Are French Bulldogs hypoallergenic dogs, or will they set off your allergies? We take a look at what makes a dog good for allergic owners, and whether the Frenchie has these characteristics.
We will also help you to decide whether you can cope with a French Bulldog in your home if you have a dog allergy. And show you how to reduce your chances of having a reaction to your dog.
- Dog Allergy Symptoms
- Are Frenchies Hypoallergenic?
- French Bulldogs vs Other Breeds For Allergies
- Shedding And Grooming
- Help For Dog Allergy Sufferers
Dog Allergy Symptoms
It’s estimated that between 10 and 20% of people worldwide experience an allergic reaction to dogs. Despite the discomfort, many dog allergy sufferers are also dog lovers. And they would love a puppy pal to call their own. But they are understandably worried about the reaction their body might have.
If you come into contact with a dog and have any of the following reactions, then you might have a dog allergy. Your doctor will be able to run an allergy test to let you know for sure:
- sinus pain
- shortness of breath
- watery, red or itchy eyes
- skin rash or hives
What Is A Hypoallergenic Dog?
Hypoallergenic dogs are pups that don’t cause people with dog allergies have a reaction to them. The idea is that a dog allergy sufferer could pet and even cuddle up with a hypoallergenic dog, without ever getting itchy eyes or a runny nose.
Lots of articles, online and in print, will tell you that certain dog breeds don’t trigger an allergic reaction in people. These dogs are described as being hypoallergenic. But very sadly, this isn’t really true.
Unfortunately, some well known household names have also misunderstood the facts about dog allergies, and spoken publicly about getting their own hypoallergenic dog. And since most of us don’t read scientific journals for fun, we have no reason to disbelieve that the thing they say they’re getting exists. But they don’t!
Are French Bulldogs Hypoallergenic?
French Bulldogs are not hypoallergenic. Because no dog truly is. Dog fur isn’t really what makes you sneeze, it’s their drool and skin flakes!
When people experience an allergic reaction to a dog, it’s actually substances called Can F proteins in their saliva which trigger their symptoms. All dogs, including French Bulldogs, produce Can F proteins in their drool. And you don’t need to get licked to be exposed to them!
When a Frenchie grooms themselves, they transfer saliva from their tongue to their coat. When the saliva dries, the microscopic Can F proteins become airborne whenever the dog brushes against something. They can also be shed on the surface of dander, only to settle on furniture and get stirred back up again when someone sits down.
Allergy sufferers start to experience symptoms when they breathe in the airborne proteins. But all hope is not lost!
Are Frenchies better for allergies than other dog breeds?
Despite some dog breeds having a reputation for being less allergenic due to their coat type, studies have actually found that coat type doesn’t make any difference to the amount of allergens dogs shed. In fact, homes with non-shedding breeds often contain more allergens. This is because their owners tend to vacuum less frequently than owners of shedding breeds.
Frenchies shed moderately, but that doesn’t make them more or less allergenic than other breeds. How much you remove their shed allergens from the environment by vacuuming can influence how tolerable they are to live with though.
Studies have also indicated that dogs with greasy skin trap more allergenic proteins on their coats than dogs with non-oily skin. And whilst healthy Frenchies don’t typically have a very greasy coat, as a breed they are prone to allergic skin reactions of their own, and over-production of seborrhea (skin oils) can be a symptom.
Can You Be Allergic To French Bulldogs?
Anyone that sufferers from dog allergies can be allergic to French Bulldogs. But if your allergy is mild there are ways to reduce the impact, and potentially still share your home with one.
Are French Bulldogs Low Shedding?
In truth, how much a dog sheds has no bearing on how allergenic they are. Frenchies do shed, but they are a relatively low shedding breed.
Their short tight coat sheds lightly all year round, and a little more heavily in spring and fall, as it adapts to the new season. So If the sight of shed fur on your floors, baseboards and furniture bothers you, it is only a moderate problem with a Frenchie.
Grooming Your French Bulldog
Sadly, low shedding does not necessarily mean low maintenance for the poor Frenchie though!
Frenchies are more than averagely prone to allergies to foods, pollen, detergents and other things in their environment. These allergies can cause itchy dandruff and skin inflammation, which may require frequent medicated baths to manage.
They also have deep wrinkles on their faces, which provide an ideal warm, damp environment for bacteria to flourish in. Their wrinkles need careful daily cleaning to prevent odor or infection.
Finally, the Frenchie’s flat face means they may struggle to reach all areas and complete basic grooming by themselves. So, keep an eye out for areas of dirt from walks accumulating and not being cleaned away.
Living With A Frenchie If You Have Allergies
There are some people who are desperate to pursue getting a dog, despite their allergies. And there are some allergic people who have dogs thrust upon them – for example if they meet a new partner who has a dog. It’s not always doomed to be a recipe for disaster.
Firstly, there are 7 different types of Can F protein, and the size and shape of each one isn’t exactly identical from dog to dog.
Likewise, everyone’s immune responses are unique to them. And the specific molecules which trigger allergic symptoms vary from one person to the next.
So it’s possible for someone who’s typically allergic to most dogs to find one special pup which doesn’t trigger their allergies, due to a happy fluke of complementary chemistry. And that pup could belong to any breed.
Female vs Male Hypoallergenic Dogs
There’s a small amount of evidence that female dogs produce fewer Can F proteins than males. But this hasn’t been thoroughly tested.
The only true way for a dog-allergic person to test their reaction to an individual dog is by spending time with them.
Cleaning Helps Dog Allergies
For some pet owners, it may be possible to keep a mild allergic reaction in check by regularly removing allergens from the environment. This can include:
- washing their bedding
- and keeping them off of furniture which easily traps small molecules but can’t be easily deep cleaned, such as couches.
Carpets are also a major culprit for trapping allergens and releasing them again when they’re walked over. So keeping dogs confined to rooms with hard floors and cleaning them frequently might also help.
Are French Bulldogs Good For Allergy Sufferers?
If you have allergies, no single breed of dog is guaranteed not to trigger them. French Bulldogs are no less likely to be allergenic than any other breed. They might also suffer from allergies of their own, which increase the amount of Can F protein trapped in their coat.
Be very wary of any breeder than tells you their French Bulldog puppies are hypoallergenic. At best they are mistaken, at worst they are lying to you. Not a quality you want from someone selling you a pet either way! Especially with a breed like the Frenchie that sadly has some other serious potential problems.
If the French Bulldog has made your dog breed short list, you also ought to know that they are at high risk of a number of distressing health problems as a result of their body shape, flat face, and protruding eyes. For these reasons, we recommend adopting a older Frenchie, rather than buying one as a puppy.
As a dog allergy sufferer, spend some time around your potential pup before you bring them home. Carefully interact with them and see if they set off your allergies. Try different breeds if you aren’t successful, and remember to keep your home very clean and your dog well groomed when you find one to bring home.
References and Resources
- Butt et al. Do hypoallergenic cats and dogs exist? Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2012.
- Chan & Leung. Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges. Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research. 2018.
- Nicholas et al. Dog Allergen Levels in Homes with Hypoallergenic Compared with Nonhypoallergenic Dogs. American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy. 2011.
- Ramadour et al. Dog factor differences in Can f 1 allergen production. Allergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2005.
- Vredegoor et al. Can f 1 levels in hair and homes of different dog breeds: Lack of evidence to describe any dog breed as hypoallergenic. Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology. 2012.