Anyway, she says, the woolly-coat theory is only part of the equation. "Some people are allergic to the skin of the dog, so sometimes silky coats are better." The best solution, she says, is to visit a breeder and spend some time with the dog of your choice, to check what kind of a reaction is the result.
Dr Richard Allport, a vet who specialises in natural medicine, says that dogs that moult tend to also produce more dander (flakes of dead skin and scurf) so a non-shedder is probably a good bet. "The poodle is a very under-rated breed - they are healthy little dogs and full of character," he says. But if the worst comes to the worst, Pet City, Britain's largest pet store, says you can't go wrong with a reptile ("no fur, and very friendly") or a fish ("fairly bombproof as far as allergies go - how about a piranha?") or a tree frog ("easy to look after").
In the meantime, while you may be allergic to your pet, it may equally well be allergic to you - or at any rate, to your lifestyle. "I am seeing a marked increase in allergic reactions in dogs and cats," says Richard Allport. "I suspect carpet fibres, pollutants, and additives in pet food. I have also seen two or three cats who have had asthmatic reactions to their owners - but I think that was more likely to be their perfume or detergent or tobacco, rather than the person themselves."
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