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There are more microbes in beards than there are in dogs’ fur

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This is certainly about the animal-to-human relationship. It is a comparison between the two. When I read the headline in The Times newspaper, “Face the facts: beards hold more germs than dogs’ fur”, I thought of dogs being kept outside all their lives despite being companion animals because some owners see them as dirty or they don’t want their dog’s fur sprinkled around their home. I wonder whether some of these owners have beards. It’s about human arrogance again I am afraid.

Charles Darwin. Image in public domain

Research by the Hirslanden Clinic in Switzerland discovered that the beards that they tested contained bacteria and almost half the beards contained bugs which could be hazardous to human health.

In fact, the beards that they tested harboured more germs than dogs carry in their fur.

The researchers were trying to establish whether it was hygienic or otherwise to allow dogs into MRI machines. So they took swabs from the beards of 18 men and the fur of 30 dogs.

“Our study shows that bearded men harbour a significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs.”

Andreas Gutzeit from the Hirslanden Clinic

The researchers found that all the bearded men, who had ages between 18 to 76, showed high microbial counts. Only 23 out of 30 dogs had the same count. The remainder of the dogs had moderate levels.

Microbes that were a threat to human health were contained within the beards of seven men.

Therefore, the researchers concluded that people who were having an MRI scan should not be perturbed if just before them a dog had entered the scanner. Dogs can be considered to be as clean compared with bearded men.

Beards tend to trap microbes and bacteria because the hair is curlier than normal hair and particularly around the nostrils and mouth where the hair is well-placed to harbour bacteria.

The Beard Liberation Front disagreed. They felt that there was a constant stream of negative stories about beards and that they are not unhygienic.