People who are allergic to dogs are generally reacting to their dander, not the hair or fur. If you are wondering are Cocker Spaniels hypoallergenic, the quick answer is no, with a catch.
While Cocker Spaniels are not a hypoallergic breed, there is no such thing as a dog that is 100 percent hypoallergenic. There are two types of Cockers: The American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel. Both breeds are not hypoallergenic.
People interested in bringing a Cocker Spaniel into their lives should know a few basic facts about the breed’s coat and grooming. Cockers have a single coat, unlike some breeds that are double-coated. They shed but not heavily, but fur or hair is not why people are allergic to dogs.
What Does A Hypoallergenic Dog Mean?
Some dogs may elicit fewer allergy symptoms to their owners than others. Dr. Tania Elliott, an allergist with the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology told the American Kennel Club that “somewhere along the line, the fact that a dog didn’t shed became synonymous with the word hypoallergenic.”
Some people can be specifically allergic to dog hair, but others are allergic to the dander (skin cells) or a dog’s saliva. There are less-allergenic dog breeds for people who suffer from dog-induced allergies; however, no dog on the planet is 100 percent hypoallergenic.
Hypoallergenic by definition means “less” allergic. Many dogs mistakenly get labeled as hypoallergenic and less likely to elicit a reaction from their owner. Dog hair is generally not the trigger for allergy sufferers. The protein in dog saliva and urine tends to cause allergic symptoms.
Are Cocker Spaniels Hypoallergenic?
American Cocker Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels are not a hypoallergenic breed. Here are a few key facts about Cocker Spaniels, their coats, why there is confusion about hair versus fur:
- The Cocker Spaniel coat is silky, flat, or slightly wavy, permitting easier care.
- Cocker Spaniels are not a double-coated breed. Double coated breeds include Labradors or Siberian Huskies.
- Cocker Spaniels are not heavy shedders.
- Cockers who shed excessively may be reacting to their diet, lacking a supplement, or have a thyroid condition, and should be seen by a veterinarian.
- Cocker Spaniels require frequent brushing and grooming.
Do Cocker Spaniels Shed?
Yes, Cockers shed but not in outrageous amounts. On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being most, the breed sheds at a level of 3 to 4. I wrote all about the best products to control Cocker Spaniel shedding.
Some breeds that shed less or are low shedders are often confused as hypoallergenic. Even hairless dogs shed, which is why there is no such thing as a 100 percent hypoallergenic dog.
Do Cocker Spaniels Have Hair or Fur?
Some breeds have hair and some have fur. The Cocker Spaniel has shorter, denser hair that feels much finer and smoother than fur.
When your Cocker Spaniels scratches or itches her hair, small amounts of dry skin flakes start floating around her environment. People who are allergic to dogs breathe in the dander or protein in the saliva or urine, triggering an allergic reaction.
How Are Cocker Spaniels For People Who Have Allergies?
If you are allergic to dogs and have been allergy tested by your dermatologist or allergist, the Cocker Spaniel is not a good choice for you. If your heart is completely set on the breed, talk to your doctor about allergy shots to try and desensitize you to the Cocker’s dander, saliva, or urine protein.
When specific proteins enter the human body, your immune system gets to work. Most allergens don’t cause a problem. When they do, it’s because the immune system kicks into overdrive when it encounters certain proteins. If that protein happens to be saliva protein or dander from a Cocker Spaniel, histamine kicks in.
Histamine is meant to keep your body out of harm’s way. Think of histamine as the superhero fighting back against the offending protein. Maybe you start to itch, sneeze, get a runny nose, headache, or break out in hives. In extreme cases, your throat may swell and blood flow to your body’s organs can become compromised. This is called an anaphylactic reaction.
Should You Avoid Cocker Spaniels If You Have Dog Allergies?
Not necessarily. Like people, each dog is different. Growing up, our next-door neighbor swore he was allergic to dogs, but he shared life with his wife and an Irish Setter. For some reason, that dog didn’t elicit an allergic reaction. Our dog, a smooth-coated Dachshund, made him sneeze.
Each Cocker Spaniel has its own skin and dander levels, and their shed factor varies, too. When I polled close to 4,000 Cocker Spaniel owners in my Club Cocker Facebook group about shedding, the results were interesting.
About 30 percent of the respondents said their Cockers shed a lot, but the remainder said their Cockers were light shedders. Shed, dander, and protein also have a lot to do with genetics, diet, hormones, supplements, and the overall health of the dogs.
Is a Cockapoo Hypoallergenic?
Some people believe that because the Cockapoo is part Cocker and part Poodle, that perhaps this makes the designer breed hypoallergenic. Not true. As noted, allergies aren’t triggered by the type of dog but by their dander, skin cells, and proteins.
Cockapoos might be a lower shedding mixed breed because of the Poodle gene, but there is no guarantee they will elicit a lesser reaction to someone with dog allergies.
Many Cockapoo breeders and enthusiasts state the mixed breed is low shedding and perfect for folks with dog allergies. Each dog is different, and one Cockapoo may trigger allergies while another may not.
Are Cocker Spaniels High Maintenance Dogs?
Cockers are high maintenance, meaning they require more coat maintenance, grooming, aren’t fond of being alone for long periods of time, and have a higher-than-average number of health concerns.
As a Cocker mom of over 30 years, when asked to describe the breed to someone unfamiliar, I usually start by saying, they are not a beginner’s breed.
Are Cocker Spaniels An Active Breed?
Yes, Cockers are active. The smallest member of the AKC’s Sporting Group, the Cocker requires moderate exercise and mental stimulation.
Cocker Spaniels are also notorious foodies. I recently helped my Cocker Spaniel lose weight, and I keep a close eye on the scale each week.