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As a physician, and as an allergy sufferer myself, I've often wondered about this, and I've heard arguments on both sides. In general, it had always been my understanding that it was a dog's dander and saliva that people react to, rather than the dog's hair.
However, I want you to consider one thing that all breeds widely considered to be "hypoallergenic" have in common - I'm speaking of the Poodle, Bichon Frise, Yorkie, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Portuguese Water Dog, Wheaton Terrier, Bouvier, etc. They all need to be clipped, because they don't shed normally like other dogs. This is an undeniable difference - if the hair really plays no role, then why do all hypoallergenic dogs have fur which needs cutting, whereas other dogs have fur which simply sheds?
Anecdotally, I have pretty serious dog allergies - I can't even get in a car if a dog like a boxer or a beagle's been in it, and I develop welts if the dog's nose or tongue touches me, so I concede that it isn't *just* the dog's hair. Nonetheless, I now own a shih tzu, and I'm perfectly fine with her - with her hair, her nose and her tongue, so presumably with her saliva and her dander, too. In the end, I think that different dogs are comprised of different proteins - and these proteins make the dander, the saliva AND the hair on these "hypoallergenic" dogs different from other dogs. That is to say, I don't think it's just *one thing* that makes a dog "hypoallergenic," but rather, a constellation of qualities that are probably the result of a different protein in the dog's constitution.
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