18 Best Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds for People with Allergies
Do dogs make your heart go thump, your eyes water, and your nose tickle? If you've got allergies, check out these hypoallergenic options.
No dog is 100 per cent hypoallergenic
We hate to break the news to you, but even dogs that are considered hypoallergenic can set off some people’s allergies. What causes all of that sneezing and wheezing? It’s not usually an animal’s fur, believe it or not. The real source is often a protein found in the saliva and urine of dogs and cats, notes Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer at the American Kennel Club (AKC). “This protein sticks to the dead, dried flakes from your pet’s skin, called dander,” he says. “Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a fully hypoallergenic dog, but there are a variety of breeds considered less allergenic that allergy sufferers tend to do well with.”
What makes a dog less allergenic?
Hypoallergenic dogs usually have a predictable, low, or non-shedding coat, which produces less dander. “Because these dogs don’t shed or shed very little, the allergy-causing dander that sticks to their fur doesn’t get released into the air or onto the floor as much as with a shedding dog,” says Dr. Klein. “Some individual dogs may even cause fewer allergy symptoms than others. In fact, two dogs of the same breed can each give off very different levels of allergens.”
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If you suffer from allergies, you’re likely to do better with dogs that have less fur, says Jeff Rockwell, DVM, owner of Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Plus, you can take extra precautions to cut down on potential issues. “There are shampoos that help to reduce dander, dried saliva, which lessens allergenicity,” adds Dr. Rockwell. “You can also wipe down your dog with unscented dryer sheets to make [him] less allergenic.” He adds that over time, people tend to acclimate to their own pet’s dander (but not necessarily the dander of other dogs).
Opt for a purebred pup
While mutts are wonderful, it’s a good idea to choose a purebred if you have allergies. Why? You’ll have a better idea of what you’re getting and whether or not your new BFF will set off your sneezing. “The bonus of selecting a purebred dog is their predictability in size, coat, care requirements, and temperament. The coat is especially important for allergy sufferers,” explains Dr. Klein. “For someone with pet allergies, the American Kennel Club recommends that he/she visit an owner or breeder with the breed of interest for several hours to test allergy sensitivities before making the commitment of bringing a dog home.” But with so many dogs to choose from, how can you pick? Dr. Klein has a few ideas for allergy sufferers and created this list of 20 hypoallergenic dogs for you to check out.
Looking for a playful, loving, and utterly devoted hypoallergenic dog? Dr. Klein suggests the Chinese Crested. These dogs not only tend to be attentive housemates, but they’re also very in tune with their human families. This breed comes in two varieties: hairless and powderpuff. Aside from the obvious visual difference, the powderpuff needs to be brushed daily to remain clean and pleasant to pet. Its coat is different from most hairy breeds: The undercoat is shorter, and the outer coat is a veil overlay, making it easy to brush. On the flip side, the hairless Chinese Crested doesn’t have this type of hair, so shedding isn’t much of a problem—and there’s limited doggy odor.
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This compact breed has a glistening, low-shedding short coat that generally requires no more than a quick once-over with a soft-bristle brush or a rubber grooming mitt every week. Dr. Klein refers to the Basenji as dignified and intelligent. But, he says, make sure you can meet their high exercise needs and the challenges that come with training this catlike canine.
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The Bedlington Terrier is known for its curly, woolly, lamb-like fur. While its coat doesn’t shed much, it does grow fast, so regular clipping is necessary. In terms of demeanour, the Bedlington Terrier is gentle, lovable, fairly active, and likes to be the centre of its family’s attention. Loyal to the core, this hypoallergenic dog also has a reputation for being protective of its loved ones.
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Bichons have plush, velvety hair that grows continually and doesn’t shed. Still, hypoallergenic dogs aren’t necessarily low-maintenance dogs when it comes to grooming. Dr. Klein says that regular brushing, monthly baths, and relatively frequent haircuts are musts for this breed. Personality-wise, Bichons are adaptable family companions who get along well with other dogs and children. Alert, confident, and curious, they are generally playful and happy. The Bichon Frise Club of America says that “a cheerful attitude is the hallmark of the breed, and one should settle for nothing less.”
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Affenpinschers are known to be loyal, affectionate, and entertaining. Their small size and moderate exercise requirements make them great apartment dogs. But even better, the Affenpinscher’s medium-length, wiry coat is usually considered hypoallergenic, and this breed typically doesn’t bother allergy sufferers. Their coat, however, does require some regular maintenance and should be tended to twice a week.
Coton de Tulear
The AKC calls this fluffy white dog charming, bright, and happy-go-lucky. It’s also silly and “naturally clownish,” known to make unique sounds and walk around on its hind legs. The bond between Cotons and their people is often very strong. In terms of being a hypoallergenic dog, the Coton barely sheds and rarely aggravates allergies, according to the Coton de Tulear Club of America. That said, its long coat does require daily care.
