If you’re thinking about bringing home a new puppy (or you’re just concerned about visiting a friend with a Golden Retriever) and have allergies you may be wondering “are Golden Retrievers 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 Golden Retrievers
- Golden mixes and other breeds that have lower instances of causing allergic reactions
- How to prevent and respond to allergic reactions if you have one
Let’s dive in!
In This Article
Are Golden Retrievers Hypoallergenic?
The short answer is no. Golden Retrievers aren’t hypoallergenic.
In fact, no dog is completely hypoallergenic, but some are much more hypoallergenic than others.
The Golden Retriever is one of the world’s most popular dog breeds. The ideal family pet, this breed is famously friendly and affectionate. But if you have allergies, you must be wondering whether Golden Retrievers are hypoallergenic.
Golden Retrievers are one of the less hypoallergenic dogs. It’s a moderate to heavy shedder, and the shedding is one of the things that create the most problems for people with dog allergies.
As we’ll learn more about later, Golden Retrievers are heavy shedders. You’ll have to brush them frequently and wash them periodically.
Can You Be Allergic to Golden Retrievers?
Yes, you can be allergic to Golden Retrievers. If you’re allergic to Golden Retrievers, you’ll probably be allergic to any kind of shedding dog.
If you have allergies and get a Golden Retriever, you’ll have the most allergy problems when your dog is shedding the most. This happens one or two times annually, especially before warm weather.
Brushing and periodically bathing your Golden Retriever will help, but you might get allergic reactions while you’re doing this.
Brushing your Golden Retriever can be difficult if you have allergies. But if you don’t brush your dog, your allergies will be even more aggravated over the longer term.
Do Golden Retrievers Shed?
As we mentioned earlier, yes, Golden Retrievers certainly do shed. They shed moderately during most of the year but heavily once (or even twice) annually.
These dogs shed because they have a double coat. It’s the undercoat that sheds before the warm weather arrives each year.
That is because the undercoat is there to keep the dog warm in the winter. If it stayed intact during the summer, it would make your Golden Retriever too hot.
Is There a Hypoallergenic Golden Retriever Mix?
You’ll remember we talked about how no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic. However, there is one Golden Retriever mix that is much more hypoallergenic than many other breeds.
That is the Goldendoodle, which is a “designer breed” mix combining the Golden Retriever and Poodle breeds.
The Goldendoodle is relatively hypoallergenic because it’s low-shedding. It gets its low-shedding qualities from the Poodle part of its heritage.
As they’re mixed-breed dogs, Goldendoodles vary from individual to individual. If you have allergies, you should look for one that takes more after its Poodle parent in its coat type.
Poodles don’t shed as much because they grow hair instead of fur. Hair has a much longer growth cycle and doesn’t shed. Hairs eventually fall out, but not nearly as frequently as fur strands.
Golden Retriever Grooming Tips
Keeping your Golden well-groomed can help limit you and your family’s exposure to the things that can set off allergic reactions. Here are some tips for grooming your Golden:
1. Start with a good brushing. Golden Retrievers have a thick, double coat that can become matted and tangled if not brushed regularly. Use a firm bristle brush or a slicker brush to remove any knots or tangles. Be sure to brush down to the skin, taking care not to pull or tug on the hair.
2. Bathe your Golden Retriever as needed. How often you need to bathe your dog will depend on how much he sheds and how active he is. A good rule of thumb is to bath him every 2-4 weeks. Always use a mild shampoo specifically designed for dogs, and avoid getting water in his ears or eyes.
3. Trim your Golden Retriever’s nails regularly. Overgrown nails can be painful for your dog, and can cause problems with his feet and legs if left unchecked. Use a nail clipper designed for dogs, and cut the nails just above the quick (the pink part of the nail). If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, ask your veterinarian or groomer to do it for you.
4. Keep his ears clean and dry. Golden Retrievers are prone to ear infections, so it’s important to keep their ears clean and dry. Use a cotton ball to wipe away any dirt or wax build-up in the ear canal. If you notice your dog scratching at his ears or shaking his head, take him to the vet for an examination.
5. Brush his teeth regularly. Just like humans, dogs need to have their teeth brushed to avoid plaque build-up and tooth decay. Use a canine toothbrush and toothpaste, and brush your Golden Retriever’s teeth 2-3 times per week.
