Corgis, the beloved pet of the late Queen Elizabeth II, are easy to love. They are adorably short-legged, full of energy and agility, and make great pets. They also have a distinctive waddle and “Corgi butts” have become a common meme among Corgi owners.
But are they hypoallergenic? Unfortunately, no. This post will cover what hypoallergenic means in relation to dogs, where pet allergies come from, and how this relates to the Corgi breed.
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What Does It Mean for a Dog to be Hypoallergenic?
If you’re severely allergic to dogs, you might already know this part. But for the rest of us, who are occasional allergy sufferers or otherwise not allergic, the answer isn’t quite as clear.
Corgis are not hypoallergenic… but what does that mean, exactly?
The Origin of “Hypoallergenic”
The word “hypoallergenic” sounds a bit like a buzzword, and that’s because to some extent, it is.
The word originated somewhere between the 1940s and 1950s in the advertisement of cosmetics. These new cosmetics were meant to be suitable for people with more sensitive skin. In other words, it was made up by advertisers, not by the medical community.
But the name “hypoallergenic” itself is from “hypo” and “allergenic”. You’ve probably guessed that “allergenic” means “causing allergies”, and you’d be right.
The word “hypo” is a Latin prefix that means “below” or “under”, as in, less allergenic. In short, Corgis cannot be described as being less allergy-causing than most dogs. We’ll get into the reasons why, later in this article.
Much like the word itself, which means “causing a less-than-normal amount of allergies”, there is no such thing as a totally allergy-free dog. The Allergy and Asmtha Foundation of America confirms this to be true.
Hypoallergenic dogs refer to dogs that are much less likely to cause allergies in people. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can get a hypoallergenic dog and expect to never experience allergies.
What Determines How “Hypoallergenic” a Dog Is?
For us to answer that question, we first need to talk about what causes allergies. The short answer is that it is pet dander, which is a combination of dead skin, urine, and drool (gross!). It is not an allergy to the fur itself. But, dogs that shed more fur end up shed more dander.
Why Do People Have Dog Allergies?
There are 69 million people in the United States who currently own a dog, according to the Insurance Information Institute. And, 70% of households overall own either a dog or a cat.
This shows that pet allergy suffers are not the majority. But they aren’t a small group, either.
A 2018 study cited by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found that between 10-20% of people have a pet allergy. Of course, some people with pet allergies choose to live with pets anyway.
But for many people it’s severe enough that it deters them from owning pets, or at least owning certain breeds (such as Corgis).
Signs of allergies include all the typical allergy responses that you’d get from pollen, for example:
- Itchy nose and eyes
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Asmtha Attack
- And other medical issues from prolonged exposure or severe allergies, for example, fatigue
Why do people have an allergic reaction to dogs, though? The reason is not because of their fur, but because of their skin.
Much like humans, dogs’ skin has dead skin cells on it. These dead skin flakes are known as dander, and the protein within these dead skin cells can produce an allergic reaction.
Combine this with salvia (from your dog licking their fur), pee, as well as whatever normal allergens they collect on their fur (such as pollen), and it’s no wonder some people have an allergic reaction. Yes, even to Corgis!
While it is gross to talk about dead skin cells, it’s not because your dog is inherently dirty (although we won’t say whether or not they need a bath at the moment!).
Humans generate dander from their skin cells too, and your dog might even be allergic to it! In other words, allergic reactions can go both ways. It all depends on what each individual’s body is sensitive to.
It may be gross to talk about, but it is a natural thing for both humans and canines. If you want to learn more about the protein types, click to read this 2012 study.
Why Do Some Dogs Cause More Allergies Than Others?
We’ve covered that pet dander (that is, dead skin cells, plus salvia, urine, etc) is what causes allergies. And it goes without saying that pet skin and pet fur are related.
Since pet hair is attached to the skin and to dander, dogs that shed more fur will naturally shed more dander along with it. Hypoallergenic refers to dogs that shed less than other dogs, not dogs that are completely devoid of dander (those dogs don’t exist!). The less a dog sheds, the lower the potential allergen exposure.
Unfortunately, Corgis shed a lot of fur, so Corgi breeds cannot be considered hypoallergenic.
