If you have concerns about pet allergies, you may have considered getting what is referred to as a hypoallergenic dog breed. According to some sources, hypoallergenic dog breeds are types of dogs that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction in humans. This, however, is a bit misleading as all dogs have physical traits that may induce allergies. No one breed of dog can be considered entirely hypoallergenic.
Some breeds are frequently mentioned as hypoallergenic, though, and Samoyeds are among them. The dry coat and low-dander levels of this breed are often referenced as evidence. But this can depend on the people around the Samoyed, the Samoyed itself, and a whole host of other environmental factors.
So if you have been wondering, "are Samoyed hypoallergenic?" the answer is somewhat disputed, and it depends on who you ask. However, this article will break down breed specifics of Samoyeds, what causes pet allergies, what to expect from Samoyeds specifically regarding their shedding behavior, and how to deal with dog allergies around the home.
A Background On Samoyeds
Samoyeds, also know as Sammies, are medium-sized dogs with pointed ears, long white (or whitish) fur, bushy tails that curve or droop behind them, and distinct, upwardly-curving black lips that form a "smiling"-like appearance. According to the Samoyed Club of America, males can range from 21 to 23.5 inches high at the shoulder and weigh 45 to 65 pounds. Females are smaller, measuring 19 to 21 inches at the shoulder, weighing around 35 to 50 pounds.
This breed is known for having a two-layered coat. The outer layer is silvery, shiny, long, and coarse guard hairs that are straight. The underlying coat is dense and considered wool-like. This coat can have a white, biscuit, or cream appearance — other colors are likely the result of crossbreeding and are considered rare anomalies.
Samoyeds have a long history as a dog breed dating back at least 5,000 years. Their origin comes from north-central Siberia's tundra environment, specifically as herding dogs for the Samoyedic peoples.
The early Samoyedic peoples were nomadic and bred the Samoyed to herd domesticated reindeer and pull their sleds. They also used Samoyed fur for different articles of clothing, and valued the attentive companionship of the breed.
As a herding dog, Samoyeds developed a friendly, intelligent, and obedient temperament. They are known to be especially friendly around children and older adults. Samoyeds are considered spitz dogs related to other northern dog breeds such as Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Icelandic Sheepdogs.
What Causes Pet Allergies?
Pet allergies are the result of what the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) considers the reaction of a sensitive human immune system. Naturally, the human immune system protects the body from pathogens like airborne disease and bacteria.
If you have a cold, for example, a runny nose and a fever are the work of the body's immune system attempting to block and eradicate (respectively) underlying harmful bacteria in the body.
Similarly, pet allergies result from the body's reaction to pet allergens, i.e., those materials that can cause pet allergies. Pet allergens include pet saliva, dander (microscopic particles of dead skin), urine, or feces. Exposure to these allergens can cause certain individuals to experience one or more of the following symptoms (as described by WebMD):
These symptoms can occur as little as 15 to 30 minutes from pet dander inhalation or contact with other pet allergens. If the allergens are at low levels, it may take several days of contact with pets to develop symptoms.
Other symptoms can include skin hives (small reddish swollen bumps) on the face, neck, or chest. Skin exposed to pet saliva (licking) can similarly break out in rashes or hives. Finally, those with asthma may experience a marked (or even severe) increase in asthma-related symptoms.
Pet allergies, especially dog allergies, are not explicitly caused by fur or hair. They are more specifically caused by pet dander, the often-microscopic flakes of dead skin that flake off your dog's body in the normal course of its life.
Dander, urine, and saliva are more likely to get into a person's respiratory system or make contact with the skin. In turn, they will more likely cause pet-related allergies. So it is your dog's dander, saliva, and urine that are more likely allergens than shedded fur or hair, per se.
This is why the amount of fur or hair your dog sheds may not be as important as the amount of dander it has at any given time (this is how people can be allergic to even short-haired or hairless breeds). Shedded fur or hair can carry pet dander though (as well as other allergens like pollen or dust), but they are not the primary sources of allergens in dogs.
Individual dog breeds are not more or less allergenic than each other, either. It really depends more on the particular animal, the environment they inhabit, and the people around them.
Are Samoyeds Hypoallergenic?
Sammies are widely considered to be hypoallergenic, but this is worth breaking down a little bit more. There are a few ways in which Samoyeds differ from other breeds, and even with this in mind, being around a Samoyed may still provoke an allergic reaction in some people.