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Havanese sport a silky coat, which comes in a variety of colours. You can leave this dog’s coat as is and most people do, but some owners prefer to cord it (fashioning it into doggy dreadlocks), similar to a Puli. Still, others clip it short to reduce grooming time. Whatever your preference, it’s all good: The breed doesn’t shed much. Havanese are adaptable, intelligent, outgoing, and social, and they make particularly good city pets.
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Irish Water Spaniel
A typical sporting dog, the Irish Water Spaniel is an active, high-energy companion. The breed is eager to please and relatively easy to train, but these pups need lots of daily exercise. They’re best for an active owner or family. But they’re pretty low-maintenance when it comes to grooming: You only have to brush their hypoallergenic, water-repellent coats every few weeks and trim them every two months.
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Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier is an alert, adaptable, and animated watchdog and family companion. Most Kerries just want to be with their owners—and will happily join you in whatever you’re doing. Their non-shedding coats are hypoallergenic, but they still need to be brushed thoroughly once a week and trimmed every four to six weeks. Beyond regular weekly grooming, an occasional bath will keep them clean and looking their best.
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Experts recommend brushing these hypoallergenic dogs daily, as well as grooming them often to prevent mats from forming in their long, white coats. The Maltese is a very adaptable breed, and they make great alert dogs that are surprisingly fearless. They are also excellent athletes on an agility course, so you can have a ton of fun with them. Although sometimes stubborn and willful, they respond well to rewards-based training. Pet MD cautions: “Do not let the innocent appearance of this little dog fool you. It is feisty, bold, and not afraid to challenge larger dogs.”
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Poodles are often thought of as the gold standard when it comes to hypoallergenic dogs. In fact, you’ve probably heard about the allure of choosing a poodle mix for this reason. But in terms of straight-up poodles, you have your choice of standard, miniature, and toy—and all of their non-shedding coats are ideal for people with allergies. The dogs also make wonderful pets: They are eager, athletic, extremely intelligent, and remarkably versatile. They can also be easily trained, which can make life a lot easier in other respects.
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Portuguese Water Dog
With a reputation for being affectionate and adventurous, the Portuguese Water Dog is an eager and athletic companion built for families with active lifestyles. Soft, thick, and non-shedding, its coat can be either wavy or curly. While this breed’s coat is considered hypoallergenic, it’s important to regularly maintain it so that it stays that way and doesn’t collect other allergens along the way. Grooming isn’t the only thing you’ll spend money on when you’re a pet owner.
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American Hairless Terrier
These smart, inquisitive, and playful dogs are protective of their humans and make great watchdogs. The American Hairless Terrier comes in hairless and coated varieties. For either type, grooming needs are minimal. They hardly shed, so all that’s called for is a quick session with a soft-bristle brush once a week and an occasional bath.
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Bred to work closely with humans, Pulis are agile, faithful, and quick learners who do best with active families. If the Puli is on your shortlist, make sure that you have ample time for training and grooming. Dreadlocks are arguably the most recognizable feature of the Puli, and these naturally occurring cords are woolly, dense, and weatherproof. Although the Puli isn’t much of a shedder, whether corded or brushed out, its coat requires a lot of attention.
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If you’re interested in this bearded pooch, you’ve got three options to choose from—miniature, standard, and giant—and they’re all hypoallergenic, according to the AKC. Schnauzers have a double coat: The bottom one is soft and dense, while the top is wiry. Daily brushing prevents mats from forming, especially in their beards and on their legs. Plus, the body coat should be “stripped” (loose, dead hair is plucked out) at least twice a year. This will also help reduce the potential for allergies. These dogs are sociable, smart, alert, and great with kids.
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Loyal and playful, this small breed tends to be especially affectionate with children. They were originally bred to spend most of their days lounging around inside royal palaces, so they make great pets, whether you live in an apartment or have a big backyard. Shih Tzus have hair that doesn’t shed much, so allergy sufferers usually do well with them. This dog’s double coat does require frequent brushing, but you can clip it short for ease, according to the Westminster Kennel Club.
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Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is happy, friendly, deeply devoted, and slightly stubborn. These dogs make great companions for families who are devoted to training and have a fairly active lifestyle. The Wheaten is single-coated and sheds minimally, but it needs regular grooming to keep its coat mat-free.
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Its name may be hard to pronounce, but you’ll be singing this pup’s praises if you’re a dog lover with allergies. Xolo for short, this breed comes in two varieties: hairless and coated. The hairless requires occasional baths and body lotion; the coated needs routine brushing and combing. Dr. Klein says that this breed is loyal, alert, and calm—perfect if you’re looking for a dedicated watchdog and a loyal family companion.
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Visit your new BFF before you take him home
Whether you suffer from allergies or not, it is always important to spend some time with a dog you want to adopt—in person and at least once before you commit. “We recommend visiting the breeder’s home or kennel and asking to see at least one of the puppy’s parents,” says Dr. Klein. “This will help to get an idea of what the future holds for your dog in terms of temperament and appearance. It can also help you gauge any allergic reactions that may be triggered by that breed or specific dog.”
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