Are you yearning to have a dog, but need to consider one or more members of your household that suffer from allergies?
Well, here’s the good news. Firstly, you’re not alone. As many as 30% of people in the United States have some kind of allergic reaction or another to pets.
Secondly, there is a whole world of hypoallergenic dogs that could make your pet-owning dream come true. Owning a dog is just about choosing the right one – one that won’t exacerbate your issues with allergic reactions.
We’re going to look at a whole bunch of the breeds in this article.
What exactly are hypoallergenic dog breeds?
This is a question you’re bound to be asking yourself if you’re starting to consider getting a dog despite your allergies.
The term is bandied about a lot – hypoallergenic dog breeds – but that’s really a huge generalization. Allergies are specific to specific individuals, so even though a dog is hypoallergenic, it may not be an exact fit for you.
Right off the bat, it is important to understand that there is no dog breed that is completely, 100% allergen-free or hypoallergenic. Rather, the term refers to dogs that are less likely or unlikely to cause allergic reactions in people.
So, even if you end up getting a hypoallergenic dog, it could still cause a reaction with a person in your home that has allergies. BUT – it is much less likely to do so when compared with other breeds.
Matching the right dog or breed with the right individual is really the key here. And that means spending relevant time with different breeds before actually taking your pup home. You’ll find breeders are generally an amiable bunch, so many will be only too happy to accommodate you!
What causes dog-related allergies?
All dogs produce proteins, just like all humans do. Dogs secrete these proteins into their saliva, and from there it ends up on their coats when they lick themselves. When they shed, or lose their hair, that ends up all over the place.
The proteins are transferred to you when you interact with your dog or pet it, or when you come into contact with the shed hairs.
And these proteins are really the culprit. They cause allergic reactions in humans.
The types of proteins dogs secrete, and the amount of those proteins, all depend on the individual dog and the breed. Some breeds secrete less than others, and some shed less than others. That means less of the proteins come into contact with surrounding humans with allergic reactions.
Hypoallergenic dog breed checklist
Generally speaking, you could consider a dog or breed hypoallergenic if it:
- Doesn’t shed and produces less dander than the norm
- Is relatively hairless – so there’s nothing for the dander it produces to cling to
You’ll also notice that dander seems to be a recurring theme. Basically, dander is a collection of dead skin cells and hairs that collect in your dog’s coat.
Humans also produce dead cells and hairs, but with us, it’s usually washed away in the shower or bath, so we don’t notice.
You can understand if your dog has a thick coat, it’s more place for the dander to collect. You’ll also have more dander in the atmosphere in your home, and this will be more likely to trigger allergic reactions.
The best hypoallergenic dog breeds
Now that you have a basic understanding of the concepts around hypoallergenic dog breeds, we’re going to have a quick look at the best breeds for people who struggle with allergies. The hypoallergenic breeds span across sizes, but they differ in origin, temperament, and obviously the way they look.
#1 Afghan Hound
This may seem like an unlikely candidate for a hypoallergenic breed when you first look at it, but they really don’t shed. When they’re pups, their coats are fuzzy, but as they grow up these coats into the long, elegant, silky coats we all admire in Afghans.
They need regular grooming to keep their hypoallergenic qualities. If you’re okay with that, these make excellent pets for people with allergies.
They’re famous for appearing all regal and dignified. And complete devotion to their owners.
Affenpinschers are fantastic dogs for people with allergy issues. Their coats are really low-maintenance, it doesn’t grow fast, and they hardly shed.
These pups are funny, and completely confident, regardless of their size. They make excellent doggie companions.
The Basenji is also referred to as the dog without a bark. Their curly tails are their trademark.
In hypoallergenic terms they’re great. They have a short coat and they shed only occasionally. And when they do shed, it’s really very little.
They also don’t carry around that dog smell that puts many people off. You just need to wash them when they’re dirty.
The breed has an anomaly in its voice box configuration, and this leads to a strange yodel-like sound when it barks.
