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If you’re a regular visitor here at Pet Care Project, you might have recently read the first article in our Papillon series, where we answered the question: ‘Do Papillons Shed?’
As we continue to get to know and understand this pawsome member of the toy breeds, this week, we’re going to be exploring the question: ‘Are Papillons Hypoallergenic?’
So, without further ado, let’s dive straight in…
Understanding Pet Allergies
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, three in ten Americans suffer from allergies due to their pets.
And while it’s by no means rare for dog owners to experience an allergic reaction to their furry friends, people with allergies are actually twice as likely to suffer as a result of cat allergies.
Today, pet allergies affect more than 50 million Americans. And while scientists worldwide have done a great deal of research to better understand pet allergies, one thing remains a mystery.
We still don’t understand pet allergies because one person’s specific symptoms are more or less severe than those of another person.
That said, one thing science does tell us about pet allergies is that they run in the family. So, if there is a medical history of pet allergies within your family, the chances of you suffering are greater.
But What is an Allergic Reaction, Exactly?
The human immune system is the body’s first line of defense. When our immune system detects a specific threat, it kicks into overdrive and produces antibodies.
The antibodies our bodies produce protect us against any threats by attacking them. This is how our bodies fight illness.
When it comes to pet allergies, we often assume that our pets’ hair or fur triggers an allergic reaction.
This isn’t true.
In fact, the trigger of an allergic reaction in humans is specific proteins called allergens.
Allergens are microscopic proteins, and they are commonly found in:
- Pet Dander (dead skin cells)
- Pet Saliva
- Pet Sweat
- Pet Urine
Another big problem with these allergens is that they can survive for a very long time.
Whether allergens are released into the air or onto different surfaces in and around our homes, they can linger for several months, all the while causing havoc for allergy sufferers.
There’s a very long list of common reactions to pet allergies, some of which include:
- Blocked and/or runny nose
- Regular sneezing
- Itchy nose/mouth/throat
- Puffy/swollen eyes
- Itching and redness around the eyes
- Breathing difficulties
- Chest pains
- Tightening of the chest
- Shortening of breath
What Makes a Dog Hypoallergenic?
Factually speaking, there isn’t a single dog on earth that is hypoallergenic.
Why? Because there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. It’s a myth.
That said, certain dogs out there are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction in humans than others. And it’s for this reason that those dogs are given the ‘hypoallergenic’ label.
There are several well-documented reasons why some dogs are less likely to cause allergic reactions compared to others.
Let’s explore those reasons.
Reason 1 – Some Dogs Shed less than Others
It’s a well-known fact that some dogs shed far less than others.
Because dog hair and dog fur are one of the main carriers of pet allergens, it stands to reason that if a dog sheds less, it will automatically limit the amount of allergens spread onto our clothes, furniture, and around our homes in general.
Reason 2 – Some Dogs Create less Dander than Others
As we mentioned above, pet dander is tiny flakes of skin cells that dogs, cats, and many other animals shed once those cells die off.
Dander is one of the main culprits for the cause of allergic reactions because it not only contains those allergens that are the cause of pet allergies – it can also attach itself very easily to dog hair and dog fur.
Once our furry friends shed dead or damaged hair or fur, that means the dander and allergens are also transferred along with it.
And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you where dog hair ends up – basically everywhere! It doesn’t matter whether it’s transferred onto our clothes, carpets, or beds because once those allergens are released, the damage is done.
Reason 3 – Some Dogs Slobber less than Others
Ok, let’s talk slobber! As you’re probably aware, there are some canines out there that could fill a small swimming pool with the amount of slobber they produce.
But drooling isn’t something we can control as dog owners because it’s all about dog DNA. That’s right, the amount a dog drools is genetically pre-determined.
If you own a St. Bernard, for example, then you should be fully prepared to handle lots and lots of slobber.
But if you’re the proud owner of a Papillon, then excessive drooling isn’t a problem you’ll have to encounter.
When it comes to the spreading of allergens, dogs that drool more will naturally spread them more easily. And that includes spreading allergens on to your face when your cuddly canine wants to give you kisses!
Reason 4 – Male Dogs Urinate more than Female Dogs
We’ve all seen male dogs cock up their leg to go the toilet against a tree. And we’ve all seen male dogs scenting – or marking their territory – many times while we’re out walking them.
In fact, male dogs’ toilet behaviors mean they are more likely to spread allergens than their female counterparts.
Because male dogs tend to urinate on specific objects, there’s more chance that they could do their business on an actual object. Take a piece of garden furniture or a child’s outdoor play toy, for example.
On top of that, because male dogs scent and mark their territory frequently, it means they actually produce more urine compared to female dogs.
