A study that was designed to determine whether people could contract dog-borne diseases made an accidental discovery. By reviewing samples from men’s beards and the necks of 30 different dogs of various breeds, researchers found that men’s beards have higher microbial counts many of the canine subjects, and some men’s facial hair could pose a threat to human health.
“The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur,” said Switzerland Hirslanden Clinic professor Andreas Gutzeit, according to a report by the New York Post.
The study intended to determine whether people could contract dog-borne illnesses from an MRI scanner which was shared.
The beards of 18 men were swabbed as well at the neck fur of 30 dogs, representing a variety of breeds.
All of the men in the study – ranging from age 18 to 76 – had high microbial counts. In comparison, only 23 of the 30 canines had similar counts.
Seven of the men’s beards also tested positive for germs that could threaten a person’s health.
Additionally, scientists tested the quantities of bacteria left after dogs and people used the MRI, and the machine was cleaned. The bacteria count was “significantly” lower after a dog used it when compared to the levels after a human used the MRI.
“On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men,” Gutzeit asserted.
Some men with facial hair took issue with the study, noting that hygiene standards vary from one man to the next.
“I think it’s possible to find all sorts of unpleasant things if you took swabs from people’s hair and hands and then tested them,” said Keith Flett, the founder of the Beard Liberation Front.
“I don’t believe that beards in themselves are unhygienic.”
Flett also expressed that he is tired of bearded men having to defend their facial hair choices.
“There seems to be a constant stream of negative stories about beards that suggest it’s more about pogonophobia than anything else,” he said.