#4 American Hairless Terrier
This one is, well, hairless, but you’ve already guessed that, right?! They also come in a hairy variety, but neither variant sheds much.
In this breed, the ears always have to be protected from sunburn. Other than that, they’re completely fuss-free and make excellent pets.
They’re a terrier, which means they’re energetic, playful, inquisitive, and intelligent.
#5 Bichon Frise
This one oozes charm and personality. They’re easy to identify with their bushy, white coat.
The Bichon Frise is a high-energy creature that gets along famously with kids and other dogs. It works well in big city life but also makes excellent lap dogs.
The Bichon Frise sheds little, and infrequently. And when they do, the hair is mostly caught up in their undercoat. Regular grooming will prevent it from being discarded into the atmosphere of your home.
The Bichon Frise will need a regular grooming routine, but other than that, it is a fantastic pet for someone who suffers from allergies.
#6 Bedlington Terrier
The coat of the Bedlington Terrier will make you think of sheep!
The Bedlington Terrier are highly sociable and lively. They will often try to become and remain the center of attention.
They bond really well with owners and families and are patient by nature.
The coat is a strange combination of textures. It has soft and wiry aspects mixed together. They hardly shed, even though they have a coat that looks as if it should.
The Bedlington Terrier has a fast-0growing coat, so it does need regular attention to retain its hypoallergenic qualities.
#7 Coton de Tulear
This breed is less well known, but dollars to doughnuts you’ll still recognize it if you see it.
Their coats are soft like cotton and need to be kept in what is called a “puppy clip” to retain maximum hypoallergenic qualities.
The Coton de Tulear sheds only occasionally, and then very little. Grooming requirements are minimal. This is if you keep their coats short. If you let it grow out, that could be a different story altogether …
The Coton de Tulear makes a fantastic canine companion. They’re perfectly happy with following you around, and they’re generally happy-go-lucky dogs with a real humorous streak.
#8 Chinese Crested
This one looks a bit like the American Hairless Terrier. The Chinese Crested comes in two varieties – there’s a coated variant and a hairless one. And as you would expect, shedding with these pups is not an issue at all.
They do require proper grooming, though. For the hairless pup, skincare is essential, and decent brushing is a must for the coated variety.
If you’re considering a hypoallergenic dog, this breed is an excellent choice. They’re playful and fun and famous for appearing in movies.
#9 Irish Water Spaniel
This breed is also one of the larger hypoallergenic dogs. It is by far the tallest of all the AKC spaniels.
Irish Water Spaniels love to work hard, they’re tremendously active, and like all spaniels, they simply adore water.
Their curly coats and tapering tail make them easy to recognize.
Irish Water Spaniels will shed on occasion, but when they do it’s not much. They do require a proper grooming routine to make sure they’re always as hypoallergenic as possible. Regular trimming and brushing will do the trick.
The Irish Water Spaniel are recognizable by their tapering rat tail and curled coats. Though these dogs will shed seasonally, their coats themselves are comparatively hypoallergenic — nonetheless will need regular brushing and trimming.
#10 Giant Schnauzer
This one is one of the larger breeds we’re looking at today. There are three kinds of Schnauzers – and this one makes a brilliant working dog and companion.
The Giant Schnauzer is loyal to a fault, highly trainable, and smart as a whip.
They do shed some, but very little at a time. If your allergy is mild, you can prevent reactions with a proper grooming routine. This will prevent the dander from being discarded into the atmosphere of your home, and thus keep your allergic reactions in check.
If you have hypoallergenic and hardworking on your list of character traits for the dog you want to get, the Giant Schnauzer ticks both.
#11 Lagotto Romagnolo
This one is reminiscent of a teddy bear!
The Lagotto Romagnolos has an incredible history. They were originally bred as a truffle-sniffer. They’re actually still known by that name – the Truffle Dog.
The Lagotto Romagnolo has a superb sense of smell and loves working hard.
The coat has curly, thick hair – a double coat actually, so it doesn’t have any fur. Their shedding is minimal, and regular trimming will sort out any problems with matting.
