It's a major bummer to be a dog lover who's allergic to dogs. But having an allergy doesn't necessarily mean you can never be a dog parent. Because dogs spread more allergens when they shed hair, dogs who don't shed may be a good fit for people without severe allergies. Read on to find out whether there could be a dog in your future after all.
Are There Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds?
Contrary to common belief, there technically aren't any hypoallergenic dog breeds. All dogs shed skin cells, which can cause allergic reactions. Fortunately, there are dogs who shed less and may be easier for people with dog allergies to live with.
The factors that make a dog less likely to cause allergies also tend to be misunderstood. Dogs carry allergens in their saliva and their dead skin cells, known as dander. They don't actually carry allergens in their hair. However, due to the fact that dander tends to shed along with hair, which is also often coated with a dog's saliva, dogs who don't shed spread fewer allergens.
Tips for Preparing to Adopt a Dog If You Have Allergies
If you or someone you live with suffers from dog allergies and you're considering adopting a dog, it's important to make sure you can tolerate even a non-shedding one. There are few things sadder than having to return or re-home a dog due to allergies. It can be a traumatic experience for dogs and people alike.
Here are a few ways to see whether you could live with a non-shedding dog:
- Visit friends or family members who have dogs who don't shed.
- Have a non-shedding dog stay at your home for a few days.
- Visit dogs who don't shed at a shelter or rescue organization.
- Volunteer to temporarily foster a dog who doesn't shed.
- Try fostering different breeds to see whether there's one that causes less of an allergic reaction.
In addition to adopting a non-shedding dog, there are other things you can do to limit the likelihood of having an allergic reaction. Bathing your dog regularly, frequently washing bedding, keeping the dog off furniture and out of bedrooms, vacuuming regularly and using an air purifier can all help. Just keep in mind that taking these steps might not be enough to protect highly sensitive people who have severe allergies.
Also, before adopting any dog make sure to speak with your doctor to make sure getting a dog isn't going to cause major concerns for your health. They may recommend certain allergy medicine for you to take to also help with some of your allergy symptoms.
The Best Dog Breeds for People With Allergies
If it turns out you can handle living with a dog who doesn't shed, one of these non-shedding dog breeds might be perfect for your household.
- American hairless terrier: Friendly and affectionate, this hairless breed makes a great family pet. Like most terriers, this dog is energetic and has a strong instinct for hunting small prey, but a daily walk or romp in a secure backyard should satisfy their exercise needs. According to the American Kennel Club, occasional baths are just what this dog needs to look and feel their best.
- Afghan hound: Looking at the Afghan's long, luxurious coat, you might expect them to shed a lot. But this silky long-haired breed doesn't shed. Similar to greyhounds in shape and size, Afghans are sweet and loyal but have an independent streak that can make training challenging. This is an energetic breed that needs plenty of exercise. Grooming requirements are also high, with twice-weekly bathing and brushing needed to keep their coats smooth and shiny.
- Bichon frise: Playful and friendly, with the appearance of a living cotton ball, bichons are truly delightful dogs. These soft, curly white pups don't shed. They do, however, require regular trimming to prevent overgrowth and daily brushing to prevent mats.
- Chinese crested: While the Chinese crested has long, silky hair on their head, feet and tail, their torso and legs are completely hairless. About the size and shape of a Chihuahua, this toy breed is a great choice for tiny dog lovers. Just be sure to limit their sun exposure and to dress them in a sweater to protect them from the cold. Make sure to apply dog-safe sunscreen to limit their chance of getting a sunburn.
- Maltese: Another member of the toy group, the Maltese looks like a puppy no matter their age. Pet parents typically let this breed's long, silky hair grow to the floor for competitions, but otherwise tend to keep the hair short and maintain it with daily brushing. While playful, the Maltese is a gentle and laid-back breed that doesn't require a lot of exercise.
- Poodle: Poodles come in three sizes — toy, miniature and standard — which means that whether you prefer a large dog, a tiny dog or something in between, there's a poodle to fit your preference. A poodle's size has little bearing on their temperament and grooming needs, though the large standard poodle requires more exercise than smaller varieties. The coat of a poodle is very much like that of a bichon, though poodles come in a wider variety of colors. Intelligent, loving and playful, poodles make terrific family pets. Just make sure to supervise small children around the tiny toy poodle. Because of poodles low shedding-coats, they have also become a popular dog for breeding "designer breeds" like goldendoodles, labradoodles, and cockapoos. These designer breeds often share the best qualities between two different breeds like temperament and appearances, while maintaining a coat that sheds less.
- Havanese: Lively, playful, fearless and energetic, this breed that's native to Cuba is full of charm. With a long coat of hair that doesn't shed, Havanese need to be brushed weekly to avoid mats and tangles. This is a high-energy breed, but daily walks or romps in a large fenced yard will help them get out all their excess energy.
- Yorkshire terrier: An adorable toy breed with a big personality, the Yorkie is a loving lap dog with a spunky attitude. While Yorkies don't shed, they do require daily brushing — which can be done in minutes while they curl up in your lap.
These are a just a few of the wonderful breeds that tend to shed less that could become excellent companions for people that suffer with dog allergies. Be sure to go over to our Dog Breed Catalog and check out other breeds that tend to have low shedding. Additionally, consider talking to your local shelters about what you're looking for. While you may struggle to find some of these purebred, low-shedding dogs, there are often plenty of mixed breed dogs that offer similar qualities. A shelter worker can help you identify some that they have for adoption that could also be the right fit.
If your allergies are only mild or moderate, one of these breeds might be just the ticket to fulfilling your dream of being a dog parent. Remember that no dog is truly hypoallergenic, so make sure to do your research before welcoming a forever friend into your home.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet lover, freelance writer and novelist. She currently lives in the Ozarks with her husband and their gaggle of four-footed dependents, where she enjoys watching a wide array of wild animals in her back yard while drinking her morning coffee.