Are you looking for a four-legged best friend that won’t give you the sniffles? Then, you may have heard of hypoallergenic dogs. But what exactly makes these dogs easier on your allergies?
Let’s start by clarifying a few things regarding pet allergies…
How Dog Allergies Work
Some people assume dog allergies means you are allergic to dog fur, but this is a widespread misunderstanding. These allergies are actually triggered by:
- Dander, a protein secreted by a dog’s oil glands
- Proteins in the dog’s saliva
This means that a dog doesn’t have to be around to cause an allergic reaction if their dander remains. This is especially true if the dog loves rubbing against and cuddling with their owners, and of course, licking them!
Of course, many of us love doggy kisses. So how can you keep your best four-legged friend without sneezing up a storm?
Determining the Existence of Hypoallergenic Dogs
The truth is, there isn’t a dog breed that’s guaranteed to be 100% hypoallergenic. In fact, a study found no statistically significant difference between the amount of allergens in homes with so-called hypoallergenic dogs and ones with non-hypoallergenic dogs.
But don’t despair just yet! You may still be able to fulfill your dreams of becoming a dog parent. According to the American Kennel Club, certain low-shedding dogs like the following may produce less dander and may be easier on those with dog allergies.
The Poodle is often mistakenly stereotyped as a pompous, wimpy breed. However, this can’t be further from the truth! Poodles are extremely intelligent dogs, and had jobs similar to retrievers in the past. They’re also ranked as the second brightest dog after the Border Collie.
Despite these upsides, the Poodle is quite high maintenance. The dog’s coat is very low-shedding, but it may still require professional grooming once every 4–6 weeks.
Portuguese Water Dog
It’s likely that the Portuguese Water Dog was chosen for their hypoallergenic qualities. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re considered easy to train. The American Kennel Club even suggests that they have a winning personality, describing the breed as “affectionate, adventurous, athletic.”
But this breed comes with downsides similar to that of the Poodle. The Portuguese Water Dog requires regular grooming. Dogs of this breed can have tight curls; loose, wavy hair; or something in between, so daily brushing is recommended.
Historically, Bichon Frises were the dogs of nobility, but after the French Revolution, they were largely left to fend for themselves. However, the dogs did manage to make a living as circus and street performers.
This little white dog comes with a soft, white hypoallergenic coat, and their small size makes them an ideal dog for city-dwellers. Though they are infrequent shedders, the Bichon Frise does require regular specialty grooming. So owners typically take their Bichons to the groomer’s every 4–6 weeks.
This dog’s unique name is pronounced “show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee.” With a history stretching back three millennia, the Xolo is named after the dog-headed god Xolotl and revered as a sacred animal by the ancient Aztec civilization.
The Xolo comes in both hairless and coated varieties, as well as three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. They only need the occasional bath or brush, but you should apply sunscreen to the hairless ones if you’re planning on playing in the sun for long.
With its regal beard and gentlemanly disposition, the Standard Schnauzer is a great protector and watchdog. The breed consists of highly intelligent dogs, but they’re also quite independent, so firm training is required.
Luckily, the breed has a tendency for infrequent shedding. But the Schnauzer does still require regular brushing 2–3 times a week. Additionally, the breed’s wiry outer coat should be hand-stripped, not clippered. You’ll also have to clean the Schnauzer’s beard regularly!
With an elegant name and a teddy-bear look, this affectionate breed has a fantastic nose, which was historically used to hunt for truffles. What’s more, they sport a waterproof coat that is woolly, curly, and sheds minimally, though it does require some regular trimming and brushing.
While considered a sporting breed that benefits from both physical and mental stimulation, the Lagotto Romagnolo is a laidback breed that isn’t usually hyper. But they are very social and enjoy spending time with their human pack.
The Afghan Hound is a definite show-stopper. With its majestic looks and regal demeanor, you may be surprised that this sight hound is actually a low-shedder. However, their coats do require very regular brushing, as much as several hours per week. Owning an Afghan Hound may be challenging if you’re a novice dog owner because they tend to be independent and love to chase things. So if you do adopt one, keep your hound on a firm leash!
The Goldendoodle is a mixed breed that combines traits from a Golden Retriever and a Poodle. Breeders originally wanted to combine the gentle personality of the Golden Retriever and the low-shedding coat of the Poodle into one dog, but what traits you get can come down to chance. Some Goldendoodles will have very low-shedding coats, but others may not. They can be tested through the shedding index, using a scale of 0–4 to rate the amount of shedding a dog will have, from 0 (no shedding) to four (high shedding).
Ways to Relieve Dog Allergies
Even if you’re highly allergic to dogs, thanks to modern medicine, there are numerous ways to combat your allergies and still enjoy time with your pet.
If your allergies are severe, talk to your doctor. They may be able to prescribe you with a medication like fluticasone, a corticosteroid.
There are many medications you can get without a prescription at your local pharmacy. These include loratadine (Claritin®) and cetirizine (REACTINE®). But try to avoid medications that make you sleepy, such as diphenhydramine (BENADRYL®) because these can impair your safety in activities that require alertness, such as driving.
It may be possible for you to train your immune system to stop overreacting to pet dander through allergy shots called immunotherapy. However, this treatment is more time-consuming and possibly costly, so discuss with your doctor the merits of it before starting immunotherapy.
Sniffing Out the Hypoallergenic Dogs
While there are less allergy-stimulating breeds, your best bet is visiting a shelter or responsible breeder. Spend time with dogs that fit with your personality, then, see how your body reacts to the various dogs.
At the end of the day, however, you want a dog that fits with your lifestyle, that you’ll get along with, and that you’ll do a good job of caring for as much as they’ll care for you!