If you have allergies and want a dog with endurance second to none, the Lagotto Romagnolo stands head and shoulders above the competition.
#12 Kerry Blue Terrier
The color of this breed is simply gorgeous. There are five varieties of blue – from the color of deep slate to a blueish gray.
The Kerry Blue terrier is a fantastic addition to any family.
They shed extremely little, but they do require a proper grooming routine and a scheduled regime for trimming.
They’re ideal for watchdogs, because they’re hyper-alert, and they’re excellent as working dogs too.
#13 Miniature Schnauzer
Here’s another Schnauzer variant – the miniature version. Whatever you do – don’t judge this little book by its cover!
They have fantastic little characters. They’re energetic and forward, and make fantastic guard dogs.
Like its Giant cousin, the Miniature Schnauzer sheds next to nothing, even though it has a double coat. A proper and regular grooming routine will keep them clean and free of allergens.
Even if your allergies are really bad, you’re unlikely to have a reaction caused by these dogs.
This little one is probably the best known of all the hypoallergenic breeds. Its white coat reminds of the Coton de Tulear and the Bichon.
It’s small, which makes it ideal for apartment living. They hardly shed, but do need to be brushed and groomed regularly, especially if you want to allow the coat to grow out.
Maltese are companion dogs in the true sense of the word. They will happily sit in your lap, they’re totally affectionate, and generally happy little pups.
This one, like the Maltese, is high on the celebrity list. Everybody knows these plucky little characters. They continue to shoot to the top of the American Kennel Club’s most popular breeds list year upon year.
They come in a variety of sizes, the most well-known being toy, Miniature, and Standard.
These dogs are really intelligent, exceptional family dogs, and hugely versatile.
Many owners keep Poodle coats clipped short for easy maintenance. They shed little as it is, and are as hypoallergenic as they come.
If you do let the coat grow out, the dog will need a proper grooming routine to prevent matting.
Of all the hypoallergenic breeds, the Poodle is probably the most famous. And the most common.
#16 Peruvian Inca Orchid
This is undoubtedly one of the rarest breeds we’ll be looking at today. The name sounds like a flower, right?! But this is completely misleading.
As the name implies, the breed finds its origins in Peru. They are sighthounds, something like a Whippet or Greyhound, and they make brilliant guard dogs.
The Peruvian Inca Orchid has three size varieties and you can get a coated or hairless dog. They require skincare and grooming, but large clumps of hair and dander are never a problem.
#17 Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
The coats on this breed are the most outstanding features. Generally, the hair is firm and wiry, but the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier’s coat has a really silky feel to it.
They shed next to nothing, but they do need to be brushed regularly to minimize matting and also to make sure the coat doesn’t collect excessive amounts of dead and loose hair.
The Soft Coated Wheaten is a friendly, energetic, and active little character. Because of their high energy levels, they need to be exercised regularly.
And, be aware – they’re a terrier, so they can be stubborn!
But they’re always totally devoted to their owners and make exceptional companions.
#18 Portuguese Water Dog
This breed shot to fame as presidential pets. They’re athletic, they’re super-smart, and they can’t get enough of water.
The Portuguese Water Dog is really easy to train.
The coat is curly like many other breeds we’ve discussed here, so they need to be groomed regularly to keep their hypoallergenic qualities.
Even though it is considered hypoallergenic, it will shed when seasons change. Regular grooming is essential in this regard too.
Keeping the coat short is a simple solution.
#19 Standard Schnauzer
This i9s the third and last Schnauzer we’re looking at today. The Standard Schnauzer fits in between the giant and the miniature varieties.
The dogs are clever, so they can be willful. That said, they’re also highly trainable. As companions, they’re almost unbeatable. And they’re great as guard dogs too.
When kids are around, the Schnauzer will be in its element. It is loyal, patient, and totally protective of members of the family.
All the dogs in the Schnauzer family have double coats. And none of them shed. If you keep the coat short, the little shedding that there is can be minimized further.
