes for harmful substances). German Shepherds are known for having an excessive amount of this substance, with some individuals producing more dander than others. As I mentioned above, German Shepherds tend to shed regularly year-round and are not known for being hypoallergenic dogs. This means that the amount of dander produced is not a seasonal problem like it would be in other breeds.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually pet dander that causes pet allergies and not dog’s fur or loose hair. People with dog or cat allergies don’t tolerate these antigens very well, so they get sick. All it takes is for them to touch their faces or rub their eyes after petting or playing with an animal for them to get allergy symptoms.
So when people claim their German Shepherd is hypoallergenic because the dog doesn’t cause them allergic re, you should be skeptical that it’s not another reason.
Does this mean that allergy sufferers should avoid owning German Shepherds?
Can I Have a Dog If I Have Dog Allergies?
First of all, if you believe you have pet allergies, it’s important to find out whether or not you are truly allergic and how severe the allergies are. The only way to determine this is to undergo testing for allergic sensitization. More than half of the people with allergies are allergic to more than one thing.
This means that when you’re allergic to a specific trigger, symptoms can be exacerbated by other triggers. When it comes to allergies, certain triggers are more common than others- dust mites, pollen, and peanut butter.
These triggers can cause your symptoms to intensify if you have another allergy that is triggered by the same thing. An example of this would be someone who has allergies to pollen and pet hair as well. These pet allergens will add to the number of allergens in the home, and thus, they may start experiencing more allergic reactions than people who only have one trigger.
Once you’ve found out the sensitivity level of your allergies, you can decide on a course of action. For example, some people may only have an allergic reaction to male dogs (due to the Can 5 protein that only male dogs carry). In this case, a person can just adopt an all-female dog or neuter a male dog to prevent an allergic reaction.
Should You Get A Hypoallergenic Dog If You Have an Allergy?
People with allergies are often told that they should get a hypoallergenic dog, but is there such a thing called hypoallergenic dog breeds?
The answer is no.
Okay, so what does it mean if a dog is hypoallergenic? It means the dog produces fewer allergens than other dogs. Hypoallergenic simply means dogs that don’t shed fur or shed very little. This doesn’t mean these breeds are truly allergy-safe, but the fact that they don’t have as much hair or shed much means that there will be fewer allergens floating around. So depending on the severity of your allergies, you may be able to tolerate these hypoallergenic canines.
Here are the best hypoallergenic breeds for allergy sufferers:
- Afghan Hound
- American Hairless Terrier
- Bedlington Terrier
- Bichon Frise
- Chinese Crested
- Coton de Tulear
- Giant Schnauzer
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Lagotto Romagnolo
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Shih Tzu
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Spanish Water Dog
- Standard Schnauzer
- Yorkshire Terrier
What are The Worst Dog Breeds for Allergy Sufferers?
If there’s what so-called “hypoallergenic dog breed,” then there is also what’s called “allergenic dog breed.” These dogs produce more allergens than other dogs, so they’re particularly problematic for people with allergies.
If you have a bad allergy to dander, you’ll want to stay away from German Shepherds because they are more like to develop dry skin, which directly affecting the amount of hair loss and the resulting dander they produce. Dobermans, huskies, and labrador retrievers are also among those dogs who shed more hair and dander.
If you are allergic to saliva rather than dander, you will want to avoid extremely slobbery dogs. In this category, you’ll find:
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Black and Tan Coonhound
- Bull Terrier
- Neapolitan Mastiff
- Saint Bernard
- Sussex Spaniel
Also read: Why is My German Shepherd Losing Hair?
9 Tips for Living with Dogs When You are Allergic to Them
Living with a dog and being allergic to it is not an easy task. However, there are things you can do to manage your pet’s dander and reduce contact with pet saliva and urine, as well as keep your house cleaner. Here are 9 tips on how you can live with a dog when you have a pet allergy:
1. Consult with an Allergist
Your primary care doctor may not be knowledgeable about pet allergies, so it’s a good idea to consult with an allergist. An allergist will help you understand your reaction, determine what causes the allergies, recommend treatments, and choose the right medication to minimize your symptoms.
2. Create a Regular Dog Grooming Schedule
A bath is one of the best ways to tamps down the allergens that live in your dog’s fur and skin. It is especially important for dogs with thick, double coats or curly coats because they are more likely to shed more and produce more dander than other breeds. Bathing once a week is recommended, but if your fido has sensitive skin, be sure to ask your vet first what shampoo and bathing techniques are best.
Although regular brushing is highly recommended for dogs who live with an allergy sufferer, I can’t imagine an allergic person doing it themselves. While you can minimize the number of allergens that come in contact with you by wearing a mask, but I would recommend getting someone else to brush your dog for you.
4. Treat Your Dog’s Skin Conditions
Dogs with skin conditions are more likely to wreak havoc on those who have allergies. So watch out for signs of inflammation, irritation, and other skin problems. If you notice that your dog has flaky skin or is developing a rash, talk to your vet about it. Keeping your dog’s skin problems under control can be the solution that you’ve been searching for all this time.
5. Use the Right Air Filter in Your House
Dust, pollen, mold, and other allergens can find their way into your home through heating systems, exterior doors, and windows, moving air, as well as wandering pets and pests. An air purifier will do a great job of removing these allergens from the air. When shopping for an air purifier, look out for those with a HEPA filter and electronic controls to let you adjust the output level of purified air.
And don’t forget to change your air filter regularly. Change them at least once per month or as needed.
6. Do Not Let Your Dog Sleep on Your Bedding
If you let your dog sleep on your bed, then you are setting yourself up for a very itchy day. Not only could you wake up to find that you’ve been bitten by your pet, but the allergens shed from their coat will have saturated all of the settings around them. Even if you keep your bedding clean and dry, it will not remove the allergens that have already become embedded in it.
7. Clean Your House Regularly
You may not be able to get rid of every single allergen in your house, but you can keep it under control. Vacuum the carpeting regularly and wash the bedding two or three times a week. This will remove dust mites that were released from the pillows, blankets, or mattress, as well as find pet allergens that cling to these fabrics.
However, for those who do not have time to clean as often, a robotic vacuum cleaner may be an option. They work by rolling across the floor and sucking up dust, dirt, hair, and other items of debris. These little devices can clean the floor at least twice as fast than you if you do it yourself.
If you can afford it, hiring a cleaning crew to do the heavy lifting is your best bet. They will come in once or twice a week and have the house sparkling by the time they leave. You will be able to focus on all of the more enjoyable aspects of having a pet without worrying about cleanliness.
8. Rinse Your Sinuses Daily With Saline Solution
It is important that you flush dust and particles out of your sinuses on a daily basis. This will help keep your nostrils clear and aid in the prevention of allergy symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, or itchy eyes.
9. Choose Hard-surface Flooring
Carpeting is the worst thing that an allergy sufferer can do to themselves. This is because the dead skin cells and the microscopic particles in dirt, dust, and other allergens are all embedded in the carpet’s fabric.
Instead of carpets, hardwood floors are a better option for allergy sufferers. They are easy to clean and resilient to little critters such as dust mites as they will not be able to live or breed in these flooring materials.