In bad news for gentlemen who enjoy wearing their facial fuzz with pride, a study has revealed that beards can carry more dangerous bacteria than your average family pooch.
The study, reported by Mail On Sunday, took samples from the beards of 18 men (aged 18-76) and the necks of 30 dogs and compared the results. The researchers initially wanted to find out if there was a risk that humans could pick up a dog-borne disease from an MRI scanner that was also used for examinations by vets.
However, what they found was surprising. Professor Andreas Gutzeit, of Switzerland's Hirslanden Clinic, said: "The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men's beards compared with the dogs' fur.
"On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men.”
The researchers discovered that every one of the men involved in the study showed high microbial counts - with seven men found to have microbes that posed a threat to human health - while just 23 of the 30 dogs had high levels and seven had 'moderate' levels.
However, founder of the Beard Liberation Front, Mr Keith Flett, cast doubt on the report. He said: “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. I don't believe that beards in themselves are unhygienic,”
He continued: "There seems to be a constant stream of negative stories about beards that suggest it's more about pogonophobia [the fear of beards] than anything else.”
Given his position you would expect Keith to come out fighting in his defence of the beard, however throwing pogonophobia into the mix regarding this study does seem harsh.
So what is the moral of this story? If you’ve got a beard, wash it regularly I guess, and if you’ve got a dog, wash it a little less regularly? If you’ve touched a beard (or dog) wash your hands before eating?
Take from it what you will!