Are Cocker Spaniels hypoallergenic?

Are Cocker Spaniels Hypoallergenic? (Everything You Need to Know)

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If you’re thinking about bringing home a new puppy (or you’re just concerned about visiting a friend with a Cocker Spaniel) and have allergies you may be wondering “are Cocker Spaniels hypoallergenic?”

The short answer is no: no dog is actually technically hypoallergenic. But there’s a lot more to the story.

While no dog is hypoallergenic, the reactions people have to dogs can be complicated.

For that reason, we enlisted the help of our veterinary advisor Dr. Jamie Whittenburg to offer advice on animal care and how think about allergic reactions to your dog. We’ll go into great detail in this post on:

  • Whether people have allergic reactions to Cocker Spaniels
  • The considerations to keep in mind if you or a family member may be allergic to a Cocker Spaniel
  • How to prevent and respond to allergic reactions if you are or ay be allergic

Let’s dive in!

Are Cocker Spaniels Hypoallergenic?

If you or someone in your household is allergic to animals and you’d like to add a pet to your home, it may feel like a hypoallergenic dog is your answer. Cocker spaniels make adorable family pets, so you may wonder, “Is a Cocker Spaniel hypoallergenic?”

Are Cocker Spaniels Hypoallergenic?

The short answer is no. Cocker Spaniels are not hypoallergenic. All dogs carry allergens; therefore, no dog can be considered 100% hypoallergenic

The theory used to be that a dog could be considered hypoallergenic or not based on its fur and the amount it sheds. It’s known that these factors play a part, but not enough to consider any dog fully hypoallergenic. 

Cocker Spaniels are sometimes less likely to trigger an allergy since they have hair similar to a human instead of traditional fur. However, they still shed the dander that can trigger an allergic reaction. Although they have hair instead of fur, they still shed, but it is minimal. In order to keep the dog’s shedding under control, it’s helpful to brush your dog regularly.

Regular grooming and brushing can reduce the number of hairs and dander you come in contact with. Brushing your cocker spaniel at least every three days is a good idea to keep up with any loose fur and prevent matting. Going to the groomer every 4-6 weeks can also help to keep their hair at its best.

Is the American Cocker Spaniel Hypoallergenic?

No, the American Cocker Spaniel is not hypoallergenic.

Is the English Cocker Spaniel Hypoallergenic? 

No. Since no dog can be fully hypoallergenic, no cocker spaniel can be considered hypoallergenic.

Are Cocker Spaniels Allergy Friendly?

Cocker Spaniels are allergy friendly because they don’t have traditional fur, and their dander is less likely to cause a reaction. There is still a risk of allergy, but you can lessen these risks with regular grooming and keeping areas that the dog frequents clean.

Can You Be Allergic to Cocker Spaniels?

Allergens are found in an animal’s fur, dander, saliva, and urine. Although Cocker Spaniels technically have hair instead of fur, they still have other allergens. They don’t shed dander as regularly as other dogs, but there’s still the possibility that you could have a reaction from a cocker spaniel. 

Do Cocker Spaniels Shed?

Yes, Cocker Spaniels shed; however, it is not as regularly as most other dogs. If your cocker spaniel seems to be shedding excessively, it’s a good idea to get them checked with their vet. 

They are generally not heavy shedders, so they may be having an issue with their diet or possibly even a problem with the thyroid. They may need extra vitamins or a diet change, but a visit to the vet can help you rule out anything serious. 

Cocker Spaniel Grooming Tips

One of the best ways to help prevent allergies is obviously to keep your Cocker Spaniel well-groomed. Here are some considerations for grooming your pup:

  • Brush your Cocker Spaniel regularly to prevent mats and tangles from forming.
  • Bathe your Cocker Spaniel as needed, using a mild dog shampoo.
  • Trim your Cocker Spaniel’s nails regularly to prevent overgrowth.
  • Check their ears regularly for signs of infection, and clean them with a dog ear cleaning solution as needed.
  • Brush your Cocker Spaniel’s teeth regularly to prevent dental problems.

This is a great overview from a professional groomer on how to groom a Cocker Spaniel:

Cocker Spaniel Coat & Fur

Understanding the coat and fur on your Cocker Spaniel is helpful for grooming and allergy prevention as well. Here are some facts about this breed’s coat and fur worth noting:

  • Cocker spaniels have dense, silky fur that can be either straight or wavy.
  • The coat is medium in length and may be trimmed to give the dog a neater appearance.
  • Cocker spaniels come in a variety of colors, including black, white, brown, and golden.
  • The coat requires regular brushing and grooming to prevent matting and tangling.
  • Cocker spaniels are susceptible to allergies and skin problems, so proper care of the coat is essential.

Cocker Spaniel Fast Facts

If you’re considering bringing home a Cocker Spaniel, you may want to learn more about the breed. Here are some interesting fast facts about Cocker Spaniels (not all are related to how they impact allergies, but hopefully useful for prospective pet parents looking into Cocker Spaniels!):

  • Cocker Spaniels are one of the most popular breeds of dogs in the United States.
  • They were originally bred as gun dogs to retrieve game birds during hunting expeditions.
  • Cocker Spaniels come in a variety of colors including black, brown, white, and buff.
  • Their coat is dense and silky, and they have long ears that hang down close to their face.
  • Cocker Spaniels are gentle, affectionate dogs that make great family pets.
  • They are known for being intelligent and easy to train.
  • Cocker Spaniels typically weigh between 25 and 30 pounds and stand about 15 inches tall at the shoulder.
  • The lifespan of a Cocker Spaniel is 12 to 15 years.
  • Common health problems for Cocker Spaniels include ear infections, hip dysplasia, and eye disorders.
  • Cocker Spaniels need daily exercise and thrive when given the opportunity to run and play.
  • They are relatively easy to groom, but their ears require special attention to prevent infections.
  • Cocker Spaniels were featured in the popular Disney movie Lady and the Tramp.

