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I would love your advice please!

My son is allergic to dogs - he gets wheezy around them. We would all love a dog, and he is now taking allergy shots weekly, with us planning on getting a puppy in a year or so's time, once the shots have had a chance to ramp up.

I hope they work well...but I'm so worried about getting a puppy and finding out that he's still allergic to her.

Does anyone have any advice on testing his sensitivity to real life dogs before we get a puppy? I've heard that meeting a poodle outside, or even visiting a breeder (tough in these covid times) won't be a true test.

We live in Westchester, New York. I volunteer at our local humane society (we foster kittens and cats for them) but they never get in poodle/poodle crosses that need fostering, which in an ideal world would give us a better test I guess.

Having talked to lots of breeders, most are understandably reluctant about selling a puppy if there's any chance it may be returned to them. And I completely get that, not least as it would break my daughter's heart (and mine!!) if we had to do that.

In a magical, wand-waving world, I'd borrow a poodle for a few weeks...but we don't have any local friends who own one. We're surrounded by doodles!

Any thoughts hugely appreciated! (And if anyone would like us to dogsit their poodle for them for a week or two, we'd be up for that too!)
 

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Unfortunately, spending time with a poodle is the only true test. You've likely been following this thread, so you know that allergens can accumulate over time -- spending a few hours with a poodle is a good start, but sometimes the allergy only appears after days or weeks of accumulated exposure.

Most of us accept that our allergies will be challenged (if not by the dog itself, by its doggy playmates and the endless pollens, grasses, etc. it tracks into the house on its coat and paws) and make do by management: cleaning floors more often, washing the dog frequently, showering prophylactically, and enforcing dog free areas, such as the bedroom.

Your son has started allergy shots; in addition he may be a candidate for Xolair. Allegra and Flonase are now OTC.

Finally, and this is hard to hear, but it's ok to disappoint your children for the well-being of your family and to protect the puppy who would risk being returned or rehomed through no fault of its own. Choosing not to get a dog if your household isn't ready is the most caring and compassionate choice. And teaching your children to make the right decision even when it is a hard decision sets them up well for their adult life, when they will be responsible for many larger decisions.
 

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Unfortunately, spending time with a poodle is the only true test. You've likely been following this thread, so you know that allergens can accumulate over time -- spending a few hours with a poodle is a good start, but sometimes the allergy only appears after days or weeks of accumulated exposure.

Most of us accept that our allergies will be challenged (if not by the dog itself, by its doggy playmates and the endless pollens, grasses, etc. it tracks into the house on its coat and paws) and make do by management: cleaning floors more often, washing the dog frequently, showering prophylactically, and enforcing dog free areas, such as the bedroom.

Your son has started allergy shots; in addition he may be a candidate for Xolair. Allegra and Flonase are now OTC.

Finally, and this is hard to hear, but it's ok to disappoint your children for the well-being of your family and to protect the puppy who would risk being returned or rehomed through no fault of its own. Choosing not to get a dog if your household isn't ready is the most caring and compassionate choice. And teaching your children to make the right decision even when it is a hard decision sets them up well for their adult life, when they will be responsible for many larger decisions.
This (last paragraph of what Liz said) is really important and I am happy that Liz made note of this point. IMO human health tops having a dog or cat. I love cats and kept them for many years. When we moved to the home we currently live in I still had two cats and we kept them separated from our main living area as well as running high efficiency air filters. BF is asthmatic and highly allergic to cats (not at all to dogs). Given that he had bad attacks (think nearly making ER runs a couple of times) when at my old place where the cats had free run I will not have another cat as long as we are together here under one roof.
 

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I'm not sure how old your son is, but if he's school aged maybe some of his friends who have dogs and he can have a sleep over? Maybe you can reach out to the local PTA where he goes to school?

It's hard to say because your level of attention to bathing, brushing, and cleanliness your dog and house will be a higher priority compared to another family with a dog who might not have people w/ allergies.

