10 hypoallergenic dog breeds of all sizes
It’s that time of year where we find ourselves spending more time inside, and people with dog allergies may find themselves triggered more frequently. It is a common myth that people are allergic to dog fur, and it is actually a protein that dogs produce in their saliva and urine that triggers an allergic reaction in some humans. This protein gets on the dog's fur and skin, and it's the action of the shedding coat that produces the release of this protein into the air . Dogs that don’t shed or have lower levels of slobber are frequently referred to as “hypoallergenic” by breeders and dog enthusiasts, even though this claim is more of a great marketing term than medical claim.
While it’s important to note that no dog is actually 100% hypoallergenic, most humans can find a canine companion that doesn’t leave them sneezing, wheezing, or breaking out into hives. Luckily, there are a variety of dog breeds that allergy sufferers can choose from when searching for the perfect companion. Here are our top ten picks from largest to smallest as well as some helpful information about things that can help in preventing and reducing allergy symptoms making sure there's more love and playtime and less “gesundheit” when in your home this holiday season.
Living up to their name, the giant schnauzer is the biggest hypoallergenic dog and can weigh over 100 pounds! Giant schnauzers shed the least of the large breeds despite the length of their coat, expressive long eyebrows, and unique facial hair including “mustaches” and “beards.” The Giant Schnauzer belongs to the working group of terriers, and are known for being easy to train, alert, intelligent, and supremely loyal. If you are looking for a hypoallergenic pup of a smaller size, the standard schnauzer and miniature schnauzer are great hypoallergenic breeds as well. Scottish terriers, a relative of the giant schnauzer terrier breed (closer in size to a miniature schnauzer), are a small dog and terrier with the great look of a giant “schnauz” and its hypoallergenic characteristics.
Irish Water Spaniel
Hailing from Ireland, the Irish Water Spaniel is the second large breed on our list and one of the rarer hypoallergenic dog breeds too. Although this water pup’s hair is long and sheds a little seasonally, its curly texture prevents fur from getting woven into upholstery, and many allergy sufferers find them very comfortable to live with. The grooming needs of this Irish spaniel breed are combing/brushing every 1-2 weeks, making them manageable even for a new pet family. With their extremely intelligent, playful, and active personalities, these spaniels are a fantastic choice for athletic owners.
The Afghan Hound is another of the large hypoallergenic dog breeds with a lengthy, low shedding coat, but they require very extensive grooming and regular brushing to avoid matting of their silky, fine, flowing coats. Because of their very low drooling tendency, Afghans are considered a large hypoallergenic dog breed even with their long, distinctive hair. Afghan enthusiasts love the independent, stubborn, and high energy characteristics of this breed, but they also make Afghan hounds notoriously difficult to train. For this reason they are hypoallergenic dogs better suited for experienced dog trainers.
Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is a medium sized hypoallergenic dog as well as the breed of choice for the Obama family -- Sunny and Bo were at one time known as the “most famous dogs in the world.” Members of the working dog group, Portuguese Water Dogs are a very active and intelligent breed; they are even known to spontaneously perform tricks or put on a silly show to get the attention of their owners. Above all else, they are supremely loyal. Because of their single-layer coat, this water dog has low shedding hair, and its curly coat can trap allergens, preventing their release into the air. Because this breed is also happy to live outside, the Portuguese Water Dog may be the best choice for dog lovers who are severely allergic and cannot tolerate an indoor dog. If you have a swimming pool, that’s even better!
The standard poodle is not only popular among hypoallergenic breeds, but it is the seventh most popular dog breed overall according to the American kennel club. Poodles are the smartest hypoallergenic dog breed as well as medium-sized, very energetic, and eager to please. Although non shedding, they require regular grooming (usually professional) to keep their silky and curly coat looking its best. Like schnauzers, you can find a poodle in almost any package - from the medium size standard poodle, to the small miniature poodle, and tiny toy poodle.
