Are French Bulldogs Hypoallergenic?


Allergies to animals cause anything from mild to severe discomfort and pet lovers are always on the lookout for a breed that won’t cause a reaction in them.

Are French Bulldogs hypoallergenic? No, though a few dog breeds are thought to be, French Bulldogs are not hypoallergenic. There is significant scientific research that suggests that no dog breed is completely hypoallergenic. Some breeds shed less and have less dander than others but the French Bulldog is not even amongst these.

The reaction a person has to a French Bulldog will depend on the individual dog (not the breed) and the individual person themselves.

The hypoallergenic question is usually asked by someone who’s known to have an allergic reaction to certain pets. My wife is a good example of this. Although this refers to cats, it’s the same thing. When we first met, she told me she was allergic to horse-hair and cats, which was a shame as I had a Maine Coon (a long-haired breed of cat) at the time. This, rather large, bundle of fur had a habit of burrowing into my bed to keep warm at night and to my wife’s surprise, she had no allergic reaction whatsoever. It turned out that the Maine Coon is the only cat breed that she is perfectly okay with, which was a great relief of course. But what about dog breeds…

What Exactly Do We Mean by Hypoallergenic and Can French Bulldogs Ever Be?

Are French Bulldogs Hypoallergenic?

When we talk about a hypoallergenic dog breed, we mean a dog that isn’t as likely to trigger any type of allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to them. This would allow the person to keep a pet at home and live with it without having any kind of negative reaction. 

What apparently causes the allergies are proteins found not only in the fur of the dog but also within the hair roots, urine, saliva, and dander. You can see immediately from this that the common idea that all hypoallergenic dogs must have short hair or shed less than others isn’t the full picture! Many breeds of dog seem to be promoted as hypoallergenic simply because they don’t shed their hair, however, there is no dog that is currently known that is completely hypoallergenic, including French Bulldogs.

What is Dander?

Good question, thanks for asking. Dander consists of little bits of skin that have detached from your dog. Actually, if you’re interested, any animal that has fur or feathers can produce dander. So, of course, dogs and cats will produce dander, as will foxes and parrots! Normally you won’t be able to see the little bits of skin (occasionally you might see some larger bits), in fact a lot of it is so small you wouldn’t even be able to see it with your average microscope!

It’s not the dander as such that causes the reactions, however, as I mentioned earlier, the dander contains protein and it is this that causes the problem. This protein though is also seen in the saliva and urine of these animals so it’s not just the skin that’s causing you a problem.

What does this mean? Let me give you an example. Let’s say your French Bulldog goes outside to do ‘its business’. Some or the urine (which includes the harmful proteins) will stick to its skin. Now, when your little Frenchie comes back inside and that skin detaches itself from the dog, all of a sudden you have two doses of the protein that causes your allergic reaction (one dose comes from the protein within the urine and the other of course from the skin).

Myth or Fiction?

Scientific research tells us that the breed of dog is not a factor in relation to their allergen levels. Yes, it does fluctuate between dogs, but not in relation to the breeds themselves. You can see a couple of more authoritative articles on this, one from the NY Times and one from the National Public Radio here. Note that both links open in a new tab.

So, just to be absolutely clear, there is no evidence whatsoever, that there is a dog breed that is more hypoallergenic than others. The amount of shredding that occurs with an individual dog does not determine the acuteness of the allergic reaction. In fact, even if the dog was completely bald, it will still produce allergens. Indeed, the level of reaction is down to two things:

  1. The number of allergens that this individual dog produces.
  2. The person themselves, as reactions aren’t the same across the population – everyone may experience a slightly different reaction.

There is a lot that is not currently known, however. For instance, some individual dogs (note that I’m talking about random dogs, not breeds here) will not cause a reaction with a specific person whereas it will with another who has a similar reaction to dogs.

There is also a chance that the size of the individual dog will have more of an impact as to how hypoallergenic it is, than the breed. If you’re really interested in this then there’s a scientific paper you can read that goes into a lot more detail than you’re probably interested in. 

How Will I Know for Sure If The French Bulldog is Hypoallergenic for Me?

Are French Bulldogs Hypoallergenic?

