Experts point out such a breed doesn't exist since allergens are also in canine skin
FRIDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- President-elect Barack Obama has inspired throngs around the world to say, "Yes, we can."
But when it comes to finding a hypoallergenic dog for the White House, allergists are saying, "No, you can't."
"Unfortunately, there really is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog," said Dr. Jonathan Field, emeritus director of the pediatric allergy and asthma clinic at New York University/Bellevue Medical Center in New York City.
"The studies have not supported that there's any type of hypoallergenic dog," added Dr. Wanda Phipatanakul, chair of the Indoor Allergen Committee for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). "All dogs produce allergens, so it would make common sense that if you've got 50 dogs in the home, the dog allergens are going to be higher than if you've got one, and if you have a huge dog, there will be more allergens than with a small dog, but all dogs produce allergens."
In his Election Night victory speech, Obama promised his two young daughters that they could take a puppy with them to the White House.
More recently, however, Obama reported that his 10-year-old daughter, Malia, is allergic, and thus would need a "hypoallergenic" dog.
But contrary to popular perception that allergies are caused by animal hair, allergies are actually caused by a protein found in the animal's dander (a combination of skin and hair), and also its saliva and urine.
"Even if you get a hairless dog, it's still going to produce the allergen," Phipatanakul said.
This would rule out even the "Peruvian Hairless" (and apparently sometimes toothless) dog the government of Peru has offered to send the White House and even the poodle or Bichon Frise varieties proposed by the American Kennel Club.
"All dogs, to my knowledge, have skin. Even if you shaved off all their hair, you'd still have skin flakes and saliva," Field said.
If someone with a pet allergy doesn't already have a dog, the expert advice is to not get one.
But there may be some breeds that are better than others (in terms of allergies), and there are some steps you can take to minimize exposure and symptoms:
The AAAAI has more on indoor allergens.
SOURCES: Jonathan Field, M.D., emeritus director, pediatric allergy and asthma clinic, New York University/Bellevue Medical Center; Wanda Phipatanakul, M.D., chair, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Indoor Allergen Committee; Chris Ashton, co-founder and president, Petplan Insurance, Philadelphia
All rights reserved