There are many great reasons to consider adopting a golden retriever. They’re family-friendly, non-aggressive, active dogs who love nothing more than spending time with their humans. It’s no wonder that this dog breed consistently tops the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) list of the most popular dogs in America.
But is this a good breed for allergy sufferers? Are golden retrievers hypoallergenic, or will they trigger an allergy attack?
For all their great qualities, golden retrievers are not hypoallergenic. If you or someone in your household has pet allergies, you’ll want to carefully consider whether to bring home the irresistibly adorable golden retriever.
Let’s go into what it means to be hypoallergenic, why golden retrievers tend to cause allergies, and whether allergy sufferers can possibly live with these majestic dogs.
What Does Hypoallergenic Mean, Exactly?
“Hypo” means “less” — so “hypoallergenic” means less allergies. But it turns out that the term is a little more complicated than it seems.
We generally take “hypoallergenic” to mean a dog that doesn’t cause allergies. But the truth is that no dog is 100% hypoallergenic. Even “classic” hypoallergenic dog breeds like the poodle, maltese, Chinese crested, or Bichon Frise have the potential to cause allergies. However, these lower shedding breeds tend to spread fewer allergens.
To explain why, let’s talk a bit about what causes dog allergies. Dog allergies are caused by a protein in dog dander (dead skin cells), as well as in a dog’s saliva and urine. If you have pet allergies, your immune system sees these proteins in pet dander as a foreign invader. That’s what triggers allergic reactions like sniffling, sneezing, and watery eyes.
Every dog produces these proteins, even hypoallergenic breeds. But because dander attaches itself to pet hair, the more a dog sheds, the less hypoallergenic it is. However, it’s important to remember that the severity of a reaction to dander will vary for each individual.
Why Do Golden Retrievers Cause Allergies?
Are golden retrievers hypoallergenic? No. The golden retriever sheds a fair amount, so it’s considered a non-hypoallergenic dog. The amount of hair, and therefore the amount of dander, that your golden will spread around your home is relatively significant — especially when compared to a dog that is considered hypoallergenic, like a poodle.
Here’s more bad news: Like other medium- to large-sized breeds such as the German shepherd and Labrador retriever, the golden retriever has a double coat. That means their coat consists of two layers: a dense undercoat and a longer topcoat. Twice a year — in the spring and fall, typically — a golden will “blow the coat,” resulting in more shedding than usual. And that means even more allergens floating around your home.
How to Live With a Golden Retriever If You Have Allergies
Golden retrievers are not hypoallergenic — but what if you already care for one or you have your heart set on adopting this beautiful dog? Don’t despair — if you have mild allergies, you can take some steps to live comfortably and safely with their dream dog.
So, what options do dog owners have?
Groom Your Dog
Grooming your golden regularly will help to keep shedding at a minimum and ultimately result in less dander in your home. Brush your dog on a regular basis (or have a non-allergy suffering family member do it for you) to remove loose hair. This also spreads natural skin oils through your dog’s coat, keeping it healthy and well-moisturized.
Bathing your dog with a deshedding shampoo is another good way to keep all that hair controlled. Browse Amazon to check the selection or visit your local pet store. Just be careful that you don’t bathe your pooch too frequently, because this can dry out the skin and cause them to shed more.
Keep Things Clean
A big part of keeping your allergies to a minimum if you live with a golden retriever will be keeping the home clear of dog fur. First, you’ll need to regularly vacuum and dust to keep pet dander from settling around your home. (A robot vacuum can work wonders!)
Additionally, consider using HEPA air filters, which are designed to catch even the most microscopic of particles, including tiny dander particles. Set these up in the rooms where your dog spends the most time.
Lastly, you can reduce your dog’s fur spread throughout the home by covering your vents with cheesecloth. This keeps hair from entering the vents and blowing into other rooms.
Feed Fido Well
You might not think that what your dog eats has an impact on your allergies, but it does. If your pet isn’t getting the right nutrients from their dog food, their skin and fur can start to suffer. This will eventually lead to an increase in shedding, resulting in more exposure to allergens. Feeding your golden a high-quality food will help keep their skin and fur healthy, which can reduce your allergic reactions.
Supplementing your dog’s diet with a fish oil supplement is a great way to give the coat an all-natural boost. Native Pet’s Omega Oil is a great choice — it’s packed with Omega-3 fatty acids which help to keep the coat moisturized and healthy, reducing excessive shedding and minimizing allergy symptoms.
Does your golden retriever hop up on the family couch whenever they please? Do they sleep in bed with you? Cute as it may be, these behaviors expose you to more dog hair — and more allergy-causing dander. Train your dog not to get up on the furniture, or keep them out of places like the bedroom.
Consider a Mixed Breed
If your allergies are giving you second thoughts about adopting a golden retriever, you might want to consider adopting a mixed breed golden from a reputable breeder or shelter. The goldendoodle, for example, is a golden retriever crossed with a poodle — and their poodle genes help them shed less than a purebred golden retriever.
See Your Doctor
While the above methods can help you manage your allergy symptoms, they may not be enough to fully avoid them. In this case, visit your doctor. Antihistamines and immunotherapy allergy shots help allergic pet parents live comfortably with their beloved animal companions.
Are Golden Retrievers Hypoallergenic or Not?
The golden retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds. These lovable creatures make great family pets because they’re sociable, loyal, and great with kids. But golden retrievers are not hypoallergenic.
Because dog allergies are caused by a protein in dander that commonly attaches itself to fur, a moderate to heavy shedder like the golden retriever tends to cause allergic reactions for people who are sensitive to pet dander. But that doesn’t mean allergy sufferers have no hope of safely owning one of these magnificent dogs.
Taking steps to manage dog allergens — regularly grooming your pet, frequently cleaning the house, feeding your dog high-quality food, and setting boundaries in the home — goes a long way toward reducing symptoms. Otherwise, you can always consider a mixed breed that may shed less than a purebred golden retriever. Talking to your doctor about medication or immunotherapy shots can also be a good option.
If you want to learn more about your dog’s health, wellness, and behavior, visit the Native Pet blog.