I grew up taking allergy shots too (starting off weekly, then monthly) and they make a huge difference. I know some decisions are more challenging to take a leap of faith on.

The perfect scenario is that one of your family/friends is expecting a 8-week old poodle puppy soon and will pay your son to puppy sit 2-3x/week.
 

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The best replication I know is to have the breeder take a t shirt and put it in the parent dog's bed or on the parent dog for a while and then have the allergic person wear it for a couple days. That should be a pretty good exposure. Often times allergic people still have allergies to poodles, just more minor than with other dogs. They can be minimized with frequent bathing, keeping the dog's face shaved frequently, and by keeping the dog out of bedrooms of allergic people. Dogs can also be taught not to lick for those allergic to saliva.
 

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It takes me 2-3 weeks to know if I will tolerate a dog or not. If no improvement after 10-12 days, I return the dog to the breeder. I always make arrangements with the breeder to return the dog after 2 weeks if it doesn’t work. I tell them there is a very high probability I will keep the dog, but in case I can’t, then I need to have a back up plan.

No one has said no to me. Try to find an approach that will make the breeder agree.
 

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A high content Doodle should work fine IMO, a 75% 25% doodle is mostly poodle and should be the hypoallergenic type.
 
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Unfortunately, spending time with a poodle is the only true test. You've likely been following this thread, so you know that allergens can accumulate over time -- spending a few hours with a poodle is a good start, but sometimes the allergy only appears after days or weeks of accumulated exposure.

Most of us accept that our allergies will be challenged (if not by the dog itself, by its doggy playmates and the endless pollens, grasses, etc. it tracks into the house on its coat and paws) and make do by management: cleaning floors more often, washing the dog frequently, showering prophylactically, and enforcing dog free areas, such as the bedroom.

Your son has started allergy shots; in addition he may be a candidate for Xolair. Allegra and Flonase are now OTC.

Finally, and this is hard to hear, but it's ok to disappoint your children for the well-being of your family and to protect the puppy who would risk being returned or rehomed through no fault of its own. Choosing not to get a dog if your household isn't ready is the most caring and compassionate choice. And teaching your children to make the right decision even when it is a hard decision sets them up well for their adult life, when they will be responsible for many larger decisions.
Thank you Liz - I really appreciate your candor on this. We are due to spend three weeks staying with my parents (who live in a different country) in the summer. They have a cavapoo that my dad (who has always been very allergic to dogs) can tolerate well. He used to never be able to touch our golden retrievers and GSDs, but now he'll have Trixie snuggling up on the couch with him whenever he watches TV. It's very cute - I used to think he didn't like dogs, but now I realize it's because he couldn't interact with those other breeds without suffering reactions. It's not perfect as she's not a poodle but I'm thinking maybe that will be a good test? My son will have completed his weekly "ramp up" shots by then and be starting on the monthly "maintenance" ones. Fingers crossed....
 

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This (last paragraph of what Liz said) is really important and I am happy that Liz made note of this point. IMO human health tops having a dog or cat. I love cats and kept them for many years. When we moved to the home we currently live in I still had two cats and we kept them separated from our main living area as well as running high efficiency air filters. BF is asthmatic and highly allergic to cats (not at all to dogs). Given that he had bad attacks (think nearly making ER runs a couple of times) when at my old place where the cats had free run I will not have another cat as long as we are together here under one roof.
Thanks so much for your thoughts! My son plays a lot of sport and is very athletic, and I must admit I'm nervous about his breathing being compromised by wheezing. He had a lot of asthma as a small kid - he's now 11 and for the last couple of years hasn't needed his inhalers through the winter, so I'm hoping that maybe things are getting a little better.
 

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I'm not sure how old your son is, but if he's school aged maybe some of his friends who have dogs and he can have a sleep over? Maybe you can reach out to the local PTA where he goes to school?

It's hard to say because your level of attention to bathing, brushing, and cleanliness your dog and house will be a higher priority compared to another family with a dog who might not have people w/ allergies.

