Men with beards might think differently about their bristles after reading this. There are probably plenty of fellas out there who are sentimental toward their whiskers; they might be offended by what science has to say: that men have more germs in their beards than dogs do in their fur. Ouch!
A study done in the Hirslanden Clinic in Switzerland took swab samples from 18 men’s beards and the necks of 30 dogs of different breeds. While 23 of the 30 dogs were found to have “high” levels of bacteria, every single bearded man showed high microbial counts. The remainder of the dogs also tested as having high levels.
“The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur,” stated Professor Andreas Gutzeit from the Hirslanden Clinic.
“On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men.”
Adding insult to injury, seven of the men who were tested were deemed to harbor levels of bacteria that are classified as “hazardous” to human health.
The researchers came across these findings by mistake during a different study to examine whether bacteria from an MRI machine used for dogs was transmitted (after being disinfected) to humans who were scanned after.
Understandably, not every man was willing to take the news sitting down. Founder of the Beard Liberation Front Keith Flett, as Daily Mail reported, came to the defense of men with beards. He believes that some people simply frown upon beards, that there is discrimination at work.
“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,” he reasoned. “I don’t believe that beards in themselves are unhygienic.
“There seems to be a constant stream of negative stories about beards that suggest it’s more about pogonophobia than anything else.” Pogonophobia is defined as an irrational fear of beards.
While men who sport their bristles go back to before the dawn of history, science is now putting the lifestyle choice on the defensive. There is clearly a proud tradition behind it. Beards have always been a symbol of manliness, wisdom, and distinction. Already dealing with daily maintenance, the itching, and inconvenience, now piled atop these is one more reason for men to reach for their razor.