If you or one of your family suffer from allergies, then getting a dog can be a big decision. There are lots of different dog breeds to choose from, and some are more likely to shed hair and allergens than others.
Golden Retrievers are not hypoallergenic. In fact, they are one of the worst dog breeds you can choose if you are allergic to animals. This is because they have a double coat that sheds more, and they tend to produce more of the allergic inducing dander.
Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, and are a popular choice among families. Unfortunately, they tend to shed a lot, and are unsuitable for homes where allergens need to be kept to a minimum.
Why Are Golden Retrievers Not Hypoallergenic?
A hypoallergenic dog is one that produces a lot less dander. Dander is basically dead skin cells and these can induce an allergic reaction in some people.
Hypoallergenic dogs usually shed less hair than other breeds. There can be some confusion as to what a hypoallergenic breed actually is. Unfortunately, there are people breeding and selling dogs claiming that they are 100% hypoallergenic. This is simply not true. Every dog looses hair and skin cells, some just do it more than others.
Allergic reactions to a dog are caused by the proteins that dogs have in their saliva, urine, and dander. These proteins are known as Can f 1 and Can f 2. These proteins are most concentrated in a dog's saliva. Fur often gets dander stuck to it, so fur can also be a carrier of this protein.
Golden Retrievers have a double coat. This means that they have two separate coats, an outer one and an inner one. The inner one is situated against the skin and is soft and thick. It helps to regulate body temperature all year round whilst protecting the skin from UV rays. The outer coat is the wavy, golden coat we associate with Golden Retrievers. It's a coarse, water proof coat and doesn't shed as much as the inner one.
The inner coat tends to shed more than the outer coat in response to the environment and temperature. During the winter it becomes dense and traps air around the skin. It also traps dead skin cells (dander), so that as it falls out there is also a large amount of allergy inducing dander that falls out with it.
When the weather gets warmer some double coated breeds, like Golden Retrievers can have a 'double-coat blow out'. This is when they lose a large amount of hair over a few weeks from their undercoat. It generally happens twice a year and it usually coincides with the change in the length of daylight hours in the spring and fall.
So as you can see, Golden Retrievers will shed a lot of hair and dander all year round. This is why they are generally not the best breed choice for people that are allergic to pet dander.
Can You Still Get A Golden Retriever If you are allergic to dogs?
The answer is, it depends.
Allergic reactions vary greatly from individual to individual. Some people cannot be around dogs (or any animals) without experiencing symptoms such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, or even chest tightness and shortness of breath.
Golden Retrievers are near the top of the list when it comes to shedding hair and dander. They are also very friendly, sociable animals and love nothing more than greeting people with a big lick on the face or hands. So keeping potential allergens to a minimum is going to be a challenge with a Golden Retriever around.
A 'hypoallergenic' breed could possibly be a better choice, but there is no guarantee that it would not cause an allergic reaction either. In fact, a 2011 study (1) by Henry Ford Hospital researchers found that there is no evidence that hypoallergenic dog households have less dog allergens than other households.
Tips to Minimize Dog Dander and other allergens in the Home
If you suffer from pet allergies but still really want to have a Golden Retriever, then there are some steps you can take to minimise the amount of allergens that you come in contact with.
Of course, if you do suffer from allergies, then you shouldn't just run out and get a Golden Retriever puppy without living with one first. A great way to try living with a dog, whilst helping dogs that are in need, is by becoming a dog foster parent.
Get in touch with your local dog rehoming shelter and see if they need any foster parents in your area. They will advice you on what's involved, and you can talk to them about any concerns you may have.
Having a foster dog in your home temporarily can be a great way to experience what it's like living with a dog, especially if you suffer from allergies. Whilst you have a dog around there are plenty of ways to reduce dog allergens that you may come in contact with. Here are a few tips to consider:
1. Reduce the amount of allergens on your Dog (Golden Retriever)
You can greatly reduce the amount of potentially harmful dander around your home by capturing it before it falls off your dog.
The best way to remove dander and loose hair is with daily brushings. You should always brush your Golden Retriever outside so as to minimise the amount of dander and hair around the house, and wear gloves and a face mask of necessary.