I grew up taking allergy shots too (starting off weekly, then monthly) and they make a huge difference. I know some decisions are more challenging to take a leap of faith on.

The perfect scenario is that one of your family/friends is expecting a 8-week old poodle puppy soon and will pay your son to puppy sit 2-3x/week.
Thanks so much for your thoughts! Really appreciated. And it's so hopeful to hear that your allergy shots made a huge difference. I hope they will for my son too. 🤞 🤞 🤞
 

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The best replication I know is to have the breeder take a t shirt and put it in the parent dog's bed or on the parent dog for a while and then have the allergic person wear it for a couple days. That should be a pretty good exposure. Often times allergic people still have allergies to poodles, just more minor than with other dogs. They can be minimized with frequent bathing, keeping the dog's face shaved frequently, and by keeping the dog out of bedrooms of allergic people. Dogs can also be taught not to lick for those allergic to saliva.
This sounds like a GREAT idea! I'm going to ask my short-listed breeders about it! A few people keep telling me that small is going to be better (less dander as less of a volume of skin on a toy vs a standard!) so although my strong preference would be for a standard, as I love their looks and personality, and think they'd be a good fit with my kids, I'm going to also do this will a miniature/toy breeder too. Thank you so much for the suggestion.
 

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It takes me 2-3 weeks to know if I will tolerate a dog or not. If no improvement after 10-12 days, I return the dog to the breeder. I always make arrangements with the breeder to return the dog after 2 weeks if it doesn’t work. I tell them there is a very high probability I will keep the dog, but in case I can’t, then I need to have a back up plan.

No one has said no to me. Try to find an approach that will make the breeder agree.
Thanks so much for your thoughts Dechi! I've spoken to some great breeders, and they have been understandably nervous about an arrangement like this for one of their precious fur babies. They say it's not great for the puppy's social development to do this, and it's also much harder to rehome a puppy after it's returned even if it's only after 10 days or so, as would-be owners are suspicious about why it doesn't work out. I've had some breeders say they would do it...but that they wouldn't return the cost of the dog. As most spoo pups I'm looking at are costing $2500-3000, I don't want to do that. It so tough!! I so wish they'd be some research done on "hypoallergenic" dogs that specifically looks at poodle dander and saliva!
 

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A high content Doodle should work fine IMO, a 75% 25% doodle is mostly poodle and should be the hypoallergenic type.
Thanks Ava - you mean as a test? I'm hoping then that my parents' cavapoo will be a good test when we stay with them for three weeks in the summer!
 

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I so wish they'd be some research done on "hypoallergenic" dogs that specifically looks at poodle dander and saliva!
Unfortunately you can be allergic to any dog. One thing is 100% sure : the smaller the dog, the lesser the allergic reaction. I can live with my 2 toys, but they do trigger my allergies, even though I am as careful as possible. I don’t think I could live with a standard poodle.
 

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Thanks Ava - you mean as a test? I'm hoping then that my parents' cavapoo will be a good test when we stay with them for three weeks in the summer!
Yes, as a test. I've noticed that all of my animals effect my allergies differently. My cats make me sniffle, my dog will make my skin break out when he touches me, (especially if he slobers on me), and when I had rats, they left little red bumps all up and down my arms. If one dog works for you, its a good sign, but no assurance that your personal dog wont also trigger allergies.

It took me over 2 years to develop an Allergy to my cats, and about 5-7 before realising my dog bothered me, to.
 
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A high content Doodle should work fine IMO, a 75% 25% doodle is mostly poodle and should be the hypoallergenic type.
Yikes, I have had a terrible time with doodles. There is absolutely no guarantee that they will inherit the poodle coat 100%!
 

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Yikes, I have had a terrible time with doodles. There is absolutely no guarantee that they will inherit the poodle coat 100%!
I am aware, but you can clearly look at one and see. Im not talking about inheritance, just talking about going to a family member and asking if you can borrow their doodle with a poodle coat
 
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