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Labradors/shedding & allergies

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Labradors/shedding & allergies
  • Hi, we are in the process of looking for a puppy, and I have some questions. I have a moderate allergy to dogs so I have been trying to find breeds that are low to moderate trouble for people like myself. We are not interested in the poodle or various poodle crosses, or the other breeds that have "hair" rather than  fur. I mainly  don't think we are willing to spend as much time or money  on their locks as would be needed for most of those breeds.
             I  have found some information about Labradors that has been encouraging, especially since I really love that breed.. Some medical researchers tested something like 150 breeds for the protein that causes most allergies and found that the Lab had less than any other breed. Oddly, they found that the Poodle had more of this protein than any other breed. This seems really odd since most people say that poodles are one of the least troublesome breeds for allergic owners. I wondered if it has to do with the non-shedding quality that the Poodles are known for. If they don't shed, then maybe the protein doesn't spred around. I wondered if anyone has a practical understanding of this research that they could put into laymen's language for me.
              I have heard/read that the Black Labs are more allergy friendly and lighter on shedding than the chocolates or yellows. I have also heard/read that it does not matter which color you have. I would like to clarify that I realise that I will be at least somewhat allergic to any Lab (or almost any dog), but I am hoping to find the best situation. I did spend an hour at the home of a Lab breeder and I was fine (he had a variety of colors). If someone out there has information or experiences that they could take the time to share I'd really appreciate it!
            On another note regarding Labs, we did find one that we are thinking about getting, but it has a little bit of white on the fur under it's lips, and I wondered if that makes it a non-conformation Lab in the eyes of the AKC or breeders.

    Thank you in advance to those of you that are able to share your knowledge with me, Mary
  • Most labs I've seen get white fuzzy under the chin as they age. And they only show pups after 2 years because most show line dogs are examined at 2 years for Hip Dysplasia.
     
    The Lab is a constant shedder, which means year round, but not a profuse, bury-you-in-fur shed.
     
    Poodles don't shed much and have to be groomed.
     
    Then you have some "geniuses" that thought up breeding the Lab and the Poodle to create the Labradoodle, a supposedly hypo-allergenic dog, with no testing, though I hear some are trying to create an actual new breed and want to track the genetics, etc.
     
    You might see if your doctor can de-sensitize you to dog dander, specifically Lab. This involves getting shots with a minimal amount of the allergen and allowing your body to get used to it gradually.
  • ...And they only show pups after 2 years because most show line dogs are examined at 2 years for Hip Dysplasia...

     
    Ron, I think you mean breed, not show.  :)  Reputable breeders of any breed won't breed before 2 years because hips and elbows can't be OFA certified until 2 years.  Dogs under 2 can be, and are, shown.

    ...On another note regarding Labs, we did find one that we are thinking about getting, but it has a little bit of white on the fur under it's lips, and I wondered if that makes it a non-conformation Lab in the eyes of the AKC or breeders.

    Unless you're planning on showing in the breed ring, some white hair doesn't matter.  :)  As ron said, it could be from age.  But don't let that turn you away from a great dog- just like people, some dogs start going grey when they are young.  Even in the breed ring, a black dog can have a small white spot on its chest.  This is from the AKC standard:
    Color
    The Labrador Retriever coat colors are black, yellow and chocolate. Any other color or a combination of colors is a disqualification. A small white spot on the chest is permissible, but not desirable. White hairs from aging or scarring are not to be misinterpreted as brindling. Black--Blacks are all black. A black with brindle markings or a black with tan markings is a disqualification. Yellow--Yellows may range in color from fox-red to light cream, with variations in shading on the ears, back, and underparts of the dog. Chocolate--Chocolates can vary in shade from light to dark chocolate. Chocolate with brindle or tan markings is a disqualification.

     
     
  • [linkhttp://www.woodhavenlabs.com/no-lab.html]http://www.woodhavenlabs.com/no-lab.html[/link]
     
     
    where exactly did you hear that labradors were non-allergenic? I don't think most people would agree with that statement.
     