Bathing can also be a good option especially since Golden Retrievers love water. If the weather is warm you can make a game out of it by introducing a paddling pool or garden hose. Don't use shampoo too often on your Golden Retriever as it can wreak havoc with the natural oils in their coats and limit the bathing to 2-3 times a week.
2. Take Precautions Around Your Home
Don't let your Golden Retriever on the furniture or sleep in the same bed with you. Having a dog-free room or two can also help so that you can get away from potential allergens if necessary.
You can also reduce the amount of pet hair and dander in your home by cleaning daily. Vacuum floors and soft furnishings with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. These filters capture any allergens in the air and keeps them from recirculating into the environment. You can buy HEPA air purifiers that help to remove allergens from the air and these can really help to keep your home allergy free.
Reducing the places that the dander and fur can hide or cling to is a good idea too. Keep floors clear of anything that might collect dirt and hair such as rugs, children's toys and pet blankets or beds.
3. Take Precautions Yourself
If you have allergies it's important to minimise any potential interactions with dog hair, dander or saliva.
You should avoid touching your nose, eyes, or mouth when you're around your dog or after petting your dog. You should also avoid letting the dog touch your face, and definitely no face licks, please!
It can also help if you wear a dust mask and gloves when cleaning your home, brushing your dog or if you are playing inside with your dog.
Golden Retriever grooming tips to help reduce allergens
Golden Retrievers are really easy to groom. Their double coat naturally sheds a lot so it's important to stay on top of grooming with a daily brushing routine.
Unlike many other dog breed, you do not need to cut or trim the hair of your Golden Retriever. You should never shave the outer or under coat as this is needed to regulate body temperature and to protect your Golden from the sun. Your dogs body does a good job of regulating the thickness of the under coat itself.
Some Golden Retriever owners like to keep trim the hair around the ears, top of the head, back of the legs and around the paws. If you aren't comfortable doing this yourself, then take him to a groomer every 6 months or so to get this done.
The rest of the time you can easily keep your Golden Retrievers' coat in good shape, and reduce the amount of allergens around your home with daily coat brushing.
Here are a few tips for reducing the amount of hair, dander and dirt that your Golden Retriever leaves around your home:
- Use an undercoat thinning brush. A coat thinning brush such as a Furminator, is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of hair that your Golden Retriever sheds around your home. This type of brush is great from removing loose and dead hair from the undercoat. It also removes dead skin cells and dander too before it can fall onto the floor or furniture in your home. This type of brush has stainless steel teeth that reach through the top coat and brush the under coat. The first time you use it you'll be amazed at how much hair it removes. Personally, I brush my own dog once or twice a week with a coat thinning brush, but you may want to do it more if you are trying to reduce allergens.
- Use a slicker brush. A slicker brush is the more traditional under coat brush, and does the same job as a coat thinning brush. It's not as harsh as a furminator styled brush and it will remove loose hair from the top coat too. You can use a slicker brush every day, and it's a great way of removing matted hair from the top coat, especially around sensitive areas such as the ears and the belly.
- Feed a good diet. If you want you Golden Retriever to have a good quality coat and healthy skin then a healthy diet and plenty of water is a necessity. In my opinion, a healthy diet is a raw food diet, but there are plenty of acceptable dry food options available too. It may also be beneficial to supplement your dogs diet with salmon oil. Check out our article on the benefits of salmon oil for dogs to see how it can help your dog's coat and skin.
- Wipe down after being outside. If you want to reduce the amount of allergens in your home then it's important to wipe down your dogs coat, legs and paws with ta damp cloth after he plays outside. Dogs love rolling around in grass and dirt and often bring invisible allergens such as pollen inside your home without you knowing it. A quick rub down with a damp cloth and a once over with the slicker brush can help to reduce any allergens stuck to his coat.
- Keep paws clean and nails trimmed. Paws, nails and legs are very common hotspots when it comes to allergens. Dogs will walk in all sorts of things when outside and love to lick their paws clean many times a day. Dog saliva is the number one source of allergens for people with dog allergies, so keeping them clean will help to reduce the chances of them leaving behind allergens on furniture and your clothes.