Created to solve the issue of guide dogs for those who suffer from pet allergies, Labradoodles, a cross between the loyal Labrador Retriever and the witty and wise (usually Standard) Poodle, are listed among today’s most popular crossbred dogs. However, are Labradoodles hypoallergenic? From the beginning, there has been some debate about whether these lovely dogs can truly be labeled hypoallergenic and about what that even really means.
Here we will take a look at what causes dog allergies, whether there really is such a thing as hypoallergenic dogs and whether the darling Labradoodle qualifies as such. If you are one of the unfortunate estimated 15 to 30% of the population impacted by allergies but really want to welcome a pup into your home, then this will matter to you. We will also provide some top tips for reducing allergy flareups if and when you do find your new best friend.
Table of Contents
- Pet Allergies: What Are They and What Causes Them?
- The Great “Doodles Are Hypoallergenic” Debate
- So, What About Labradoodles?
- How to Have a Labradoodle and Enjoy Time With Them Too
- Frequently Asked Questions About Labradoodles By Allergy Sufferers
- Are Labradoodles Hypoallergenic: Final Thoughts
Pet Allergies: What Are They and What Causes Them?
Symptoms of an allergy, which include swelling and itching in the membranes of the nose, reddening of the skin, coughing and shortness of breath, and rashes, are brought on when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance that it considers a threat to your body.
Generally, this is a good thing as it helps ward off unwelcome viruses and bacteria that could severely impact your health. However, in some individuals with a particularly sensitive immune system, this response can be triggered by harmless things. This is what is happening in the case of a pet allergy.
People tend to think hair is the allergen that causes the problems. For this reason, there is a widespread belief that the less a dog sheds, the more hypoallergenic they are. In fact, there is some truth to this, but it really is only half the story.
Rather than the hair, symptoms are triggered by a protein found in a dog’s skin, urine, and saliva. The hair comes into play because it makes an excellent vehicle for this protein, spreading it all about the house. This does imply that low-shedding dogs are less likely to be a problem for dog allergy sufferers…perhaps.
The Great “Doodles Are Hypoallergenic” Debate
Experts at the American Kennel Club (AKC) are reluctant to label any canine breed hypoallergenic. However, they do consider some “less allergenic” than others. These dogs “have a predictable, non-shedding coat that produces less dander” and so tend to be a better bet for allergy sufferers looking for a faithful companion.
Obviously, the AKC only deals with purebred pups and so they don’t have anything to say about Doodles, but they do list the Poodle as being one of their low-shed breeds. Although, they go on to mention that these pooches require “regular professional grooming.”
The Labrador Retriever, as you might expect, is not included here. Despite being short-haired, Labs are a double-coated breed. What this means is that they shed – A LOT! Unfortunately, this makes these super popular pups (they top the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) annual list of most popular breeds) not so great for those with dog allergies.
So, with one low-shed and one super-shed parent pup, where does this place Labradoodles on the so-called “hypoallergenic” spectrum?
So, What About Labradoodles?
What we do know is that a multitude of breeders still market Labradoodles as “the original hypoallergenic dogs,” making promises about dodging clumps of fur all about the house. But, how certain can they really be that the dogs will inherit the Poodle coat over the Lab one?
The first-ever litter of Labradoodles produced only three out of eight low-allergy puppies. Since then, results have remained inconsistent, which doesn’t bode well… Yet breeders have come up with some ways of making it much more likely their puppies will end up with a Poodle coat. One of these is backcrossing Labradoodles with Poodles to add more Poodle genes to the mix.
In the breeding world, they talk about ‘Doodle generations’ (as F1 – first generation, F2 – second-generation…). The various ones of these are as follows:
|1st Parent||2nd Parent||% Labrador Retriever*||% Poodle*|
|F1 Labradoodle (first-generation)||Labrador Retriever||Poodle||50%||50%|
|F1B Labradoodle (first-generation backcross)||F1 Labradoodle||Poodle||25%||75%|
|F1BB Labradoodle (first-generation backcross backcross)||F1B Labradoodle||Poodle||12.5%||87.5%|
|F2 Labradoodle (second-generation)||F1 Labradoodle||F1 Labradoodle||50%||50%|
|F2B Labradoodle (second-generation backcross)||F1 Labradoodle||F1B Labradoodle||37.5%||62.5%|
|F2B Labradoodle (alternate cross)||F2 Labradoodle||Poodle||25%||75%|
|F3 / Multigen Labradoodle||F1B Labradoodle or higher||F1B Labradoodle or higher||Varies||Varies|
In theory, if you were searching for a Labradoodle that would work for an allergy sufferer, you would need to opt for an F1B, F1BB, or F2BB. With these, you would stand the best chance of getting what you need. However, in practice, genes can be sneaky little blighters, and you could end up with a mostly Poodle pup with a Labrador Retriever coat.
How to Have a Labradoodle and Enjoy Time With Them Too
Even if you hit the jackpot with a curly-coated Dood, low-shed is not the same as no-shed. The most Poodle-y Labra in the world is still going to shed, and those hairs will carry the dander that hosts the pesky proteins that lead to itchy eyes, sneezing, and more. The good news, though, is that there are an easy few things you can do to minimize this issue and keep symptoms at bay. These include:
Frequent Grooming and (Frequent-ish) Bathing
A well-known curse of the Poodle coat is actually a blessing in disguise for avoiding hair everywhere. When loose strands fall out, they generally get caught up in the rest of the coat – especially if you keep it quite long. While you need to keep an eye on this as it can all too quickly lead to knots, tangles, and matting, a daily brushing will sweep this hair away, making it far easier to dispose of than if it were all over your carpet.