    I recommend a standard poodle. If you get them clipped closely or clip them down yourself every few months you'll be spending less time on coat care than you will brushing your heavily shedding lab every day.  And they were bred to retrieve birds out of water, just like the lab.
  • I have a black lab and she has a white spot on her chest, but has just recently started to get some white hairs on her chin, and she's probably about 8 (not sure since she's a rescue).  I had a samoyed years ago, and she shed twice a year, but not much other than that.  During her shedding times (losing her undercoat), she needed brushing every single day.  My lab though, sheds almost year round.  As Ron said, it's not mounds and mounds of hair, but it's definitely shedding.  I'm not sure about the allergy issue since I don't suffer from allergies, but my DH does and doesn't seem to have any problems.  They are wonderful dogs, but I think you're wise to do as much research as you can.
  • ORIGINAL: mary4

             I have heard/read that the Black Labs are more allergy friendly and lighter on shedding than the chocolates or yellows. I have also heard/read that it does not matter which color you have. I would like to clarify that I realise that I will be at least somewhat allergic to any Lab (or almost any dog), but I am hoping to find the best situation. I did spend an hour at the home of a Lab breeder and I was fine (he had a variety of colors). If someone out there has information or experiences that they could take the time to share I'd really appreciate it!
           On another note regarding Labs, we did find one that we are thinking about getting, but it has a little bit of white on the fur under it's lips, and I wondered if that makes it a non-conformation Lab in the eyes of the AKC or breeders.

    Thank you in advance to those of you that are able to share your knowledge with me, Mary



    I used to clean weekly for a family with a black lab and I now own a chocolate lab.  I see no difference in the shedding levels, other then the fact that they both shed a LOT.

    If you are seriously considering getting a lab, I would STRONGLY advise you to get one that has had the proper health tests-hips, elbows, eyes, etc.  If the breeder tells you that their dogs have been "vet checked" that is NOT enough.  Both parents NEED to be tested and certified.  I would ask to see copies of the cerfs as well.  Labs are unfortunately a rather unhealthy breed due to over breeding by people who do not know what they are doing.  Diseases like hip and elbow displasia are common.  I have know people with dogs that have hip dysplasia--this is not something you want your future dog to have to go through.

    This is a link to what I think is a pretty honest and fair assesment of the breed:http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/labradorretrievers.html

    Good luck in your search!
  • Can't help on the allergy part, neither my husband or I have these issues. However my labs shed A LOT! I think they shed more than my golden retriever. Recently however, it seems like Belle is not shedding like she usually does this time of year and we are wondering if her food is the reason. Her coat is gorgeous and I don't brush (she doesn't like it anyway). She is on a different food than she was this time last year.

    In my opinion you can't go wrong with a lab, I will always have at least one in my home for the rest of my life!
  • Well, as a Lab owner I can tell you that Labs shed and shed buckets.  You will never have a meal without a hair in it again.  There is no difference in shed potential between the coat colors, although females will blow coat more often than males do (that is my experience).
     
    If you must have a hypoallergenic dog, you'll need to look elsewhere because Labs are certainly not.  I've not heard anything about this allergenic protein that you refer to.  The allergy is related to dander and saliva - not dog hair - so shedding doesn't really matter from an allergy standpoint.  You'd need to keep the dog on a high quality diet to keep his/her skin in good condition. 
     
    A little white under the chin or on the chest is considered a fault but that doesn't matter unless you're interested in showing the dog.
     
    I think you should reconsider a standard poodle if you absolutely must have a hypoallergenic dog.  You can buy clippers yourself and trim their fur at home rather than spending money on groomers, and I think the dogs look rather nice in just a regular "puppy clip". 
  • Hi again, & thanks for the input. I'm hoping to get even more!
     
    I had found a site titled Select Smart.com/ [linkhttp://www.selectsmart.com]www.selectsmart.com[/link] and this is where I originally found encouragement regarding Lab's & allergies. It had a series of questions, and you could answer as Yes, strongly prefer or Yes or No Preference. Some questions were more definative, such as Exclude all dogs not appropriate for kids or Biters Avoid all dogs that are more likely to be aggresive (I answered yes to these ?'s). When it asked Would you like a dog as more easily tolerated by allergy sufferers? I answered Yes, strongly prefer. I also answered Yes, St. Prefer to trainability, intelligence, stranger tolerant and yes to pet tolerant. I checked No Preference to everything else.
     
