So, you’ve always wanted a German Shepherd but have noticed that when your around dogs your nose starts to run or you start sneezing or wheezing. If this is the case you are not alone, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America “In the United States, as many as three in 10 people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs.” Although cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies, that’s still a lot of people who are allergic to dogs.
This leads you to ask the question are German Shepherds hypoallergenic? Unfortunately, no German Shepherds are not hypoallergenic. In Fact, they are considered to be one of the worst breeds for allergy sufferers.
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What are symptoms of dog allergies?
If you suffer from pet allergies they are likely to be present all year round. Most people who suffer from pet allergies will suffer from nasal allergies. The symptoms of a nasal allergy can include:
- Swelling of the membranes in the eyes which can be very itchy and cause red eye
- Watering eyes
- Chest tightening
- Shortness of breath
- Either a runny nose or a stuffy nose
- Itchy nose and roof of mouth
- Nasal congestion
Some people can suffer with contact allergies either as well as nasal allergies or instead of. The symptoms for contact allergies include:
- An itchy skin rash
Some of the signs of pet allergies are similar to those of the common cold making it difficult to know whether you have an allergy or a cold. If symptoms have not got better after two weeks you might have an allergy.
If you think you may have an allergy it is good to see a doctor or specialist who will be able to recommend ways to relieve symptoms and determine whether you are allergic to dog allergens or pollen and dust allergens, which can easily get trapped in your German Shepherds fur.
If your nasal passage feels completely blocked which is causing you difficulty in sleeping or if you are wheezing and have rapidly worsening shortness of breath after minimal activity it is recommended that you call your doctor straight away.
Why are German Shepherds bad for allergies?
Believe it or not it’s isn’t because of their fur. Lots of people assume it’s the dog’s fur which causes allergies when in fact most allergic reactions are caused by dander Source.
German Shepherds naturally have dry skin which often causes excessive amount of dander. It is also common for people to be allergic to the proteins found in all dogs’ saliva, urine and sweat.
Although it’s not the fur itself which causes the allergies when a dog malts it’s fur it will carry some of the dander and proteins in it.
German Shepherds have a double coat which means they not only malt every day of the year, they also twice a year will shed their full undercoat (once in fall, once in spring). Their fur can also trap and carry other allergies such as pollen or dust.
What is dander?
Dander is flakes made up of a collection of dead skin scales. Dander is naturally shed by many different animals with fur or feathers. However, cat and dog allergies are most common.
The reason dander can be a particular problem for allergy sufferers is because it is microscopically small and with even the slightest amounts of air circulation, it can remain airborne for long periods of time.
Dander can easily collect on any surface which has been in contact with a German Shepherd. Including, clothes, upholstered furniture and carpets.
Can you live with a German Shepherd if you have dog allergies?
Although it may not always be very pleasant or comfortable you can still live with a German Shepherd even if you do have dog allergies.
For some allergy sufferers the enjoyment a German Shepherd can bring, hands down will outweigh the discomfort of the allergies.
This being said it won’t be an easy ride and it will require a lot of commitment from yourself long term to ensure your beloved pet doesn’t end up in an animal shelter.
It’s important to understand before making that commitment that allergies are caused when your immune system produces antibodies to protect you from certain allergens which aren’t normally considered harmful.
Your immune system will respond to these allergens by producing inflammatory antibodies in your lungs or nasal passages. Prolonged exposure to the allergen can cause chronic airway inflammation, which is associated with asthma.
How to reduce allergens on a German Shepherd:
Grooming: Grooming your German Shepherd regularly will help to reduce the amount of dander, dust, pollen and other allergens trapped in their fur.
It will also help to reduce the amount of shed hair collecting around the house.
Usually it is recommended that your German Shepherd is groomed 3-4 times a week. If there is an allergy sufferer in the house grooming your Shepherd Daily will not cause them any harm and can massively help reduce the effects.
These grooming sessions should take place outside the home by someone who isn’t the allergy sufferer.
If this is not possible it is recommended a face mask is worn and hands are washed straight after the grooming session.
Bathing: Bathing your German Shepherd can help to decrease the amount of allergens trapped in their fur however over-bathing can rid the oils in a German Shepherds coat which prevents their skin from drying out, causing them to get dry skin will cause more dander so you’ll need to get the balance right.
When your German Shepherds bath time is due using an allergen neutralizing shampoo for dogs” data-wplink-url-error=”true”>allergen neutralizing shampoo or healthy skin dog shampoo” data-wplink-url-error=”true”>shampoo which supprt healthy skin will aid the reduction of dander. It is important you only use dog shampoos on your German Shepherd and not human products as human products can be more acidic and can contain additives which will irritate your German Shepherds skin again causing excessive dander.
Your German Shepherd should only need to be bathed every 5-6 months. To reduce allergens in-between baths you either use pet cleansing wipes or a moistened cloth to wipe the dander, dirt, pollen and saliva off your German Shepherd.
Diet: adding foods which contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to your German Shepherds diet will help to support the oils your German Shepherd produces to keep it’s skin and coat healthy. For more information on the heath benefits of omega-3 for German Shepherds please see our article here.
German Shepherds with healthy skin are less likely to shed as much dander as a German Shepherd with a poor diet. For ideas on what your German Shepherd can eat plus the health benefits please see our complete guide to German Shepherd food.