As the first of our small hypoallergenic dogs, the Bichon Frise and its fluffy, velvety coat make an excellent family companion. Known for having an agreeable and cheerful personality, bichons get along well with children as well as other dogs. The Bichon Frise originated in the mediterranean where they were the dog chosen as family dogs by both Spanish and Italian royalty. Their non shedding coat equals less dander around the household triggering allergies in their owners.
American Hairless Terrier
If you want a non shedding dog, the American Hairless Terrier may be one of the best dog breeds to consider. As a hairless dog, this Louisiana native is a very hypoallergenic breed - rather than having a non shedding coat, the AHT has no coat making it a very low maintenance option for a small dog hypoallergenic breed. The American Hairless Terrier is known for being sharp, intelligent and eager to please as well as friendly with children - all qualities that make this funny looking terrier well suited for a family.
The animated and perceptive chinese crested is the first on our list of three extra small hypoallergenic dogs in the “Toy Group '' of breeds. Chinese crested come in several variest, but the hairless has pouf accents on their head, ankles, and tail. These dogs don’t shed much...they pretty much don’t shed at all, aside from the occasional loss of hair from the accenting tufts. They only require occasional bathing and brushing, so this breed makes a great pet for people with less time to devote to detailed grooming routines.
The X-small Yorkshire Terrier usually weighs in around 7lbs, but they make up for their small size with personality in spades. The AKC has Yorkshire Terriers affectionately called “Yorkies” ranked as the 10th most popular breed overall, and they make great pets for the dog-sensitive with infrequent shedding of their long coats. Like poodles, Yorkshire Terriers do not shed much, but their coats definitely need regular maintenance and to keep their hair looking its best, professional grooming is recommended.
Looking for a hypoallergenic pup tiny enough to fit in your purse? The maltese is the final and smallest of the hypoallergenic dog breeds on our list - with a typical weight of only 4 to 6 pounds - extra small even for a small dog! Even with a strikingly long coat, the Maltese a popular hypoallergenic choice because of how infrequently they shed - their silky coats are actually made of hair rather than fur. Many owners prefer to keep their “hairdo” a little shorter than the picture above, but no matter the style Maltese shed very little hair or dander. As a breed, Maltese are known for their affable, good-natured, and charismatic personality - their owners love their social nature and aptitude to learn tricks.
Allergic to Dogs? Avoid These Breeds
In addition to hypoallergenic dogs, there are several dog breeds that actually trigger more allergy sufferers will want to avoid. Friendly labs are one breed that have been known to wreak havoc on people with dog allergies. If you are allergic to dogs, you will also need to steer clear of extra slobbery breeds like the St. Bernard and bulldogs as well if you have dog sensitivities. German Shepherd dogs have coats that shed a lot and can also have dry skin, resulting in excess dander, evoking allergies in their human families as well. You may not want to bring a Pekingese or other difficult-to-housetrain breed into your home because their inside accidents increase the chance of your exposure to urine, and irritation from its IgE-binding proteins.
Prevent and Treat Dog Allergies
You can prevent and reduce dog allergy symptoms by maintaining a regular grooming schedule, daily brushing, keeping your dogs off of your bed/out of the bedroom entirely if possible, and washing pet beds frequently. Consider switching your heavy carpeting and drapes for lighter options, which do not trap and release as much fur and dander into the air. Always brush and groom your dog outside. Regular vacuuming also means less dander and pet hair accumulating in your home. You may need to wash your hands and change your clothing soon after any extended playtime with your pup in order to prevent allergic reactions as well.
If the prevention strategies above haven’t worked for you, there are medicines and treatments available to manage and treat allergy sufferers' reactions to dogs as well. Over the counter options include anti-histamines, steroid nasal spray, nasal irrigation (like a neti pot), immunotherapy, and even prescription medication dog allergies are happening co-occurring with asthma. As we mentioned above, none of the hypoallergenic dog breeds is 100% hypoallergenic, so you will want to test your sensitivity level with repeated exposure before bringing a new dog into your home.
iHeartRadio. (2019, November 15). Can ‘Hypoallergenic’ Dogs Still Trigger Allergies? [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/brainstuff/id260335249?i=1000456886219