And as we mentioned earlier in this article, dog urine is a spreader of allergens.
So, when it comes to dogs’ gender, females tend to be more hypoallergenic than male dogs.
So, are Papillons Hypoallergenic?
As we mentioned earlier, hypoallergenic dogs don’t exist.
And that means just like all other dog breeds, Papillons too are not hypoallergenic.
But what if we re-phrase the question slightly? What if we ask: “Are Papillons less likely to trigger an allergic reaction in humans compared to other dog breeds?”
The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Papillons are far less likely to trigger an allergic reaction in their owners compared to other breeds of dogs.
And that means they are about as close as you can get to a hypoallergenic dog.
But why is that?
Papillons are Small Dogs
Papillons belong in the toy dog group, making them one of the smallest dog breeds around.
Smaller dogs naturally have smaller coats. And more often than not, that means they have less fur or less hair to shed than larger dog breeds.
And as a dog breed with less hair, the good news is that there won’t be as much hair being shed or as many allergens being transferred onto your clothes and in and around your home.
Papillons are a Single-Coated Dog Breed
In our last article, we talked a lot about the characteristics of the Papillon coat.
One of the points we covered in a lot of detail was that Papillons are a single-coated dog breed.
Because Paps don’t have that second undercoat layer of fur, there’s no need for them to ‘dump’ the majority of a second coat as the seasons’ change.
It’s just a fact that single-coated breeds like the Papillon don’t shed anywhere near the same volume of hair than double-coated dog breeds.
And while Papillons do shed their hair on a very regular basis, again, the amount they shed is very little.
Papillons only need to shed those dead or damaged ‘guard hairs’ on their outercoat. While they might shed them often, the amount that this tiny dog sheds is actually very little.
Papillons have Hair, not Fur
Now, this point might sound like semantics, but it’s not.
You see, whether a dog has hair or fur is actually quite an important factor when it comes to the question of hypoallergenic dogs.
To put it simply, hair and fur are slightly different things.
Hair typically grows longer in length than fur does. And because it grows longer, it takes a longer amount of time before shedding takes place.
Fur, on the other hand, is much shorter. And as soon as fur reaches the end of the hair growth cycle, it dies off and gets shed by the dog.
Shorter fur, therefore, gets shed much quicker and far more regularly than hair does.
And in the case of the Papillons, they have hair, not fur.
Papillons don’t Drool Very Much
Thankfully, Paps barely drool. It’s just not in their DNA.
They do create saliva, of course. All dogs have to make a certain amount of saliva to digest their food when they are eating.
But they aren’t one of those slobbery dogs. In fact, they are one of the most drool-free dogs there is!
As you can see, there’s a pretty long list of reasons why you could argue that Papillons are marketed as a hypoallergenic dog.
So, although there isn’t really such a thing as a hypoallergenic dog, what you get with a Papillon is a very small dog that sheds a limited amount of hair and doesn’t really slobber.
And suppose you happen to have a female Papillon as your family pet. In that case, you’ve very nearly hit the hypoallergenic jackpot!
What Can you Do to Help Allergies from a Papillon?
Ok, I know you’re not going to want to hear this. But suppose you are an unfortunate sufferer of severe pet allergies. In that case, there’s really only one guaranteed way to prevent your allergies from being triggered in the future.
And that way is to not own a pet dog.
However, millions of Americans suffer from pet allergies and still manage to live a happy life with their furry friend by their side.
You can do lots of different things to manage your allergies as a dog owner, and they are all pretty straightforward.
To make it easier, we’ve grouped the list below into three main categories:
You and Your Family
Hygiene and cleanliness are a massively important factor in preventing and managing your pet allergies from being triggered. Here are some hints and tips that you might want to consider for you and your family members:
Wear a Mask when Doing your Household Chores
By wearing a mask, you’ll prevent any dust and dander from getting up your nose or in your mouth. This will go a long way towards making sure pet allergens can’t get into your body to trigger an allergic reaction.
Make sure you Change your Clothes after Playing with or Fussing your Papillon
When we roll around and toy fight with our dogs, their hair, dander, and other bits and bobs naturally transfer on to our clothes. As soon as playtime is over, go and change your clothes. The sooner you can change, the better. Fresh, clean, and allergen-free clothes will help to keep an allergic reaction at bay.
Make a Habit of Regularly Washing your Hands and Face
Practicing regular washing will help you remove any allergens present on your skin. The more regularly you wash, the less chance there is of an allergic reaction occurring.
Introduce Young Children to the Pet Dog Sooner Rather than Later
Pet allergies tend to run in the family. Over recent years, a number of scientific studies have shown that if you introduce your children to animals before the age of two, they are far less likely to develop pet allergies. The science behind this is that up until the age of two, a child’s immune system isn’t fully developed. Introducing your child and dog before their immune system is fully developed dramatically decreases the likelihood of a pet allergy ever occurring.