    It then ( after enduring advertisements) gave me a list of breeds with a number in front of the breed name. They weren't ordinal numbers, they seemed to be sort of like a percent number, but it didn't have a percent symbol so maybe I'm wrong. At any rate the "top dogs" were as follows: 100 Bichon Frise, 95 Poodle (toy), 88 Border Terrier, 85 Labrador Retriever, 79 Golden Retriever, 76 Fox Terrier (wire), 76 Havanese, 73 Pharaoh Hound, 73 Whippet . There were about 55 breeds listed going down to a rating of 42.
     
    The Bichon got cut because of excessive grooming needs combined with a rumors of serious potty "issues". The poodle was cut because my kids say that "no way on this God's earth are they going to have a dog with fluffy butt cheeks". The Border Terrier got cut because of the extreme warnings regarding the instinct to run after little furry things led me to believe that it was going to run head first into a milk truck the first time it got out of the house without it's leash!/that's my run-on sentence for the day. It didn't help when I found out they cost about $1500 average. The fact that we live on 1+ acres of "little furry critter heaven" does not help either!
     
    OK so were now down to the Lab & the next is the Golden. I really,really like both those breeds! I found more info on allergies and dogs on an online article titled Dog factor differences in Can f 1 allergen production. If you Goggle that title you will find a few references to this study of 188 dog breeds. I will type in one site address, but it's really long:  [linkhttp://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mksg/all/2005/00000060/00000008/art00012]www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mksg/all/2005/00000060/00000008/art00012[/link]  (hope I got that right).
    If you read this and some of the other articles you will understand why I was hoping for a layman style interpretation. Because of this study I have been more focused on the Lab. I am not under the illusion that a Lab would be hypo-allergenic. Believe it or not I was once allergic to a Christmas Tree! We didn't stop getting Christmas Trees (until we won a fake one, so now my husband won't buy a real one/bummer), but we stayed away from the really long needle type. I'm pretty sure that my husband would have put me up for adoption, if the kids would have let him, when I told him that I was allergic to that tree! Apparently I have a Felix Unger respiratory system, but an Oscar personality. Thankfully I'm not really as bad off as that character, but it is really frustrating dealing with allergies.
     
    I did have a German Shepard that had very serious hip dysplasia (we had one hip replaced when she was about 8), also bone chips in her elbows + a host of other physical problems. I had bought her about 21 years ago for $500 from a reputable breeder. Her father was a Schutzand bred Shepherd imported from Germany. The hips were all checked on the parents. She was the best dog in the world except for those darn problems. She lived to be 11 years old. I wasn't allergic to her for the first 2 years, but as I had children my allergies developed and got worse. I think Shepherds are one of the worst breeds for allergic people, but we adjusted. She never understood why she couldn't sleep in my room anymore or why she lost free run of the house. I have to say that some shepherds have facial expressions similar to people and I often think of her looking at me with those sad eyes while sitting behind this gate that kept her out of the kitchen. Alas, I digress... I guess my point is that I am all too familiar with that darn hip problem, and the breeder of the Lab puppies did have the hips checked out for both parents/eyes & (I think) elbows.
     
    I am interested in participating in agility type training with the future dog. I am only interested in the  AKC's opinion as it pertains to the possible breeding of the dog. What I mean is - if it pans out to be an excellent dog for temperment, intelligence, training etc.. and if "the powers that be" think it is a good possibility for breeding, I would be interested in that. So I was thinking that maybe the little bit of white under it's lip may be something that would eliminate it from the running. I had hoped to pursue that with my shepherd, and she was doing very well with her training, but obviously the hip problems (among other things) took that idea off the table.
     
    I'm looking forward to hearing more opinions on this allergy/ Labs ?
     
    Mary
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
  • I'll be honest, Mary, I'd take all the SelectSmart quizzes with a real grain of salt. ANYONE can write one and put them up- so they vary in accuracy from "reasonably accurate" to not at ALL accurate. And while labs are great in a lot of ways, allergies just usually aren't one of them. You might see if you can find a reputable lab breeder in your area who you could spend some time with and talking to and see how allergic you are to her (or his) dogs. People vary a LOT in what dogs they seem to be more or less allergic to- my dad is severely allergic to labs (doesn't stop him wanting one- we had one when I was a kid, who died at 17 almost 10 years ago- she was a sweet, but not terribly bright dog :) ) but has no trouble around my guys or friends' flatcoat, GSP, GWP, dalmatian, or springer- go figure. And he's okay with the brittany at the farm, too. And they shed almost as much as your GSD did, assumign she was a standard coat- the hairs are just a bit shorter. And I can report quite honestly that the choclates and yellows give him just as many hives, and they shed just as much as the blacks- the hair doesn't show up so bad, though, especially with the yellows if you have a lighter colored house.