#20 Spanish Water Dog
The coat of the Spanish Water Dog is completely unique. It’s wooly and curly and forms an almost dreadlock appearance when it is allowed to grow out. It’s often playfully referred to as a Mop Dog.
Keeping the coat of the Spanish Water Dog short makes for easier grooming. But the dog sheds virtually nothing anyway. They are fantastic for people with allergies.
The Spanish Water Dog was originally bred to herd and retrieve, and those characteristics are still present in the breed today. They’re active, and they simply love to play. This makes them superb companions and excellent watchdogs.
Ten bucks for the first person to pronounce the name correctly!
The Xoloitzcuintli hails from Mexico, and they look a little like the Peruvian Inca Orchid and the American Hairless Terrier.
Their most outstanding feature is their frowning forehead. They make great watchdogs and are incredibly loving as companions.
There are three sizes of Xolos, and they also come in a coated and hairless variety. The hairless strain doesn’t shed at all, and the coated dogs shed hardly anything.
Like any other hairless dog, the Xolo will require special skin protection and care, especially in climates where harsh sunlight prevails.
The coated variety doesn’t require a stringent grooming routine – occasional brushing will do just fine.
#22 Wire Fox Terrier
Here’s a lovely piece of trivia. The Wire Fox Terrier has won more best of show titles at the Westminster Kennel Club’s dog show in New York City than any other breed.
It is a great addition to any family and is as hypoallergenic as they come.
Like all terriers, this dog is highly energetic, independent-minded, and smart as a whip. It’s a really little problem solver.
The coat on these pups is wiry and rough. It hardly sheds and is truly low maintenance. Regular grooming will bring down allergic reactions even more.
A few tips for mixing allergies and dogs
Make a space in your house completely allergen-free
Try to make at least one room in your house allergen-free. This space would be off-limits to all your pets. One of the first things you need to do when you have an allergic reaction is to remove yourself from the source of the exposure. Having a room like this will allow you to do exactly that until your allergic reaction calms down.
Make sure to use a humidifier or a HEPA filter
HEPA filters are great for cleaning the air and removing all traces of dander that will still linger after a deep clean. In addition, also make sure to avoid items that collect dust – this includes things like carpets and curtains.
Have a regular bathing routine for your pet
Once a week sounds about right. This can significantly reduce the amount of dander your pet puts out into the atmosphere of your home. Make sure you pick a dog shampoo that will clean and moisturize your pet’s coat – you don’t want to use anything that dries out the hair or skin, as this will cause more allergens.
Make sure the dog is to blame before you blame the dog
When we struggle with allergies and when we’re around dogs, the pooch is our go-to origin of any allergic reaction. But this isn’t necessarily so! There could be any of several irritants in the atmosphere. Have a proper allergy test done to pinpoint what exactly causes your allergic reactions. This will make your own health easier to manage, and take the pressure off the pooch too!
Here are a few things to consider before getting a hypoallergenic dog
No dog is 100% Hypoallergenic
This is unfortunately true. Many people expect a dog to be completely allergen-free, and are then disappointed when the opposite is true. The fact is, even hypoallergenic dogs will produce dander. And they also release the dander into the atmosphere around them when they’re shedding. Remember, the proteins the dog secretes cause allergic reactions in humans, and the dander is full of them.
A hypoallergenic dog is a lot less likely to cause an allergic reaction with you. The dogs shed less, they have less dander, and they produce smaller quantities of allergy-causing proteins than other dogs. This is what makes them a great choice for an allergy-prone dog lover.
The most important thing is to cater to your dog’s grooming needs. This is not only for their health but also for yours. Grooming removes dander trapped in the fur, and thus prevents it from being released into the atmosphere.
Hypoallergenic breeds can still be fluffy and cuddly
Because they’re touted as dogs that shed far less than the average, many people believe only short-haired dogs can be hypoallergenic. This is simply not so. Sure, there are short-haired breeds that are hypoallergenic, but dogs like the Maltese, the Bichon Frise, and Goldendoodles all have thick coats. And they’re also all hypoallergenic.
