Scottish Terriers, affectionately known as “Scotties,” are an iconic breed with their distinct appearance and feisty yet loving personality.
But if you or a family member is allergic to dogs, you’ll want to know whether these dogs might trigger your symptoms before bringing one into your home.
Yes, Scottish Terriers are considered hypoallergenic due to their low shedding nature and minimal drooling which result in less dander and saliva. However, no dog breed is completely allergen-free, and hence sensitive individuals can still potentially have an allergic reaction to a Scottish Terrier.
In this article, we will dive deeper into what hypoallergenic means when it comes to dogs, shed light on some common misconceptions, and take a closer look at the Scottish Terrier breed to help you make an informed decision on whether bringing a Scottie into your home is the right decision for you.
- Understanding Hypoallergenic Dogs
- Are Scottish Terriers Hypoallergenic?
- Understanding Scottish Terrier Shedding
- Managing Allergies Around a Scottish Terrier
Understanding Hypoallergenic Dogs
When we talk about a hypoallergenic dog, we’re referring to a breed that inherently has traits such as less drooling and shedding of coat compared to other breeds.
These unique characteristics result in less production of dander and saliva, which in turn leads to reduced exposure to certain allergens or proteins. This makes hypoallergenic dogs potentially more suitable companions for those prone to allergies.
However, let’s dispel a common misconception right here and now. There is a widely held belief that hypoallergenic breeds are entirely free from allergens. This belief, unfortunately, is not accurate.
Research has shown that even hairless breeds or those with very little hair can still produce allergens potent enough to trigger an allergic response in susceptible individuals.
What this suggests is that hypoallergenic breeds with less shedding and shorter coats, such as Scottish Terriers, may be less likely to cause allergic reactions compared to long-haired breeds.
Nonetheless, even hypoallergenic breeds produce dander, body secretions, saliva, and urine, all of which may contain allergens.
To fully understand dog allergies, we need to understand how these allergens affect humans and the factors that influence this interaction. So let’s dive a bit deeper into the role of dander, saliva, and proteins in causing allergies.
Role of Dander, Saliva and proteins in causing allergies
Dander consists of tiny particles of dead skin cells naturally shed by dogs. When a dog releases dander into the environment, these minute particles can become airborne and eventually be inhaled by humans.
Within these tiny flakes of cells and saliva are proteins known as allergens. One such allergen is Can f1, present in dander, saliva, and urine.
When a person sensitive to this allergen comes into contact with it, their immune system responds by triggering an allergic reaction. This response is characterized by the production of inflammatory mediators, such as histamine, leading to symptoms like skin rashes, sneezing, and coughing.
So while “hypoallergenic” might suggest fewer allergies, it doesn’t mean allergy-free. It’s important to remember this when considering adopting any breed, including the Scottish Terrier.
Are Scottish Terriers Hypoallergenic?
Let’s turn our attention to the star of our discussion, the Scottish Terrier. Also known as “Scotties,” these small dogs are instantly recognizable, with their double coat, charming bearded look, and unmistakable feisty, independent nature.
Scotties come in a variety of coat colors, including black, brindle, and wheaten. Despite their furry appearance, one of the remarkable traits about this breed is their low shedding nature. If groomed regularly, the coat of a Scottish Terrier can be easily managed.
So, the million-dollar question – are Scottish Terriers hypoallergenic?
Well, it turns out, they are considered hypoallergenic. Thanks to their unique wiry double coat, Scotties have a decreased incidence of shedding and produce less dander. This double layer of fur helps to prevent hair and dander from freely dispersing into the environment, such as onto your furniture or clothes.
While they do produce fewer hair flakes and dander than many other breeds, it’s essential to remember that they still generate allergens. Therefore, although the chances are reduced, there is still the potential for an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.
One additional point in their favor, though, is that Scottish Terriers drool very little, which means less saliva is produced. This also helps to reduce the spread of allergens throughout your home environment.
While no dog breed is entirely hypoallergenic, Scottish Terriers are a popular choice for allergy sufferers due to their low-shedding coat and minimal drooling.
Understanding Scottish Terrier Shedding
Scottish Terriers, despite their long, distinctive coats, are not high shedders. This characteristic contributes to their status as a hypoallergenic breed, making them an appealing choice for allergy sufferers or anyone who’s not a fan of constant vacuuming.
Let’s take a closer look at the Scottish Terrier’s coat, their shedding patterns, and the factors that affect shedding.
Scottish Terrier: Coat Type and Texture
Scottish Terriers boast a unique double coat that is both functional and visually striking. The outer coat is dense and wiry, composed of coarse, straight hairs that stand away from the body, giving these dogs their characteristically scruffy appearance.
