One of the saddest things when you love dogs is allergy. Some people ― around 10% of the US population, in fact ― simply can’t be around dogs without getting those nasty allergy symptoms. And sneezing and itchy eyes can ruin anyone’s day. But while there is no non-shedding, truly hypoallergenic dog out there, there are some who come pretty close. Maybe you don’t have to be limited by your allergies, after all.
What is a hypoallergenic dog?
When it comes to dog allergies, we usually talk about the hair itself. Runny noses, itchy eyes ― all because of that dog hair that covers every surface and is in every breath of air. But really, it’s the dander one is allergic to. This dander clings to the dog hairs, and it’s because of this that allergy sufferers have such an unpleasant reaction. It’s kind of similar to human dandruff, and consists of dead skin cells. You can try to limit the effects of this by regularly brushing your dog, changing their bedding, vacuuming, changing air filters, and of course taking antihistamines if needed. You can also try fitting your home with wooden floors rather than carpet, since they’re much easier to keep free of trapped hair and allergens.
All dogs shed. Some shed less than others, and some shed so little that they barely leave any hair around at all. These are low-shedding breeds, but are often referred to as non-shedding, even if it isn’t entirely true. Usually, a hypoallergenic dog either has a coat that catches the loose hairs, or their hair is so fine that it practically resembles human hair. Regardless, some breeds are a little easier on those with allergies, than others. There is more than one hypoallergenic dog breed to check out if you’re an allergy-sufferer, but still want a canine companion in your life.
Fluffy, soft, and wiry
There are a lot of fluffy, grooming-friendly breeds on this list. Said fluff keeps loose hairs from shedding, which makes things a little easier on allergy-sufferers. Some hypoallergenic dog breeds aren’t quite as fluffy, but instead have double coats, which also keep any dead hairs held in place until it’s time to groom.
At the top of the list of hypoallergenic dog breeds, you’ll often find the Bichon Frisé, along with the Poodle. They both have thick, curly coats, which trap loose hairs. The same thing goes for the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, the Kerry Blue Terrier, and the Portuguese Water Dog ― their coat is even waterproof. The Bedlington Terrier looks more like a sheep than a dog, and the Affenpinscher is another popular hypoallergenic dog breed. Don’t forget the Irish Water Spaniel, or the Lagotto Romagnolo. With all that fluff and curl, you won’t have a lot of stray hairs to deal with, which makes all of these breeds a good example of a hypoallergenic dog.
The Miniature Schnauzer is a different example of a hypoallergenic dog (as are the Giant and Standard varieties). They’re not fluffy, but they have a double coat ― a wiry top coat and a soft undercoat. This means that any loose hairs get caught up and kept from spreading all over the place. They also shed very little, in general.
While these breeds are ideal for allergy-sufferers, they do need regular grooming to make up for their low-shedding ways. This is in order to keep their coats from getting tangled and matted, and should ideally be done every 5-6 weeks. In between groomer visits, though, you can be sure that you’ll find minimal amounts of hair and dander around your home. Just make sure to brush at least a few times a week, to make sure your hypoallergenic dog and their coat stay healthy.
Smooth and silky
There is the occasional hypoallergenic dog that doesn’t have fluff, nor a convenient double coat. Instead, their hair is simply so humanlike, with long, fine strands, that they less often trigger allergies. Others have hair so short and low-shedding that a mild allergy-sufferer won’t have much of an issue, at all.
The Yorkshire Terrier belongs on this list, as does the Maltese, as well as the Shih Tzu. With these breeds, brushing outside the home should help deal with any allergens, or just a daily wipe-down with a slightly soapy cloth. Their hair is fine and soft, and needs daily brushing either way, in order to not get tangled or matted. Keep in mind, though, that a longer coat can more easily gather up other allergens from outside, such as pollen.
A dog that also belongs on this list is the Basenji, who not only has a very short, low-shedding coat, but keeps it clean. The Basenji grooms itself much like a cat, and so does the Boxer, to a degree ― though, the latter isn’t considered a hypoallergenic dog. In other words, the Basenji will do at least some of the work to make things easier on you and your allergies.
Just go naked
Some breeds fall into the hypoallergenic dog category for more obvious reasons ― they just have no hair. Or at least, not much of it. Breeds like the Chinese Crested, the Peruvian Inca Orchid, the American Hairless Terrier, and the old, tough-to-pronounce Xoloitzuintli all belong here. They either shed very little, have very fine hairs, or have no hair to shed, at all. This makes them ideal companions for those looking for a hypoallergenic dog, though they still have other needs. They can easily get sunburned, for instance, and need to be protected from cold weather and harsh rays of sun.
A dog for everyone
Does a true hypoallergenic dog exists? The short answer is, no. There are no truly non-shedding dogs ― but some come pretty close. Some allow you to brush and groom once a month rather than several times a week, and give you a break with the vacuuming. And when you want a dog in your life, but your allergies make it tricky, these things can make all the difference. So don’t let it stop you ― there’s a dog out there for everyone.