A female dog may well be the answer

New Danish study demonstrates that some dog allergy sufferers only react to male dogs.

‘We’re NEVER getting a dog!’ claim many families that struggle with asthma and allergies.
And this may seem like a thoroughly sensible decision.

In principle, a dog is not the allergy sufferer’s best friend, and many suffer badly when in the proximity of dogs.

However, some allergy sufferers may be able to have a dog without becoming ill from the allergens produced by the animal. If, that is, these people choose a female dog – a bitch.

This is indicated by recent research conducted by the Copenhagen Studies on Asthma in Childhood Research Centre (COPSAC) at Herlev and Gentofte Hospitals.

The project, funded by the Lundbeck Foundation among others, has taken a closer look at dog allergens by testing them on a group of dog-allergic trial subjects, aged between 15 and 18. The trial was equivalent to subjecting these allergy sufferers to close contact to dogs.

Prostate troublemaker

This study was recently published in the scientific ‘Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In practice’, and it includes a very surprising discovery:

Danish researchers were able to see that many of the trial subjects only reacted to one substance in the cocktail of dog allergens to which they were exposed.

Professor Hans Bisgaard, who headed the project together with postdoc Ann-Marie Schoos, both from COPSAC, explains:

‘The allergen in question is called Can f 5, and it’s expressed in the prostate. Naturally, this means it’s only found in male dogs, and if Can f 5 is the only dog allergen a person reacts to, they should be able to have a dog as a pet – as long as it’s a female. This is what we were able to demonstrate in our study, and it has never before been scientifically proven.’

It is estimated that 30–60% of all dog allergy sufferers solely react to the Can f 5 allergen. And these people should be able to have a dog, provided that they choose a female.

Hans Bisgaard explains that testing for male dog allergies poses a practical problem for doctors today, since they require a so-called extract to perform the test.

‘In connection with our study, we made a special arrangement with a Danish company to produce extracts separately from male and female dogs. We hope that these will soon be put into production so that all asthma and allergy specialists can test dog allergy sufferers to check whether these patients actually only have a problem with male dogs.’


Today, we can test a patient’s blood for antibodies to Can f 5. However, if we want to prove that a patient has a tolerance to a female dog, we have to test the patient for all six dog allergens (Can f 1 to Can f 6).


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