This is perhaps obvious but how do you know what kind of reaction you will have before you buy one? I’m not talking about just a French Bulldog here (although I know that’s why you’re here) but for any individual that suffers from reactions (my wife included) – how do you know how severe that reaction will be? Well, unfortunately, you don’t. The only way you will be able to determine the level of reaction is to spend time with your dog. Now, this should be possible as you’re unlikely to buy one online without seeing it, right? When you do go and see it, spend at least an hour with it, close up, in contact. Then, see how you react (obviously I’m assuming that your reactions aren’t so acute that it might put you in the hospital!). I’m sure you’d rather find out before you get her than have to give her back once you have…

Remember, just because you have a reaction doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. If you’ve got the opportunity to give that little Frenchie a loving home there are way you can still move forward. I mention these in the below section but don’t give up just yet!

Can I Prevent Myself from Having a Reaction?

There are certain things you can do if you’re suffering from reactions to a dog which may ease your discomfort. 

Bath Time

Research has shown that if you bath French Bulldogs (or any dog that is causing reactions) a couple of times a week it significantly reduces the number of allergens released into the local environment hence making them more hypoallergenic. This simple task (I say simple, it was never simple when I used to try and bathe my Cocker Spaniel) may even eliminate the reaction totally.

A Clean Home

It has also been shown that ensuring your home is clean makes a notable difference to the effect. This should include vacuum cleaning, air filters or even only allowing the dog in certain rooms. I really don’t like this last point though, maybe it could work if you have a massive house but most of us don’t and restricting your dog’s movements provides you with a whole new challenge. Anyway, a little tip I’ll give you that certainly made the whole vacuuming process easier was to get a rechargeable one. If you have to untangle a wire every time, plug it in, trip over it and keep plugging it into different sockets around your house, it gets boring very soon and you’ll find reasons not to do it. With a cordless, you just pick it up and boom – it’s so much quicker and I find I use it every day now. Never the whole house every day, just a bit here and a bit there. Anyway, if you’re after one – this is the one I’ve got, Dyson vacuum cleaners are awesome. Check out the price and the reviews on Amazon, you will not be disappointed and it actually might be a big part of your solution.

Another thing to not forget is to make sure that you clean the bedding, not only yours but your Bully’s also!

Medication

This is for you, not the dog 🙂 I’ll keep this relatively short as you’ll no doubt know about this already but there are plenty of antihistamines that you are able to buy over the counter that will help with any particularly bad reactions. These, of course, aren’t a solution to the problem but will provide temporary relief if you’re having a bad day.

Brave It Out…

There have also been other reports that being exposed to a dog (and its allergens) at an early age and just sticking through the hard-time will eventually make the symptoms dissipate. There’s a scientific paper underlying the research that you can take a look at if you’re that way inclined here (opens in a new tab). So, the logic behind it is that the puppy comes into your home and you just live with it. Yes, you may have reactions (that you can minimize or even eliminate with the regular bathing of the dog and house cleaning) but over time these reactions will lessen until you really don’t notice them anymore. Although this isn’t something I have personal experience with, I’ve heard of it before and the scientific research behind it seems to back it up.

Is the Reaction Too Much?

Hopefully not, but there are dangers associated with these reactions that cannot be ignored. There is a life-threatening response to these allergens called Anaphylaxis. This is of course very serious and can be triggered not only by pets (not particularly common) but also to some medications and foods. The symptoms may include (but might not be limited to):

  • Coughing / Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • A tightness in the chest or throat and difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling of the eyes, feet, hands or lips (or a combination of these)
  • Dizziness and low blood pressure

The treatment of this must be immediate but this article is not the place to discuss such medical matters. I’d recommend taking a look at the article reviewed by Alana Biggers MD over at healthline.com (opens in a new tab).

The French Bulldog Specifics

Are French Bulldogs Hypoallergenic?

French Bulldogs don’t shed a lot of hair but as you now know, this doesn’ make them hypoallergenic. Hair isn’t the only factor involved in your reaction. It is a factor though so worth mentioning. They will lose their undercoat in the Fall (Autumn for you UK people) and in the Spring. They shed more during these times and I mentioned above the importance of vacuuming. It’s probably best if a person who doesn’t suffer a reaction does the grooming but once complete, make sure all the hair is vacuumed up!

Finally, if you’d like to take a look at the Complete Guide to the French Bulldog, then please feel free to take a look (opens in a new tab).

Jane

I'm Jane Pettitt, co-owner of Pets Knowledge Base with my husband, Matt. I have a grand total of 50 years’ experience as a pet owner. It all started with a guinea pig called Percy when I was 5 years old and since then I’ve lived with two more guinea pigs, a hamster, mice, a rabbit, a tortoise, a dog and 11 cats. I’ve learned so much about pet care during this time and many of my articles are based on my personal experiences and those of my family and friends .

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