Note that this is not just a matter of regularly cleaning up after dog fur. The dander itself is very small and can be hard to get rid of. It may settle into fabric such as upholstered furniture or your clothing. It also can be stirred up by cleaning activities such as sweeping or vacuuming. Once it’s in your environment, it’s not as simple as just scooping up the excess fur.
Do Some Dogs Shed More Than Others?
You could write a whole book about this topic but it has to do with what each dog breed was bred to do, and where they originate. Siberian Huskies and other curly-tailed, heavy coated dogs grow thick double coats that help them keep warm in the wintertime.
On the far other end of the spectrum are hairless dog breeds like the Xoloitzcuintli (also known as the Mexican Hairless Dog), which originated in a hot region.
Poodles, widely known to be a hypoallergenic breed, have a single coat and do not shed anywhere near as much.
And then there are Corgis, which were bred to be farm dogs. They have a double coat where the inner layer keeps them warm, and the outer layer repels moisture. This made them suitable to spending time out in the elements herding livestock.
But this extra insulation becomes a burden during the warmer months, and a lot of shedding occurs.
Do Corgis Shed A Lot?
Yes. Corgis have a double coat which sheds regularly all year round, and then sheds a higher amount twice a year. This is common in double-coated breeds.
In fact, Corgis shed so much that owners of the breed refer to it as “Corgi glitter”. You can get pillows, t-shirts, stickers , and art prints about how much your Corgi sheds:
What it means for their owners is that they will need to be on top of cleaning, vacuuming up after their dog. They will also need to regularly groom their dog to pull out the shedded fur, particularly during the heavy shedding periods when the seasons change in spring and fall.
Because Corgis shed a lot, they are not hypoallergenic, and are generally not a great choice for allergy sufferers, even though they are a fantastic breed of dog!
Can I Get a Corgi If I’m Allergic?
If you are severely allergic to pet dander, and dog dander in particular, you should consider getting a different breed of dog. Corgis shed a lot which can spread dander around your home, which is what triggers your allergies.
With that being said, Corgis are a great breed of dog, known for their affection, energy, intelligence, and of course their cute way of walking.
If You Want a Corgi Anyway, Here’s How to Manage Allergies
If your heart is set on a Corgi, there are some things you can do to mitigate allergies:
- Regularly groom your dog with a brush meant to pull out the undercoat as it sheds. For example, the “Furminator” brush which I use on my dog.
- Regularly vacuum to keep on top of pet fur.
- Because dander sticks better on fabric surfaces, houses with wood, tile, or other hard flooring may be easier to keep clean of dander than houses with carpets. So allergy suffers may do better to avoid carpeting if at all possible. However, because hardwood floors do not “hold in” allergens, you will need to stay on top of sweeping and vacuuming!
- To lessen the amount of dander circulating in the house, you can install a HEPA filter.
- Regularly wash your dog’s bed, as well as cleaning other surfaces that they spend a lot of time on, such as a sofa.
- Shedding can also become worse if your dog has poor nutrition, is stressed, or has medical issues such as food allergies or parasites. Make sure your dog is fed a good diet and gets regular veterinary care.
- You can also bathe your dog to help with allergies, but this is not a panacea. If you over-bathe your dog, you may cause skin problems, the same way that over-washing your own hair strips it of natural oils and causes it to overproduce oil.
- And of course, there are plenty of over-the-counter allergy medications to lessen the affects of allergies on humans.
Breeds to Consider Instead
If this sounds like a lot of work, there are other dog breeds considered to be hypoallergenic. As you now know, this doesn’t mean they’re allergy-free, but that they shed a lot less. This means that it won’t be such an uphill battle against dander, and you will suffer fewer allergies, or no allergies at all.
A list of popular hypoallergenic dog breeds include:
- Afghan Hounds
- Bichon Frise
- Chinese Crested
- Italian Greyhound
- Lhasa Apso
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Scottish Terrier
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
This list is not complete, as there are nearly 60 purebred dog breeds who are considered hypoallergenic, plus several “designer” dog breeds.
You can also consider a Corgi mix, such as a Corgi-Poodle Mix, which combines a Corgi (which is not a hypoallergenic bred) and a Poodle (which is a hypoallergenic breed).
This breed of “designer dog” known as a “Corgipoos” will shed much less than a standard Corgi breed. But because one of the parent dogs sheds a lot, there’s no guarantee that the resulting Corgipoo will not shed. They will just shed less.