Shedding is the big thing here, and a thick coat doesn’t necessarily mean excessive shedding.
So, you don’t have to sacrifice your need for fluffy and cuddly if you have allergies. Just choose well!
Hypoallergenic dogs aren’t a breed
Hypoallergenic dog breeds have been around for centuries. Recently, though, it was noticed that allergy suffers are less reactive around certain breeds than they are around others. Research and studies around this phenomenon led to certain breeds being classified as hypoallergenic.
None of the breeds were specifically developed to be hypoallergenic. It’s merely a surprisingly positive side effect. But that may change now that people have seen it is possible.
Individual dogs from a hypoallergenic breed can still cause allergies
Dogs are as individual as humans are. No two allergy sufferers are the same, just like no two individual hypoallergenic dogs are the same. Different individuals within the same breed can have different hypoallergenic qualities.
The rule of thumb is to spend a bit of time with a dog before you take them home. Breeders are an affable bunch, and most of them will be just too happy to accommodate you if you ask. Besides, breeders that breed hypoallergenic dogs know allergies and allergy sufferers, so they’re bound to understand.
Hypoallergenic dogs are not rare at all
There are plenty of breeds that are considered to be hypoallergenic. So you can draw up a selection of character and physical traits you would want to see in a dog you own, and then set out fi find a hypoallergenic breed that has those.
You’re certainly not stuck for choice. Trainability, intelligence, energy levels, size – these are all things you can pinpoint in your search.
A few frequently asked questions
There are plenty of questions about hypoallergenic dogs. Let’s try to answer a few.
What About Doodles?
A Doodle is any breed that is crossbred with a Poodle. Labradoodles are probably the most famous, followed by Goldendoodles and a whole bunch of others.
Because the Poodle is rated highly as a hypoallergenic breed, offspring of such crosses may well inherit hypoallergenic qualities. But the answer isn’t completely clear-cut.
You can’t determine which character traits puppies in a crossbreed will have. You can’t decide upfront you want the Poodle’s hypoallergenic qualities in the offspring. Sure, you may get lucky, but there is really no way of knowing for sure.
In a Labradoodle, one-half of the genes are from the Poodle and the other half from the Labrador. The Labrador is not hypoallergenic at all, while the Poodle is. Until the puppies are born and tested, it is impossible to tell whether they have a hypoallergenic coat, a shedding coat, or a coat that is something between the two.
The safe assumption is that the coats will probably be somewhere in between the two extremes. But that said, this is still down to the individual pups. Some pups in a littler may cause no allergic reaction with allergy sufferers, while another pup from the same littler may cause a violent allergic reaction.
How to choose the proper hypoallergenic dog for you
The variety is actually quite staggering. And it’s a good thing that the myth that says these dogs are rare, is being busted. Whether you want a large dog and can live with the occasional shed, or whether you want something small and hairless, there is a breed that will fall exactly on your needs list.
You are the only person that will know which breed will work for you. The best advice is to always try to spend a bit of time with dogs from the breed if you can. This will help you to see if their characters and yours are a match.
Also bear in mind the breed-specific needs for grooming, exercise, and companionship. Make sure you’re able to spend the time to create a happy environment for the pooch you choose.
A parting shot
Few things are as exciting as getting a new dog. Except perhaps an allergy sufferer realizing that it is actually possible to own a dog that doesn’t play havoc with the allergies!
Ex-president Obama and his family were possibly responsible for bringing knowledge of hypoallergenic dogs to the attention of the general public. They had promised their daughter a pup, but her allergies were prohibitive. A little research had them decide on a Portuguese Water Dog, and all lived happily ever after!
If this sounds like you and you’re venturing out to get your first dog, or your first pup since your allergies started, this is a big decision.
Make it like you would have made a decision if you didn’t have allergies. Look at your home and match that with the dog’s need for space. Look at your available time and try to find a breed that has exercise and attention needs that fit in with you.
You’re dealing with a long-term relationship. Starting off on the right foot is imperative.