Opt for tools that are up to the job of reaching deep down into your pet’s hair and gathering loose hairs all together. Not all brushes are created equal. For challenging Labradoodle coats, we like the Chris Christensen Big Slicker family. Available in different shapes and sizes and with varying pin lengths and thicknesses, it’s easy to find the best brush for your pet.
Alongside grooming, regular washing, and coat trims, whether you opt to have them done by a professional or tackle the job yourself, can also make a world of difference. If you will be cleaning your pup at home, take care not to do it too frequently as this can dry out their hair and skin, creating even more shedding. Every six weeks or so should be enough, and pick up a high-quality, moisture-retaining shampoo and conditioner for best results.
Thorough and Regular House Cleaning
Even with all that grooming effort, some hairs are bound to slip through the net and find a comfortable spot on your couch or gather in the corner of rooms. For this reason, you will likely need to ramp up the housecleaning a little to keep this in check. Vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, and mopping will help with floors and hard surfaces. Wiping down your furniture with a damp cloth will help collect any loose hairs and dander from there.
If you are limited in terms of time, you may consider restricting your Labra to certain, easy to clean areas of the house. You can do this with dog gates. Just make sure you’re not keeping your pooch confined to too small a space unless they also have easy access to a nice big yard. For airborne particles, a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter can remove as much as 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria with a size of 0.3 microns. You’ll really notice the difference with one of these.
Pick the Right Kind of Food
Another excellent way to keep your four-legged friend’s coat and skin healthy enough to reduce the amount of shed occurring is with their diet. As a breed, Poodles tend to be extra sensitive to certain foods. This can manifest itself through dry, flaky skin that itches like crazy. You can imagine the result of this in terms of hair loss. If this seems to be an issue with your pup, check their kibble for any ingredients that could be causing these intolerances (chicken is a common culprit – as are various fillers) and switch it out for something else.
Otherwise, the problem might be that the food you are feeding your pooch doesn’t contain enough of the necessary nutrients needed to keep their hair in tip-top condition. Protein is vital to any dog’s diet and should be the number one ingredient of anything you are feeding them. Alongside this, they need a balanced mix of fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. These are the foods that we like for Labradoodles, based on owner reviews and recommendations. They are all expertly developed for optimal canine health.
If you can’t find any obvious issues with your pup’s diet, they may just need a little more of certain nutrients than other dogs. Omega fatty acids are great, and fish-based formulas naturally tend to contain more of this than different kinds. The next time you’re out shopping, pick up one of these and see if it does any good. Alternatively, you might consider adding certain supplements to your pup’s diet. However, you should consult your vet before doing this to ensure that it will do what you need it to do and won’t harm them in any way.
Make Use of Medications
Dog hair loss tends to occur in cycles. You’ll often find that whether your pal is a big shedder or not, it will increase at certain times of the year (namely at the turn of seasons that hail temperature changes). This is only natural. A dog’s coat protects them from the elements, and as such, it responds to changes in their environment. This will be far less noticeable with a single-layered hair coat than with a double-layered fur coat. The latter favors more wintery conditions, and the dog would overheat if the dense undercoat didn’t thin with increasing temperatures.
Either way, there really isn’t much you can do during these heavy shed times. Keep on top of the grooming, washing, housecleaning, and everything else. However, you may well have to turn to nasal sprays and medicines such as antihistamines and bronchodilators at this time to help keep your symptoms in check. Luckily though, it shouldn’t last all that long, especially if you tend to keep your pet’s coat nicely short anyway.
Frequently Asked Questions About Labradoodles By Allergy Sufferers
Which Labradoodles sheds least?
It’s challenging to know which Labradoodles might shed the least. You never really know what kind of coat they will inherit. However, those with more Poodle genes through Labradoodles being backcrossed with other Poodles are more likely to end up with the low-shed Poodle coat. These include F1B, F1BB, or F2BB dogs. Opt for one of these if you have your heart set on a Labra but suffer from allergies and/or asthma.
Are Labradoodles hypoallergenic?
There is no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic dog. Therefore we can say with absolute certainty that Labradoodles are not hypoallergenic – not entirely. As it is the proteins found in dander, saliva, and urine that are responsible for triggering allergies, there is nothing that can be done about that. That being said, these proteins are primarily spread by hair loss, meaning dogs that shed less definitely have fewer symptoms triggering. Poodles fall into this category, and sometimes their Doodle offspring do too.
Which is better for allergies, Labradoodles or Goldendoodles?
As breeds go, the Labradoodle and Goldendoodle can be said to be quite similar in many ways. That’s why often people struggle to pick between the two. In terms of allergies, these dogs have the potential to shed just as much as one another. You might say the Goldendoodle is worse… but the difference will be very slight. If you’re looking for a guaranteed “hypoallergenic” coat, it’s best to find a Doodle with both parents on the AKC’s low-shed list. That way, it doesn’t really matter which coat they inherit.
Are Labradoodles Hypoallergenic: Final Thoughts
As the offspring of the nation’s favorite family pet – the Labrador Retriever – Labradoodles are the obvious choice for families looking to avoid the issue of mountains of hair all about the place. While these dogs are pretty much guaranteed to shed far less than their Lab parent pup, the exact amount of hair they do lose will depend on precisely what kind of coat they end up with. While there are ways to prod this in the Poodle coat’s favor via selective breeding, it’s hard to know just what the outcome will be.
Therefore, if you are looking for a ‘hypoallergenic’ dog because you or someone in your family has a dog allergy, then you will want to do a lot of careful research before picking out your puppy or alternatively opt for a safer bet. However, Labradoodles, with their intelligence and trainability, are still considered the best service animals for those with allergies and asthma.
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