Pet Allergies? Hypoallergenic Dogs May Not Make A Difference

07/08/2011 12:13 pm ET | Updated Sep 07, 2011

Allergy sufferers who still want a canine companion have been known to drop big bucks on so-called "hypoallergenic dogs" -- so dubbed because they are reported to have lower household allergen levels than other pooches. But a new study suggests that might not actually be the case.

Writing in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital found no scientific basis backing the idea that hypoallergenic dogs have less irritating allergens. As the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America explains, "People with pet allergies have supersensitive immune systems that react to harmless proteins in the pet's dander -- dead skin that is shed -- saliva, or urine. These proteins are called allergens."

In the new study, researchers collected dust samples from more than 173 homes with one dog. All told, they looked at 60 different breeds, 11 of which were supposed to be hypoallergenic. The researchers found no significant differences in allergen levels among the hypoallergenic versus non hypoallergenic dogs.

"The idea that you can buy a certain breed of dog and think it will cause less allergy problems for a person already dog-allergic is not borne out by our study," said Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D., chair of Henry Ford's Department of Public Health Sciences and the study's lead author in a press release.

Maybe not. But the American Kennel Club -- which admits that no dog is 100-percent hypoallergenic -- provides a list of dogs it claims are better-suited to allergy sufferers, saying they have non-shedding coats and thus, result in less dander.

On that list? Breeds like Bichon Frise, Maltese, Poodles and (first-family style) Portuguese Water Dogs.