Whippets are commonly thought of as a hypoallergenic dog breed… but is this a fair assumption? Are Whippets hypoallergenic? Is any dog breed?
What does hypoallergenic mean anyway?
It’s estimated that up to 20% of the population have an allergy to dogs. This is a substantial percentage, so it’s likely you’ll know someone who’s allergic to dogs, or you’ll be allergic yourself.
We know that some dogs are more likely to cause an allergic reaction than others. Not surprisingly, allergy sufferers thinking about becoming a dog owner want to know how allergic they might be to a particular dog breed before they decide to share a home with one.
In this post I’m going to touch upon the reasons why dogs trigger an allergic reaction in 2 out of every 10 people. However, the principal reason for this post is to explore how allergenic Whippets are.
Table of Contents
- Why Are 20% of People Allergic to Dogs?
- What Does Hypoallergenic Mean?
- Are Whippets Hypoallergenic?
Why Are 20% of People Allergic to Dogs?
If 20% of people are allergic to dogs, 80% are not. Why is this? Why are some people allergic and others not?
Basically put, people who are allergic to dogs tend to have a far more sensitive immune system than those who don’t
Our immune system is designed to protect us from pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria, that can harm us and make us ill.
Sadly for dog allergy sufferers, their more sensitive immune systems identify harmless proteins found in dog saliva, urine and dander as pathogens and attempt to fight them. This results in a number of allergic reactions such as sneezing, coughing, and in worse cases, difficulty breathing.
Although most people imagine that dog fur is the biggest problem, it’s actually not the fur at all, but dander. Fur can collect dander and this is where the confusion arises.
Dander is tiny, almost microscopic flakes of dead skin that dogs and other animals naturally shed. It collects on dog fur, but because it’s so small it can also float in the air for long periods, where it can be inhaled or swallowed.
Furthermore, dander nestles into soft furnishings and clothes and even settles on walls and other surfaces in the home. And because dander gets everywhere, it’s a real problem for allergy sufferers.
Dog Allergy Symptoms
I’ve already mentioned a few dog allergy symptoms but the reality is they can be wide and varied, ranging from mild to severe. Some of the symptoms of an allergy to dogs can be:
- Runny nose
- Stomach ache
- Swollen tongue
- Tight chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Itchy eyes and nose
In most cases, dog allergies cause unpleasant discomfort. However, in severe cases they can affect breathing and trigger anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening.
What Does Hypoallergenic Mean?
The term hypoallergenic is used frequently in the marketing of many beauty products, food (including pet foods) and of course dogs.
Many people believe that something declared to be hypoallergenic means that it is completely free from allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions).
However, contrary to popular understanding, hypoallergenic does not mean allergy proof. What it really means is below average allergens or slightly allergenic.
In terms of dogs, hypoallergenic is applied to certain breeds that for whatever reason do not release as many allergens as others.
Hypoallergenic dog breeds then tend to effect less allergic reactions than allergenic breeds.
Are Whippets Hypoallergenic?
To make it clear, Whippets are not hypoallergenic.
Unfortunately, the saliva, urine and dander from all dogs contain proteins that trigger allergies in people who have more sensitive immune systems.
As I mentioned earlier, many people believe that fur is the cause of allergies, and therefore short or single-coated dogs are hypoallergenic.
Since Whippets are short-haired and single-coated, there are some who believe that Whippets must be hypoallergenic… but this isn’t the case.
Whippets are not hypoallergenic.
Although they tend to shed less than some other dog breeds, Whippets still shed their coats, especially in the summer months. And when dogs shed their fur, dander attached to it will make its way around a home.
Want to know more about whippet shedding? Find out how much Whippets shed and other information about Whippet fur.
You may be disappointed to learn that Whippets aren’t hypoallergenic, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that a Whippet won’t be right for you if you suffer from dog allergies. Of course the more severe your allergies are, the more difficult it will be for you to share your home with any dog, let alone a Whippet.
If you suffer from dog allergies but still can’t resist the charms of a Whippet, you can reduce your exposure to allergens by:
- Regular grooming by a non-allergic person outdoors to reduce dander release in the house.
- Not permitting your Whippet to roam freely in the bedroom areas… no mean feat since Whippets love to share your bed! You might consider keeping a HEPA air cleaner in your bedroom.
- Regular cleaning of your Whippet’s favourite chair and washing of blankets he or she lounges upon.
- Cleaning surface and walls regularly.
- Vacuuming regularly… though the act of vacuuming tends to release dander that has settled on the floor, so wear a dust mask throughout.
- Air purifiers may help to reduce
I should say I’m not a medical expert or a veterinary professional. If you suffer from dog allergies but would like to provide a home for any dog, you should take expert advice on the risks before doing so.
Do you suffer from allergies to dogs? Perhaps you have a Whippet? What are your views on how hypoallergenic Whippets are? Please leave a comment below to tell me about it.