No such thing as an allergy-free dog? Say it ain't so, Bo

Consumer Reports News: July 11, 2011 05:25 PM

Sorry Bo, but a new study says that there may be no such thing as a low-allergy or allergy-free dog. So chew on that while you’re romping around the White House with Sasha and Malia (who reportedly has dog allergies). The study found that the quantities of dog allergens in homes with supposedly hypoallergenic breeds were no different from those in homes with other breeds, according to The New York Times.

So another myth busted. Bo is a Portuguese water dog, one of 11 “hypoallergenic canine candidates” on a list from the American Kennel Club, which also includes poodles, soft-coated wheaten terriers and schnauzers. “I have no idea where this whole concept came from,” Christine Cole Johnson, the senior author of the study, to be published online in The American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, told the Times. “It’s been around for a long time, and maybe people associated it with shedding. I think it’s just a legend.”

To disprove it, the researchers measured the amount of the major dog allergen, Canis familiaris 1, or Can f 1, in dust samples from the homes of 173 one-dog families, and found that 163 of them had measurable levels of Can f 1. “No matter how they did the comparisons—even comparing dogs identified as hypoallergenic by the A.K.C. against all other dogs—they found no statistically significant differences in levels of Can f 1,” reports the Times on the Well blog.

So if you’ve got a dog, you’ve likely got Can f 1 too. Maybe that’s the reason that our readers have been asking for tougher pet hair tests in our vacuum cleaner ratings. And we complied. Our pet hair test uses the long fur from the Maine Coon cat, rakes it into carpeting and then gives a vacuum 14 tries to remove it. But even with so many passes, some vacuums fail. As a class, uprights did a bit better than canisters at picking up pet hair but there are some good choices of both types as well as a few capable small vacuums.

Two CR Best Buys, the upright Kenmore Intuition 31100 and the Hoover Platinum Bagless canister S3865, aced our pet hair test. As did several vacuums that had “pet” as part of their model name. But giving a vacuum a pet name is no guarantee of performance. The upright Bissell Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet 89Q9 was only fair at pet hair removal and the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser 33A1 handvac got our worse rating on that test.

Mary H.J. Farrell

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