Your Home Environment
If you own a dog, then there’s every chance that your allergies will be triggered at home. Luckily, there are lots of ways to try and prevent your Papillon from triggering your allergies.
Don’t just Clean in the Spring
If you want to prevent an allergic reaction, then you’re going to need to learn to enjoy cleaning! Set yourself a strict and regular cleaning schedule that includes vacuuming, dusting, and wiping down surfaces so that you can get rid of any allergens lurking within your home.
Declutter your Home
Less stuff means there are fewer surfaces for allergens to stick to. Try not to hoard unnecessary items if you don’t need them, as they’ll do more harm than good if you suffer from pet allergies.
Create Pap-Free Zones
If your Pap can’t get into a room, they can’t spread allergens in there. Make a habit of closing doors behind you, and if you can, install a pet gate between the different rooms in your home.
Don’t let Your Pap in the Bedroom
We love our dogs. And many of us love letting our dogs snuggle up with us on the bed when we sleep. But this is bad news for allergy sufferers. If possible, make your bedroom a no-go zone for your Pap.
Change your Bedding
If you don’t want to keep your Pap out of the bedroom, then consider buying special bedding that helps to repel pet allergens. The last thing you want is your allergies to be triggered while you’re sleeping at night!
Consider a Carpet-Free Home
Carpets are magnets for pet allergens! And once they’re in there, it’s tough to get them out. If you can replace carpets for hard or wooden floors. They are far easier to clean and make much more comfortable work for your vacuum cleaner in sucking up any lingering allergens.
Remove Allergens from the Air
Allergens can very easily become airborne. To prevent this, you might want to consider investing in some high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA filters) for your living and sleeping areas to help filter the air in those key rooms.
Keep your Car Allergen-Free
If you regularly travel with your dog, buy removable and washable seat covers. That way, you can wash them regularly to remove any allergens from the material.
If you look after your Papillon, your Papillon will look after you! If you take the proper steps in caring for your Papillon, you’ll also be able to help manage your pet allergies.
Regularly Wash and Replace your Pap’s Bed
If allergens trigger your allergic reaction, then make a habit of washing your Pap’s bedding every week. And replace old beds and bedding with new ones at least once a year.
Give your Pap lots of Exercise
Regular, outdoor exercise helps keep your Pap’s coat healthy. Not only does it help to reduce the amount of hair your Pap sheds – the fresh air and wind will also help blow away any dead hair and dander from your Pap’s coat.
Introduce Vitamin Supplements
These form a great part of a healthy diet and help keep your Pap’s shedding to the bare minimum.
Pamper your Pap Regularly
Make grooming your Pap a regular habit. A good grooming routine that includes regular bathing, brushing, hair, and nail trimming is vital in managing your pet allergies.
Should you Groom your Papillon Regularly?
Yes. You absolutely should. As we just mentioned, a regular grooming routine is important for so many reasons.
It doesn’t just help you to prevent pet allergies from being triggered. It also helps to keep your Papillon in the best possible health. And it also builds that all-important bond between you and your best friend.
If possible, your Pap’s grooming routine should consist of the following:
If you can run a brush through your Pap’s coat daily, do it. If that’s not doable, two or three times a week is also great. If you’re not sure which is the best brush for your Papillon, keep an eye out for a future article that we’ll be writing on this very subject!
If you can bathe your Pap every month, then do. It’s a great way to remove allergens and other nasties from your Pap’s coat. And it’ll also help to keep your Pap’s coat in mint condition. Suppose you’re looking for advice on the best shampoo for Papillons. In that case, they keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming buying guide on this very subject.
Give your Pap’s Hair a Trim
A fairly regular hair cut is vital in maintaining a healthy coat. Your Pap doesn’t need a full shave with a number one razor, though. We’re talking a regular trim around key parts of their body. This includes paws, pads, tail, and their little boy and girl parts.
While the idea of a hypoallergenic dog is a myth, as we’ve discussed during this article, there are most certainly dogs out there that come pretty darn close! And the great news is that the Papillon just happens to be one of those dogs.
If you are one of the 50 million Americans out there that suffer from pet allergies, and if you own or are considering adding a Papillon to your family, then try some of the hints and tips we’ve provided in this article. I’m sure you and your Pap will live together in perfect harmony.
About the Author
Hey there! I'm Jeremy and I’m the brains behind Pet Care Project, a website chock-full of pet-care know-how. I've got the experience and knowledge to help you keep your furry friends happy and healthy. And let's not forget about my own little fluffball, Lunar, my Ragdoll cat who keeps me on my toes.