This outer layer works hand-in-hand with a soft undercoat, which provides insulation to protect the dog in colder climates. The longer hair on their legs, often described as a ‘skirt,’ completes the Scottish Terrier’s distinctive look.
Scottish Terriers are considered moderate shedders. Their coarse outer coat does an excellent job of trapping loose hairs, which reduces the amount of hair and dander that finds its way into your environment.
They’re also seasonal shedders, which means they shed more during certain times of the year, notably spring and fall. Regular grooming and brushing, particularly of the longer leg hairs, are necessary to avoid matting and maintain the health of their coat.
Factors Affecting Shedding in Scotties
While Scotties shed less than many other breeds, certain factors can increase their shedding.
Seasonal changes: Changes in temperature and the onset of a new season can affect the shedding patterns of a Scottie.
Coat health: Skin conditions, like atopic dermatitis, can weaken hair follicles and increase shedding. Parasites can also contribute to coat damage and shedding.
Nutrition: Diet plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy coat. If a dog’s diet lacks essential nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E, the coat can suffer, resulting in increased shedding.
Stress: Emotional or physical stress can lead to behaviors like excessive licking, which can result in hair loss.
Hormonal changes: Overproduction of androgens can shorten the hair growth cycle, resulting in thinner hair strands that break easily.
Grooming: Regular grooming keeps the coat healthy, reducing shedding and preventing matting.
Seasonal Changes and Shedding
Like many breeds, Scottish Terriers experience seasonal changes in their shedding patterns. During spring and fall, these dogs will shed their old coat to make way for a new one, an adaptation designed to help them cope with the changing weather.
Shedding the heavy undercoat in the spring keeps Scotties cooler in the summer, while growing a denser undercoat in the fall prepares them for the colder winter months. This process is influenced by environmental changes, including temperature and daylight hours.
So, while Scottish Terriers do shed, they are not heavy shedders. With proper care, their unique double coat can be maintained with minimal shedding, making them a great option for those wanting a less allergenic pet.
Managing Allergies Around a Scottish Terrier
Even though Scottish Terriers are a hypoallergenic breed, they aren’t completely allergen-free. If you’re susceptible to dog allergies but have your heart set on a Scottie, there are certain daily habits and medical options you can employ to minimize your allergic reactions.
Grooming Habits to Reduce Allergens
A key part of managing allergies around Scottish Terriers involves proper and consistent grooming. Here are some strategies:
Bathing: Regular bathing can significantly reduce dander exposure. Keep an eye out for signs your Scottie might need a bath, such as excessive licking, biting, or scratching. When you do bathe your dog, consider using a non-irritant, medicated shampoo to help soothe any itchiness.
Brushing: A complete body brushing twice a week is recommended for Scottish Terriers. Regular brushing helps to remove loose hairs before they can shed and contribute to allergens in your environment.
Hand stripping: This is a method used to maintain the Scottie’s unique coat texture. Hand stripping helps to remove old and dead hairs, making way for new growth. This can be done when needed, typically a few times a year.
De-matting: Scottish Terriers’ longer leg hair can mat if not regularly groomed. Using a de-matting comb can help remove these matted areas, which can also reduce shedding.
Medical options for Dealing with Dog Allergies
While diligent grooming and bathing can minimize shedding in your Scottie, seasonal changes can heighten shedding and increase your pet’s exposure to ticks, mites, and fleas.
To mitigate these issues, ask your vet about chewable medications for your dog such as Afoxolaner or Moxidectin. These medicines can help prevent these ectoparasites, curbing excessive shedding and thereby decreasing potential dander allergies.
If you’ve had dog allergies in the past, it’s important to consult with an allergist – a doctor specializing in allergies. They can identify specific allergens and may recommend treatments to help manage allergic reactions.
Additionally, antihistamines can be beneficial in controlling allergy symptoms. However, these should be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
Remember, the cornerstone of managing dog allergies is limiting exposure to the identified allergen. With careful management, you can enjoy the company of your Scottish Terrier and keep your allergies under control.
Dog allergies typically arise from contact with allergens present in a dog’s dander, saliva, and urine. Dogs that shed excessively are considered high-risk for individuals with a history of dog allergies.
Scottish Terriers, being hypoallergenic, pose a lower risk for causing allergens in comparison to other breeds. Consequently, Scotties can be an excellent choice for those wary of potential dog allergies.
However, bear in mind that individual sensitivity varies significantly, and one can still experience allergic reactions to a moderately shedding dog. Therefore, it’s recommended to maintain regular grooming and bathing routines for your Scottish Terrier to minimize exposure to dander.
Furthermore, should you experience any allergy symptoms, limit your exposure, and seek advice from a healthcare professional. Remember, being aware and proactive can help you enjoy the companionship of your Scottish Terrier while managing any potential allergies.