Firstly, Samoyeds have very thick coats that certainly shed copiously twice a year (when they "blow out" their coats) but also shed on a daily basis. If you are particularly sensitive to pet fur you will likely have an allergic reaction to Samoyed hair. This is something to consider given the normal amount of shedding that occurs daily. In contrast to this, though, Samoyeds do have fairly dry hair. This can be beneficial to those who are normally allergic to the proteins in an oily dog coat.
Sammies have low-dander and release less of these proteins into the air. This can be a boon for those who suffer from pet dander allergies. However, this does not discount the number of other allergens that could be attracted to your Samoyed's fur. Dust, pollen, and saliva could all be present there and could cause allergic reactions in themselves. Some individuals are just more sensitive to dander and other allergens, whether it exists to a lesser degree or not.
If you are allergic to pet urine or saliva, a Samoyed would not be a good choice. This is something that may be able to be mitigated, but simply cannot be avoided with dog ownership.
In conclusion, some may consider a Samoyed hypoallergenic, but others that are allergic to pet saliva, urine, or hair (and the allergens that stick to it) a Samoyed would certainly not be considered hypoallergenic.
However, if you favor a Samoyed's dry fur and low pet dander over that of other pets and close proximity does not cause an allergic reaction, you may be just fine with a Samoyed around. In this sense, a Samoyed would be considered a less-allergenic dog breed.
What To Expect From Samoyed Shedding
Samoyeds shed (or "blow coats") at least once (usually twice) a year. This is the shedding of the dog's undercoat to prepare it for a change in season. Typically, a Samoyed will blow their coat in the springtime or fall (or both), when they need to grow a new layer of undercoat to adapt to cooling or rising temperatures.
Coat blowing can be assisted with further grooming from the owner. In addition to this, more frequent daily brushing is also recommended, preferably outside and preferably with someone who does not have pet allergies.
Owners can use a Slicker Brush for daily brushing. You should bathe your Samoyed at least once or twice a week for extra cleanliness.
How To Reduce The Occurrence Of Potential Pet Allergies
There are ways to reduce the occurrence of pet allergies. These include testing, treatments, and lifestyle changes. The first two ways testing and treatments are explained in this section.
Before you even get a dog — or any pet at all — you might want to get tested to see if you have a pet allergy. A common test is a skin or blood test that measures the different types of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) in your body.
IgE is antibodies, each with a "radar" for detecting different allergens in your body. Once allergens are detected, these antibodies will move to other cells in the body and release chemicals. These chemicals, in turn, are what cause an allergic reaction.
If you have IgE specific to dog dander, you will get an allergic reaction from dog dander. If you have IgE specific to pollen, you will have an allergic reaction to pollen. Some people have multiple types of IgE and are thus allergic to various things.
Consult with your physician about getting an IgE test. This may show if you are allergic to dog dander (or not). It may also show if other allergens cause similar symptoms you might associate with dogs (such as sneezing) and prove them to be from allergens like pollen or dust.
Once tested and if you already have a pet, your doctor may advise that you remove your pet (or yourself) from any environment you share with them. It may take months to determine if a pet is indeed causing your allergies, as it takes months for dander to reduce its levels in your home.
Doctors recommend several treatments for pet allergies, including:
How To Deal With Dog Allergies
Here are a few things that you can do to deal with dog allergies:
Though this might seem drastic, if you want to avoid the chance you have an allergic reaction from your Samoyed, you might want to part ways with your dog completely.
This is not meant to cause you grief. On the contrary, owning a pet that you are allergic to may cause a decline in your (and your pet's) quality of life. The time spent excessively cleaning your home, having someone else brush your dog, and caring for a pet you can only be around so much may be spent in better ways.
Short of that, there are things you can do to improve your Samoyed's health. You can feed it a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (known to increase skin and hair health) and ensure its overall exercise regimen is thorough and healthy. You can also let it stay outside, provided the climate is right, and the Samoyed is allowed to run around in clean, open, humane conditions.
You can also look into getting treated with antihistamines or allergy shots yourself. This may provide a viable solution, in addition to looking out for your Samoyed's overall health — lifestyle changes you will have to adjust to.
Changes To Your Environment
You can idealize your environment to make less allergen-friendly conditions by:
Pet Care and Health
Finally, do your research before you purchase or adopt a Samoyed. Ensure your dog's parents' health conditions are known, and if possible, check for a widely acknowledged health certification for this breed.
Check to see if your Sammie has had eye, hip, heart, gastrointestinal, and genetic exams. Remember that a healthy dog makes more healthy skin, and if there is anything that might make a Samoyed hypoallergenic, it is his overall health.