Treatment for Allergies

Similar to how you want to think about your dog and the vet, if you have a severe allergic reaction you obviously want to consult with a medical professional (or go to an emergency room or urgent care facility). If you have a more mild reaction or are just worried about allergies from your dog generally, there are some things you can do to help with allergies:

  • Avoidance: The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid contact with dogs. If you are allergic to dogs, try to avoid places where dogs are present, such as homes where dogs live, parks where dogs play, or stores that allow dogs inside. If you must be around dogs, make sure to wash your hands and clothes afterwards.
  • Medications: If avoidance is not possible or if your symptoms are severe, there are several medications that can help reduce the severity of your allergy symptoms. These include antihistamines, corticosteroids, and immunotherapy (allergy shots).
  • Natural remedies: Some people find relief from their allergies using natural remedies such as acupuncture, herbs, and probiotics.

Sources:

Dr. Stephen Dreskin MD, PHD from UC Health has a great overview of dealing with pet allergies as well if you’re having issues there:

Tips from Our Vets

The idea of a hypoallergenic dog or cat is a myth.

There is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog (or cat). Hypoallergenic implies that the dog will not cause a human to have an allergic reaction. Many mistakenly believe that humans’ allergies to cats and dogs are caused by hair shedding.

Though hairs that fall off of the dogs and cats may increase the risk of allergies, humans are allergic to proteins that dogs and cats shed in their saliva, urine, and dander.

Allergic reactions in humans to dogs and cats vary widely from human to human, and some dogs will trigger allergies in a human while others will not.

In my experience as a veterinarian, dogs and cats that children grow up with when they are young, and dogs that are brought into the household as puppies tend to cause the fewest allergy issues. It is likely that constant exposure to your personal dog desensitizes your immune system to that dog’s specific proteins.

If you have a dog or cat allergy and a dog or cat, there are some things you can do to help decrease your allergic reaction.

Keep in mind that it is the proteins the dog produces that cause the allergy. However specific actions like controlling loose hair, or obtaining a non-shedding breed, can decrease the protein-containing dander that causes your allergies in your home.

Dog Breeds with Hair & Not Fur

A number of breeds have hair, as opposed to fur, and therefore do not shed. These include:

  • Poodles
  • Shih Tzus
  • Schnauzers
  • Scottish, Yorkshire, and Bedlington terriers
  • Maltese

Cat Breeds with Hair & Not Fur

Similarly there are a number of cat breeds with hair and no fur:

  • Sphynx
  • Devon Rex
  • Cornish Rex
  • Peterbald
  • Siamese
  • Manx
  • Birman
  • Burmese
  • Himalayan
  • Persian
  • Russian Blue

Strategies to Reduce Pet Allergies

  1. Non-Shedding Breed – As mentioned above, some humans with allergies find that they tolerate non-shedding breeds better than those with fur, as this reduces the amount of dander in the air.
  2. Brushing, Bathing, and Grooming – Regardless of hair coat, frequent brushing, bathing, and grooming will decrease the dander present in your environment. For home brushing, the procedure should be done outside to avoid aerosolizing the dander into your home. Baths should be administered no more often than every other week to decrease the likelihood of drying out the dog or cat’s skin. Professional grooming frequency will depend on the cat or dog’s coat, but to reduce allergies will likely need to be done at least monthly.
  3. Clean Home – If you or a family member suffers from dog or cat allergies, it is essential to clean your home often. Frequent vacuuming, dusting, as well as cleaning fabric furniture, will keep the cat or dog dander in your home under control.
    1. Vacuuming – You should vacuum with a high-quality vacuum that has a HEPA filter installed.
    2. Moist Cleaning – Sweeping with a dry broom is not recommended. This method tends to stir up the dust and dander into the air. Swiffers and wet mopping are preferred for floors. Moist cloths are preferred to feather dusters for dusting.
    3. Air filters – Replace the filters in your furnace and air conditioning units. Always buy high-quality, preferably HEPA rated, filters. It may also be helpful to purchase individual room air purifiers/filters.
  4. Flooring – Carpeting will hold on to dander and other allergens. If you or a family member suffers from dog allergies, it may help to replace carpeting with hardwood, linoleum, or tile flooring. These types of flooring are easier to clean and will reduce the allergen load in your home.
  5. Accessories – Your dog or cat will deposit allergenic proteins where they sleep and also on toys and other objects that they get saliva on. Ensure you regularly wash all beds, pillows, and toys frequently.

Final Thoughts: Is There Such Thing As a Hypoallergenic Cocker Spaniel?

No, Cocker Spaniels are not hypoallergenic and:

  • Cocker Spaniel does not trigger as many allergies as most other dogs
  • Cocker Spaniels do not shed as much as other dogs.
  • Allergens can be reduced by regular brushing and cleaning.
  • Cocker Spaniels only need to be brushed about ten times a month, with professional grooming recommended every 4-6 weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sources & Additional Resources

If you’re looking for even more information about pets being hypoallergenic this is just one in a series of guides:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.