Being an animal lover who suffers from allergies is frustrating. You see a puppy and you just want to cuddle it and play with it. But this might leave you sneezing, wheezing, and feeling ill for the rest of the day. Hypoallergenic dogs are the answer! They shed less and cause less dander, meaning less allergens and less sneezing for you. But which are the most allergy-friendly pups to have as pets? Read on for everything you need to know about hypoallergenic dogs.
Why am I Allergic to Some Dogs?
Dog allergies are the body’s adverse reaction to dander. Dander is the catch all name for microscopic particles shed from the dog skin and hair. Lots of people believe it is the dog hair themselves that they are allergic to, but according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergies are actually caused by the airborne dander which is often coated is protein and oils and therefore slightly sticky.
This means that as well as getting up your nose, dander sticks to surfaces. Soft fabrics like sofas, carpets and beds are particularly attractive to dander, and it can hang around for days. This is why some allergy sufferers can feel ill as soon as they walk into a dog owner’s home, even if the dog is outside. Allergic reaction symptoms can include:
- Watery eyes
- Skin rash
- Asthma attacks (in people who already suffer from asthma)
Symptoms like these are why many animal lovers are searching for a hypoallergenic dog to help ease their suffering.
What is a Hypoallergenic Dog?
Hypoallergenic means something that is designed to or naturally reduces the risk of an allergic reaction. For dog allergy sufferers, this means any dog which sheds less and produces less dander. It can also mean dogs that produce less saliva when they drool, as the proteins in saliva can contain some of the allergens that cause a reaction.
It’s worth noting that there are no dogs that produce zero amount of dander. Hypoallergenic means reduced risk, not zero risk. So, what can you do to make sure you’re not at risk from the small number of allergens even a hypoallergenic dog can create?
- Wash hands after handling pets
- Vacuum regularly
- Keep dogs out of sleeping areas or at least off the bed
- Investigate HEPA filters for eliminating allergens
- Bathe dogs weekly
- Clean furniture and pet bedding regularly
Which is the best Hypoallergenic Dog?
There are many types of hypoallergenic dog, but which is the best? Here are some dogs loved by allergy and asthma sufferers, and a few facts about why these pooches make perfect pets.
Also known as the PWD or Portie, Portuguese Water Dogs are a single coated dog popular with allergy sufferers. A single coat means there is no under coat, meaning less shedding and, in theory, less dander. Porties are also popular due to their loyal and energetic nature, plus their cute, shaggy appearance which is so endearing. These hypoallergenic dogs are descended from working dogs on fishing boats, hence their unusual name. Easily trained, they need lots of exercise and attention and love to play. A fantastic jogging companion.
Poodles are a well known hypoallergenic dog choice. They shed much less than non-hypoallergenic dogs, meaning less dander and therefore fewer allergens. The poodle breed is versatile, with tiny toy poodles and the much larger standard breed. Poodles range from elegantly beautiful to scruffily cute, and are extremely intelligent and affectionate. They make wonderful family dogs so can be ideal for families with children who may suffer from animal allergies. They crave companionship and, like most dogs, need regular exercise. Because of the diversity in sizes, poodles can be great for holes both large and small.
The West Highland Terrier is a small, personality filled dog. Its wiry coat has minimal shedding making it another great hypoallergenic dog for those with allergies. Westies are one of those terrier breeds that’s surprisingly easy to handle and train. They love human interaction and are extremely curious about their environment. A Westie makes a perfect pet for families that might already have dogs and cats, as they can happily coexist with most other pets. However, they don’t fit in well with families that own rabbits or other small animals due to their natural instinct for chasing anything smaller than them.
For the less active pet owner, a Chinese Crested could be just ideal. This unusual almost hairless dog is less energetic and excitable than many breeds. Cresteds love snuggle time and curling up for a long nap and thoroughly dote on their owners and their family. However, they can be difficult with strangers and extremely protective. Their almost lack of hair makes them great for allergy sufferers, as dander is at a minimum. Their quiet and affectionate nature makes them great for small jokes and those with mobility issues.
Wizard of Oz fans will recognise the Cairn as the breed Toto was in the famous movie. All types of pet owner love this feisty little terrier. Cairn terriers are small with mid length hair that often seems to hide their inquisitive eyes giving them a quirky, cheeky look. Despite their fluffy appearance Cairn Terriers don’t shed too much making them a good choice for those concerned about dog allergies. Cairns have natural terrier instincts for chasing so aren’t always compatible with other pets, although will normally settle in with other dogs well. They are extremely curious so keep them on a leash or in a walled or fenced yard, otherwise your Cairn terrier may take themselves off on a little adventure!
The Labradoodle is an intentional crossbreed between a Labrador and a poodle. The term goes back as far as the 1950s but it was much later that a breeder had the idea of breeding a seeing-eye dog that would be suitable for allergy sufferers. Poodles are generally hypoallergenic, so the idea was to breed the perfect seeing-eye dog with the perfect hypoallergenic dog. The result is a popular and affectionate designer crossbreed. There are lots of variations in coat when crossbreeding Labradors and poodles, so some labradoodles are more hypoallergenic than others. They are often used as assistance dogs and make great family animals due to their playful nature and intelligence.
These shaggy dogs have quite a story to tell. Originally bred to be companions to holy men and nomads, nowadays they enjoy life as a sweet and gentle family pet. Their hair is long and requires plenty of grooming to keep it in top condition. However, despite their thick, double layered coat, shedding is seasonal and minimal. They also tend to drool less than some other dogs, further reducing the number of allergens they produce. Tibetan terriers are full of energy and need lots of social interaction from a young age. They need lots of attention so don’t leave your Tibetan Terrier home alone or they may get destructive!