Ways to reduce allergens in your home you share with a German Shepherd:
There are many ways you can help to reduce the allergens present in your home. Following these tips below will enable you to keep you home as allergen free as possible:
Pet free rooms: It is important you have somewhere you can escape to which is as free as it possible can be from allergens.
We recommend one of these rooms to be the bedroom of where the allergy sufferer sleeps. Although it is almost impossible to confine allergens to certain rooms it should hopefully help to limit the amount present. Which should help to provide a bit of relief at night, allowing for a more settled sleep.
Furniture: If there is a pet allergy sufferer in the home soft furnishings should be kept as pet free as possible.
If you want your German Shepherd to sit up on the couch with you a vinyl or leather material is best as this can easily be wiped down after to reduce the number of allergens.
If you have a fabric couch it’s best to place a washable throw over it before your German Shepherd comes to join you.
Toys and bed: Washing your German Shepherds toys and bed regularly will help to reduce the number of allergens present in the home.
So, when choosing a bed for your German Shepherd try to ensure it is entirely machine washable, or at least has a removable cover.
Vacuuming: Regularly vacuuming floors, walls, soft furnishings and your German Shepherd (if they will allow it) is a great way to reduce dander and other allergens in the home.
Vacuums with HEPA filters are best at retaining and storing tiny particles, however it is recommended these are cleaned regularly to ensure consistent effectiveness.
Ideally the person who has the allergies would not be the person undertaking this task. (There are some benefits to having allergies I guess…)
Sweeping on the other hand can actually exacerbate the allergens as it will stir the allergens back up into the air which makes them more likely to be inhaled.
Dusting: Dusting like vacuuming will help to reduce the number of allergens in your home. Ideally this should be done on a daily basis when living with allergies and a German Shepherd.
It is important to ensure the cloth you use to dust is moist so the particles stick to it as opposed to a dry clothe which will just brush the allergens up into the atmosphere and onto the floor.
Flooring choice: When you bring a German Shepherd into a home with a pet allergy sufferer flooring is an important factor.
Wall to wall carpeting can trap allergens and make it difficult to remove. Where possible use easy to clean surface such as wood, laminate, tile and linoleum.
If you like the coziness carpet provides a washable rug or a rug you can take outside to air would be the better option.
Air-conditioning filters: If you have air conditioning or a furnace at home, there are specialist pet allergy filters you can buy which help to remove allergens from the air inside your home.
Air purifiers: If you don’t have air conditioning or if you’d like to purify you air even further it is worth investing in air purifiers for where your German Shepherd will spend most of their time. Air purifiers not only cleanse the air of pollen, dust and dander but will also help to remove any odours.
How to remove allergens from yourself when living with a German Shepherd:
Along with the above it is recommended you take the following steps to help reduce your exposure to pet allergens when living with a German Shepherd:
Allergens have 4 main routes for entering the human body. These 4 routes include the skin, airways, circulatory system and gastrointestinal tract.
For this reason, if you are allergic to dogs it is recommended that after playing or petting with your companion, you thoroughly wash your hands and avoid touching your face, eyes and ears.
If you get a rash after being in contact with your German Shepherd it is recommended that after any interaction you wash any of your skin which may have come into contact.
For most pet allergy sufferers being outside when playing and interacting with your German Shepherd will significantly help to reduce the symptoms the allergens cause. It can also help to reduce the amounts of dander working its way lose into your home.
Where possible after playing and interacting with your German Shepherd changing your clothes can help easy symptoms. This is because the allergens can easily attach themselves to fabric.
If it’s not possible or practical to do this, changing into freshly laundered clothes before bed will hopefully enable you to have a good night’s sleep and keep your bedroom as allergen free as possible.
If you do have a dog allergy and are either thinking about or already own a German Shepherd, it is definitely worth seeing a pet allergy specialist or your doctor to discuss your options and to get more information on your specific allergy.
Your doctor or allergy specialist can also recommend the best antihistamine or alternative therapy for your individual needs.
Pesky allergies can be unpleasant and interfere with the fun of owning a dog. There is no way to make your allergies magically disappear however, there are a few tricks which may help to minimize your exposure to them.
No dog breed has been proven to be 100% allergen free. All dogs have dander and saliva but there are some breeds which produce less than others.
Also, in some cases how hypoallergenic a dog is can depend upon the individual person and the individual dog.
Not all dogs will produce the same amount of dander and saliva, so some people are allergic to a specific dog not a specific breed.
Dog breeds which shed less, are less likely to upset allergies to dander and saliva. This is because more of the allergens will stay attached to the fur, which stays in the hair follicle. Less shedding means that there are less allergens spread throughout the home.
Although German Shepherds shed more than most other dogs the benefits in sharing your life with these amazing, loyal and intelligent breeds can be worth the extra effort required to help protect yourself from the allergens.
We hope this article has helped you to get a better understanding on the allergens associated German Shepherds and ways to reduce the effects these allergens can have.
If you would like us to answer any more questions or if you have something you feel would be beneficial to add, please either leave a comment on the bottom of this page or fill in this form here.
No one is born with allergies. Allergies develop for some people from exposure. (source)
Pet allergies are most likely to develop in childhood however, they can develop at anytime. There is no age limit.
Allergies in people can actually disappear over time. Even when they don't disappear, allergies can vary significantly over time. (source)