    Kelrobin.com (a VERY reputable lab breeder) has some great articles on her site and is a good site to look at as far as what a reputable labrador breeder will be offering you and SHOULD be doing as far as health testing (more than just hips and elbows!). Be aware that a show/performance/breeding prospect lab is going to be quite expensive (field lines will be somewhat less expensive but a much more active dog and possibly not what you want to live with, particularly if you don't hunt- you're looking at $800-1200 for a pet quality puppy in most areas), and that you're looking at a LOT of expense to health test and title the dog, particularly if you choose to show in conformation. And labs are one of the MOST overbred breeds out there, so unless you're VERY careful, very prepared, and have a VERY nice dog, there's just no reason to breed, and you'll be contributing to a major problem, overpopulation. (I totally understand that you're just thinking about it, and I'm sure you're going to go about it responsibly, but thought I'd mention that up front.) A tiny bit of white on the chest isn't necessarily a DQ with a lab from breeding, but it's a very strong negative, and unless the dog is spectacular in every other way (and you can't tell that in a pup), I'd pass, if you have ANY hope of breeding the dog. And white up on the face would be even stronger. If this was an adult and going prematurely grey.. not enough information to judge. I'd actually urge you to keep looking just so you get a better idea of what's around. Check out the Kelrobin site. Talk to your local labrador club- here in Dallas, we have a REALLY active breed club and they're great folks. I'd get the allergy thing sorted before you do anything else, though.

    Hope that is helpful.
  • I'm still thinking you need to check into standard poodles some more. Your prejudice against them ("fuzzy butt cheeks??") seems a bit un-founded in fact to me. Have you ever seen a standard poodle in a close clip?  and they are hypoallergenic. Labs never make it onto lists of hypoallergenic dogs. That article you cite is talking about one out of hundreds of antigens dogs produce, any of which you may be allergic to.
     
    Have you ever watched poodles and labs compete in agility? someone who is interested in agility per se (rather than interested in working with a ;particular breed) would be very unlikely to ;pick a lab over a poodle. For one thing, the weight/ height ratio of the lab puts the dog into the "danger high risk of injury" zone for jumping.
  • Standard poodles without show cuts:







  • I agree - I think you need to stop with the online surveys and start talking to actual reputable breeders of the dogs you're considering. 
     
    I think Poodles with the puppy clip are adorable.  You can even clip that big mound of hair on the head back if you don't like that poofy look. 
     
    I would stay away from terriers and hounds if you need to have a dog with good recall in an off leash area - those dogs are bred to chase, track, and rout out critters from their hiding places. 
     
    Any small dog, by the way, tends to have housebreaking issues in my experience.  I've heard this is because they are small and their territory seems "larger" to them than it would another dog breed.  I have friends with small bichons, small poodles, and spaniels and all of those dogs pee regularly in the house.  My stepdaughter has a yorkie and I cleaned up piss three times over the weekend when she was here! 
     
    Kelrobin is a great source of information about Labs and she'll shoot straight from the hip if you ask her a question.  Also, please don't consider breeding your dog.  Most dogs sold from reputable breeders are sold as pets because that's what they are - pet quality - if they were show quality, the breeder would be keeping them for themselves.  Most reputable breeders also sell on limited registration AND have stipulations in their contracts that if you breed, they will come and repossess your dog immediately.  Breeders don't appreciate laypeople messing with their lines.  If you are serious about breeding, start going to shows and asking some questions, and then opt for a co-own with a reputable breeder so you can learn the ropes. 
  • Ron, I think you mean breed, not show.

     
    I goofed. I meant to say breed.
  • Have you ever thought of a Portuguese Water Dog.  Clownish and sweet, good with kids usually, and non-shedders.   They do need grooming, but they are a medium sized dog capable of doing agility. http://www.pwdca.org/