The Shih Tzu is a tiny dog that rarely exceeds weights of 15 pounds or so. Despite looking like tiny balls of fur, all that dog hair doesn’t produce much dander and shedding is low. Proper grooming minimizes the impact of shedding further, plus it helps create a bond with your pet and keeps them happy. Shih Tzus are not an energetic breed and love to have a cuddle and be pampered. They are still full of personality, though, and enjoy playing with their owners and their family. They are also very quiet dogs. Rather than barking, you will notice that your Shih Tzu makes a little huffing noise when they are alerted to something. A good dog to raise with cats.
These adorable pups look like they stepped straight out of a cartoon. Imploring eyes and an almost comical fringe of fur give the impression of a sweet personality, and in this instance, looks are not deceiving. The Havanese is an extremely affectionate dog who become incredibly attached to their owners. They are occasionally billed as “Velcro dogs” due to their intense need to stick as close to their owners as possible. Although the Havanese has masses of long, silky hair, they are surprisingly hypoallergenic. This is due to low shedding and minimal drooling, reducing the number of allergens present.
A toy breed weighing in at no more than around 12 pounds, this pocket-sized pup makes up for its lack of stature with sheer bravado. Brussels Griffons are well known for being almost arrogant seeming and having a range of almost human expressions. This makes them very popular with all kinds of dog owners, as does their playful and mischievous nature. Training can be challenging, and other dogs and children should always be supervised around the Brussels Griffon. They are excellent pets for small apartments, and the good news is they are also hypoallergenic due to low shedding.
The largest terrier, the Airedale is a striking hound with tightly curled wiry hair in two coats. Because of this unique coat, extensive grooming is required including quarterly stripping away of old fur. This stripping is required because one of the layers doesn’t shed at all, which is why they are so hypoallergenic and ideal for allergy sufferers. These intelligent dogs love to have fun and seem to enjoy a laugh, even at their own expense. They aren’t the most cuddly of dogs but they’ll show their affection in how much they want to play with you. They pick up new tricks readily and require tons of mental stimulation, so be ready with plenty of games and exercise to keep your Airedale happy.
Irish Water Spaniel
One of the older breeds on our list, the Irish Water Spaniel first appeared on record in the 1800s. They may be a cross between poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs, but that’s purely anecdotal. Were it true, it would certainly explain this dog breed’s tendency towards low shedding, which makes it a hypoallergenic choice for allergy sufferers. The Irish Water Spaniel is the largest of the spaniel types. They can stand nearly two feet tall, with proportionately much longer legs than most spaniels. They have a poodle like look about them, and like the poodle, they are inquisitive and energetic. They need lots of space and exercise so a larger home with a safe yard is the ideal environment for your Irish Water Spaniel.
Wire Haired Fox Terrier
Like many other wiry haired dogs, the Wire Fox Terrier is classed as hypoallergenic thanks to low drooling and shedding. This English breed may have been descended from working terriers in the beautiful counties of Derbyshire and Durham. Sadly, these original ancestors are now extinct, but that high energy and bright personality lives on in the Fox Terrier. A Fox Terrier owner needs to have a lot of time and patience to spend on their pet. They need firm training but when treated with confidence are fun loving and inquisitive pet. They don’t take well to other dogs or small children, but a family with older children could find that the hypoallergenic Fox Terrier is their perfect pal.
The long, flowing locks of the Maltese make it look like it would be a dog allergy sufferer’s nightmare. However, this diminutive dog rarely drools, and shedding is very low, making it a surprisingly hypoallergenic choice. The Maltese has only ever known life as a companion animal, so they make wonderful pets for all kinds of homes. They are amiable and sweet, easily obeying commands. They thrive indoors, making them an ideal choice for those with smaller apartments who might think getting a dog is out of the question. This is a true lapdog who will live for your attention and cuddles.
For those convinced that it’s the dog hair that causes their allergies, it would make sense that a hairless dog would be the ultimate answer. Of course, as previously stated, dander contains much more than just hair. But the Xoloitzcuintli, or Mexican Hairless Dog, is extremely hypoallergenic and causes a minimal amount of dander. These dogs were originally thought to have a connection to the spirit world, making them an intriguing choice of pet, indeed! Some of them have hair around the head and tail, giving them a cool punk style that’s totally unique.
Does my Hypoallergenic Dog Need Special Grooming?
All dogs have different grooming requirements. As stated above, Airedales need hair stripping out every few months. Others need regular brushing. The more you carefully groom an animal, thus removing loose hair and dust, the more hypoallergenic it becomes.
What if I Have an Allergic Reaction?
If after spending time with your canine companion you are still suffering the miseries of allergies, it’s time to speak to your doctor. An immunologist will normally be able to pinpoint exactly what causes the allergy and make sensible suggestions. This may be antihistamines, or it may simply be to change up a cleaning routine or manage where in the home your pet has access to.
If you or any other person experiences shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, leave the area with the dog and seek medical attention. Severe allergies may require immediate assistance so should not be ignored. Allergies of this nature are very rare though. The most common reaction to dog dander is sniffling and sneezing, which is usually manageable.
It’s great news for all dog lovers that there are plenty of options out there, even for those who struggle with allergies or asthma. Although no dog is non-allergenic, there are plenty of hypoallergenic dogs which reduce the risk of allergies as much as possible. Combining a sensible cleaning routine with a pup who produces less dander can be the ideal solution. Al you need to do now is decide which of these hypoallergenic dogs is your favorite.