Researchers at the Hirslanden Clinic in Switzerland took swabs from the beards of 18 men and found every beard contained bacteria.
The team, who were testing whether it was hygienic to let dogs into the same MRI machines as humans, compared the beard samples to swabs taken from the necks of 30 dogs.
All the bearded men, aged between 18 – 76, showed high microbial counts, while only 23 out of 30 dogs had the same. The rest had moderate levels.
Seven beards harbored germs that could be harmful to human health.
“Our study shows that bearded men harbor a significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs,” Andreas Gutzeit told The Mail on Sunday.
“On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men,” he added.
Beard hair is coarser and more curly so traps dirt more easily, with hair around the nostrils and mouth the prime hotbed for bacteria.
Keith Flett, founder of the Beard Liberation Front, was relaxed about the findings: “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 told The Times.