This is a great video overview of how to groom a Golden Retriever from a professional groomer:
Golden Retriever Coat & Fur
Understanding more about your dog’s fur and coat can help you to better respond to their grooming needs, as well. A few things to keep in mind about a Golden’s coat and fur:
- Golden Retrievers have a dense, water-resistant outer coat and a thick undercoat.
- Their coat is available in various colors including cream, gold, and red.
- The Golden Retriever’s coat sheds year-round and requires regular brushing to prevent mats and tangles.
- Golden Retrievers are prone to certain health conditions that can affect their coat, such as allergies and skin problems.
Again: make sure to brush regularly and see a groomer!
Golden Retriever Fast Facts
Here are some fast facts about Goldens:
- Golden Retrievers were originally bred in Scotland in the late 1800s.
- They were bred as gun dogs, to help retrieve waterfowl and other game birds during hunting expeditions.
- Today, Golden Retrievers are still popular hunting companions, but they have also become beloved family pets.
- Their coat can be golden, cream, or light brown in color.
- They are medium to large dogs, weighing between 55 and 75 pounds.
- Golden Retrievers are known for their gentle, friendly temperament. They are intelligent and eager to please, making them easy to train.
- Their water-resistant coat requires regular brushing to prevent mats and tangles.
- Golden Retrievers typically live 10-12 years.
- Some common health problems seen in Golden Retrievers include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and allergies.
Treatment Options if You Have an Allergic Reaction
- As with many questions related to your dog where the answer is “ask your veterinarian” you’ll obviously want to consult a doctor regarding treatment of your allergies. For less severe instances, here are some general tips:
- Avoidance: The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid contact with dogs. If you must be around dogs, try to stay away from those that shed a lot. Ask the owner to bathe the dog before your visit.
- Medications: If avoidance is not possible or if your symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe medications to help relieve your symptoms. These may include antihistamines, corticosteroids, and immunotherapy.
- Natural remedies: Some people find relief from their symptoms by using natural remedies such as quercetin, stinging nettle, and vitamin C.
- Allergy shots: If other treatments are not effective, you may be a candidate for allergy shots. These shots contain small amounts of the allergen and can help your body build up a tolerance to it over time.
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:
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:
- Shih Tzus
- Scottish, Yorkshire, and Bedlington terriers
Cat Breeds with Hair & Not Fur
Similarly there are a number of cat breeds with hair and no fur:
- Devon Rex
- Cornish Rex
- Russian Blue
Strategies to Reduce Pet Allergies
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Vacuuming – You should vacuum with a high-quality vacuum that has a HEPA filter installed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 a Thing as a Hypoallergenic Breed?
No, as we touched on earlier, there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog breed. Some breeds are more hypoallergenic than others. The less shedding a dog does, the more allergy-friendly it tends to be.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, some people with allergies can have a Golden Retriever. However, it is important to do your research before getting a Golden Retriever, as some people may be allergic to the dog’s hair, dander, or saliva.
Golden Retrievers do shed, but there are some ways to reduce the amount of shedding. For example, you can brush your dog regularly, use a de-shedding shampoo and conditioner, and give your dog fatty acids supplements.
Some people with asthma find that Golden Retrievers help to improve their symptoms. This is likely because the dog’s fur can act as a filter for pollen and other allergens in the air.
There is no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic dog, but there are some Golden Retriever mixes that are better for people with allergies. For example, the Golden Doodle is a popular hypoallergenic mix.
There is no such thing as a non-shedding Golden Retriever. All dogs shed, though some shed more than others.
No, golden retrievers do not need another dog. They can be happy and healthy as both single dogs and in pairs or packs.
There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic golden retriever. All golden retrievers shed, though some may shed less than others.
Sources & Additional Resources
- “Golden Retrievers: The Complete Guide” by Carolyn Presnal
- “The New Golden Retriever” by Gail Damerow
- “All About Goldens” by Jill Coody
- “A complete guide to Golden Retrievers” by Charlesworth Press
- “The Golden Retriever Handbook” by Deborah Wood
- “Golden Retrievers for Dummies” by Nona Kilgore Bauer
- “All About Goldens: The Essential Guide to Buying, Caring for, and Training Your Golden Retriever” by Stephen Langdon DVM
If you’re looking for even more information about pets being hypoallergenic this is just one in a series of guides: