If you suffer from allergies and think dogs might be one of your triggers, all hope is not lost if you want to adopt a pup. Some dogs are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction than others. But before you rush out to buy puppy toys and bully sticks for dogs, you need to know the truth about what “hypoallergenic dog breed” actually means and what dog breeds qualify as hypoallergenic.
What is a hypoallergenic dog?
Before we talk about what hypoallergenic dogs are, we need to discuss what the term “hypoallergenic” actually means as well as the most common ways that dogs can trigger an allergic reaction. Hypoallergenic just means that something is unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction, not that it never triggers a reaction. The word hypoallergenic may be applied to many things besides dogs, including jewelry and cosmetics.
The most typical cause of an allergic reaction to dogs is caused by shedding that releases dander (microscopic flecks of skin that remain suspended in the air for a long time). So-called hypoallergenic dogs are non-shedding and create less dander, which makes them less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. However, it’s important to emphasize that while hypoallergenic dogs are less likely to cause an allergic reaction than other kinds of dogs, it is still possible for them to trigger an allergic reaction, especially if the person is very sensitive to dander.
If you have pet allergies and want to adopt a dog, talk to your allergist about what tests you can run before you choose a breed and what steps you can take to mitigate your symptoms once you bring the dog home. Just because you adopt a hypoallergenic dog doesn’t mean that you won’t need to take allergy medication or pursue another treatment so you can live symptom-free with your new pup.
The Best Hypoallergenic Dogs
Not sure where to start your search for a hypoallergenic dog? Here are nine dog breeds that quality as hypoallergenic that you should consider:
Poodles come in three sizes — toy, miniature, and standard — ranging from five to 70 pounds, so you can pick the one that fits best with your lifestyle. While their coats can get long if you let it grow, their undercoats don’t shed much and you can always trim their fur short to limit grooming time and help them stay cool in the summer.
Bedlington terriers are a medium size dog, typically weighing between 17 and 23 pounds. They have a distinctive curly white coat — which many people compare to a sheep’s coat — that does not shed much. They have a friendly, affectionate, outgoing personality that makes them a good fit for families. Bedlington terriers also have a high prey drive and need exercise and long-lasting treats like antlers for dogs to keep that in check.
This small toy dog has a beautiful straight white coat that doesn’t shed much, making them a great choice for apartment dwellers. They usually weigh only five to seven pounds and have a happy disposition overall. They aren’t super energetic but do need a daily walk or play session to tire them out.
Similar to poodles, Afghan Hounds also have a long coat but don’t shed much dander. They have a very distinct, regal appearance, thanks to their silky coats, narrow faces, and ring curl tail. Originally bred for hunting purposes, this breed is very energetic and needs a couple of hours of exercise each day in order to keep them happy.
Bichon frises have a dense, poofy white coat that is generally cut into a round shape to frame their face. Their shed hair gets caught up in the undercoat so they need regular brushing and trims to keep it under control. They are extremely affectionate with people, including children, and get along well with other dogs, making them a great addition to the family.
A small dog that weighs 10-13 pounds, the Chinese Crested comes in three varieties: the Powderpuff, the Hairless, and the Hairy-Hairless. The hairless variety is the better pick for people suffering from allergies due to the minimal tufts of fur on the face, tails, and paws. They are loving dogs who make great companions for apartment living.
Schnauzers also come in three sizes ranging from miniature to standard to giant, so they can weigh anywhere between 11 and 95 pounds, depending on which one you choose. It has a distinctive “mustache” around its mouth and a hard, wiry coat. Originally used as guard dogs, they are loyal to their families and pretty active.
Irish Water Spaniel
The tallest of all the spaniels, Irish Water Spaniels are excellent at swimming (as their name suggests) and weigh between 45 and 68 pounds. Their coats don’t shed much, so they only need to be brushed once a week and trimmed every two months or so. They are highly energetic and need a lot of exercise to tire them out and keep them from becoming destructive.
American Hairless Terrier
The American Hairless Terrier is a relatively recent breed, having been born in Louisiana in a litter of rat terriers in the 1970s. They usually weigh between 10 and 16 pounds and are completely hairless, making them rather hypoallergenic. They are highly trainable with the aid of natural dog treats and only require regular walks for exercise.
Do you personally own a hypoallergenic dog breed because you have allergies, or are you just thinking about getting one? Do you have another hypoallergenic breed that we didn’t include in this list? What other steps do you take to manage your allergies around dogs? Let us know in the comments below!